All of the following articles are by Albert Brenner from The Conservative Voice Website
Stop! Africa wants to get off the bus (09/13/2007)
How to shave a Liberal (08/19/2007)
Half-past Hope (08/10/2007)
Woodstock's last Lullaby (07/31/2007)
Revolutions eat their children (06/16/2007)
The death of the Noble Savage (05/09/2007)
Mandela Has no Clothes (12/10/2006)
Finding Adam (10/16/2006)
Affirmative Action is an Oxymoron (10/09/2006)
The feel-good history of Africa (09/26/2006)
Africa has no conscience (08/27/2006)
The modern myth of childhood innocence (08/20/2006)
The Dictatorship of the 'I' (08/11/2006)
Africa and the guilt fatigue of the West (08/08/2006)
Whites no longer welcome in South Africa (08/03/2006)
Whites no longer welcome in South Africa
August 08, 2006 10:00 AM EST
It has been 12 years now since the ex-European South Africans voluntarily handed over power to the black majority, and still there is no end in sight to the moral criminalization of all things white. And there will never be!
The revisionist feel-good perception has been created that the evil whites stole the innocence of the cherubic blacks who were living in eternal beatitude in a pre-colonial Eden called Afro-Atlantis. Asking Beelzebub’s brood (the Afrikaner) to commit collective suicide would be counter-productive because who will be at hand to accept blame when things go awry in Mandelatopia.
The only viable solution for restoring purity to paradise would be for the white devils to build a huge Noahan Ark, and leave the country for good. And just before they embark for heaven-knows-where, they should all kneel down and pray for forgiveness for all the times they’ve raped South Africa and, to wipe the slate completely clean, take their satanic legacy with them – like, inter alia, building up a superb infrastructure, a world-class health-care system, exceptional retail and banking sectors, and - their ultimate sin – foisting a written language and the wheel on angelic southern Africa.
To be fair, apartheid was morally reprehensible, but didn’t the Americans, Australians and Kiwis take it one step further in history - by all but wiping out the indigenous peoples who stood in their way!? How many Native American Indians, Aborigines and Maoris really control their own destinies in these three so-called paragons of civilization? Mind you, how many Africans in Africa can claim they live on Cloud Nine?
To drop the political-correctness for one day; Africa is a bloody mess, and no civilized human being can live there anymore! How much bla bla (blame it on slavery, colonialism and apartheid) is still pending before people like Desmond Tutu finally realize that sucking on the worn-out tit of western penance will not guarantee Africa’s survival anymore – as has been the case since the post-colonial 70s! And using (abusing)
Mandela’s unique legacy as a moral soap to cleanse their hands of all stains of corruption, rape, murder and mayhem will never suffice as an acceptable excuse for the 158 000 (mostly black) South Africans who have been slaughtered since the champions of 21-century morality came into power in 1994.
The holier-than-thou West should take heed; the fate of the whites in South Africa will be the ultimate fate of the rest of the West - be it in 50 or 500 years. And that will be the time when all whites will have to prostrate themselves and ask for absolution from all their sins throughout the ages…..even Socrates, Einstein, Shakespeare, Guttenberg, DaVinci and Mozart!
The Afrikaner is giving his best at the current penance World Cup….. Good luck, when the lottery of history calls out your number!
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Africa and the guilt fatigue of the West
August 09, 2006 09:00 AM EST
Let’s face it, Africa’s survival in the post-colonial era has been guaranteed by the penance of the West, be it for slavery, colonialism or apartheid. More than 400 Billion US$ (discounting USSSR rubels) have flowed into the continent since the 1970s in order to keep it alive. The continued reliance on this western-induced ‘moral’ lifeline will, however, spell the end of Africa’s hope to join the developed world.
The West simply hasn’t got the time and resources anymore to ‘feel sorry’ for deeds that cannot be undone. It is currently engaged in a life and death struggle with China, India and all the other civilizations that have taken it upon themselves to exploit the unique opportunity to become part of the globalization of knowledge which can elevate all races, faces and places.
African countries, South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, are shunning this fantastic opportunity by flogging a dying horse (i.e. blaming the West for all its woes) instead of showing the basic humility and passion for knowledge that has made countries like the UAE, China, India and the tigers of the East what they are today namely, beacons of hope in the 21-century!
That the West is dying is no longer disputable, and I wish Desmond Tutu and his fellow cry-babies all the best in their quest to guarantee Africa’s survival by trying to elicit sympathy from the next super-powers of the world. The Chinese don’t give a damn about human rights and India has to feed one billion mouths. Does Tutu really believe that these two future super-powers will feel sorry for Africa? Nope, Africa has to grown up. There is absolutely no time left to breastfeed it anymore. Welcome to the post-western world – where Darwin will rule once again!
Slavery was practiced in Africa long before the West made Africa part of contemporary history, ex-colonial powers left infrastructures that current African leaders can only dream of, and Apartheid (morally reprehensible as it was, seen from a non-Darwinian perspective) ensured South Africa’s status as the powerhouse of Africa. Stealing the limelight from the ancient Egyptians (AIDS-is-not-caused-by-a-virus Thabo Mbeki) will not lay the foundations for an African Renaissance, nor will taking all the jobs and money away from the pale males (Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action) guarantee the country’s survival. Despite a solid growth rate, South Africa has experienced net employment shrinkage in the past decade.
Why? It is quite simple; all the other civilizations are using westerners to help them build up their countries. They look, learn and then do it faster, cheaper and, with increasing frequency, better than their tutors.
Africans are following a completely different path – lead by the prophet Robert Mugabe. They know everything (e.g. Jacob Zuma’s anti-AIDS/HIV shower), and nobody can teach them anything (e.g. the mess parading as glorious acronyms like the South African National Defense Force, South African Police Service and the Koeberg nuclear power station). This is the reality of 21-century life in a continent which could, given its fantastic people and natural resources, be right at the top.
