Category Archives: Race

NEW COLUMN: ‘Shithole Countries’: What Makes A County? The Place Or The People?

Africa, Donald Trump, Human Accomplishment, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, Race

“‘Shithole Countries’: What Makes A County? Place Or People?” is the current column, now on The Unz Review, America’s smartest webzine. An excerpt:

President Trump’s questioning of immigration into the United States from what he crudely called “shithole” countries masks a more vexing question:

What makes a country, the place or the people? Does “the country” create the man or does the man make the country?

To listen to the deformed logic of the president’s detractors, it’s the former: the “country” makes the person. No sooner does an African or Haitian immigrant wash up on American shores—courtesy of random quotas, lotteries and other government grants of privilege and protection—than the process of cultural and philosophical osmosis begins. American probity and productivity soon become his own.

As an African libertarian—an ex-South African, to be precise—I took the liberty of addressing the matter in the book “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” in which a Cameroonian scholar, Daniel Etounga-Manguelle, among others, is extensively cited.

Easily one of the most controversial thinkers on the causes of underdevelopment in Africa, Etounga-Manguelle, a former adviser to the World Bank, contends that “What Africans are doing to one another defies credulity. Genocide, bloody civil wars, and rampant violent crime suggest African societies at all social levels are to some extent cannibalistic.” Why? In part, because of the inveterate values held by so many Africans.

Etounga-Manguelle and scholars like him, cited in “Into The Cannibal’s Pot,” are responding to an “explanatory vacuum” that has opened up among honest academics.

All have been willing to admit that constructs like racism, discrimination, and colonialism no longer serve as credible causal factors in divining underdevelopment and delinquency.

None has been called upon to enlighten the greater public.

In such intellectually candid circles, the intellectual “vacuum” is being filled with reference to culture, namely the “values, attitudes, beliefs, orientations, and underlying assumptions prevalent among people in a society.” …

…  Human behavior is, indubitably, mediated by values. Nevertheless, we’d be intellectually remiss to deny that the cultural argument affords a circular, rather than a causal, elegance: people do the things they do because they are who they are and have a history of being that way.

What precisely, then, accounts for the unequal “civilizing potential,” as James Burnham called it, that groups display? Why have some people produced Confucian and Anglo-Protestant ethics—with their mutual emphasis on graft and delayed gratification—while others have midwifed Islamic and animistic values, emphasizing conformity, consensus, and control?

Why have certain patterns of thought and action come to typify certain people in the first place?

Such an investigation, however, is verboten …

READ THE REST. The essay, “‘Shithole Countries’: What Makes A County? Place Or People?” is the current column, now on The Unz Review, America’s smartest webzine.

UPDATED (1/18): What The “Shithole” Shitstorm Proves, Conclusively

Donald Trump, IMMIGRATION, Labor, Left-Liberalism, Race

One thing is crystal clear, after watching the “shithole” shitstorm, sparked by President Trump’s comments, Thursday, behind closed doors, and fanned by a scurrilous media:

Big Media, Big Business, Big Politics—these American institutions and the individuals institutionalized within them—are all Social Justice Warriors 1st; media, businessmen and politicians second.

Last Thursday, “the president used the word ‘shithole’ to describe Haiti and African countries in a private meeting with lawmakers.

Negotiations over a deal on the DACA program, which has protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported, froze this week after Trump derided African nations as “shithole countries” and asked why more immigrants couldn’t come from Norway during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers to discuss a bipartisan immigration proposal.

Trump merely questioned why the US welcomes so many uneducated, civilizationally incompatibly immigrants from undeveloped countries.

There is no way one can watch the frothing that ensued and reach the conclusion that the outrage over “shithole” countries is all a quest for “cheap labor.”

Big Media, Big Business, Big Politics are true believers.

RELATED: “The Fake Sanctimony Over A ‘Barnyard’ Word In A Filth-Drenched Culture.”

UPDATE 1/18:

NEW COLUMN: A New Party Boss In South Africa Is No Reason To Party

Africa, Communism, Democracy, Morality, Political Philosophy, Race, South-Africa

THE NEW COLUMN comes abridged and unabridged. “A New Party Boss In South Africa Is No Reason To Party” is the short and not-so-sweet version, now on Townhall.com.

In Africa, You Oust A Tyrant, But Not Tyranny” is longer with lots of “inside baseball” for the nerds. It’s on the Unz Review, America’s smartest webzine.

An excerpt:

READERS were angry. I had rained on their parade by venturing that the appointment of a new party boss to head South-Africa’s dominant party was an insignificant game of musical chairs.

But perhaps it is I who should have been annoyed. Nobody with a modicum of cerebral agility should see in the new South-African Strong Man, union boss-cum-tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, a significant change of the guard.

Surely by now it should be common knowledge that in Africa, you replace a despot, but not despotism; you oust a tyrant, but not tyranny?

There’s a reason Ramaphosa riles crowds at a South African Communist Party rally just as easily as he excites the head of Goldman Sachs’s South Africa office. (For a clue, ask yourselves how a union boss becomes a tycoon.)

In the tradition of dimming debate, the chattering class has reduced systemic corruption in South Africa and near collapse in Zimbabwe, respectively, to the shenanigans of two men: Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe.

Emblematic of this is a thematically confused  article in The Economist, offering a description of the dynamics set in motion by the Zuma dynasty’s capture of the state.

At first, the magazine explains the concept of “state capture” as “private actors [having] subverted the state to steal public money.”

Later, the concept is more candidly refined: “The nub of the state capture argument is that Mr. Zuma and his friends are putting state-owned enterprises and other governmental institutions in the hands of people who are allowing them to loot public funds.”

Indeed. Corruption invariably flows from state to society.

