Join the Dots

Walter Russell Mead muses on identitarian blood-letting.

First the sermon:

The eastern Congo and the African Great Lakes are remote places, and many people might wonder why Americans or the world at large should care much about what goes on there. The short answer is that the people who live there are made in God’s image as much as anybody else and they are infinitely dear to him, and to remain indifferent to the suffering of people there is to fail in our clear duty to our Creator and to some degree to betray our own humanity.

Then the analysis:

While the world’s intelligentsia today spends an endless amount of time “celebrating difference” and singing the praises of diversity (and we join in that chorus), diversity and difference constitute potentially catastrophic political challenges. One thing that seems to happen with modernization is that groups of people start feeling more need to have the state and the laws reflect the values and the priorities of their own ethnic or religious communities. Identity demands to be reflected in politics.

Pre-modern and “primitive” cultures don’t seem to feel this as strongly as more modern ones do, and democracies are sometimes even more chauvinistic than other forms of government as these pressures are felt. It is often populists who lead campaigns for ethnic cleansing or nationalist war. The history of Europe and the Middle East has been shaped by 150 years of sometimes genocidal wars of conquest, revenge, national liberation and religion. Tens of millions have been killed in these wars, multinational states have broken down into ethnic nation states, and millions of refugees have been forced into exile.

[…] One of the biggest questions of the 21st century is whether this destructive dynamic can be contained, or whether the demand for ethnic, cultural and/or religious homogeneity will continue to convulse world politics, drive new generations of conflict, and create millions more victims. […] … the foundations of our world are dynamite, and that the potential for new conflicts on the scale of the horrific wars of the 20th century is very much with us today.

In other words: “If everyone shared my (religious) identity, we wouldn’t be tilting into a century of blood and horror.” Even if this dubious argument was to be accepted at face value, they don’t, and we are.

ADDED: “…  Great State leaders take the erroneous intellectual short cut of assuming that foreigners are just human beings who think just like they do and who focus on the same priorities. … This tendency to a kind of passive, subconscious, egalitarian universalism is, of course, greatly amplified if you are actually an Egalitarian Universalist because that is effectively your official state religion …”

December 19, 2013admin 19 Comments »


19 Responses to this entry

  • John Lerner Says:

    (We all know the only humane solution is real colonialism. Sadly, the strong and loving arm of Britannia has been lamed by a corrupting sickness, and there is no Empress worth the name left in the world.)


    Igitur Reply:

    I’ve heard more or less convincing arguments to the tune of “the real solution is Tutsi colonialism”; Tutsi being the local “master race” and attempts to enforce a kind of “african uniformity” from outside leading to the genocidal Hutus taking machetes and so forth.


    mailadreapta Reply:

    I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    (Ie. can you provide a link?)


    Igitur Reply:

    Alas, the specific article arguing we might have interfered with the natural emergence of a Tutsi Empire behind a paywall. If it’s even there; last I received from NSFWCorp was news of its acquisition by similarly uppity news startup Pando Daily.

    Gary Brecher, their “War Nerd”, is worth looking up. The book that came out years ago isn’t excellent in scholarship, but interesting in tenor. And Brecher is actually made up; not unlike our Nick Land, John Dolan wa once a scholar in the humanities, but gravitated away from literary theory given experiences in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 5:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Karl F. Boetel Says:

    Mead: “Perhaps its root cause is the chaos that the execrable Belgians (whose colonization of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi was perhaps the ugliest episode in the history of European colonization) left behind.”

    The little creep — pretending Congo Free State = Belgian Congo. Yup, 1908–1960 never happened! (You all know my opinion.) Not that he knows anything about the Congo Free State either, but pretending the “Belgians” were “execrable” is just too much to take. Or maybe he just didn’t bother to do any research.


    Contemplationist Reply:

    You really must write about the paucity of genuine primary sources on the Congo Free State, especially regarding the casualty figures bandied about.


    Karl F. Boetel Reply:

    Ah yes, like my personal favorite “death toll”: 50 percent of the Congolese population was MURDERED BY WHITEY because… one guy said that attendance in his church was down 50 percent.

    Things we don’t know:
    – how many people were in the Congo in 1885
    – how many people were in the Congo in 1908
    – how many people died in the Congo in between
    (- what “the Congo” means, exactly, geographically speaking, in this context)
    – how many died, directly or indirectly, from Leopold’s policies, rather than, e.g., disease, which I hear sometimes occurs in African countries
    – what it was like in the Congo before any of this happened (hard to tell — no written language)

    Things we are going to say anyway:

    I dislike writing about the CFS because ignorance and misinformation completely overwhelm all available facts. That said, based on said facts, I don’t think the CFS was good. It wasn’t even OK. It was bad — but you can’t just make s*%# up to turn it into a “Holocaust.” Actually, wait, sorry: you can, and you can make money off it (see: Adam Hochschild).