A black woman (Condoleeza Rice) is poised to become the most powerful person on earth. Her home is in the West, not in Africa! What can Africa learn from this? It’s quite elementary. If Africa doesn’t drop its hubris forthwith, it will keep on sucking on the hind tit of history for the coming millennium as well.
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The Dictatorship of the 'I'
August 11, 2006 03:43 PM EST
Somewhere during the late eighties a paradigm shift took place within the field of mass-communication. It was characterized by the warped appearance of the first-person pronoun, the 'I', in mainstream newspapers. Instead of a headline like 'Man assaults wife' this shift in perspective prompted journalists to pen a headline like 'I saw Daddy hitting Mommy'.
This regression into subjectivism was the result of the existential-humanism swapping over Europe during the mid-eighties.
The underpinning of this new ideology was based on the assumption that human nature is inherently good and that the source of our discontent and unhappiness must therefore reside 'outside' the individual human being. The logic of this idea — engendered by the disillusionment of the 'Make love not War' generation — is quite uncanny; if my nature is inherently cherubic, but I'm still unhappy, then the fault must be with the society that I live in. To put it more succinctly; if I am the spring of Utopia then everything (culture, society, beliefs, etc.) outside my inherently good 'existentialist self' must be lacking because I am not happy.
It was during this period that the West experienced a flowering of attempts to reconstruct itself; the feminist movement lost its way, ecotopians, believers in eastern ideologies, and so on, embarked on radical journeys to reshape Western societies. This resulted in political-correctness, alternative lifestyles, radical liberal values and the criminalization of the, hitherto, supporters of the old establishment, such as the Caucasian male. Concepts like the 'same' (Western males) and the 'other' (women, non-whites, homosexuals, etc.) became fashionable in liberal social science circles. The champions of the 'old way' were stereotyped as being racist, homophobic, perverse, predatory, chauvinist and anachronistic.
This stereotype has infused our psyche. For example, if a mature white male sees a child that has been separated from his/her parents at a playground/fair, he would be acting very unwisely if he tries to help because once he gets to close to the child he would be suspected of being a pedophile. A man of Asian origin would be praised as a friendly tourist with a big heart.
This also applies to moral sanctioning. White South Africans and Serbs experienced worldwide condemnation, but the genocide in Rwanda and the horrific mutilations in Liberia hardly raised an eyebrow. When the 'other' acts immorally--like slaughtering thousands of white farmers in South Africa--then his or her actions are seen as mere misguided justice (i.e. the whites, who stole our innocence, deserved it!). This perversion of moral imperatives and the sickening hypocrisy it engendered have caused untold misery and suffering.
Why have all adult white males suddenly become potential child-abusers? It is simply because childhood is identified with innocence and the 'loss' thereof associated with sex. Mix the two and you have the formula to blame pale males for all 'the loss of innocence' the 'other' has experienced on their way to Utopia. White males are therefore seen as the 'enemy at the gates' of the beleaguered innocent and inherently cherubic existentialist self, the 'I'.
Utopia has been found! It is the abode of the 'I'. This 'I', followed by its unbridled emotionalism, has entered the public domain with a vengeance. It is why we say 'Chairperson' and not 'Chairman', it is why we have talk shows — the emotional voyeurism of the plebian confession; a tribunal of the plebiscite where the 'I' can find solace and redemption in front of its peers. Oprah is the Pope of the cult of the 'I'. It is why pedophiles, murderers and other criminals find extreme leniency in the criminal system when they say/claim that they have been abused as children. They are referred to psychological treatment to reconnect with the 'I'.
The 'I' looks after its own. It can sway public opinion; a politician arrested for corruption will find sympathy when the headline reads 'I made a mistake' instead of 'Politician arrested for corruption'. It provides a sanctum for all the adherents of the sanctification of the 'child within'. The 'I' has entered into an unholy alliance with the lawmakers and money mongers of this world.
A German man who was found guilty of running a child-porn ring was sentenced to a 1000-year prison term. For murder you get 15 years. A corrupt CEO who defrauds his company and wastes the life savings of thousands of his workers gets 5 years max. Why don't they all just get life without parole (or get strung up by their bullocks)? Nobody can live 1000 years!
Where does this overreaction come from? The 'I' looks after its own; persons hurting it face the wrath of the money mongers who have realized/grasped the tremendous source of income that children/youths represent. They are the only market segment with truly disposable incomes because their tastes, habits and needs (dictated by peer pressure) can be manipulated ad infinitum. They will always fall for the latest trends, be it clothes (soccer shirts), boy bands (shake-and-bake music), the coolest pair of sneakers worn by their peers, and so on.
Middle-aged couples have fixed tastes, needs, and obligations such as mortgages. They cannot be suckered so easily, and that's why no CEO will get a 1000-year prison term for stealing their life-savings. The murder of a few adults will not shake the system either. It's only when the 'I' is threatened that all hell breaks loose and the witch hunters are given free reign. The decision-makers of this world who are suspected of not following the dictates of the 'I' can appease it by, for example, attending every birthday party of Mandela (to bask in the light of non-racialism), forcing the judiciary to hand out 10,000,000-year sentences to pedophiles and to incarcerate every parent who physically chastised their child for riding skateboard on their neighbor's car.
Be that as may; let us return to our examination of the 'I'. What is the true nature of this elusive 'I'? It is, amongst others, an aggregate of genetic imperatives, short to medium-term wishes and obligations, a culturally specific socialization process, socio-cultural behavior patterns, habits, and aesthetic preferences, character traits, theological beliefs and that fantastic open-endedness which characterizes our existence in via.
This is the 'I' that our esteemed writers are claiming to represent when they write 'I'm always hungry', instead of 'Obesity on the increase'. I am definitely not morally represented by those interests who deem it important to tell me about David Beckham's latest hair style while all but ignoring the plight of millions of undernourished children in Africa. The continued sanctification of the 'I' will only lead to further exploitation and irrational emotionalism. We will have to continue feeding unruly school kids Ritalin to calm them down, because they may not be disciplined anymore. Adults will have to continue taking Prozac because of the stress caused by all the cherubic 'Is' out there.
