The Sexual Life of the savages

“the sexual life of the savages of northwestern Melanesia”,

Ethnographic description of the loving arrangements, marriage and family life of the indigenous people of the Trobriand Islands (New Guinea).

source: Malinowski’s book

A love that lasts as long as life.

Sexual issues make up half of knowledge.

Tacitus had already founded the conception of the wild “noble” who lived in the forests of early Germania. In the 18th century, French explorers and missionaries were enthusiastic about the “primitive man” when they discovered the Americas and Oceania and the strange but so graceful and fantastic customs and customs of their inhabitants.

Diderot wrote the “Supplement to the Bougainville Journey” to show his contemporaries how superior Tahitians were to them over sexual morality. Bacon considered sexual matters to be half of knowledge. Freud began the study of sexual instinct and its manifestations through rites and customs.

Freud long believed that the repression of sexuality in patriarchal society was the foundation of social order. Malinowski had to show him that in primitive and matriarchal societies, sexuality was the basis for organizing communities so that a few years before his death, Freud, in London where Malinowski had welcomed him, would reconsider his ideas of sexual repression, the role of Thanatos and stick to a more positive vision of our human existence.

Sexuality dominates, in fact, almost every aspect of culture.

 excerpts from the book : 

Sexuality involves love and loving approaches, it becomes the nucleus of institutions as venerable as marriage and family; it inspires art and is the source of its incantations and magic. It dominates, in fact, almost every aspect of culture. Sexuality, in its broadest sense, is more a sociological and cultural force than a mere carnal relation between two individuals.

The natives treat sexuality not only as a source of pleasure but as something serious and even sacred. On the other hand, their customs and ideas are not such as to deprive sexuality of its power to transform raw material facts into admirable spiritual experiences, to surround with a halo of romantic love what is a little too technical in romantic approaches.

The institutions of the Tobrianders are designed to allow the brutal passion to purify itself and to become a love that lasts as long as life, to penetrate personal affinities, to strengthen itself through the multiple bonds and attachments that create the presence of children, the common anxieties and hopes, the goals and interests that make up family life.

Some photos of the Trobriand Islands and Bronislaw Malinowski

Carte de la Mélanésie et des îles Trobriand
Map of Melanesia and Trobriand Islands

The rules of life among the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands

Book Summary:

The filiation of the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands is matrilineal

The filiation of the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands is matrilineal: offspring, kinship and social relationships start with the mother. Their idea is that the mother would be the sole author of the child’s body, the father not contributing to its formation. This does not prevent them from having a well-established marriage institution. The social role of the father is secondary to that of the brother of the mother who descends to him from the same mother (grandmother). The life of a native of the Trobriand Islands thus takes place under a double influence: from his mother’s family, from which he derives the inheritance and power, and from his father, who raises and nourishes him. There is no balance between the influence of paternal love and the matriarchal principle which creates tensions.

Women in marriage will live in their husband’s village, and children who have grown up must live in their mother’s village unless their father has enough influence to keep them with him. This rule is the main source of conflict as fathers try to keep their favorite children with them. One solution is marriage between cousins, leading to sexual taboos and prohibitions on incest to eliminate it.

The location of the village

The village is concentric with two rings: the inner ring consists of granary houses in which the crops are located, the outer ring includes the dwelling houses. In the center are the dance ground, the cemetery, the chef’s cabin and his attic house. The central arena is the place of life and public celebrations. The street that separates the two rings of buildings is the place of daily and domestic life, it belongs to women while the central place is the place of men.

Administration of daily activities

The administration of daily activities is based on the principles of equality and independence of functions: the man is the master because he is in his own village and the house belongs to him, but the woman (and her brother) is the legal head of the family. The husband shares with the wife the care to be given to the children. He caresses and walks the child, cleans and washes it, nourishes it. Carrying the child on the arms or holding him on the knees is the role and duty especially devolved to the father. This is how we discover in the intimacy of domestic life another aspect of the interesting and complicated struggle between social and emotional fatherhood on the one hand, and maternal law, legally, explicitly recognized, on the other.

Personal ownership is very important; Both husband and wife have individual property rights over certain objects, and each must ensure that his or her objects are maintained. Women should not be regarded as housewives in the European sense of the word. Real estate is the property of men, but in inheritance there are arrangements. The hardest work is done by men, some manipulations are done together, e.g.: the preparation of certain shell ornaments.

