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Anthropological View

An Anthropological View
by Kirk W Huffman

Off to Oz



Apologies to readers: there has been little time to produce a normal article this week. To those of you who subscribe to this paper and receive it regularly every Saturday, at the time you receive this I will be somewhere in the air over the Middle East on my way to Australia. My wife is in Sydney and I have been appointed to a Visiting Fellowship at the Macleay Museum of the University of Sydney. It will be a pity to leave Eivissa, with its stunning weather at the moment, but for those who live on the island the summer is actually the best time to get away. Away from the crowds and the noise (at least on the coast: up here in the hills one notices no change at all and I have never seen tourists up here in the 12 years I have been based on the island). This year is not so noisy, however, it seems: tourism has suffered a rather massive slump as larger numbers of eager young British summer travellers head further east into the Mediterranean, toward cheaper destinations outside of the Euro zone. Crete and Cyprus, Turkey and Greece seem to be taking a lot of those who should normally be roasting on the beaches of Eivissa. Greece finally realized that it had to ease up a bit on its anti-drug laws to enable this type of tourism to really boom there! There will be a lot of bankruptcies on the island here as the year goes on, but hopefully people here will learn from it; I remember the same thing happening on Eivissa in 1992 but nobody really seemed to learn from that. Many of the same mistakes continue to be made. But at least those here will, of course, have a memorable holiday with lots to tell their friends when they get back home.

But it will be good to get out of this part of the world for a while - Europe is a bit too close (although one of the good things about the real Eivissa is that it is sort of part of Europe but not really in it) to many of the rather weird things that are happening at the moment. Wars and rumours of wars. The tragic situation continues in Palestine/Israel. Bush continues threatening a war with Iraq (wars - hopefully brief - have usually been good for a president's popularity and have beneficial effects on the US economy). Corporate scandals in the US continue to damage 'confidence' in the US (and elsewhere) economy and 'capitalist' business system (rather surprising to me that there was really any confidence in it anyway, as I had always assumed that much of the higher reaches of the system was pretty sleazy) and millions of poor members of the elderly public are seeing their pension funds or life savings wither away. Repercussions will spread around the world in a sort of rippling-out domino-theory type collapse from the epicentre in the US. There are a lot more big companies due for collapse or due to be discovered to have 'inflated profits'. The modern world has been 'Hanging on the Vine called Money' (see my article about that - I can't remember what issue that was in) and now the Vine is sick.

In nearly three weeks time I will be back in Vanuatu in the Southwest Pacific for a month. I will be bringing in to Vanuatu Luis Pancorbo and his renowned documentary film team from Television Espanola to produce two, maybe three, one hour documentary programmes which should be broadcast later this year on Spanish TV's Channel Two as parts of Luis's famous "Otros Pueblos' ('Other Peoples' series). For me it will be another opportunity to renew my contacts and friendships with indigenous Ni-Vanuatu there. They are a people that are basically a lot more sensible than many of our present-day leaders in the 'modern' world.

You actually think that our leaders are sensible? How can they be? Listen to this statement given in April 2001 to the US senate's House International Relations Committee by the US Secretary of State Colin Powell: "If we hold true to the principles of our system, and if we keep advocating that system around the world, we are going to continue to reshape this world in a way that will benefit all mankind…There is no ideology out there that can truly compete with what we can offer to the world…what we have to do is not to be afraid and remain strong…and be willing to fight and deter those who will not be a part of this new world." And this is not a Hollywood movie script; it's the real thing!! Well, a part of this new world at the moment seems to be 'our system' in a stage of economic upheaval that is definitely not benefiting anyone - except for those sneaky ones at the top of the system who have for years been immorally ripping off the system to the detriment of those lower down: a few of those have recently been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, but there are untold numbers more of them obviously trying to keep a very low profile at the moment. If I happen to come across any shifty-looking US (or others) CEOs, bankers, auditors, stockbrokers, etc, who have suddenly become 'beachcombers' in isolated Vanuatu, you readers will be the first to hear of it.

I will still be submitting 'An Anthropological View' (although not necessarily every week) from wherever I am, if it is possible. Meanwhile, until one returns to Eivissa, good reading and good thinking.

Kirk W Huffman