There is light at the end of the tunnel however. When the 'I' generation has grown up and succumbed to the harsh realities of life then they can take Viagra to temporarily revert back to that state (Utopian bliss) which was denied to them while living their illusion and swallowing quick solution tablets. Alas, the sad ending of a generation that thought it could reincarnate the 'child within'.
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The modern myth of childhood innocence
August 20, 2006 08:00 AM EST
Children can kill, steal, humiliate and lie. Nobody needs to be reminded of the Bugler case in Britain a few years back when two kids battered a toddler to death with bricks and an iron rod. Another more recent example is the brutal killing of a young girl in Yorkshire by a group of boys and girls roughly her own age. She was willfully set upon, beaten and kicked to death.
The fact that kids can steal and lie, needs no examples. Kids humiliating and assaulting others have reached a chillingly new level, as can be witnessed by the phenomenon of 'happy slapping' where children use their mobile telephones to film their physical assault on a lone peer. This phenomenon is just another example of anti-social and uncivilized behavior displayed by the current generation of children.
How can we, in the light of these facts and irrefutable evidence, still say with such absolute conviction that children are completely innocent? Innocent beyond all doubt! The idea of childhood innocence has had such a tremendous influence on the West that the E.U. has enacted a law forbidding the spanking of children. No citizen in the E.U. is allowed to physically chastise their children – no matter what the circumstances.
The big bureaucrats in brother Brussels have equated spanking with torture and have empowered one of its watchdogs, the World Organization Against Torture, to peer into the last domain of privacy and autonomy of our society namely, the family home. The mechanisms of power have finally succeeded in usurping the authority vested in the family unit, the cornerstone of our civilization. Children are now at liberty – and are encouraged - to call the authorities if their parents so much as lay a hand on them.
The line between slapping, spanking, shaking, pinching, etc. is all but academic now because any forceful action directed at children by their parents can henceforth be classed as 'torture'. What is the difference between a light smack on the bottom and the visible bruise that is left after a father has, in the last moment, managed to grab his small daughter by the arm just before she ran into the path of an oncoming bus?Do children have the ability to distinguish between actions, on the part of the parents, to harm them and actions intended to protect them? In other words, do they have the moral ability to discern the parameters separating good and bad, right from wrong?
This is exactly what we are asking them to do. We are asking them to do something that we've struggled with our whole lives. It has never been easy to accurately judge the bearings on our moral compass, but at least we have the benefit of years of life experience, an education, socio-cultural values and norms and theological/philosophical beliefs-systems. This is, however, not good enough for the powers that be in Brussels. They have effectively delegated this burden to four-year olds, and in doing so, given children the moral authority to sit in judgment on their parents. In other words, kids now have the right to decide whether the actions of their parents are morally justifiable or not. If the latter be the case then children have the moral duty and legal obligation to send their parents for punishment to Brussels.
This topsy-turvy situation is so bizarre one can nearly visualize a four-year old asking himself, "Was that illegal smack Mommy gave me a measured response and a morally justifiable act in the light of the possible negative consequences of my action that was so abruptly interrupted by the current burning sensation on my backside?". Little Johnny then suddenly has a flash of inspiration and exclaims, "Mommy, I won't tell uncle Brussels about you torturing me if you let me ride my skateboard on the neighbor's car again like I’ve been doing for the past three days, oh yes, and up my allowance a few quid, the money the school pays me to attend class doesn't even cover my telephone bill!".
In all seriousness, how on earth did we land in this mess? Well, it all stems from the fanatical belief in the innocence of childhood that is mesmerizing disillusioned baby-boomers. Not the innocence of children as it should be, but our version of childhood innocence superimposed on the lives of our children. The cult of innocence has its roots in the reality Sigmund Freud created for us, a world in which we have all been traumatized by an evil 'external' reality that has stolen our innocence. An evil world largely comprised of the predatory perversions of pale males.
Our innocence has been stolen from us by Freud’s two gods, Eros (sex) and Thanathos (violence), who came down from the heavens and manifested themselves in their two most loathsome forms; pedophilia and torture.The current bogeyman, the pedophile (created in the West), is lurking behind every corner. And just like in Bush's Guantanamo Bay we can find the 'new' torturer (the new bogeyman - created in Brussels), in the family home. In other words, every father has become a potential pedophile and every mother a potential torturer. Once we have slain these two gods we'll be cured of our trauma and can return to a life of childhood bliss once more. A utopia of innocence safely insolated from the harsh realities of the world 'out there'.
It all sounds good and well - if we were living in Freud's cloud-cuckoo land, but we are not, and the responsibilities of adulthood are ours to bear, not our children's! We can never regain that which we have lost when we became adults. We will never again experience the wonders of discovering love, friendship and all the other amazing things in the world for the first time. Youthful vitality, the will to explore and the passion to change the world are ours no more. We are stuck with the fleeting pleasures that can be derived from getting another promotion, buying a new 'Beat My Willy' (BMW) or SUV (Suburban breast implant) and going to the Bahamas for another boring holiday. That's just the way things are, and shirking our responsibilities will definitely not change it.
It is up to us to have the moral fortitude and sense of responsibility to decide between right and wrong, good and bad. Pushing kids out of their world and claiming this 'world of blissful innocence' for ourselves because we cannot distinguish between trauma and disillusionment, is absolutely reprehensible - every which way you look at it. It is imperative that we stay this madness in all possible haste because some kids are already stranded in the world we've abandoned. And they have learned to survive in that world - by killing, stealing, humiliating and lying. The fact that they don't make any attempt to hide their crimes is a chilling indication that they are only taking their first baby steps in a world in which it requires devious scheming and murderous cunning to have your way – and get away with it!
Yes, children are innocent, but we have taken that away from them, by trying to become like them. We have stolen their innocence because we are too childish to accept the inevitable loss of ours.