Both sexes are placed on a level playing field

For the persistence and very existence of the family, men and women are indispensable, and the indigenous people attribute equal importance and value to both sexes. When speaking of his family, every man, whatever his clan, proudly brings out, as a fact of great importance to his lineage, the number of his sisters and their female children. It is the woman who holds the privileges of the family, but it is the man who exercises them. The idea of rank relates to certain hereditary groups, of a totemic nature. In all concrete manifestations of rank, traditional or social, the two sexes are placed on a level playing field. In the rich mythology behind the various sub-clans, a woman-ancestor is always next to the man (who is his brother) and there are even myths that trace the origin of a lineage to a woman, without the assistance of a man. Another important manifestation of the rank is represented by a complex system of taboos to which men and women must submit, e.g.: do not eat such food, do not drink such water, etc. If the woman marries a man of a lower rank, she cannot violate her taboos, e.g.: she’ll have her own food. The power of the chief rests on polygamy, but women do not enjoy the right to polyandry.

The exercise of power in social life belongs to men

Since women were eliminated from the exercise of power and land ownership and were deprived of many other privileges, it followed that they could not take part in tribal meetings on social life. However, she has her say and takes an active part in a number of ceremonies and parties. This is particularly true of the funeral ceremonies which are the most important in their solemnity and sacredness, as well as the most imposing in their scale and staging. Some of the functions that precede burial, including the ugly custom of cutting the corpse, are performed by men.

Children’s sex life:

Children in the Trobriand Islands enjoy considerable freedom and independence.

They were emancipated from the guardianship of the parents at an early age. More often than not, when parents flatter or scold their children by asking for something, they address them as equals. Here one never addresses a child a simple order involving the expectation of natural obedience. One of the effects of this freedom is the formation of small communities of children, independent groups which naturally include all children from the age of four or five and in which they remain until puberty, and this community in the community acts only in accordance with the decisions of its members and is often in an attitude of collective opposition to the elders.

As young children, they began to understand and conform to tribal traditions and customs. Children’s freedom and independence also extend to the sexual sphere.

First, children hear a lot about things related to their elders’ sexual lives and often even attend some of its events. At home, no special precautions are taken to prevent children from being eyewitnesses to parents’ sexual intercourse. I have often heard a little boy or girl praised in these terms: “he is a good child: he never tells what happens between the parents.” A little girl can accompany her father fishing among naked men and listen to the men’s discussions. There is no embarrassment or shame provided this little girl doesn’t tell her mother or the other girls. A little boy, on the other hand, has less of a similar relationship with his mother or sisters because there is the incest taboo.

Children learn each other about the mysteries of sex life in a direct and practical way, from the tender age. It is only the degree of their curiosity, maturity or temperament or sensuality that determines their greater or lesser propensity for sexual distractions. Sexual pleasure, or at least sensual pleasure, is, if not the basis, at least one of the elements of childhood distractions. Children play with a keen sense of singular and romantic. Little boys look for animals, insects, rare flowers that they offer to little girls, thus imparting a certain aesthetic to their early sensuality. Often the small republic is divided in two, the boys and the girls separate to play on their own.

The love life of adolescence

From 12 to 14 years the boys have to leave their parents’ house, they join a house of singles or widowers.

At 12 to 14 years of age, a boy achieves physical vigor that accompanies sexual maturity and mental development is sufficient for him to be able to take part in the economic activities of the elderly in a punctual and fragmented manner. He then receives a special status and carries the pubic leaf. The little girl was already wearing the fiber skirt, she now seeks to make it more and more elegant and ornate. A partial family breakdown occurs at this stage. Brothers and sisters must separate under the taboo. Boys must leave their parents’ home so as not to hinder them in their sex life, they join a home of singles or widowers.

The girls also go to a house inhabited by a widow

The girls also go to a house inhabited by a widow. Adolescents are another small group of boys and girls. The group is divided into two gender sections. Although they are more attached to each other from a romantic perspective, it is rare for a teenager to appear together in public or in broad daylight. Both sexes arrange country parties and excursions and the pleasure they derive from their reciprocal relationships is added to that provided by new experiences and the elegance of the setting. They also engage in intersex outside the community of which they are a part. Whenever there is a ceremonial celebration in a nearby town that allows for a certain freedom of conduct and pace, young men and women go in groups (never young men and women at the same time, because these opportunities for fun are never available for both sexes).

