An individual of the tribe of Iks, famous for their general malevolence towards all other human beings. They were described by a certain C. M. Turnbull in his book "The Mountain People". They as a people were relocated from their homes and forced to live in squallor in a wasteland outside of their native land which had recently been turned into a nature preserve. The Iks as a whole are a rotten people. They share nothing, they never sing or dance, they force their children to work in the fields as soon as they can walk, and starve their elders to death. They defecate regularly on the doorstep of their neighbors. A rather interesting people. I highly suggest this book simply for it's depressingness, as well as Lewis Thomas's essay "Iks" for it's less depressing content upon the same subject.

The above writeup actual doesn't do full justice to the full, startling self-centerdness of Ik culture. The Ik live in a particularly arid and resource-poor region of Northern Uganda, an environment so harsh that the Ik have abandoned all forms of sharing, social exchange, and reciprocity. They seem more like creations from a J.G. Ballard story than an actual living example of a functional culture. The Ik may honestly be the only human culture with literally no social structure at all.

Every Ik hunts and forages alone, and shares their food with nobody. One could be well-nourished, and watch their sibling, child or spouse starve to death without lifting a finger. The term spouse is misleading, though, as the institution of marriage no longer really exists among the Ik.

Two Ik of opposite sexes will live together because one person cannot build a house alone. Once the house is complete, if the two are even home together at the same time, it is more or less through coincidence. When an Ik woman has a child, she will care for it until it reaches the age of three or so, at which time it will be turned out to fend for itself. A child that hopes to survive will join a roving group of children of about the same age, who band together for mutual defense, mostly from adults who will try to steal their food. Most Ik say that their main reason for having children is that these roving groups will tend to scare scavenging birds and babboons off of the fields.

In his The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph Tainter gives the Ik as the ultimate example of the completely collapsed society. There's evidence that the Ik once possessed a more normal and structurally complicated society, such as the fact that they still retain clan names, though these no longer possess any significance. It's unclear what exactly caused the Ik to end up in their present state, though the best guess is that they were displaced from their old territory.

Ik (?), pron. [See I.]



Piers Plowman.

⇒ The Northern dialectic form of I, in Early English, corresponding to ich of the Southern.


© Webster 1913.

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