Following my article a few days ago about Rhodesia and white supremacists, I received this e-mail from a reader.
Feel free to publish my comment, if you like — but please do not publish my name.
I think that it is clear from your writings that you oppose the Apartheid approach to the ordering of civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa. I think that it is also clear that you acknowledge that current conditions in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (and, perhaps, to a somewhat lesser extent, in South Africa) are simply dreadful — for both whites and blacks.
What is not clear to me is how you would would recommend as an alternative. How would you propose to organize and govern countries like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and South Africa in light of the potent and undeniable realities of race, IQ, and culture (and their attendant, inescapable, behavioral consequences) that you addressed in your essay yesterday (“IQ, Countries, and Coping Skills”)? What alternative can you identify to the widely discredited system of Apartheid that will not result in the appalling dysfunctionality and squalor that characterizes Sub-Saharan Africa today?
That's the problem, right there. I can't recommend an alternative, because right now no alternative exists. The realities I mentioned in "IQ, Countries and Coping Skills" are inexorable and unavoidable. Go read that article for yourself, and look at the map of Africa with its appallingly low average IQ compared to the rest of the world. That's reality. If we deny, or protest, or ignore that reality, we're living in cloud cuckoo land. That reality is also the reason why every single effort to "uplift" the people of Africa has, so far, failed miserably.
In his 2002 essay "Let Africa Sink", fellow former South African Kim du Toit wrote:
Just go to the CIA World Fact Book, pick any of the African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi etc.), and compare the statistics to any Western country (eg. Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland). The disparities are appalling — and it’s going to get worse, not better. It has certainly got worse since 1960, when most African countries achieved independence. We, and by this I mean the West, have tried many ways to help Africa. All such attempts have failed.
Charity is no answer. Money simply gets appropriated by the first, or second, or third person to touch it (17 countries saw a decline in real per capita GNP between 1970 and 1999, despite receiving well over $100 billion in World Bank assistance).
Food isn’t distributed. This happens either because there is no transportation infrastructure (bad), or the local leader deliberately withholds the supplies to starve people into submission (worse).
Materiel is broken, stolen or sold off for a fraction of its worth. The result of decades of “foreign aid” has resulted in a continental infrastructure which, if one excludes South Africa, couldn’t support Pittsburgh.
Add to this, as I mentioned above, the endless cycle of Nature’s little bag of tricks — persistent drought followed by violent flooding, a plethora of animals, reptiles and insects so dangerous that life is already cheap before Man starts playing his little reindeer games with his fellow Man. What you are left with is: catastrophe.
The inescapable conclusion is simply one of resignation. This goes against the grain of our humanity — we are accustomed to ridding the world of this or that problem (smallpox, polio, whatever), and accepting failure is anathema to us. But, to give a classic African scenario, a polio vaccine won’t work if the kids are prevented from getting the vaccine by a venal overlord, or a frightened chieftain, or a lack of roads, or by criminals who steal the vaccine and sell it to someone else. If a cure for AIDS was found tomorrow, and offered to every African nation free of charge, the growth of the disease would scarcely be checked, let alone reversed. Basically, you’d have to try to inoculate as many two-year old children as possible, and write off the two older generations.
So that leaves only one response, and it’s a brutal one: accept that we are powerless to change Africa, and leave them to sink or swim, by themselves.
. . .
The viciousness, the cruelty, the corruption, the duplicity, the savagery, and the incompetence is endemic to the entire continent, and is so much of an anathema to any right-thinking person that the civilized imagination simply stalls when faced with its ubiquity, and with the enormity of trying to fix it.
There's much more at the link. Go read it all.
I don't agree with Mr. du Toit's proposed solution, as those who've been reading this blog for a while will understand: but I most certainly understand the anger, frustration and bitterness that caused him to come to that conclusion, because I've seen everything he did, and more. It's repeating itself all over again in the current Ebola crisis in Congo, about which I've written frequently in these pages. African tribal culture is, very specifically, the reason why the disease has not yet been contained, and threatens to spread even further. (Go read the last-linked article for yourself, if you haven't already. It's true, every word.)
If you look at how Western civilization developed, it came about through the education of the people over centuries, building on a shared Christian faith rooted in antiquity, founded on classical Greek and Roman culture, and expressed in religious and national sentiments that (for all their shortcomings and defects) provided a framework for people to move through and beyond the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution (all of which produced our society today). It took many centuries for all those influences to have their effect. Africa has experienced none of them - no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, no Industrial Revolution. It's had elements of all of them grafted on from external sources, but has never developed them internally, challenging its people to rise above primitive superstition and tribalism to something better.