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Africa has no conscience
August 28, 2006 10:00 AM EST
What makes a human being choose a specific course of action when faced with a moral choice? To give an example; what impels a man in Austria to fastidiously separate plastic from paper rubbish before disposal, and what impels a man in South Africa to rape and murder a baby? The cynicism of the world-weary will now raise its paw and state that all moral behavior is based on the avoidance of pain. This is true, for the most part. The fear of physical pain certainly still tops the list in ensuring compliance with socio-cultural norms and values. A person will definitely think twice about transgressing when faced with severe pain in the form of whipping or, ultimate pain in the form of being 'drawn and quartered'. The threat of physical pain surely goes a long way in ensuring moral compliance in primitive societies.
When this threat is gone, all hell breaks loose. This can be witnessed in South Africa where more people have been murdered (250 000+) after 1994, than all the people who met violent deaths in the whole of the country's 20th century history. South Africa boasts a staggering 50 murders and 43 child-rapes per day. Similar break-downs of law and order are evident when African dictators are toppled by new ones. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans also showed similar patterns of behavior.
The second, more civilized, inducement not to transgress is the fear of psycho-social and socio-cultural humiliation in front of one's peers. For example, the Austrian man's efforts (separating waste) are motivated by his assurance of not being humiliated by his peers when accused of being environmentally-unfriendly. Having always regarded themselves as Westerners, white South Africans ended Apartheid because they just couldn't stand the humiliation by their peers in the West anymore. In short: the West demanded adherence to human rights, and they complied.
It goes without saying that the peers in one civilization are not necessarily the same peers in another. China, for example, doesn't give a damn about democracy or human rights, but they enjoy favored trade nation status in America. Different strokes for different folks, it would seem. Thabo Mbeki's refusal to believe that AIDS is caused by a virus is a very good example of a non-existent fear of peer humiliation across cultures. Being African (Xhosa), the socio-cultural matrix of his society's belief-systems have zero relation to the high status the scientific world-view has in more advanced civilizations. In other words, he certainly has no fear of being humiliated in the West when postulating similar idiocies.
This also applies to moral sanctioning in Africa. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and innumerable other African dictators have no compunction whatsoever to trample on western-induced norms and values (e.g. human rights) because these moral imperatives have never been part of their socio-cultural belief-systems. One cannot compare apples to pears, and African leaders certainly don't fear humiliation by those in the West who they do not regard as peers. Mandela's dismal failure to humiliate Mugabe is but one example of Africans looking at the same bearings on the same moral compass.
The West has always been the fiercest in safeguarding its most preciously held moral convictions. And given the West's soul-piercing introspection after moral regressions, it is no wonder that this civilization has, for the most part, progressed past the phase where fear of physical pain is the only guarantee of moral rectitude. "There can be no more poetry after Auswitsch", these words by the philosopher Theodor Adorno encapsulate the hell the West's conscience went though after the horrors of WWII. We instinctively cringe when we hear about rumors of torture like in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. This is not so in other civilizations.
Getting back to Africa; has any African intellectual or political leader ever displayed the depth of moral anguish of an Adorno, when confronted with African horrors like, for example, the genocide in Rwanda, the mutilations in Liberia and the 2.4 million people who have been slaughtered in the Congo in the past 10 years? No. Having only the fear of physical pain to guide them, African dictators will only start criticizing their peers once their own physical security is threatened. This is the reason why African dictators cling to power with all their might; they will suffer physical pain (mostly death) when losing power.
This is not a problem in the West. It suffices to say that Western morality has never played a major part in any of the careers of 99% of African leaders and their people. Whether the morality of the West is the best, is obviously another story. Today's terrorist is tomorrow's freedom fighter (e.g. Mandela and Nazrallah), and the moral 'axis of evil' and 'coalition of the good' certainly stays in tune with the flux of time and the will of the powerful. But, the fortitude of the individual conscience will always be the cornerstone of all civilized behavior.
It is this entity which guarantees that the individual will think of the welfare of his fellow man, even if the consequences of his/her actions cannot be traced back to him/her. To give an example; why not rape a baby if you know the police will not catch you. South Africa has a 10% conviction rate for murder and a 4.3% conviction rate for rape. And why not partake in the mind-boggling corruption and graft that is part and parcel of Africa's mind-set? In short; why stop when you have no fear of physical pain or psychosocial and socio-cultural humiliation?
The third, and even more advanced, regulator of individual moral behavior is the fear of divine retribution – i.e. I'll suffer eternal pain when I join the after-life. This uniquely religious impulse is the motivating factor behind singularly self-less and self-sacrificing moral behavior. The individual with this conscience fears neither physical pain, nor public humiliation. And in combination with the Christian idea of brotherly love, this conscience is the stuff of legends, to put it bluntly.
The 'formation' of the Western conscience has a very long history. It started with the Biblical Adam and continued with Noah's righteousness, Socrates' refusal to bow to the non-questionable norm, Jesus' brotherly love, Luther's reaffirmation of human choice, the French Revolution, the abolition of slavery, de-colonization and the demolishing of Apartheid. All these paradigmatic moments have resulted in a conscience which is the most self-regulatory existence has ever seen. It is the reason why Hitler was defeated, it is the reason why white South Africans abolished Apartheid and it is the reason why whites didn't loot and shoot after hurricane Katrina.
The humanism of the liberal will now raise its hind-leg and state that human beings are inherently good (innocent) and that the fear of punishment actually causes morally 'bad' behavior. To give an example; liberal educators and psychologists firmly believe that a good smack on the bottom of a child who is sticking his fingers into a live power-socket, will lead to the child becoming a violent human being when he grows up. It suffices to say that all of recorded history has shown that human beings are not inherently good, and can therefore not be trusted do the 'right' (and sane) thing without some or other fear of pain to regulate their behavior. Yes Mbeki, AIDS is caused by a virus!
