Miscellany 3: Mohandes Gandhi; George Tenet; Achilles and Troy; Jeffrey Sachs
© 2004 Joseph George Caldwell. All rights reserved. Posted at Internet web sites http://www.foundation.bw and http://www.foundationwebsite.org . May be copied or reposted for non-commercial use, with attribution. (6 June 2004, updated 8b June 2004)
Some observations on the past week’s reading.
[Note: You may be puzzled why I make so many references to Time magazine and The Economist magazine in my writings. The reason is simple. For the past two years I have been living in Lusaka, Zambia. There are quite a few magazines available from South Africa, but the only weekly magazines that are available from the US are Time and Newsweek, and the newsstand that I frequent carries only the former. There are several weekly newspapers available from the United Kingdom, but the only serious weekly magazine is The Economist.
Also, please bear in mind that the observations presented here are unedited, extemporaneous writing – “thinking out loud.” They may occasionally ramble, and could benefit from some tidying up, additional research, and amplification. As I mentioned before, however, I have little time for writing at present, and these unedited, “rough notes” will have to do.]
(5 June 2004) While surfing the Web the other day, I came across the following quotation attributed to Mohandes K. Gandhi: “Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.” This is an interesting criterion for decisionmaking. My first reaction to it was that it was very “specialized,” i.e., it could serve as a basis for a moral code for only a very limited set of persons (e.g., charity workers) or circumstances. It is quite unlike, for example, Neale Donald Walsch’s general criterion for assessing morality: What is good is what works to achieve your goals.
It occurred to me that while Gandhi’s quote is very “Christlike” in nature, it is not at all “Godlike.” Viewing God as the creator of all things (“The Source”), and part of all things, it is He, ultimately, that created the “poorest, weakest” man. But for what purpose? Most of nature has nothing to do with “poorest, weakest” animals. It has to do with strength and joy and change and accomplishment and discovery and excitement and adventure and fulfillment – many things, but most of them totally different from “poorest, weakest.” The general objective of nature (i.e., God) is to produce happy, strong individuals, not poor, weak ones. It appears that it is Man, not God, that is directly responsible for (through his God-given free will) the existence of so many “poor, weak” people. In all of non-human nature, poor, weak creatures don’t evolve, and when they do occur, they quickly perish.
It is Man, therefore, that is directly responsible for the existence of so many poor, weak human beings. Now that human society has created so many poor, weak members, Gandhi would have it that all of human activity be directed toward helping the poor and the weak. But that may be exactly the wrong thing to do. That may directly cause the number of poor, weak people to rise, and for their condition to become even worse. It would be far better to consider why there are so many poor, weak human beings, and to take that into account in deciding ones next move. (In this context, it is relevant to note Condoleeza Rice’s comments on the importance of strategic thinking vs. tactical thinking, in Joe Klein’s article, “Condi: The Problem with Big Thinkers,” in his “In the Arena” column in the April 19, 2004, issue of Time magazine.)
The reason why there are so many desperately poor people in the world today is because of out-of-control human civilization and technology, and the consequent large human numbers and industrial activity. If the presence and number of poor, weak people is a concern, it would be better, in my view, to consider the reason why there are today so many “poor, weak” people around, rather than spend much time trying to help them directly (i.e., to help the particular ones alive today, whom the system created). They were created by human society. If their presence or number are concerns, it would be useful to consider how to change things so that there are not so many. The “poorest, weakest” men, by themselves, are simply a byproduct, or perhaps an indicator, of a system that does not work very well (at least, not with respect to producing a high percentage of non-poor, non-weak men). They are a symptom. To focus attention on them instead of the system that created them, is nearsighted, and probably counterproductive. Attention would be better spent in focusing on the cause of this problem, not on particular symptoms of it. There are many other serious problems in the world today, including mass species extinction and global warming. These all stem from the same source (large human numbers and industrialization). It is the cause that should be the focus of attention, not its diverse symptoms.
From the viewpoint of “fixing” the system so that there are fewer wretchedly poor people, what the poorest, weakest man wants is totally irrelevant. He probably just wants, at the moment, some food, clothing and shelter. After that, he will want more material goods, such as the ability to have and provide for many children. But in a world that is choking to death on industrialization and large human numbers, the production of more food, clothing and shelter for human beings is the last thing that should be done. To do so (as a policy) will surely complete the destruction of the biosphere.
(5 June 2004) In the wake of all of the consternation over the intelligence failures relative to the September 11 attack on the US and the War in Iraq, CIA Director George Tenet resigned a few days ago. This resignation was not unexpected. Tenet has worked for the CIA for the past nine years, and served as its Director for the past seven. He has been the man in charge for many years prior to these two major intelligence failures. It is logical that he would be blamed for them, and have to leave.
It should be noted, however, that the principal reason for these intelligence failures has little to do with George Tenet, although even he may not realize what that principal reason is. The principal reason for the failures is the Immigration Act of 1965. Prior to the passage of that Act, the US allowed very few immigrants in each year, and most of them were of Northern European racial and cultural stock, closely related to the racial and cultural stock of the dominant US population. Following the passage of that Act, the immigration floodgates were opened, and we now accept millions of immigrants each year (one million legal, two million illegal) from all cultures. The country has totally lost control of its borders.
The US is no longer a relatively homogeneous culture, as it was prior to 1965. It is now commonplace to see people from all cultures, in large numbers, everywhere in the US. In many places, cultures that were once foreign to the US (Chinese, Indian, Thai, Korean, Lebanese, African) have displaced the native US culture. If you take a taxi in Washington, DC, the driver will not be of the US native cultural stock of 1965 – he will be Lebanese, or Pakistani, or African, or of almost any other culture. If you hired a gardener in Charlotte, NC, in 1965, he would likely have been a native-culture high-school or college student earning some spending money. Now, he will be Mexican.