The colonial era, following the so-called "Scramble for Africa", might have helped change that through education and economic development; but those weren't the motives for colonization. Colonial powers wanted cheap resources to fuel their own economies, and markets for the goods those economies produced. They saw colonies as something to exploit, not as a place to invest money or resources. As a result, when African colonies became independent after World War II, most had few (if any) trained, qualified, experienced (and, above all, honest) leaders and administrators. The veneer of colonial civilization was soon stripped away, and tribal culture returned with a vengeance. (I note with interest current Chinese efforts to "colonize" Africa economically. The only reason they've succeeded so far is that they import their own people to manage everything, and to perform all skilled functions. They're not investing in local education and training except to the unavoidable minimum extent, and they bribe local politicians to ensure that they can run their enterprises with a relatively free hand. If they do it any other way, they'll find out what every African learns, sooner or later . . . Africa wins again. It will do so again, even over China, given time.)
The same goes for indoctrinating Africans with various and sundry philosophies, political perspectives, economic theories, and what have you. I've seen the US Peace Corps at work in a number of African nations, and I remain profoundly unimpressed at their efforts. (Ask Lawdog sometime about his experiences of what the Peace Corps did in Nigeria. He can wax fairly profane about it.) In the same way, I've seen the results of Communist propaganda and "education" in Africa (often courtesy of Patrice Lumumba University in the former USSR). They've been disastrous for those countries run by graduates of the latter institution. Karl Marx may have regarded European religion as the opiate of the masses, but he never encountered African tribal superstition! It would have driven him stark staring bonkers. No external philosophy of government has ever really succeeded in tribal Africa, and it won't, unless and until the tribal mentality is overcome.
The one thing every old Africa hand has learned the hard way is that you can't impose a solution to that continent's problems from outside. Only if it arises from the people themselves does it have any chance of success. Tragically, the corrupt African powers that be know this . . . and so they ensure that anything that might develop into a threat to their hegemony is either co-opted, or nipped in the bud. They have no hesitation in bribing, assaulting, exiling, jailing or killing anyone who might threaten their control. That includes those of their people who are better educated, particularly those who've been "infected" with Western ideals through non-governmental organizations, and contact with aid workers and groups. You can bet none of the people trained by Doctors Without Borders to deal with the Ebola outbreak in Congo will ever be allowed to occupy senior positions in the government health ministry . . . not unless they've been co-opted into the existing power structure, and given up any outlandish ideas about actually accomplishing something.
Tragically, that also means that any African who manages to get a halfway decent education and/or qualification immediately tries to leave for another continent, where he can make a better life for himself. He knows damned well that if he tries to do so at home, he'll be exploited to within an inch of his life by his tribal extended family, the powers that be (who want to tax him for all they can get), and the limitations of the society in which he's forced to live. Therefore, rather than help his own people, he helps himself by leaving. I can't blame him. In his shoes, I would, too.
Therefore, I can't propose any way to "organize and govern countries like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and South Africa in light of the potent and undeniable realities of race, IQ, and culture (and their attendant, inescapable, behavioral consequences)". I can't "identify [an alternative] to the widely discredited system of Apartheid that will not result in the appalling dysfunctionality and squalor that characterizes Sub-Saharan Africa today". There is no practical possibility whatsoever of doing so from within, because those solutions require education, the end of tribalism and superstition, and a willingness to work for the greater good of society - all of which are conspicuous by their absence in almost every part of Africa. And, since there's no internal structure to support such political solutions, they can't be imposed from outside, either. China is making them work economically only because it imports every skilled worker it needs from China to staff its African enterprises. It could not succeed if it relied on local workers and administrators.
Africa is hamstrung. It has no way forward unless and until it develops an educated people who understand that they have to move beyond the shackles of past superstition and tribalism if they're to join the modern world. Tragically, the powers that be in Africa have no intention whatsoever of allowing any such education to take place, because they know it would mean the end of their rule. Africa is at an impasse, and I see no way forward at this time. All I can suggest is that we try to support and defend any potential progress - and worthy individuals - we can identify there, try to protect them from the rapacity, greed and ruthlessness of local rulers, and see whether, in due course, the shoots of democracy and freedom will take root and grow in what has proved to be a Dark Continent indeed.