Teenagers meet in their bachelor’s house or they arrange a corner in an attic house with a comfortable bed.

These arrangements are now all the more necessary because romantic relationships, which had until then been only a game, have become a passion. Love becomes passionate, while remaining free. Relationships were born from games and childhood intimacy, they know each other intimately but these feelings now ignite during certain entertainment under the intoxicating action of music, moonlight, cheerfulness and party clothes of all participants. Thus the young man and the girl are transfigured in each other’s eyes.

With time and age, their intrigues last longer, and the bonds that bind them together become stronger and more permanent. We then see the birth and development of a personal preference that gradually pushes back to the background all other love affairs. This preference may be rooted either in a genuine sexual passion or in an affinity of characters. Practical considerations soon came into play and, at a given moment, man began to think of stabilizing one of his bonds by marriage.

Every marriage is preceded by a more or less long period of sexual life in common

Under normal conditions, any marriage is preceded by a more or less long period of common sexual life. This is evidence of the depth of their attachment and the degree of compatibility of their characters. This period of trial allows the future spouses and the wife’s family to make the material preparations for marriage. During this period, neither party has any legal obligation. Man and woman can unite and separate at will. The partners have not yet completely given up their personal freedom. At certain parties that promote the license, the fiancés separate, each doing to the other an infidelity with a passing partner and this in all discretion. Apart from their nocturnal cohabitation, the two must always show up together and spread their connection in public. Any deviation from this must be decent, that is to say clandestine.

This preparation for marriage is based on a very important institution: the limited use single-sex home.

In each of these houses, a limited number of couples, two, three or four, may stay for a longer or shorter period in a quasi-conjugal community. Occasionally, these houses can serve as shelters for younger couples wishing to spend an hour or two in a romantic intimacy.

Couples are committed to an intimate approach, they must respect other couples and there is therefore no exchange of partners. On the other hand, couples only meet there for the night, making love discreetly without paying attention to others. Every day everyone goes about his business in his house.

In the Trobriand Islands, a man and a woman about to marry must never have a meal in common. This would seriously hurt an indigenous person’s susceptibility, as well as his sense of ownership. We blame a young girl who shares a man’s bed; the indigenous person blames no less the woman who shares a man’s meal.


Giving up sexual freedom does have a counterpart: a native of the Trobriand Islands acquires all his rights in social life only from the day he marries. As a result, there are no unmarried men among the mature, with the exception of idiots, the incurably disabled, old widowers and albinos. The same is true of women. A widow who delays remarriage to enjoy the sexual freedom granted to unmarried people, ends up drawing public reprobation for disrespect for the tribal customs.

For man, marriage has another very important reason: those are the economic benefits. Marriage entails a considerable annual cost of basic foodstuffs which the wife’s family pays to the husband. This obligation is perhaps the most important factor in the whole social machinery of the Trobriand Islanders.

The choice to get married is essentially limited: young girls in his totem class are eliminated for a young man. Second, endogamy permits marriage only within a certain political territory. And in this territory are added the limits of the clan.

The father acts as the spokesperson for the mother who is the only person to know about her daughter’s love affairs and marriage

The consent of the woman’s family is based on the father. Uncles and brothers, because of the incest taboo, cannot take care of the girl’s love affairs and it is therefore the father who regains a leading social role here, he acts as the spokesman of the mother who is the only person to know about her daughter’s love affairs and marriage.

From the morning the girl stayed with her fiancé, she is considered to be his wife.

Without it, the act is merely an attempt at marriage. The fact that the girl stayed with the young man, shared a meal with him and stayed under his roof amounts to a legal marriage, with all the obligations that it entails. This simple marriage declaration is followed by an exchange of gifts. It is the girl’s family that inaugurates the exchange of gifts, thus signifying her consent to the marriage. The first gift is simple: food cooked in a basket given by the girl’s father to the young man’s parents.

It is only at the time of the next harvest that the young spouses will build their own house, until then they live an extended honeymoon under the family roof. Then the spouses will no longer have to demonstrate in public any love impulses. Marriage is based on compatibility of characters and personalities, rather than on sexual compatibility or erotic seduction.