For the past forty years, the US has opened its borders to immigrants from all nations of the world. Those nations, however, have not reciprocated. If a US citizen calls the Indian or Pakistani or Japanese or Chinese or Korean or Thai embassies and asks to immigrate to their countries, they will laugh in your face. (I discussed this several years ago, in Can America Survive?: “As observed by Peter Brimelow (Alien Nation), most nations of the world simply do not accept immigrants. America is a laughingstock. If a white American applies to immigrate to China or Japan or India or South Korea or Taiwan or Mexico or Jamaica or Egypt, they will laugh in his face. As Brimelow notes, the US allows 1.6 million residents of Chinese origin, but China will not accept a single immigrant. China and Japan know what the game is; the US does not.”)
From the point of view of intelligence, the situation is now totally untenable. The US has allowed millions of people from other cultures into the country. It is now impossible to protect ourselves from foreign spies. In the Second World War, the shibboleth “lollapalooza” was used by US soldiers to recognize Japanese soldiers. That would now be impossible. Thanks to the Immigration Act of 1965, all foreign governments have massive spy resources in the US. But we do not have massive numbers of US immigrants in those countries. Don’t be silly! No country that is concerned with preserving its culture and with national security would do such a stupid thing!
Here’s another quote from Can America Survive? (written 1994-98): “In his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington discusses the fact that global politics is being reconfigured along cultural lines – that peoples and countries with similar cultures are coming together, and those with different cultures are coming apart. The US – established as a Christian nation – now contains from 3.5 to six million Moslems. The number of declared Moslems on active duty in the US military is 4,000, but the total number may be as high as 10,000 (St. Petersburg Times, 22 December 1998). Huntington is on the mark in his assertions about cultural adhesion. His view that global war can be avoided if world leaders cooperate to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics is wishful thinking. A paradigm shift is coming, but it will not be so much a shift as a total disconnect.”
The flood of immigrants to the US long ago reached epidemic proportions. The situation is exactly as described by Jean Raspail in his prescient book, The Camp of the Saints (see Can America Survive? for more on this).
The US has been quite ineffective in tracking down insurgents in Iraq. Little wonder. Do we have thousands of US immigrants in Iraq? Of course not. No country, such as Iraq, that wishes to survive as a nation or culture would allow mass immigration of the sort that the US promotes and encourages.
The US government was surprised that US troops were not welcomed with open arms after invading Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein. Surprising? Not really. In fact, not at all. The Iraqis would rather preserve their culture, even if it means having a strict, authoritarian government in charge. The US has made a religion out of freedom of the individual, tolerance, diversity, and permissiveness. And it has meant the loss of their post-WWII culture. The Iraqis do not want that for themselves. They do not want mass immigration, or to be polluted or tainted or changed in any way by the US invaders. They want to preserve their culture(s), and they are fighting to do so. The Iraqi cultures are cohesive and strong, and they will succeed (although probably not as a single nation, since present-day Iraq is comprised of three quite distinct ethnic groups – Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds).
The situation is very asymmetric. The US has millions of immigrants from foreign cultures in its population (foreign-born residents and citizens), but foreign countries do not have millions of US immigrants in their populations. We are now powerless to track down Arab terrorists within our borders, because we now have millions of Arabs living in our population. On the other hand, it is virtually impossible for the US to track down insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, because those populations are still homogeneous, and have not been weakened by the acceptance of thousands or millions of US immigrants.
The September 11 attack was implemented by people (mostly Saudis) who had free run of the US. US firms even taught them how to fly the aircraft that they slammed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center Twin Towers. As Malcolm X once remarked, “The chickens have come home to roost.” We are now paying for this extreme, suicidal foolishness. The Kennedy brothers brought about the Immigration Act of 1965, primarily as a means of loosening the Protestant grip on US politics. As a direct result, they destroyed US security. They provided the rest of the world with the means to infiltrate the US with incredible ease. As a result, waging of a “War on Terrorism” is virtually impossible to win. The enemy is now among us – an integral part of our culture.
In the Second World War, there were so few Japanese on US soil that it was practical to round them all up and place them in internment camps for the duration of the war. Thanks to mass immigration, such options are no longer feasible.
The war in Vietnam was difficult to wage because we could not tell the enemy from the friend. Having the ability to distinguish the enemy from your own citizens is an invaluable resource in waging war. We have deliberately destroyed our ability to do so.
The only rationale for accepting immigrants is national defense – as a resource base for spies. Desiring immigrants in order to have “cultural diversity” – a Thai or Lebanese or Korean or Chinese or Mexican restaurant nearby – is not an acceptable reason. Desiring immigrants to increase the gross domestic product is not an acceptable reason. Desiring to promote or facilitate free trade is not an acceptable reason. Desiring immigrants to enable “family reunification” is not an acceptable reason. Desiring immigrants to do “work that Americans do not wish to do” is not an acceptable reason.
This last point deserves further comment. I am reminded of a passage from Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (Abridgement of Volumes I-IV by D. C. Somervell). The following is presented under the heading, “The Advice of Artembares.” “Herodotus has a story which is very much to the point in this context. A certain Artembares and his friends came to Cyrus with the following suggestion:
‘”Now that Zeus has put down Astyages from his seat and has given the dominion to the Persians as a nation and to you, Sire, as an individual, why should we not emigrate from the confined and rocky territory which we at present possess, and occupy a better? There are many near at hand, and many more at a distance, of which we have only to take our choice in order to make a greater impression on the world than we make it as it is. This is a natural policy for an imperial people, and we shall never have a finer opportunity of realizing it than now, when our empire is established over vast populations and over the entire continent of Asia.”