What regulates moral behavior in one civilization definitely does not regulate moral behavior in another. Does China really want to give universal suffrage and human right to its citizens, does India really want to uplift its lower classes and do African leaders really give a damn about the individual fates of their people? We would like to say yes, but that is only because we have the conscience of the West. And this conscience will also be our downfall.
Having stripped the God part from the true meaning of life ' Love God, and love your neighbor', we are stuck with the insecurities of a conscience solely motivated by loving our neighbor – i.e. the existential-humanism of postmodernism. Have we ever seriously asked ourselves the question whether our neighbor is also doing his utmost to love us as well? Even a cursory glance at the moral anarchy in post-1994 South Africa, clearly illustrates what is in store for the West in the next 50 -100 years. The loss of the regulatory power of the civilized conscience will cause such societal degeneration that serious inter-civilization and inter-racial conflict would be inevitable.
The individuals of other civilizations, Africans in particular, should seriously start asking themselves the question whether they are treating their neighbor, like they want to be treated themselves? The way Africans treat each other makes one ashamed to be human being. It is an open sore in the conscience of all that is civilized. And milking the conscience of the West for every tear that's is worth because Africans are slaughtering Africans on a daily basis, can never suffice as an excuse for the fact that Africa's conscience refuses to progress past the phase of fear of physical pain. What about moral pain? That pain which Africa causes the civilized world every time one switches on the TV and is forced to witness the horrors of primitive behavior unleashed. Grow up! Real pain comes from within. It is called a conscience.
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The feel-good history of Africa
September 27, 2006 09:54 AM EST
Ever since the postmodern/poststructuralist French philosophers, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, emulated Nietzsche and Heidegger in equating truth with art, the world has witnessed a plethora of revisionist attempts by the West to placate its self-induced feelings of guilt vis a vis its self-determined non-humanist treatment of other races and their places. It is therefore hardly surprising that the 'conquered' in history have grasped this self-recriminatory attitude with both hands (and feet), and are exploiting it like a hooker that stumbled on a ship full of gold-laden sailors on an around-the-world-in-eighty-days voyage.
It goes without saying that modern popular culture is feasting on this cornucopian quagmire of bad conscience on the part the West. Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves showed us that the cowboys were actually barbaric eco-unfriendly murderers who slaughtered the nature-loving and peaceful Red Indians. Jane Seymour's Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, showed us that Afro-Americans were actually part of the higher social strata in 19-century America. And Clive Owen's Arthur showed us that the traditionally dainty Guinevere was actually a tattooed kick-ass 5 ft 2 feminist killing-machine. Art is art, and one shouldn't take the extravagances of its dramatic-license too seriously. It is only when historical facts are blatantly distorted by powerful people, like politicians, that any intelligent person is morally obligated to take them by their collars and press their faces to the grindstone of implacable reality.
The 'most conquered' in recorded history will obviously spin the tallest tales. South Africa is currently the most virulent example of this feel-good fallacy characterizing the current politically-fashionable marathon to 'rewrite' history. Thabo (AIDS-is-not-caused-by-a-virus) Mbeki, the President of South Africa, is desperately trying to underpin his African Renaissance endeavor by firstly, stealing the limelight from the ancient Egyptian Empire. And all in the West are nodding their heads in dutiful PC acquiescence, lest they be accused of racism. It is all too easy to placate a fickle conscience at the expense of the unrelenting truth.
Mbeki's spin on history is rapidly gaining ground, even among erstwhile moderate African commentators. One even ventured, "And yet Africans were not always like this. The forefathers and mothers who built Zimbabwe and the pyramids of Giza, who taught the Greek mathematicians the basics of algebra and trigonometry (original spelling), were great people." Mbeki's second angle of approach is underpinned by his sneaky efforts to steal the limelight from Western antiquity. He is having a whale of time in/by accusing the West (ala the Black Athena liberal idiocy) of deliberately whitening all the black faces that supposedly adorned all the vases, murals and paintings of the Macedonian, Greek and Roman Empires. Even if we are forced to swallow the latter unsavory serving of historical un-truths, Mbeki is still left with the rather unenviable task of trying to explain why his hallowed Egyptian-linked forefathers mysteriously forgot the wheels and written language they used once they crossed the equator.
This turn of politically-correct historical events is rather sad, but quite true. Mind you, isn't it curiously reminiscent of the fisherman who came back to tell his friends about the 'big one that got away'? Be that as it may; all is not kosher in the realm of truth anymore. The best example of aestheticism leading truth by the nose is the recently-unveiled statue of the completely fictional 'King Ndebele' in Pretoria, South Africa. This 'real-life' hero is credited with having known the evil intentions of the diabolical white settlers 200 years after he was actually supposed to have been born. According to this 'mythical truth', he had somehow managed to succeed in rapidly spreading his dire warnings about the impending havoc that was to be wreaked by the evil white man 200 years before they actually decided to trek inland. So much for mobile phones!
Fiction is definitely more palatable than the truth in our 'everybody-is-innocent' day and age! To paraphrase Orwell; everybody is innocent, but some are more innocent than others. No prize for the one who correctly guesses which grouping is less innocent. It suffices to say that history is being taken for a very bumpy ride by those who have conveniently forgot that it is not a dish best served warm in order to stroke the egos of the faint-hearted. Writing the history of the present insults the truth of the future.
History is nobody's fool, and it will certainly not be bamboozled by the mesmerizing escapism offered by two French philosophers who have all but succeeded in selling guano as croutons to a civilization that has forgot that which has made it the most enlightened and advanced in the history of mankind. The truth, and nothing but the truth! "Wer den Zeitgeist heiratet, wird schnell Witwe". Loosely translated, this German proverb means that those who fall for the intellectual fads of the month are bound to suddenly lose their grip on the realities of uncompromising existence. Something Nietzsche tragically forgot when he painted God out of existence, and subsequently became stark raving mad. Amen.
