The Instigator
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The Contender
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Traditional Tribal Societies are better than Modern Western Societies.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/18/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,010 times Debate No: 12569
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
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I propose that tribal societies are better than modern western societies. I propose this for the following reasons which will be further elaborated on in the next round.

1). Tribal societies place less stress on the environment, use less natural resources and are generally more ecologically friendly and sustainable then western societies.

2). Tribal societies have limited medical technology resulting in a balance of birth and death rates which in turn results in a stable population and as per the above, limits the impact on the environment and avoids the problems associated with rapid population growth and a large aged population.

3). Tribes have simple governing structures which often involve direct, democratic discussion on societal issues thus making most tribal societies more democratic and also less prone to violent revolution or rebellion.

4). Tribal societies often afford responsibilities and tasks to every member of the tribe, thus enabling all people to contribute and feel important and to lead a purposeful existence and thus avoiding the western problems of low self esteem, drug abuse and other societal ills resulting from people's lack of purpose in life.

5). Tribal societies have simple needs and very few wants, resulting in sustainable economic systems. The limited economic choices available to tribe members enable them to feel more satisfied with the choices they do make.

6). Tribal societies often have limited and/or simplistic world views and information in general, the truthfulness of which is also generally agreed upon by everyone. This results in reliable and time honored knowledge/views (traditions) which removes the burden of people having to make their own conclusions and also the fear of uncertainty. It also prevents the ideological conflict and information overload suffered by most westerners.

7). Tribal communities are smaller and most often its members interrelated, resulting in a close knit and united community which is less likely to splinter into subgroups or fall apart during hard economic or political times.

8). The elderly of a tribe are generally more well cared for and held in much greater esteem than the elderly in modern western societies.

9). Tribal societies only have access to the food they can grow which is of course all natural, resulting in a generally healthier populace devoid of diseases associated with artificial chemicals found in processed food and with an overabundance of food in general.

10). Tribal societies can withstand natural and man-made disasters much more easily because of their small size and simple structures than large, complex modern societies can.


Introduction: I thank my opponent for this debate and I would greatly appreciate it if any spectators could point out things that I did wrong after then debate. Thank you!

It can be agreed upon, judging from your first ten points of support, that a better society is measured in three aspects: the survivability of the society as a whole, the satisfaction of subgroups and individuals, and the survivability of subgroups and individuals. The survivability of society as a whole is the most important of the three, outweighing both of the other two combined. I will now provide a counter of each of my opponent's ten points and then provide support for my argument.

The pro's first point deals with the environment and its impact on our survival; this will be addressed in my argument.

In my opponent's second point, he tried to say that medical technology is bad. Overpopulation would result in dire consequences, but currently, Western Societies are not overpopulated. Rapid population growth and a large aged population can be handled fairly in today's society. A tribe however, through their lack of medical technology, can be destroyed completely by disease.

The third support is true only for tribes in ideal situations and must then be compared to Western Societies today in their ideal state. Take for example, The United States. It is perfectly democratic and is free of violent revolution or rebellion. Also, the US government must address societal issues thousands of times more complex than tribal issues and it has done so successfully. So in this aspect, tribal societies are no better than modern Western Societies.

My opponent's fourth support deals with individual satisfaction. To say frankly, I think most people would rather live a life with no purpose than live a purposeful life of struggling to survive. Societal ills and low self esteem were probably present in tribal societies. Can you prove that they were not?

My opponent's fifth support deals with the ability of societies to deal with economical choices. Let me ask, what kind of economical dilemmas will tribes run into?

My opponent's sixth support states that with less choice of view of the world, people in tribes will be more satisfied with their decision. I would consider it a privilege to be able to pick from a large array of choices for world views, and to find ones that would make the most sense to me. There are definitely tribal people with different world views that are not satisfied in a completely not-diverse society, where the unanimous world view conflicts with that of the individual. Also, unanimous world views can lead to easy manipulation, as demonstrated in the history of the Church in the Dark Ages.

My opponent's seventh point seems to support nothing at all. Firstly, what's wrong with subgroups? The United States splintered off of England and most people thing that's a good thing. Also, what kind of "hard economic or political times" are tribes going to be faced with? For one thing, they could have a shortage of food, and in that case, a tribe could fall apart just as easily.

The 8th point of support deals with the treatment of the elderly. His argument is false. Tribes worried about survival first. Hunter-gatherer tribes had to move a lot, and when the elderly couldn't keep up, they were left behind because the tribe could do nothing; their survival was at stake. Also, since the average lifespan was well under 50 years, how many elderly were there? With their primitive or nonexistent medical technology, there just may have never been many elders at all.

The 9th point of my opponent deals with the diet of tribesmen. It is true that their diet would be all natural, but how often can they worry about a healthy diet when half of the time they have to worry about finding just enough food to survive? They may also not have access to vital vitamins and minerals not present in the food that eat in a particular period of time. Also, if there are disease involving foods of their limited diet, it would have a much greater impact, possibly total, on the tribe. Very humorously, since when was an overabundance of food a bad thing? We have never achieved such a state yet anyway, so this is not a valid point.

My opponent's final point states that tribal societies can cope with disasters better than modern Western Societies. This is not true, since today, we have to power to stop many disasters and modern technology allows us to cope with it better.