‘Cyrus, who had listened and had not been impressed, told his petitioners to do as they wished, but he qualified his advice by telling them in the same breath to prepare their minds for exchanging positions with their present subjects. Soft countries, he informed them, invariably breed soft men.’”
The US has destroyed its national integrity. Given this situation, it is silly to think that George Tenet or anyone else could have avoided the intelligence failures that we have seen in recent times. It is as if someone had punched millions of holes in the hull of a ship, and then asked the captain to cross the Atlantic, without fixing the holes. It is impossible.
Time magazine has featured a number of articles on intelligence in its recent issues. One is “How to Fix US Intelligence,” in the April 26, 2004, issue. Another is “An American Terrorist,” in the June 7, 2004 issue. That article features a number of foreign immigrants who are terrorist suspects. It describes one of them: “Gadahn, 25, is an American through and through, born and bred in California, a speaker of unaccented English, intimate with the country’s habits and thus able to move about without arousing suspicion.” Incredibly, the US has implanted and raised its own foreign spies! With its arrogance – unlimited cultural diversity, tolerance, permissiveness, freedom, and so on – it has sown the seeds of its own destruction.
As I have written before, the current hearings on September 11 and the War in Iraq are simply “whitewashes.” They are concentrating on silly things, like a lack of coordination during the September 11 attack, or our lack of intelligence about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when they should be looking at the causes of these symptoms. We were easily attacked because we have nurtured many spies in our population, and created porous borders. We cannot operate effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan because we have insufficient spies there.
What should be done? Can anything effective be done? Certainly. But the US population, now totally heterogeneous, will resist any meaningful change. Unlike the internment of Japanese in WWII, they will not round up Saudis or Arabs or Moslems. Will they roll back the Immigration Act of 1965, and repatriate the millions of foreign-culture immigrants it admitted to residency and citizenship? No. Will the US restrict immigration to a one-on-one basis (i.e., for each immigrant admitted to the US from a foreign country, a native US citizen has to be admitted to that country)? No. The US population will not take any effective measures to rectify the situation. The new Director of the CIA will be changed with the same silly job of managing intelligence with his hands tied. The US will refuse to acknowledge the cause of the intelligence failures and the attacks on the US, and will continue to play the game with the rules stacked against it. It is no longer concerned with its survival as a nation. It made that decision in 1965, and it will not change it.
The US is now paralyzed in what has been termed the tyranny of the minority. There is no longer a single dominant culture in charge. When any nation reaches the point where distinguishable non-native minorities exceed five percent of the population, it has passed a danger point. When the minorities reach twenty percent, the nation has been destabilized. In the US, the once-dominant, homogeneous, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant dominant culture has now been overwhelmed, and the America of that era is no more. And this has happened as a result of conscious government policy – mainly the Immigration Act of 1965, but also other legislation, such as the “affirmative action” policies stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (another Kennedy initiative). I happened to see a list of various minority programs on a USAID website the other day. There must have been about a dozen programs listed, covering all sorts of minorities. The US is more interested in individual freedom, diversity, tolerance, and discrimination than it is in security. Unfortunately, it cannot have the former without the latter.
As I mentioned above, the US has made a religion out of individual freedom, to the point of its peril. Consider the issue of racial/ethic profiling. That is the practice of taking racial or ethnic characteristics into account when searching for a suspect. This practice makes perfect sense, and it is well grounded in scientific theory (Bayesian statistics, search theory). If a white man commits a crime, it makes sense to look for the criminal in the white population. If a black man commits a crime, it makes sense to look in the black population. Similarly, if the incidence of a particular type of criminal activity is higher for a particular race or ethnic background, it makes sense to apply a greater level of search effort to that population. If most drug dealers in a particular area are black (or Hispanic, or Italian), then it makes sense to apply more investigative effort to the black (or Hispanic, or Italian) population, than to search all populations with equal effort. But no. In the US of today, this is considered unfair. Laws have now been passed that prohibit racial profiling. But that is really unfair! It allocates the same amount of search effort to populations that may not be involved at all in the criminal activity. This in itself is a criminal misallocation of investigative resources, and blatantly prejudicial against the non-offending or less-offending population (i.e., investigating them just as intensively as the more-offending population).
If most of the September 11 attackers were Arab or Moslem or Saudi, then it makes perfect sense to examine the Arab or Moslem or Saudi populations more intensively than the nonArab, nonMoslem, or nonSaudi populations. Racial/ethnic profiling makes sense. But, out of fear of offending any racial or ethnic minority (even when the practice or policy is well founded), the US has decided to turn a blind eye to common sense, logic, and science, in its policies and procedures for finding criminals. It has placed its religious devotion to individual liberty (and diversity and tolerance and permissiveness) above its concern for security. And for this foolish, self-destructive behavior, it will pay dearly.
The US has a history of illogical and inconsistent policies, where the issues of race and ethnicity are concerned. In 1964, it passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning discrimination on the basis of race. But immediately, it passed all sort of “affirmative action” laws, condoning, approving and enforcing racial discrimination against whites. Today, forty years later, these laws – blatant racial discrimination – are gradually coming under fire, but they still persist.