And, “state capture” is quite common across Africa, even if “unfamiliar elsewhere in the world,” which is all the “context” The Economist is willing to provide.

“To avoid a dire, two-decade dynasty of dysfunction, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress should ditch the Zumas,” the magazine concludes.

That’s it? If only.

The Corruption of South Africa,” courtesy of The Economist, hurtles between being an excellent exposé, yet providing nothing more than reportorial reductionism.

Continental context, if you will, is essential if one is to shed light on the “Dark Continent.”

To wit, the seductive narrative about the ANC’s new boss, Cyril Ramaphosa, gets this much right: There is nothing new about the meaningless game of musical chairs enacted throughout Africa like clockwork. The Big Man is overthrown or demoted; another Alpha Male jockeys his way into his predecessor’s position and asserts his primacy over the people and their property.

Elections across Africa have traditionally followed a familiar pattern: Radical black nationalist movements like the ANC take power everywhere, then elections cease. “One man, one vote, one time,” to quote the book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Or, if they take place, as they do in South Africa, they’re rigged, in a manner.

For a prerequisite for a half-decent liberal democracy is that majority and minority status be interchangeable and fluid, and that a ruling majority party (the ANC) be as likely to become a minority party as the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). In South Africa, however, the majority and the minorities are politically permanent, not temporary, and voting along racial lines is the rule.

So, as the dictator Mugabe hung on to power for dear life, reasonable people were being persuaded by the pulp and pixel press that if not for this one megalomaniac, freedom would have flourished in Zimbabwe, as it has, presumably, in Angola, Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and the rest of strife-torn Africa south of the Sahara. …

… READ THE RESTA New Party Boss In South Africa Is No Reason To Party” is now on Townhall.com.

In Africa, You Oust A Tyrant, But Not Tyranny” is on the Unz Review.

UPDATE II (12/18): Why All Three South-African Presidents Supported Robert Mugabe

Africa, Colonialism, Democracy, Environmentalism & Animal Rights, History, Race, South-Africa

NEW COLUMN, “Why All Three South-African Presidents Supported Robert Mugabe,” is on Townhall.com. An excerpt:

On November 21, after 37 years in power, Zimbabwe’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, resigned in infamy.

By contrast, the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, was revered in the West. His successor, Thabo Mbeki, was well-respected.

Yet over the decades, both Mandela and Mbeki lent their unqualified support to Mugabe.

When the baton was passed from Mbeki to the populist polygamist Jacob Zuma, the current leader of South Africa’s dominant-party state, little changed in the country’s relationship with Zimbabwe.

Why?

And what is the significance of the support Zuma and his predecessors, Mandela and Mbeki, have lent the Zimbabwean dictator over the decades?

Wags in the West love to pit the long-suffering African people vs. their predatory politicians. As this false bifurcation goes, the malevolent Mugabe was opposed by his eternally suffering people.

While ordinary Africans do seem caught eternally between Scylla and Charybdis, the government of Zimbabwe—and others across Africa—doesn’t stand apart from the governed; it reflects them.

Consider: Early on, Mugabe had attempted to heed “a piece of advice that Mozambican president Samora Machel” had given him well before independence. As historian Martin Meredith recounts, in The State of Africa (2006), Machel told Mugabe: “Keep your whites.”

Mugabe kept “his whites” a little longer than he had originally envisaged, thanks to the Lancaster House agreements. These had “imposed a ten-year constitutional constraint on redistributing land. … But in the early 1990s, with the expiration of the constitutional prohibition, black Zimbabweans became impatient.”

Nevertheless, noted African-American journalist Keith Richburg, “Mugabe remained ambivalent, recognizing, apparently, that despite the popular appeal of land confiscation, the white commercial farmers still constituted the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy.”

Restless natives would have none of it. Armed with axes and machetes, gangs of so-called war veterans proceeded to fleece white farmers and 400,000 of their employees without so much as flinching. In the land invasions of 2000, 50,000 of these squatters “seized more than 500 of the country’s 4,500 commercial farms, claiming they were taking back land stolen under British colonial rule.” (CNN, April 14, 2000.)

These Zimbabweans assaulted farmers and their families, “threatened to kill them and forced many to flee their homes, ransacking their possessions. They set up armed camps and roadblocks, stole tractors, slaughtered cattle, destroyed crops and polluted water supplies.”

The “occupation” was extended to private hospitals, hundreds of businesses, foreign embassies, and aid agencies. The looting of white property owners continued apace—with the country’s remaining white-owned commercial farms being invaded and occupied.

This may come as news to the doctrinaire democrats who doggedly conflate the will of the people with liberty: These weapons-wielding “mobs of so-called war veterans,” converging on Zimbabwe’s remaining productive farms, expressed the democratic aspirations of most black Zimbabweans. And of their South African neighbors, a majority of whom “want the land, cars, houses, and swimming pools of their erstwhile white rulers.” Surmised The Daily Mail’s Max Hastings:

“[M]ost African leaders find it expedient to hand over the white men’s toys to their own people, without all the bother of explaining that these things should be won through education, skills, enterprise and hard labor over generations.”

At the time, former South African president Mbeki had chaired a special session of the United Nations Security Council, during which he ventured that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe. Some American analysts had therefore hastily deduced that Mbeki, who was president of South Africa from 1999 until 2008, was “a sidekick to the man who ruined Zimbabwe.”

How deeply silly. And how little the West knows!

Mbeki led the most powerful country on the continent; Mugabe the least powerful. The better question is this: Given the power differential between South Africa and Zimbabwe, why would Mbeki, and Mandela before him, succor Mugabe? Was Mandela Mugabe’s marionette, too? Yet another preposterous proposition.

… READ THE REST. Why All Three South-African Presidents Supported Robert Mugabe” is on Townhall.com

UPDATE I (12/2):

UPDATE II (12/18):