An interwar German novel was the forerunner of a great Leftist lie
Probably the most influential piece of anthropological writing in the 20th century was Coming of age in Samoa, written in 1928 by Margaret Mead. I read it myself in my long-gone teens. After the work of Derek Freeman, however, there is no doubt that it is a pack of lies.
Those lies were however influential. Like most anthropologists, Mead was strongly Leftist and one of the great "achievements" of the 20th century Left was to tear down morality. Mead was central to that enterprise. Her book purported to show that there was no restrictive sexual morality in Samoa and that free love was normal there. And Samoan society in general was presented as some sort of Garden of Eden. The take-home message, therefore was: "If the Samoans can do it, so can we". So Mead gave pseudo-scientific justification to Leftist rejection of existing standards and helped portray defenders of moral standards as ignoramuses.
The entire controversy is now old hat, of course, though some anthropologists still make excuses for Mead and continue to praise her. Some, such as Hiram Caton, carry their denial to the point of claiming that Freeman was mad, in the usual Leftist ad hominem way. I myself had an exchange with Caton over that. See here and here.
I write this post, however, to point out something I have recently discovered: Mead was not the first to use Samoans to make totally fictional propaganda points. I refer to The Papalagi (Der Papalagi), a book by Erich Scheurmann published in Germany in 1920, which contains descriptions of European life, supposedly as seen through the eyes of a Samoan chief named Tuiavii. As an anthropologist, Mead could well have heard of it.
The book is a patent fiction but not everyone wants to believe that. It has been popular among Greenies and their ilk even in recent times. Scheurmann depicted Samoa as a primitive Garden of Eden too. The return to a romanticised rural past was of course a well known feature of German National Socialist (Nazi) thought so it should be no surprise that Scheurmann was well-regarded by the Nazis and wrote propaganda for them.
Some desire for a simpler life and an addled rejection of modernity is also at the core of the modern-day Green/Left. It is remarkable how little the Left has changed in that regard. That a book by a Nazi sympathizer should be at least the forerunner, if not the inspiration, of a great Leftist lie should surprise no-one who knows how "Green" the Nazis were or how misanthropic modern-day Greenies are.