It is a curious fact that only whites may be called racist (i.e., are accused of racism). I have lived in Africa for much of the past 13 years, and have seen much of this. When apartheid was the social system in South Africa, the US could not do enough to bring that system down. But the new system, with blacks in charge of the government, is as racist as the old one. At ANC rallies, the chant goes up, “Kill the Boer [Africaner], kill the farmer.” And each week, several white farmers and their families are brutally tortured and murdered. If the whites rallied and chanted, “Kill the kaffir [nigger], kill the black,” there would be an international outcry. But there is no outcry at all.
Under the white government of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), no black farms were confiscated. But the US could not stand to see a white government in charge of a black population. Under the black government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, white farms are being invaded by blacks, and whites are being brutally raped and murdered. The US has done nothing in response to this – whites governing blacks is totally unacceptable, no matter what the alternative. Blacks raping and murdering whites, and dispossessing their farms, is a small price to pay for democracy. The same policies of invasion and dispossession of white farms by blacks is about to be implemented in Namibia. Have you heard of this? Very unlikely. In Malawi, ethnic Indians were removed from all parts of the country, their businesses confiscated and given to blacks, and they were restricted to a particular part of Lilongwe (the capital city). Did this bother the US at all? Was this given any attention in the press? Have you heard of this at all?
In the US, the media could not give enough attention to the dragging death of a black ex-convict in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. But how much press coverage was given to the Labor Day Massacre – the brutal execution of three young white people (two women, one man) by blacks in Texarkana, Texas, on Labor Day, 2003? Practically none. Whites killing blacks is outrageous, intolerable. Blacks killing whites is simply regrettable. There is a Congressional Black Caucus in the US Congress. What would be the reaction to a Congressional White Caucus?
A strong nation is a group of people who are geographically proximate and relatively homogeneous with respect to language, race, religion, and culture. The US was always rather unique in that it always reflected a fair degree of diversity in all of these areas. But, in its arrogance, it has pursued a policy of radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, and radical diversity that no nation could withstand. It has tempted fate by opening up its borders to mass immigration from all cultures and establishing porous borders. It will now pay the price. By its foolish policies, it has set things up so that it is virtually powerless to prevent terrorism. It can continue to wage the War on Terrorism, but, as long as it continues with its nation-destroying policies of mass immigration, free trade, and open borders, it cannot win this war. It has decided that the loss of thousands of American lives is not too steep a price to pay for increased international trade and increased gross national product. The slaughter of Americans has just begun. And the US will continue to insist that there was nothing that could be done to prevent it, that no one could have seen it coming.
I have gotten a little carried away on this topic. The point is that the US has destroyed the integrity of its society, and is no longer in a position to monitor the terrorists that are free to roam among the millions of foreign-culture aliens that it has admitted into the country. Furthermore, since other countries have sensibly not allowed millions of Americans to immigrate to their nations, we are in no position to collect intelligence from foreign sources. No Director of the CIA could possible operated under these conditions. Tenet’s failure is not of his own doing – it was caused by America’s decades-long policies of mass immigration, porous borders, extreme individual freedom, and refusal to implement rational monitoring policies (such as racial/ethnic profiling). And the War on Terrorism will not be won until those policies are abandoned.
The War on Terrorism has been enabled by self-destructive US policies. If you want to see how it could have been prevented, look to America’s immigration and security practices of 1945. The strong US nation of 1945 has been destroyed. If you want to see how to win the War on Terrorism, think about what is required to build a strong, secure nation, and put that in place. Those policies will not include mass immigration, extreme diversity, and porous borders.
So will America wake up, and take the actions necessary to preserve its security? No, it will not. There is more money to be made in the short term from continuing on its current course. America is interested in money, and GDP is increased further by having and fighting a War on Terrorism than in not having and fighting one. Otherwise, America would have indeed implemented the changes necessary to avoid one, or would now implement the changes necessary to bring it to an end. The War on Terrorism will not end in the near future, because it is not in the interest of the economic powers who control the world to end it. I will say more about this in a later article on economic development in Africa (below).
(6 June 2004) My wife and I recently attended the movie, Troy. (Yes, Lusaka now has a fine Ster-Kinekor Theatre in its new Arcades Shopping Centre.) We really enjoyed it. It is an interesting, well-made, action-packed thriller. It is one of the best classical Roman/Greek movies I have seen. There is a good write-up of the movie in the May 24, 2004, issue of Time.
I was struck by one of the lines in the movie, when Achilles (Brad Pitt) says to the virgin temple attendant, Briseis (Rose Byrne (Byme?)): “The gods envy us because we are mortal, because we are doomed, because every moment may be our last.”
(6 June 2004) The May 22, 2004 issue of The Economist presents an article by Jeffrey Sachs, entitled, “Doing the Sums on Africa.” In this article, Sachs decries the fact that the developed Western world does not invest much in Africa in the areas of health care, education, economic development, and security, and that this leads to problems that require much more money to “fix” than the investment in preventive measures that would supposedly have avoided them in the first place.
Before making my comments, I will point out that I have spent much of the last 13 years working and living in Africa, and have a lot of firsthand experience in African problems. I have worked long-term in Egypt, Malawi, Botswana, and Zambia; I have worked short-term in Ghana; I have conducted business in Côte d’Ivoire and I have supervised contract work in the Central African Republic; and I have visited a number of other African countries (South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Mozambique). Sachs has occupied responsible, high-visibility positions in the US (formerly Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, presently Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University). In terms of direct, personal, on-the-ground experience, he has very little experience to compare to mine. My experience includes formal evaluation of the largest USAID local-level infrastructure development program in the world (the Local Development Provincial II project in Egypt), development of the civil service Personnel Management Information System for Malawi, development of the Education Management Information System for the Government of Zambia, and Director of Management Systems (chief information officer) of the central bank of Botswana, the Bank of Botswana.