Customary forms of sexual freedom

While subject to certain restrictions, everyone enjoys great sexual freedom and finds many opportunities for sexual experiences. Far from suffering from the impossibility of satisfying one’s instinct, the indigenous has a vast choice and multiple opportunities for this purpose that do not exhaust all possibilities of romantic adventures. There are two categories of occasions, those encouraged and which favor marriages, the others which are derogations from the common sexual morality and which are carried out in secrecy because they often involve orgiac excesses.

The games of childhood and adolescence include erotic elements that increase in the time of the full moon. In the soft night light and comforting freshness, the whole population invades the central square, the young animate the games, the older are the spectators. These games allow for physical contact, verbal statements and the organization of appointments. After farandoles in which boys and girls hold hands, come the dizzying rounds punctuated by songs that quickly become obscene and are full of sexual allusions. Group games continue and are based on animal imitations or object use and include songs.

The favorite game is war

Most importantly, the favorite game is war. The players are divided into two equal camps mixing men and women (while respecting the taboo of incest between brother and sister). When one side takes over and manages to push the other back, the victors bully the captives. Players often cause considerable damage to neighboring houses, young trees and household objects nearby. If this game allows the expression of the brutal force and that of the skill, many players take advantage of it in purely erotic intentions and physical proximity allow intimacies that one does not otherwise obtain. The victors shout and then throw themselves at the vanquished, seize them and mating takes place in front of everyone.

Late at night, the game of hide and seek takes place,

the sexes are divided, men and women alternately hiding. This game favors appointments that are only preliminary to other meetings. It is therefore considered inappropriate for a married woman to play hide and seek.

Swimming games

During the hot days of the calm season, young men and women go to the beach, to the coves and the sea branches where they play swimming games. The game of pushing each other through the water often involves a hand-to-hand struggle, and bathing brings the human body into an attractive and stimulating light. These games are the starting point for romantic intrigues.

The harvest period is a time of joy and social activity,

constant community-to-community visits. Each village sends gangs of young men and women to carry food donations. These visits encourage the conclusion of intrigues between people from different communities. After sunset, boys and girls go to other villages for fun and only return late at night. All these activities become more intense as we approach the full moon.

Celebrations that are contests of dances, songs, gifts

The other category of games relate to parties that are contests of dances, songs, gifts made of flower necklaces or shells.

They allow participants to take advantage of themselves to be recognized for their merits and place in people’s esteem. The village chief is responsible for these celebrations.

The festival of caresses where the woman is free to inflict her lover considerable physical pain.

Until the arrival of the missionaries, there was a feast whose main motive consisted of erotic caresses that were performed in public, without any restraint. When a boy and a girl feel strongly attracted to each other, they are free to inflict considerable physical pain on their lover, by scratching, hitting and even hurting them with a sharp instrument. The boy accepts them with good humor, because he sees in them a testimony of the love of his beloved and a proof of her temperament. Coming out of this slit party is a sign of manhood and a sign of success.

A woman’s ambition is to hurt as many men as possible. a man’s ambition to receive as many cuts as possible and to collect his reward from each of his attackers. The sexual act is performed in public, in the central square; married people took part in the orgy, the man and the woman behaving without any restraint, even under the eyes of each other, even under the gaze of the brothers and sisters to whom the taboo of incest applies.

Casual intercourse.

The custom allows two kinds of occasional intercourse: after the wake that takes place immediately after the death, people who came from the nearby villages leave late at night but it is customary for some girls to stay to sleep with boys from the village where the death occurred. Their usual lovers do not oppose it and should not oppose it. In a distant time when the foreigner was not a source of mistrust and was more chosen, it was considered a duty for a young girl in the village to spend the night with him. Presumably, hospitality, curiosity, and the charm of novelty took away from this duty what was painful.

Expeditions conducted alone or in groups to meet partners in another village

Another tradition involves expeditions, either alone or in groups, to meet partners in another village. Made at night, they must keep it a secret, otherwise the young people of the village defend themselves against intruders. The boys can organize these trips just as the girls can gather in a group to go to a nearby village.

Often the girls lead these expeditions in retaliation against an excess of expeditions of boys coming from another village, so they take revenge on their lovers who too often visit the surrounding villages. If not, it is because the men have long gone fishing or on business trips and have decided to take solace elsewhere. It also happens that girls who have made a pretty wardrobe for them decide to show it to a wider audience than their village, so it is also an opportunity to receive gifts in other villages.