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Affirmative Action is an Oxymoron
October 14, 2006 02:04 PM EST
Swimming in the shallow waters of conformity inevitably brings one ever closer to the perilous shores of mediocrity. And the very last thing any 21st-century nation can afford is to be mediocre. Living in a globalized world where the skills of talented individuals are sold to the highest international corporate bidder, any feel-good romantic notion of enforcing demographic equality in the national workplace is simply foolhardy.
We might all have the same human rights, but that certainly does not automatically imply that we all have the same abilities. And blaming men for the fact that they cannot have babies and will therefore never feel impelled to take a 5-year 'baby-holiday' that is bound to hamper their progress on the corporate ladder, is simply unfair. And what is even more unfair, is the willful negation of proven quality when it comes to accommodating the lecherous egos of the less gifted and their affirmative action lobbyists.
The body is indeed the prison of the mind as Foucault said, but true quality inevitably shines through: ask Stephen Hawking or Condoleeza Rice. To therefore demand that those who cannot transcend their bodies (racial stereotypes, sociocultural predilections, etc) be given preferential treatment above those who have earned it, is utter nonsense. It is quite noble and civilized to uplift the weak, when you can afford it. But to do so while your competitors only concentrate on promoting their best, borders on evolutionary suicide. Evolution runs on inequality; it will always seek out the fittest, no matter what Oprah would have us believe.
Having embraced multi-culturalism and one-sided racial egalitarianism, the West is saddled with the incredible burden of trying to uplift less advanced groupings (Africans, Hispanics, Aborigines, etc) whilst, at the same time, trying to keep pace with the other alpha civilizations, like India and China. To placate its self-induced irrationally emotional attachment to the universal equality of all things, the West is seriously running the risk of civilizational suicide. Not unlike Jesus, who knowingly embraced death so that the meek can one day inherit the earth.
Back to Darwin; to state that all and sundry are equal in terms of progress is simply false. If we were all equal then why did the Chinese discover paper, the West the atom and the Indians the mathematical concept of '0', while Africans (excluding the ancient Egyptians) were still living in mud huts? To blame the Alpha-civilizations (especially the West) for Africa's evolutionary backwardness is simply unfair. By demanding constant affirmative action for 21-century blacks implies that they cannot look after themselves. In other words, they are not fit enough to pull their own weight, even after more than 5000 years of interaction with more advanced races and their places.
This backwardness characterizing Africa has found a shining example in South Africa. More than one million (a quarter) of all whites, and many qualified black professionals, have left the country over the past 10 years. Why? It's quite elementary: evolutionary and individual human quality has been sacrificed on the altar of African sit-in-the-sun feel-good mediocrity. Same story, different epoch! Mandelatopia is fast becoming yet another African disaster simply because those in power are still unable, or unwilling, to grasp the fact that unique individual human qualities and skills are commensurate with progress. You simply need the best in order to survive! And to be the best, the individual needs to take actions that will separate him/her from the pack. These actions, when successful, will ensure the individual's survival and, eventualy, that of his/her family, culture, nation and civilization.
That existence demands constant proactive actions goes without saying. Time waits for no one and, all being fair and equal, actions taken by an individual and his/her forefathers cannot be nullified just because of the colour of one's skin. Imagine telling Michael Jordan and Shaq O'Neil that their children and grandchildren will have to forgo their place in a basketball team simply because a quota has been imposed that must reflect the demographic composition of the American populace. In other words, tell these men that all their hard work and efforts were for naught simply because blacks only make out 15 percent of America's population, and they can therefore only fill 15 percent of all the places on all NBA teams. Wouldn't this be blatantly discriminatory? If someone has the ability (innate quality) - and opportunity provided by his/her forefathers' actions - why deny them the quality of life that they are rightfully eligible to pursue?
Of all the races blacks have been the most vociferous in calling for affirmative action. You don't see Asians in America doing it. Why? It is quite simple; even as a tiny minority they, statistically, outperform their hosts. And do white Americans mind? No. They, and the rest of the West, cherish quality! It is the secret to their success. What is good for the goose is good for the gander, and caliber, not colour, is the yardstick of mutual respect and inter-racial admiration.
So why does the West still suffer the constant bickering and evolutionary outrageous demands by blacks to give them preferential treatment? The West has always had a very complex conscience, be it Christian or secular humanist in nature. Transgressions like slavery, exploitive colonialization, Auschwitz, Apartheid, Abu Ghraib, etc. certainly don't reflect the image the West yearns to behold in the moral mirror of its soul. Our utopian aspirations (e.g. Heaven) have always been all-inclusive, and leaving the weakest (Africa, at this stage of history) behind is completely foreign to our civilizational make-up. We never built a Chinese Wall to keep the Other out and we certainly never constructed an African wall of backwardness to keep the ignorant in. Nope. All for one, and one for all!
Back to Darwin; the pre-eminence of the West on the global stage in the past few centuries is due to the fact that we've have always rewarded the unique qualities, skills, talents, bravery and hard work of the individual - even if the powerful of the day had something else to say (e.g. Socrates and Galileo). Quality honed in action, not conformity to inaction, certainly goes a long way in catapulting one to the top of the civilizational food chain - something Africa still has to learn, very quickly! The insufferable demands by Africans that the West 'owes' them something is simply due to the uncanny ability of the weak to feed off the moral Achilles heel of the powerful. The court jester earns his daily bread by parodying the king's perceived infallibility, and Africans survive by milking the 'bad conscience' (White Guilt) of the West for every tear that it's worth.
To conclude; affirmative action is an oxymoron. Instead of affirming action, this feel-good notion engenders nothing except heap accolades on the inaction underpinning ineptitude. And the affirmation of inaction is the last thing Africans can afford in their quest to assert themselves in a world driven by the solitary actions of unique individuals who, ultimately, mould that part of existence mortals have a say in.
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October 17, 2006 01:00 PM EST
Is it just me, or has the battle of the sexes taken a very nasty turn? I was enjoying a pint with a close friend of mine when he made a comment that seems to encapsulate a slumbering nastiness increasingly elbowing its way in between the genders. Nodding towards a gorgeous full-bosomed woman casually passing our table, his voice lowered, he remarked: "fantastic pair of personalities."