Argument (organized as the three points of measurement):
The survivability of society: I believe there is no argument here, taken over all. Today's society is more diverse. Genetically, there is more genetic variation today and thus, a lower chance for the extinction of humanity. Many of my opponent's arguments here conflict with each other. For instance, less medical technology is better for the population, while supposedly healthier foods will benefit the individuals. One of the more important points here is that we have the power to control things today. Modern Western Societies can stop disasters and/or cope with them effectively, while tribal societies cannot.

The survivability of the individual: With better medical technology and safer world, the people of today's Western Societies have a lifespan that doubles that of tribal-aged people. That is a fact and surely seals this aspect of the argument.

The happiness of the individual: My opponent's argument in this area is mainly based on the idea that "ignorance is a blessing". However, I believe firstly that anyone would be happier doing things not solely for the sake of their survival. The diverse Western Society of today offers sanctuary for people that hold any world views. Finally, the people of Western Societies today have the power to control their own destiny.

That is all for this round, and I'm looking forward to my opponent's rebuttal!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for my opponent accepting this debate.

After evaluating my opponent's rebuttal I believe it is necessary to make a couple of clarifications. Firstly, the definition of a tribal society.

The anthropological definition for a tribe is as follows:

My opponent has made references to nomadic hunter/gatherers and/or wandering bands which does not fall into the definition provided and so is irrelevant to this debate.

A second clarification is the definition of a "better society". I believe the definition of a "better society" cannot be objectively determined as preference for a certain standard of living and/or differing values will undoubtedly affect one's definition of what constitutes a "good" society over a "bad" one. And thus what societies are better than others. What I propose instead is that this debate concern what type of society, either tribal or modern/western is more conducive to human survival as a species. Will my opponent please note that his/her specifications for a "better society" generally fall under this and so are still relevant.

A final note: in several instances my opponent has referenced tribal societies in the past tense. Will my opponent please acknowledge that tribal societies still exist in some parts of the world.

As promised in my opening statement I will now elaborate on the starting points made in the first round.

Point 1:

The following article concerns the un-sustainability of several western societies as well as developing societies using western models which are un-sustainable as a result. It also mentions the activities of a tribal society which are sustainable.

Point 2:

What follows is a simplified sequence of events resulting from the introduction of modern medical technology to a tribal society.

1). A tribal society without advanced medicine must have a high birth rate in order to continue genetic lines due to high infant morality rates. This high infant mortality and mortality in general however keeps population levels down.

2). Medicine is introduced resulting in decreased mortality rates. This results in more children surviving past infancy and a surge in the population of young people.

3). This increased rate of survival results in parents having to have less offspring in order to continue the genetic line. This results in decreased birth rates.

4). At the same time, decreased mortality rates lead to people living longer lives and thus results in an increase in the aged population.

The combination of not enough children being born and too many elderly citizens leads to the population being unable to sustain itself naturally (i.e. without immigration). This is the case for many western societies and is an increasing phenomenon in developing societies using the western development model.

Many western societies admit to there being serious problems with providing for the wellbeing of a large aged population:

Point 3:

A small population is able to partake in direct democracy. That means that people are able to be heard directly. Western societies are representative democracies which require representatives who don't always have the interests of the people in mind. With a close society that is able to partake in direct discussion of issues, it is highly unlikely that any one member will feel they have been left out or their views not considered. This in turn means that they are unlikely to react violently towards the society which does not agree with their views. Western societies have past and present been torn by civil unrest resulting in violence. Some western societies have even split apart due to civil war.

Point 4:

I will address my opponents rebuttal of my 4th statement directly.

"My opponent's fourth support deals with individual satisfaction. To say frankly, I think most people would rather live a life with no purpose than live a purposeful life of struggling to survive."

This part of the rebuttal is conjecture. There is no way my opponent can prove what people's preferences are and furthermore my opponent seems to be ceding the victory to me on this point.

"Societal ills and low self esteem were probably present in tribal societies. Can you prove that they were not?"

This is a negative proof fallacy. It is not up to me to prove that societal ills and low self esteem based on a lack of purpose in life are not present in tribal societies. The burden of proof lies on my opponent to prove that these problems are indeed present in tribal societies.

Point 5:

This point is not about economic problems but in the way in which the limited economic/consumer choices of a tribal society are more beneficial than the over-abundance of choices available to those in the west. The video displayed provides evidence that too much choice is detrimental to the wellbeing of individuals in society:

Pont 6:

This point relates somewhat to the above one. But to digress, a universal world view unites people across vast distances, such as the Islamic World. In a tribal situation, it allows each member a sense of identity and equality with their peers.

Point 7 & 10:

The division of humanity generally brings with it conflict, as is evidenced by my opponents example of American independence from Brittan. Tribes may face political strife when there is a leadership disagreement and economic strife when a resource runs out. However, due to their interconnectedness, such issues or problems can be resolved much easier.

Pont 8:

In a tribal (not nomadic) setting, the elderly are revered for their knowledge/skills and looked after by the young.


C.C forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Because my opponent has forfeited this round I will assume my opponent does not have a rebuttal for my arguments. Unless my opponent offers a rebuttal in the next round, I will assume he/she has also ceded victory to me.


C.C forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Bix forfeited this round.


C.C forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Bix forfeited this round.


C.C forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by C.C 6 years ago
Hmm interesting. I shall accept this when I think of an adequate counter.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 6 years ago
"Tribal societies can withstand natural and man-made disasters much more easily because of their small size and simple structures than large, complex modern societies can." - Lulz, a famine would destroy a Tribal socieyt. Not necessarily with a modern society though.
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