Based on my experience, my overall assessment is that so-called “development” work in Africa is a complete and total failure. It is worse than a failure, since it has made the situation here worse than if it had never been undertaken. Sachs recognizes the failure of black nations to develop, but he points to a couple of countries as successes. “Well-governed countries farther south include Botswana and Mozambique, among others.” Well, I lived and worked in Botswana for two years. From the point of view of corruption and economic development, the country is indeed a success. I have considerable respect and admiration for the government officials with whom I worked. They are capable, dedicated, honest, hard-working people. But let’s look a little closer. In 1966, when Botswana became independent, there were 67,000 rhinos in the wild in Botswana. Today, there are none. The Botswanans slaughtered all of them, to sell to Yemenis to make dagger handles and to the Chinese for traditional medicine. Where is the success here? Botswana did not have to do this. It is very wealthy. A year after independence, massive deposits of diamonds were discovered, and the country has invested this wealth wisely.
And in Sachs’ second example, Mozambique – the country is basically a war zone littered with millions of land mines, following decades of civil war. And next door, in Madagascar, the human population is systematically causing the extinction of all of the world’s lemurs. In South Africa, after ten years of “democracy,” the cry goes out at the ANC rallies, “Kill the Boer, kill the farmer,” and several white farm families are raped, tortured and murdered every week. In Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, white farm families are raped, tortured, and murdered as part of a government plan to dispossess white farmers and give their lands to blacks. A similar plan is about to be launched in Namibia. In western Africa, the black nations have now brought about the total extinction of chimpanzees in the wild. A similar fate awaits the great apes of Uganda and the Congo.
Where I live now, in Zambia, is just one more example. At the time of independence, in 1964, Zambia was teeming with wildlife and forest. Now, all wildlife has been exterminated, save in a few reserves. The forest has been destroyed in many places, to make charcoal for an exploding human population. When the British handed Zambia over to the blacks in 1964, Lusaka was called “The Garden City.” By US standards, a visiting tourist would refer to most of it as an incredible, massive slum. Trees that are chopped down are not replaced. The sewage system is nonfunctional (or nonexistent) in much of the city.
I could go on and on, but what’s the point. There is in fact no example of a black nation that is managing its natural resources properly. All of them are bent on the total extermination of wildlife. None of them is committed to a strategy of long-term-sustainability with the human population living in harmony with a stable natural environment. (Lest I be accused of racist remarks – no white nation is managing its natural resources properly, either. But Sachs’ article and this one are about black-run nations in Africa, not about white-run nations in other parts of the world.)
Referring to the whites in Africa, a South African friend of mine once made the comment, “We shouldn’t be here.” She’s right. Before the white man arrived, Africa was a Garden-of-Eden paradise. When the colonialists left in the 1960s, the Continent was still largely intact. Now, it is a total disaster. Much of the wildlife has been destroyed, and what remains is in the process of being destroyed.
So what does Sachs propose that will change this dismal situation? More development! The very system that has virtually destroyed the Continent, and Sachs proposes more of it!
Why would Sachs do this? Well, the answer is rather easy. To an economist, the principal measure of effectiveness is gross domestic product, or GDP (or gross national product, or GNP). This measure, GDP, was introduced in the 1930s by Simon Kuznets, and has been embraced by economists ever since as the best overall measure of development progress. All economic policy is dominated by the attempt to maximize GDP. It would be nice if I could say that it is dominated by the attempt to maximize GDP subject to meaningful constraints, such as preserving the biosphere, or eliminating global warming, or stopping the mass species extinction, but I cannot. The only “constraints” that economists ever place on the maximization of economic growth are “pseudoconstraints” that may slightly affect the way that total GDP grows (e.g., preferring the building of ash precipitators for smokestacks vs. production of more Barbie dolls), but they never impose meaningful constraints (to stop species extinction or preserve the biosphere) that will in fact constrain GDP to any significant degree, or reduce it. Economists are committed to economic growth, even though it is destroying the biosphere in which we and all other species live and are dependent for our survival. They would never consider options that might lead to shrinkage of the economy, no matter what the consequences.
Here is a little more on GDP, from Can America Survive?:
“Many people do not realize the supreme importance placed on economic growth by our government. In the 1930s, Simon Kuznets introduced the uniform set of national accounts that became the prototype of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The horrible feature of using GDP as a measure of progress is that it does not discriminate between desirable and undesirable economic activity. If you smash a rock through someone’s car window, the GDP goes up by the amount of money required to produce and install a new windshield. If you break the replacement window, the GDP increases again. If you burn your neighbor’s house down, a large increase in GDP occurs. If you break your neighbor’s arm, the cost of the medical care that would otherwise not have been extended is added to GDP.
“If you stop caring for your children and place them in a commercial day care center, then GDP goes up. If your children spend money at the movies instead of spending time with you, GDP goes up. If you give up all of your leisure time and work two jobs, GDP goes up. If you divorce your wife and set up two households instead of one, GDP goes up. If you cause a massive pollution problem that costs billions to clean up, GDP goes up. If you drain an oil well or cut down a forest, GDP goes up. If an earthquake or hurricane occurs causing massive damage, GDP goes up.