    I did try to write about it once. I’ll dig up that essay sometime maybe.


    Igitur Reply:

    The keywords you want to look up are “natural experiment”, “quasi experimental design” and “identification strategy”. None of these ideas are novel to statistical analysis, they’re just underutilized when there’s a risk that heavily crunched numbers may disagree with established preconceptions.

    Not related to this topic, but related to underutilized statistical technique: look up “geometric data analysis” . What’s cool about GDA is that there’s a symmetry between individuals and their characteristics/rows and columns in a table. This allows for open-ended, yet rigorous exploration of the internal correlative structure of the data. Bourdieu’s work is based in some of this, but as I said, advanced statistics is a risk, not an asset.

    Of course, this is assuming they’d validate semi-opaque number-crunchng that led to the ‘wrong’ conclusions. Until Climategate, I had some professional bitterness at how quick people were to deny the significance of quantitative analyses when they were, and I quote from countless responses from government and industry, “counter-intuitive”. I remain slack-jawed at how cheaply IPCC away with having screamed bloody murder with uncentered PCA, corrected their calculations and claimed the qualitative conclusions remained in a re-run analysis, supposedly with corrected calculations.

    Sorry, I think I forgot my fashionable cynicism at the door. The neglect people have for proper statistical manipulation is still a disappointment at life I can’t shake, even in the face of a meillassouxsian facticity horizon. There are bitter truths, horrible truths and statistics. Face tentacles and all.

    admin Reply:

    The Congolese would be on Mars by now if it wasn’t for the Belgians.


    Karl F. Boetel Reply:

    Mars at the very least. Neptune, probably. Whitey would be all “i stuck on erf” and the Congolese would be up there in space — which, you will note, is black — discovering all kinds of advanced space s&*#…

    But seriously, the Congo is a horrible place to live, I do not like this, and therefore I wish the Belgians were still running things. (I would settle for just leaving them alone: no “aid,” no “peacekeeping,” no etc.) I also wish people who claim to want to make things better, would actually want that, instead of… well… being commies:

    “When you are motivated by genuine charity, and your charitable efforts backfire and actually harm the recipient of your help, you feel guilt and sorrow like nothing else.”


    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 5:21 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    If Congolese are infinitely dear to God, hell let God take care of them as he used to before whitey ever set foot in the jungle. Surely nothing we do can compare with the infinite care God is giving to his creatures.


    admin Reply:

    There are a whole bunch of extraterrestrials who are infinitely dear to God as well — we should be putting all our spare resources into space colonization so we can go and help them.


    VXXC Reply:

    Agree. We should be bringing the joys of Universal PandoraCare AU long lines at the Pandorian General Hospital ER to the Pandorans. Whether they like it or not. No matter how many sacred forests must be felled to print the free monee for da Free Pandoran Halth Carruh, we must bring Universal Health Care to pandora.

    The sudden pandemic alcoholism, drug abuse, fatherless Pandorans, Pandoran braid USB interfaced pron and soma addicction along with Pandoran knockout rampages are good for pandora. As will the Pandorans shitting and pissing in the public trees [their equivalent of halls and elevators, and yes dey doo 2].


    spandrell Reply:

    That’s the religion we gotta work on.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Help them? The poor extraterrestrials.


    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 8:01 am Reply | Quote
  • Robert Says:

    I like Mead quite a lot, but he’s really as Cathedral as Cathedral gets: the demand for ethnic, cultural and/or religious homogeneity will continue to convulse world politics as long as PEOPLE are PEOPLE. Oh wait, better diet and more progressive indoctrination will turn all men into equalitarian peace-loving LGBT-marriage-friendly genderless Episcopalians. If we just do more research and start kindergarten at ago 0.


    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 7:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • James A. Donald Says:

    The cause of the murders in the Congo is progressive ideology. Supposedly, before the white man came, everyone lived in egalitarian harmony, and, all that has to be done to end the troubles is restore that wonderful natural egalitarian harmony

    And yet, strange to report, no matter how many Tutsi women are impaled with large objects, somehow, strangely, equality does not ensue.

    Progressives find this very puzzling. Those Tutsi are just being so very stubborn, they think.


    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 11:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Michael Says:

    why dont we start referring to them as neo puritans


    Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 12:45 am Reply | Quote

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