These female expeditions are arranged in advance. If the boys enter the village at night, the girls hide at the end of the afternoon in the groves near the village to make up and arrange their toilets and the boys approach only on the signs of the girls once the latter have sung the song that indicates they are ready. Very soon the whole village is faced with the group of girls except the girls from the village who shy away from the intrusion of rivals but they are forbidden to manifest other more aggressive attitudes.

In the evening, the meeting begins with the exchange of gifts. The boy chosen offers the girl a present. By accepting the gift the girl shows that she accepts that the young man becomes her lover for the night. Couples retreat into the jungle and into a clearing, smoking, eating, singing, each couple apart. Every once in a while, you see a young man and a young girl leaving the front of the pack, without anyone paying attention. There is no orgiac excess at these meetings but it is an opportunity to create love intrigues that can last for a long time. The return trip for the girls is very delicate and sometimes they are discovered upon arrival which leads to settling accounts. The perpetrators are insulted, beaten and sometimes raped in public: boys hold the girl while her legal “owner”, possesses her as punishment.

In the south of the island there is a particular custom: women work together in the fields and when they see a man from another village, they have the right to rush to him to submit him to sexual violence. Usually they take off their skirts to run naked over the man, undress him and get him to ejaculate then they defile him to the point of making him vomit. They tear his hair out and the man is so beaten that he can hardly get up and leave. This practice only occurs during the weeding period in the fields. It must have been very rare, and is spoken of more out of curiosity than as a regular and frequent practice, but it does dissuade foreigners from coming and the men of the village appreciate it because they are quiet in the face of this absence of potential rivals.

The other parts of the island find this custom barbaric and take advantage of it to despise the people of the villages that maintain it. However, its economic value is obvious: these angry women deter any stranger from going to the fields or to their village, which surely protects the plantations when they are most vulnerable. This may represent a case where sexual license helps secure the most vital economic goods…while creating stories that people enjoy…except for the poor victim who has had a lifetime of remembering sexual experience (women in question should also remember this).

Morality among Trobrianders

True dignity consists in being desired, to be conquered by charm, by beauty, by magic

Erotic games organized in particular periods are exceptional moments: the physical contact that is permitted is all the more appreciated because it is prohibited in ordinary circumstances. All preliminary erotic approaches must be performed under cover of darkness. Sexual deviations are very unpopular and are covered with ridicule. Through all their attitude towards sexual excess, the Trobrianders show the value they attach to restraint and dignity and how much they admire success, not in itself or for what it represents for man, but because the man who has success in love does not need to resort to active aggression.

The moral command not to rape, solicit or touch is based on the firm conviction that these are shameful processes, because true dignity consists in being desired, in conquering by charm, by beauty, by magic. Morals, morals, and aesthetic judgments are subordinated to the psychology of romantic strokes and magical conquest. There is a widespread disapproval of direct solicitation, greed, lust and, above all, the idea that it is a dishonor to be in need, to live a life of deprivation and want. On the contrary, abundance and wealth, combined with generosity, are a claim to fame

The sexual act is ethical:

the position adopted allows each of the spouses great freedom of movement to participate actively and equally in the exchange and the union. The Trobrians were horrified to see how white men would wallow on women’s bodies and crush them. A man ejaculates only once the woman has experienced a first orgasm and the act continues after until the partners are satisfied. The rapidity of the sexual act of white men makes them look like idiots or uneducated people, white women are pitied, they are lamented for not being able to know the pleasures that very well know the women of Trinidad

The teachings that are useful to develop our Art of Living.

A priority: clan survival

The whole organization is based on a priority: the survival of the clan. This means maintaining demographic development and the ability to live in peace with neighboring villages. The organization has a clear goal: face the greatest threat.

The backbone of this organization is the couple:

a man and a woman whose character, personality will come together to cross the hardships of life and transform sexual ties and original love into deep and unwavering tenderness for each other.

To promote these strong and lasting unions, the entire organization of children and adolescents is called upon. This is the main purpose of education, the second being the respect of the taboos and prohibitions of the tribe.

Sexuality and eroticism are part of education

and they represent a privileged means of communication for everyone to discover their favorite relationships from which they will select their life partner.