“Wipe out families, deplete natural resources, and savage the environment, and GDP goes up. In summary, any time that any money changes hands for any reason, GDP goes up. There is no consideration of the good or ill effects causing or caused by the transfer. Nonmonetary social or environmental costs are irrelevant to GDP. Even Simon Kuznets, the creator of the GDP, has criticized its perverse nature. See the article, “If the GDP is Up, Why Is America Down,” by Clifford Cobb, Ted Halstead, and Jonathan Rowe, in the October 1995 issue of The Atlantic Monthly for more discussion of GDP (and of an alternative measure of progress, the Genuine Progress Indicator, or GPI).
“In other words, all economic growth is good economic growth. Economic cost-benefit studies were used decades ago to demonstrate that there would be an economic benefit to “channelizing” Florida’s wild rivers. The result: the US Army Corps of Engineers hence proceeded to destroy these rivers wholesale. The value of the wildlife in these rivers was of no serious consequence. It contributed little or no economic value, and was hence destroyed without further consideration. It was what economists refer to as an “externality” – a factor outside of the economic analysis.” [End of quote.])
So what does all of this mean, in the context of Sachs’ article? Well, it means a lot. Sachs writes: “In every aspect of Africa’s complex plight an ounce of prevention will be worth a ton of treatment. In recent years America gave a negligible $4m a year to Ethiopia to boost agricultural productivity, but then responded with around $500m in emergency food aid in 2003 when the crops failed. In the 1990s America gave less than $50m a year for Africa to prevent AIDS, so now it will spend $3 billion per year to treat the disease after it has spread to more than 50m Africans – 20m dead and 30m currently infected.
“America’s security outlays in Africa have shot up by $100m in the new East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative, and could soon dwarf economic development assistance…. American strategic planners generally recognize the value of economic development assistance in the aftermath of wars, as in the case of $20 billion that America will spend in Iraq and the $2.3 billion committed to Afghanistan. Yet when it comes to development assistance to prevent conflict there is almost no money to be found. America’s foreign policy is strikingly out of kilter, allocating $450 billion per year for the military and a meager $15 billion (at most) for development assistance.”
America and the Western developed world have been providing development assistance to developing countries for decades, and the results are always the same – more destruction of the environment, and more people living in desperate poverty. So why does this continue, decade after decade? The reason is simple: It makes more money – more material wealth – for the West. It is modern medicine that has kept more people alive than the environment or the economy can support. It is modern technology that has kept more people alive than the environment or the economy can support. It is the gross intermingling of people over roads created by modern technology that started the AIDS epidemic and perpetuates it. While all of these things may seem to be leading to disaster, keep in mind that all of them generate profits for the people in the Western world who do or make them. You do not see any black African nation doing any of these things on its own, despite many decades of assistance. They were done and are being done to generate profits for Western companies and governments.
The West is not stupid. If it could spend $10 billion and thereby avoid spending $100 billion, it would never choose to do so. The objective is to increase GDP, not decrease it. By spending a little development “seed money” in Africa each year, it can keep the system limping along, moribund, but continually requiring vaster and vaster sums in the future. This is great for business. It does not matter (either to Western political leaders or to African political leaders) that the environment is ruined, that mass species extinction continues, that millions more people are born into lives of desperate poverty, or that millions will die of AIDS. From the rational point of view of economics, the modern strategy makes perfect sense – GDP increases. (See the note above about the effect of a broken windshield on GDP.) Having to send $500 million in food aid to Ethiopia is a godsend to US farmers – the fact that we are destroying our topsoil at a horrific rate is irrelevant to economists.
So why does Sachs present the arguments that he does – that spending a lot more will solve the problem, and result in less revenue in the long run – when what economists want is increased GDP in the long run? Well, the main reason is that the rational response to the Africa problem, to stop the species extinction, is to stop development altogether. And that would not be good for business. Actually, it doesn’t really matter what the argument is. Economists will argue for spending more money and making more money, no matter what. Sachs is a development economist, and he will promote spending money for development, no matter what the outcome. If it failed, he would simply propose doing it all over again. That is, in fact, what has been going on in African development for the past four decades. The appeal to the humanitarian aspect – that further economic development will reduce poverty and disease – may help generate social support for further development, even though it is a false claim.
Why is it, you might ask, that Sachs and so many others ostensibly interested in developing Africa spend all of their time in the US (or other home developed-country)? Well, one reason is that virtually no one who spent much of his life here in Africa could in good conscience say the silly things they say. They would (and in good conscience could) no longer speak “the party line.” A very good friend of mine, who was previously a South African high commissioner (English-speak for “ambassador”) once remarked to me his observation that “after three years of living in Africa, a person is a racist.” I have often pondered this remark, and tried to observe the extent of its validity. It appears to be true – as true as any aphorism. I recently heard the joke, referring to tourists from the developed world to Africa: Question: “What is the difference between a tourist and a racist? Answer: Three weeks.” That joke is tongue-in-cheek, whereas my friend’s comment seems to be on the mark. Most people from the US, when visiting “the real” Africa (not just a sanitized safari in Kenya) are quite shocked (e.g., Whoopee Goldberg). The point that I am making is that you will hear messages such as Sachs only from people who do not live here, or who do not directly benefit from the foreign assistance (e.g., heads of government, government workers, NGO workers, direct recipients of aid, “implementing partners,” construction firms).
