Monday, January 17, 2005

Anthropology of Smurf

A post about The Smurfs? Well, yes.

Interestingly enough, rumors and conspiracy theories abound that the Smurfs are a diabolical plot by their creator Peyo (and others?) to indoctrinate the youth of Europe (and later America) with the morals of communism. viz:

They live together, and share everything
Papa Smurf bears a striking resemblance to Karl Marx
Brainy Smurf bears a strikng resemblance to Trotsky (to the extent that he is continually exiled)
Gargamel (representing capitalism) is perpetually trying to turn the Smurfs (Proles) into gold

Bear with me, but I find this pretty interesting. Interesting not in the sense that the Smurfs bear a resemblance to Soviet communism (which they don't), but that the Smurfs epitomize the very qualities which industrial communism cannot achieve, and which form the foundation of the hunter-gatherer way of life. If anything, I think that the Smurfs are a parody by Peyo of Soviet communism by illustrating how a society with such ideals would really look:

- Small scale: only on the tribal/family scale can societies prevent the formation of hierarchal structures.
- Live close to nature: you don't see Smurfs working in coal mines or assembly lines.
- Discussion-orriented decision methods, leadership by respect, government by morality
- Primarily hunter/gatherer

So maybe Peyo was actually saying that an alternative to industrial capitalism is possible, but we need to look to this model (our hunter-gatherer past) to understand how to proceed. Not only did his Smurfs place taboos on ownership and greed, but he also warned about the hidden side effects of technology. An interesting guy, and perhaps a means to spread these concepts to a wider audience...

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