Romantic plots are recognized as necessary in order to make the right choice.

Marriage does not stifle sexuality under the weight of habits and the wear and tear of time. Social festivals and rituals foster the expression of strong sexuality in ceremonies where freedoms and excesses are allowed. In the community of the village or in the one that also includes the neighboring villages, it is possible at certain festivals to have a sexual relationship with any other person of the opposite sex either through a polite and informed approach or during more brutal war games. The other, the one you come across on the square or in the streets of the village, is not a stranger or a stranger: you can arrange to have a moment of privacy with him or with her. The possibility exists, and it takes a certain skill to achieve it. The use of violence is therefore totally useless and only the idiots who do not understand anything about using it can be quickly put into line.

Education is primarily carried out in groups of children of the same age who educate each other in an attempt to imitate adults.

The understanding of adult life is gradually being developed. Adults do not hide anything and the child witnesses the intimate life of his parents. Only an interpersonal contract links parents with children: they can see everything but must not say anything outside the family… because these are unspeakable moments of life. Over the years the reproduction of adult life is more complete and accurate, including in the sexual games of childhood and adolescence.

With this experience the understanding is complete and the child develops his or her personal knowledge within the framework of the ambient freedom which is granted to him or her subject to respect the fundamental intangible prohibitions but few in number. And he knows that at certain holidays, each year he will be allowed to transgress all or part of his prohibitions, without complex and in the eyes of all.

Without already using these principles of life to define the role of education and training in a networked organization, we can question what our children want to reproduce from the lives of their parents or adults, the values of our liberal and consumer societies. The answer is known: practically nothing. Everyone aspires to a different, better life, less dependent on the work of others to enrich themselves, less subject to king money, etc.

How then can we motivate our children to learn knowledge, starting with mastery of the language of their social group?

No pedagogy is capable of solving the situation. Saint-Exupéry picked up an African saying that reflects this situation:

“The Earth is not a good that our parents leave us but a good that we borrow from our children.” Saint-Exupery.

The child without resorting to hours and hours of schooling with his masters, quickly realizes that borrowing turns into theft, plunder and fraud, starting with adults who come to destroy, build, pollute his playgrounds chosen precisely for the beauty and tranquility of their landscapes… in the Trobriand Islands like everywhere else on Earth!

In adolescence, children leave their parents to start gradually starting their couple in a separate house where they have a place of their own while continuing to eat with their parents.

The satisfaction of economic needs is therefore secondary and comes after the priority of living a sexual life capable of leading to a strong and lasting conjugal union.

Everything is done by families to promote these unions and it is the girl who decides this union

The separation of powers between men and women ensures equality,

each having his own area of responsibility and complementary property in the couple. However, the legal priority is given to the woman and future mother because she is the one who gives birth to the children and this reality is unavoidable. As kindergarten is self-evident, the custom imposes a duty on the father to educate the children. It is therefore the couple together who raise the children and one of the two spouses does not have a place behind the other.

Economic ties are based on the many gifts and gifts that must be offered to each other in many circumstances and at the holidays. Someone who does not share automatically alienates himself from his clan, which for him represents a huge risk of exclusion.

Individual property exists and remains distinct even in marriage: each of the spouses remains the owner and responsible of his or her objects.

On the other hand, the work to maintain real estate and gardens is done in groups, in community. Women tear fields together passing from field to field, stopping only when all fields have been made, regardless of the size of each field. During the harvest, the one with the largest field will give gifts to others, will share and the matter will remain there. The property is individual, but to maintain it, logic and efficiency demand that the work be communal, for this is how the village maximizes its chances of abundant harvests.

The result of this organization corresponds to a social life in which violence is minimized and channeled in order to free oneself, if necessary, during games and ceremonies that serve as a way of unwinding. Culture is characterized by a concern for tolerance, a sense of sharing and the search for pleasures both in the landscapes of nature and in intimate pleasures. The prohibition is reduced to the need to preserve the essential: avoid problems of inbreeding during relationships between children of the same family or between children and parents. For the rest many things are tolerated as long as they remain secret and do not disturb daily relations otherwise the sanctions are immediate and if the difference between spouses persists, the marriage is dissolved and everyone goes back to form new conjugal bonds.