So if additional development will destroy Africa even further, what is a good “solution”? Well, the problem here is far more serious than the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, when the Soviet Union placed nuclear-warhead-bearing missiles in Cuba. That move simply threatened the security of the US, and yet the US confronted the Russians and placed a complete naval blockade around Cuba. The current disaster in Africa is infinitely more serious – it threatens the existence of countless species, for all future time. A similar response, however, might be in order. Immediately terminate all foreign assistance to Africa. Immediately stop all foreign investment in Africa. Immediately stop all foreign trade with Africa. Form a total physical and economic blockade around Africa. No more trade in diamonds, or oil, or gold, or platinum, or chromium, or copper, or tanzanite, or rhino horns, or ivory, or hardwood or any other products from Africa. All that that trade in those items has brought is destruction of the environment and species extinctions. And human misery – grinding poverty and disease. Within a generation, things will be back to a good situation, with mankind living in harmony with nature. The grinding poverty will be gone. With the end of gross intermingling, AIDS will be gone. Life in Africa will be good, as it once was.
Some may accuse that the proposed approach is racist – that it prescribes a harsher treatment for Africa than for the rest of the world. That is not true. Any of you who has read my book, Can America Survive? knows that the solution that I have just described is entirely consistent with the Minimal-Regret population approach to solving the planet’s environmental crisis. The above proposal is nothing more than a preview of what will occur globally – and quite naturally – as global fossil fuel reserves exhaust, the petroleum age ends, global industrial civilization comes to a halt, and global human population declines from its present six billion to a few hundred million or less. Implementing the above-proposed solution for Africa is in fact far better, in the long run, than waiting for the normal course of events to transpire (fossil fuel exhaustion and the collapse of industrial civilization), since there are fewer people affected (since in a few more years of the current system, Africa’s population will be even larger) and more species will be saved (since the species destruction caused by industrialization over the next few years will be averted).
Some may say that if the West pulls out of Africa, then Africa will make it on its own. This is highly unlikely. For some reason (actually, for many reasons, which I will discuss below), most Africans are not interested in the processes required for material and technological development. In the long term, this is, in fact, very much to their credit and advantage – it has served them well for millions of years, and will serve them well again soon in the era following the end of the petroleum age. On the negative side, however, (in the context of today’s industrialized world) African cultures embody a lot of envy (or something similar – it is not exactly the same as envy as the West knows it) – it is often observed that an African will withhold information or help from another African who is getting ahead, just to keep him back with everyone else. Africans also have a tradition of giving all to the chief. While this cultural attribute (extreme authoritarianism) may work well in some contexts, it (combined with the tradition of envy) works terribly in the context of a culture of economic development and industrialization (where rule of law, democracy, “good governance,” low level of corruption, transparency, competition, egalitarianism, and lots of other attributes are more useful). The people – the leaders – who are drawn to positions of prominence in this type of culture are materialistic. Their followers give them everything, and are not interested in having anyone else succeed on his own. The result is massive concentration of wealth at the top, and extreme poverty everywhere else. And, from the point of view of most Africans, that is (in their traditional culture) natural and the way it should be. Development economists pay little attention to these sociological and cultural characteristics, and remain puzzled why their proposals and efforts come to naught in Africa. Perhaps if they paid more attention to systems engineering rather than to their single narrow discipline, they would make more progress in achieving their goals (or expend their efforts on cultures that are more receptive to economic development).
I mentioned above some of the cultural characteristics that are necessary or desirable for success in the modern industrial world. There are many other abilities and attributes that are required to develop, operate and maintain complex modern systems. These include: maintenance / maintainability / sustainability / preservation / saving; investment (in human and natural resources, not just in financial entities); risk management, insurance; deferred gratification; trust; quality management; forecasting, planning, monitoring and evaluation; development, adoption, and adherence to standards; accounting and documentation; Protestant work ethic; mathematical / statistical analysis, systems engineering, simulation and modeling, optimization and the other domains of operations research; abstraction, generalization; scientific method; reward for individual initiative; equity / fairness / justice; goal-oriented philosophy; low level of fatalism / a strong sense that an individual has control over his destiny and can make a difference; a strong inclination to think about the future and how to bring about the future you want; ability to visualize, focus and create; tendency to think about the future, and not just live in and for today; high-level vision (national-level or race-level (preferably planetary-level, but almost no one on Earth is thinking at that level today) rather than family-level or tribe-level; high levels of personal characteristics such as responsibility, honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, accountability, industry, morality, sense of destiny, healthy self-image, willingness for self-sacrifice, initiative, curiosity / inquisitiveness, ambition, discipline, dependability, confidence, adventure, boldness, courage, bravery, sharing, respect, sense of purpose / destiny, sense of self-worth, respect for nature, reverence, creativity / imagination. Many of these abilities and attributes are in short supply in black cultures. In their absence, it is unlikely that black cultures (or any other cultures lacking them) will ever do very well in the modern industrial world. Thinking that throwing a little money toward Africa will develop and maintain modern systems is foolish, and doomed to failure. If economic development and modern industrialization are the goals (and, as you know, I am not advocating that they should be), it will be necessary to bring about profound cultural changes. [To ward off the e-mails and “bad press” in discussion forums: I am not making any statements about racial characteristics – only about cultural characteristics. The preceding characteristics and skills can be acquired by any culture desiring them. While racial characteristics evolve very slowly, cultural characteristics (which are acquired, not intrinsic) can be changed in a few generations.]