It was neither his vulgarity, nor his condescending manner which upset me, but rather the unsolicited cynicism coming so effortlessly from a man, whom I regard as one of the nicest chaps I know - attractive, successful, intelligent and blessed with a charming demeanour.
Sensing that he was waiting for me to take the bait, I tried to reply as honestly as I could. "That’s a bit rough. Just because she's attractive doesn't necessarily imply that she can use her personality as a contraceptive", and added, "Stereotyping people according to their looks is just not cricket, old sport".
But he just mocked me. "Dream on Lancelot - you'e the one being stereotyped nowadays!" Without any further prodding, he asked: "Ever watch Sex in the City?" And, almost before I replied that I sometimes did, he launched into a diatribe about the way men are portrayed in it. With considerable bitterness he described the stereotypes - Mister Big, the chaps with small willies, and the cuddly fellows with the innate ability to cry when watching Oprah. He concluded wearily: "If that's popular describing today's man or at least the view of women of what today's man is, I didn't recognise myself in any of them."
There was no doubting his sincerity and his puzzlement at his own identity, and this left me having to accept that his original comment was not malicious in intent, but rather the knee-jerk reaction of a man who feels completely out of sync with the time he is living in.
Although depressing, it also forced me to accept that he was right in his assessment of the way men are currently portrayed in popular culture. It seems that we men are confronted with an array of rehashed stereotypes, extreme persona and obscene generalisations, and some of us can't help feeling frustrated, insulted and resentful. Could it be that the gloves have come off in the battle of the sexes and that women, like the female characters in Sex and the City, haven’t the slightest compunction to treat men like disposable rags when their (women's) own wishes, desires and wants are not fulfilled to their complete satisfaction?
'All is fair in love and war', the saying goes, but where are fairness and honesty when men are constantly being portrayed as anachronistic, perverse and immature? For example, I seriously cannot relate to any of the male characters portrayed in Desperate Housewives, Cold Case or Nip & Tuck. In all honesty, I have nothing in common with men who like other men, such as Will of Will and Grace or Graham Norton, and I don't have the slightest ambition to emulate their postures and preferences. We are neither the sadistic sex-maniacs that drove Thelma & Louise off the cliff, nor the muscle-monkeys in a Rambo film.
Perhaps, the animation film The Incredibles provides for a more accurate depiction of the majority of men; normal men forced to lead double lives in order to placate the expectations foisted upon them by an unwitting audience mesmerised by stereotypical male figures on TV and the big-screen. It is unfair to categorise mature men according to the dictates of a popular culture that panders mainly to pubescent emotions, expectations and imaginings. Suffice it to say that we are not what we are made out to be by TV and film directors - there is more to us than meets the eye of those cameras. It won't be unreasonable to argue that pale males, for the first time in recorded history, are at a loss when it comes to a pervasive and clearly discernible sense of self.
There are so many negative stereotypes of men nowadays that it's no wonder that young men are getting completely confused about themselves and their forefathers. We used to be everybody's John Wayne, James Dean and 007, but that's history now. The cowboy has become the despoiler of nature (Dances with Wolves) and the rebel without a cause has become the racist without remorse (In my Country). There can be no doubt that the public image of men has taken a severe beating since the advent of certain radical social movements, and that we've been on the back foot ever since. In fact, our fall from grace has been so fast that no discernible socially acceptable stereotype of men is still recognisable in popular culture – except for the witty gay TV host, of course. The rest is, well, downright negative.
Take the male characters in Nip&Tuck as an example; highly qualified medical professionals whose miserably unstable social and emotional lives are so farcical and superficial that one cannot help but pray for a frontal lobotomy – or a bottle in front of me – after every episode. Alas, from hero to villain and town-clown in less than 30 years! While we are being ridiculed, the 'Other' (females, blacks, homosexuals, etc.) are having a whale of a time.
The Britney Spears phenomenon - known as 'Girlism' in more discerning circles - has given women carte blanche in self-indulgence and self-actualisation. This positively peppy image of today's trendy woman (e.g. Paris Hilton) has given them the wonderful opportunity to treat men as walking-wallets temporarily hanging onto their (women's) shopping money. Popular TV series and films are awash with high-pitched giggles, exposed navels, ego-trips and brand addictions. The downside obviously being bulimia, overdrafts and a superficiality that prompts normal men, like my esteemed friend, to treat them like idiots – in an ungentlemanly way, I should rather say!
Lest I be accused of vilifying those who manufacture the illusions that are supposed to represent our culture and even our morality, or immorality, let's make a serious attempt to focus on the male stereotypes which are leaving Joe Average utterly perplexed, confused and angry. Perhaps I am foolish, even rash, or maybe I need therapy, but I seriously think we should embark on a writing project to highlight, isolate, describe and explain the most commonly used pale male stereotypes in popular culture. It will definitely not be a PC tale of small willies, big egos, flashy cars and partner swapping sprees. There is a myriad of misconceptions about men floating around in popular culture that needs to be exposed and destroyed.
You will see that John Wayne wasn't gay, that you don't need to be Oscar Wilde to express yourself and that saving Troy can be done with a beer-belly. Men really aren't as bad as they are made out to be, on the contrary, we are rather amicable when you know when and how to push the right buttons and stroke our rather stubborn egos.
(To my regular readers;
My sincere apologies for having used the first-person pronoun - the 'I' - 14 times in this article! But then, when in Rome do as the Romans do. 'I' detest having to resort to it ( the 'I') in order to bring a point across! As soon as one uses the 'I', one automatically enters Oprahverse...that feel-good dimension underpinning Innocentopia. I.e. the world of the Clintons, George Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Bono, etc. That same world where a bloody pervert like Foley can escape all responsibility because his innocent 'I' was stolen by the bad 'external' world of alcoholism. All excuses, and more excuses - in an age where emotions dictate reality!)