To ask someone directly for something is very unpopular because there is a risk of imposing your decision on them. The rule is that consent must be obtained after a skilled and informed approach: you must first make a real effort to communicate with the other before you request it, and you cannot go against its refusal, if it happens. If he accepts, in return and quickly you will give him a small gift. This cannot be more assertive!… and this also applies to sexual relations in the couple: the man (in principle) makes his request, the woman accepts and the man gives him a small thank you gift. The man who would not do so would be known to everyone in the next few hours and his image severely tarnished… we are a thousand places from the current domestic violence and murders! For the Trobrianders, this is totally unimaginable!

We will use these elements in the next steps of the decision-making scheme to position alternatives and measure the risks of these proposals.

order the book: sex life of the wild

On the Trobriand Islands, the population was basically condemned to idleness because there was little work.

Taking Malinowski’s book about the natives of the Trobriand Islands out of the library once again may be relevant today:

civilizations have always had to deal with the issue of work for all. Idleness being the mother of all vices and labor being the essential foundation for building its social identity, the peoples who had the means occupied their populations in major works, generally related to their religious culture or, as in the case of the Romans, to works of conquest of neighboring countries.

On the Trobriand Islands, this possibility did not exist: not enough stone quarries, little wood for the navy, narrow territory. The population was basically doomed to idleness and certainly to decline.

To make up for this handicap, the population had only to look after itself: men, women, adults, children, etc. hence the importance of rites and celebrations to organize love affairs, couples and exchanges between families and villages.

How are we going to do it when we’re working less and the machines are producing everything?

This brings us to our leisure society, or at least to our society that has less and less need for human labor because it uses more and more machines. What are we going to do when we go to work even less in our trading economy enterprises? Living with RSA? We’re going to do big pharaonic work when machines can do it?

Today the answer is known: workers at work pay and will pay more for the inactive because our systems of power always want to keep their grip on the whole population: it is forbidden to work in the non-market economy other than through volunteerism, the status of civil servant is only tolerated momentarily and is destined to disappear for the leaders of the liberal system.

Here we are facing the neo-liberal dictate: work more to earn more, and in that “earn more” is the payment of public services and social benefits. To pay pensions, workers must work longer and therefore longer, until age 65, age 67, and some politicians affiliated with the capitalist system openly claim to be at least 70.

In short, it is not up to the rentiers and shareholders to reduce their profits to finance social assistance, and even less the Social Security which, moreover, really exists only in France because of the communists and the resistance who in 1945 wanted to implement it. We can certainly point out that with the AMGOT in 1945 in France, we would not have had a social security system.

Because of the exclusive selection of private property and the prohibition of common property by the rulers of the liberal, capitalist system of political and economic power, human activity is limited to the work done by these rulers to maximize their profits and to prevent their system from imploding or exploding. This is the economic horror that Hannah Arendt described.

The Trobrianders show us how we can live without having to work hard when the resources to work are low, without falling into idleness.

On the contrary, by developing romantic relationships, pleasures based on sexuality and the use of nature not transformed by man, they achieved a strong social cohesion without individual and collective violence by multiplying the opportunities to love other partners without breaking the conjugal relationship… it took them time and solicited their imagination, forced them to produce all kinds of gifts to promote these relationships.

If we choose to use machines instead of human labor, so be it! but then let’s organize our life without idleness or dependence and produce more social, romantic, communal relations to also eliminate our current customary violence. Alongside the Egyptian example where people worked with stones when working in the fields was no longer possible because of floods, the example of the Trobriand Islands answers this question: what to do together when there is virtually no work opportunity or when we have broken our alienation from work imposed by a system of economic power.

For us, these wild natives did not do too badly to the point of beating Malinowski and his friend Freud around 1930… and some of us still today.

So-called “primitive” societies do not want a state

Pierre Clastres: his monograph of the Guayaki Indians of Paraguay.

read also his main thesis: so-called “primitive” societies are not societies that have not yet discovered power and the state, but rather societies built to prevent the state from appearing. He is known for his work in political anthropology, his anti-authoritarian beliefs and commitment, and his monograph of the Guayaki Indians of Paraguay.

Bronislaw Malinowski has formulated the Anthropological Theory of Functionalism.

which was one of the most important sociological theories of the twentieth century.