Unfortunately for Africa (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the Petroleum Age, and hence, the Industrial Age, will be over long before these cultural changes, requiring several generations of time to implement, could be accomplished (since oil will be gone worldwide by 2050, and global industrial production will start to decline by 2010; Nigeria’s 24 billion barrels of crude oil will be gone by 2030, at the current extraction rate (2.256 million barrels per day)). Africa will never have a modern industrial society. Nevertheless, Africans must look to the future and decide for themselves what the future holds, and what type of society it will plan for and strive for. If Africa retains its current culture (or rather, its culture prior to the twentieth-century environmental and cultural destruction) and eschews industrialization, it will adapt easily to the post-industrial (primitive, solar-energy) world, in the species-rich natural environment it once had. If it believes that it can industrialize, and consequently moves to change its culture to acquire the required cultural characteristics for that type of society, it will be abandoning the very characteristics that enabled it to survive for millions of years. It will also lose many important species, necessary for its survival, well-being, comfort and happiness. An interesting choice! Depending on whom you believe – Jeffrey Sachs or me – Africa will either end up with a modern industrial society someday, or it will complete the destruction of its natural environment and perish (or worse, depending once again on your point of view, face millions of years in a horribly degraded environment).
Lest you don’t believe how bad things can get when a society collapses, let me quote a passage (“The Ik”) from Joseph A. Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies.
The Ik are a people of northern Uganda who live at what must surely be the extreme of deprivation and disaster. A largely hunting and gathering people who have in recent times practiced some crop planting, the Ik are not classified as a complex society in the sense of Chapter 2. They are, nonetheless, a morbidly fascinating case of collapse in which a former, low level of social complexity has essentially disappeared.
Due to drought and disruption of national boundaries of the traditional cycle of movement, the Ik live in such a food- and water-scarce environment that there is absolutely no advantage to reciprocity and social sharing. The Ik, in consequence, display almost nothing of what could be considered societal organization. They are so highly fragmented that most activities, especially subsistence, are pursued individually. Each Ik will spend days or weeks on his or her own, searching for food and water. Sharing is virtually nonexistent. Two siblings or other kin can live side-by-side, one dying of starvation and the other well nourished, without the latter giving the slightest assistance to the other. The family as a social unit has become dysfunctional. Even conjugal pairs don’t form a cooperative unit except for a few specific purposes. Their motivation for marriage or cohabitation is that one person can’t build a house alone. The members of a conjugal pair forage alone and do not share food. Indeed, their foraging is so independent that if both members happen to be at their residence together it is by accident.
Each conjugal compound is stockaded against the others. Several compounds together form a village, but this is a largely meaningless occurrence. Villages have no political functions or organization, not even a central meeting place.
Children are minimally cared for by their mothers until age three, and then are put out to fend for themselves. This separation is absolute. By age three they are expected to find their own food and shelter, and those that survive do provide for themselves. Children band into age-sets for protection, since adults will steal a child’s food whenever possible. No food-sharing occurs within an age-set. Groups of children will forage in agricultural fields, which scares off birds and baboons. This is often given as the reason for having children.
Although little is known about how the Ik got to their present situation, there are some indications of former organizational patterns. They possess clan names, although today these have no structural significance. They live in villages, but these no longer have any political meaning. The traditional authority structure of family, lineage, and clan leaders has been progressively weakened. It appears that a former level of organization has simply been abandoned by the Ik as unprofitable and unsuitable in their present distress (from Colin M. Turnbull, “Rethinking the Ik: a Functional Non-Social System,” in Extinction and Survival in Human Populations, edited by Charles D. Laughlin, Jr. and Ivan A. Brady, pp. 49-75, Columbia University Press, New York, 1978).
All international development efforts in Africa involve the conversion of natural resources to money (material wealth). Money and material wealth are man-made items, and they can be re-created any time. Species, once lost, are gone forever. Africa is now in the process of trading its irreplaceable species for money. If it continues down the “economic development” path of the last forty years, very soon, it will have neither. And it will have neither for the next 100 million years. And that is why “we” (the West, industrialization, globalization, gross intermingling) shouldn’t be here.
In A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee (op. cit.) has a few remarks on civilization and race. I will note them here, without further comment, except to note – emphasize – that the preceding remarks that I have made refer to African and black cultures, not races.
“Ethnologists, classifying White men in accordance with their physical types, long heads, and round heads, fair skins and dark skins, and all the rest of it, have sorted out three main White ‘races’, which they call Nordic, Alpine and Mediterranean. For what it is worth, we will reckon up the number of civilizations to which each of these races has made a positive contribution. The Nordics have contributed to four, possibly five: the Indic, the Hellenic, the Western, the Russian Orthodox Christian, the Iranic and possibly the Egyptaic and the Minoan. The Mediterraneans have contributed to ten: the Egyptiac, the Sumeric, the Minoan, the Syriac, the Hellenic, the Western, the main body of the Orthodox Christian, the Iranic, the Arabic and the Babylonic. Of the other divisions of the human race, the Brown (meaning thereby the Dravidian peoples of India and the Malays in Indonesia) have contributed to two: the Indic and the Hindu. The Yellow race have contributed to three: the Sinic and both the Far Eastern civilizations, namely the main body in China and the Japanese offshoot. The Red race of America are, of course, the sole contributors to the four American civilizations. The Black races alone have not contributed positively to any civilization – as yet. The White races hold the lead, but it is to be remembered that there are many White peoples that are as innocent of having made any contribution to any civilization as the Blacks themselves. If anything positive emerges from this classification it is that half our civilizations are based on contributions from more than one race. The Western and the Hellenic have three contributors each and, if the Yellow, Brown and Red races were analyzed into ‘sub-races’, like the Nordic, Alpine and Mediterranean divisions of the White race, we should probably be able to produce a plurality of contributors to all our civilizations. What the value of these sub-divisions may be and whether at any time they represented historically and socially distinct peoples is another matter; the whole subject is exceedingly obscure.”
In his book, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond has more to say on the topics of race and ethnicity – I will leave that for another time.