Functionalism was one of the most important sociological theories of the twentieth century. It consists of a reading of society understood from the functions that ensure its stability. After a golden age marked by the works of Robert K. Merton and Talcott Parsons, functionalism has largely lost its aura in the sociological community. It is, however, a major source of inspiration for important contemporary sociologists.

Western Pacific Argonauts

Functionalism is a theory first used by Bronislaw Malinowski in the book The Argonauts of the Western Pacific, the product of a long and participatory observational work he carried out in the Trobriand Islands.

It is an alternative to the prevailing anthropological theories of evolutionism and diffusionism. Evolutionism analyzes different societies’ practices as the results of their evolution. Asserting the uniqueness of the human race, evolutionism accounts for differences between societies by their degree of development. On the contrary, diffusionism views societies as fundamentally diverse. The practices observed there are the result of cultural borrowing from neighboring societies. Diffusionists explain the functioning of societies from the history of the transmission of knowledge between different groups.

A society should be analyzed not from its history but from its functioning

Malinowski broke with these two theories by arguing that a society should be analyzed not from its history but from its functioning. Observing the magical rites surrounding the construction of the canoes, he refuses to understand them as exotic and irrational facts. He points out that these rituals allow the people of Trinidad to fight the stress of going to sea. So the practices that seem the most benign have a function. And this function corresponds to a human need:

“For the functionalist, culture, that is to say, the complete body of instruments, the privileges of his social groups, the ideas, beliefs and human customs, constitute a vast apparatus which puts man in a better position to face the specific concrete problems which stand before him in his adaptation to his environment to give course to the satisfaction of his needs”. “Having found in Émile Durkheim a common connection between the notions of function and need, Malinowski made him the father of functionalism”.

Malinowski’s functionalism thus assumes that every practice has the function of meeting the needs of individuals. But at the same time, it is always the whole of society, not its separate elements, that meets individual needs: “Culture is an undivided whole with its various elements interdependent”

British anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe Brown will propose an alternative analysis by relating the different functions of culture not to the needs of individuals but to those of society as a whole: “The function of a particular social use is the contribution it makes to social life as the whole functioning of the social system.

To go further in functionalism and structuralism, theories that today serve to legitimize the social influence of the leaders of the system of economic and financial power, namely voluntary submission, read our page on the functioning of the system of education and training and the standardization of knowledge, the first step:  voluntary submission is based on methods of work organization that legitimize the function and role of the leaders of the system of power.

We point out what error Malinowski made in his understanding of the way of life of the native people of the Trobriand Islands and how this error formed the basis of the present ideology.


…/… It is the functional analysis of how society works to teach citizens that their work can only be part of the role-playing process to perform the functions necessary to meet our needs. An individual will can only be marginal and irrelevant to the functioning of the system and the fulfillment of political, economic and social functions…/…

Structuralism will be clearer and clearer by openly laying down the notion of a system, of a model to be followed, as well as the notion of management processes and value creation, in an attempt to demonstrate the legitimacy and indispensable character of systems that work well and create a great deal of added value.

Functions no longer depend on individual or collective willingness to meet needs or desires. Functions are intrinsically part of a global whole that would exist as soon as there is any human activity that is organized. These activities are part of a visible or hidden structure that contains its logic and reason, and this structure is superior to and binding on individual activities.

The student simply has to observe the situations that are put in front of him and that have been selected so that he discovers for himself the model of behavior and functioning that he must understand in order to be able to adhere freely at least on the intellectual and academic, academic and then professional levels. The selection of situations, as any selection uses the model of casuistics, we have seen, then it is necessary for the student to admit that he knows nothing, that his initial representations are false, especially in the face of the model that is submitted to him for acceptance.

Camouflaged under the pedagogical qualification of the theory “the student acting on his knowledge”, we find here once again a myth gathering utopias to conceal the purpose of this management of the education and training system: to bring students and students into patterns of behavior, of single thought to obtain from them a voluntary submission to the functioning of the system of power. It is certainly not a question of learning to create new structures by starting by creating new empirical situations; for example, an economy without private central banks with a monopoly on money creation, which would be able to finance life projects with a full currency and would also be able to manage the capitalization of social rights because we would already be outside the neo-liberal system of power and destroying its main foundations…./…

We will use these teachings of the Indigenous Trobriand Islands just like those of the Moso, Iroquoises, Monte Verità in our part 4, the art of living in life networks.

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