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Mandela Has no Clothes
December 11, 2006 01:00 PM EST
Tailored guilt comes in varying shades; most of it is black on white. Penance being paid can be worn as many garments, be it a Mandela pin, a Bono/Geldoff Save-Africa rock concert, affirmative action, South African black economic empowerment or a Brangelina Black-baby adoption shopping-spree. Uniform in complexion, all are interwoven with a single strand displaying the conscious intention of its Western wearer to placate a troublesome conscience.
On the catwalk of guilt those who strut their stuff in white are invariably assured of popular acclaim in a moral universe subsisting on blame. To clothe a multi-colored world in the most preciously-held Western ideals demands absolute dedication to perceived universal designs (e.g. freedom, democracy, human rights, and scientific/universal truths). Wearing the most ill-fitting clothes of Western design, Africa continuous to steal the limelight by virtue of parading its moral nudity as enlightened purity. And no amount of African horror can stain the liberal perception that all is to be gained by allowing Rousseau's Noble Savage to dictate the high ground of 21-century morality.
Mandela has, in a recent poll, been voted as the most admired leader in the world. Admired for what? Well, basically for being the best dressed African in Western clothing. Having adorned himself with all that we in the West deem as virtuous, Mandela (as a symbol of African moral purity), has been elevated to the position of judge and jury of all that is good and evil in this complex world we live in.
Credit should be given where it is due; Mandela certainly struts his borrowed clothes like a model of the highest repute (e.g. Naomi Campell), but does the Emperor have any real (home-spun) clothes? People tend to forget that Mandela is of 'noble' birth. I.e. his forefathers (and peers) were/are the dictatorial leaders of the Africa we have become so accustomed to ever since the West ventured to the shores of the Dark Continent. It suffices to say that he was born to lead, come hell (his ex-anti-capitalism) or high water (Apartheid). It also goes without saying that all leaders want freedom...to rule! But does the quest for freedom automatically translate into adherence to human rights& dignities and true democracy? Even a cursory glance at modern-day Iraq tells us that certain Western assumptions can be used as weapons of mass distraction.
Getting back to Mandelatopia; there were no human rights in pre-colonial Africa, nor were there any freedoms for the individual, scientific progress (a written language, the wheel, etc); nothing we can now, given our own civilization's journey through history, recognize as remotely progressive. In short; there was no Afro-Atlantis, something recalcitrant liberals conveniently forget in their suicidal quest to clothe the Other in their ideals in the hope of straightening the crooked timber of humanity....for all eternity.
Be that as it may, how well does/did Mandela's Western clothes fit him? The most prudent way to judge a leader is to look at his/her legacy. Hitler was a brilliant leader, but what were the consequences (legacy) of his actions? One only has to look at the legacy of the American Founding Fathers to realize what a magnificent contribution they made to humanity as a whole. Their efforts may not be appreciated in modern-day Iraq and Afghanistan, but they surely cannot be blamed for trying to enlighten the unenlightened. Mandela's legacy on the other hand is definitely not as commendable as lauded ad nauseum in Oprahverse.
When it comes to acknowledging universal scientific facts, he failed abysmally. For example, he blatantly ignored dire warnings by the Apartheid government that AIDS will have a devastating effect on the black population. With 800 blacks dying of AIDS per day in South Africa - and having buried his own son because of AIDS, the Emperor must surely take a long hard look at himself in the mirror every morning. Hell, even his chosen successor, Mbeki, still does not belief that AIDS is caused by a virus! It is therefore also no wonder that America asked the Apartheid government to dismantle its nuclear weapons, lest Mandela's old cronies (Arafat, Ghadaffi, Castro, etc) get hold of technology that would have emboldened them to live out their own dictatorial instincts...power at all cost!
When it concerns Western-induced moral imperatives, Mandela also fails to make the grade. He has never, not once, criticized Mugabe's horror regime in Zimbabwe, even though Mugabe exemplifies everything that he (Mandela) is praised (and given a Nobel Peace Prize) for opposing. Moral schizophrenia is nothing new on a continent whose fate is determined by Golem-like* leaders who will not hesitate, for one moment, to use the end to justify the means.
These are but a few examples of how ill-fitting the Emperor's clothes really are, if he has any! What is good enough to wear for the Western goose is obviously not good enough to adorn the African gander. And yet we still 'feel good' when heaping accolades on those who defile the very fabric of all that we hold dear. Africans are above reproach! The race-card is the Joker that always wins the hand for those who excel in the politically-correct game of populist power-poker.
In short; we keep on washing Africa's blood-stained garments with a Macbethian vigor (White Guilt) hell-bent on tearing asunder all that our hard-earned conscience (e.g. the Reformation, the French Revolution, and the American Constitution) shed a million tears for. Who abolished slavery? Who ended slavery and Apartheid? It definitely wasn't Africa. Slavery is alive and well on the Dark Continent; child soldiers, black-owned white sex-slaves and ethnic Apartheid still soil the very ground intended to bear the fruit of our US$ half-trillion investment in Africa's upliftment, not to mention the millions of Westerners who have died to make the world a better place for all humanity.
We surely have taken on a tremendous task in endeavoring to tailor the world according to our designs. Whether our garments will be fashionable in times to come, is obviously best left to the modeling of human history. But, lest we deny ourselves, let us not further the agendas of the naked who have managed to slip into (and under) our moral skin in order to make the Emperor appear clothed.
Here is a link to a video-clip where Mandela sings about killing whites;
(The white man to his left is the old Communist stalwart, Ronnie Kastrils - current Minister of Intelligence in South Africa)
More than 2000 white farmers have been killed in the past 12 years. Here is a link to one of the websites where these atrocities are chronicled (CAUTION: extremely horrific images!)
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The death of the Noble Savage
May 09, 2007 01:04 PM EST
History is pregnant again; ready to foster the future the present is unwilling to bear. A future in which relativism will, yet again, be forced by rationalism to lay bare all miscarriages conceived by its innate inability to rationally nurture ever-expanding life/existence. And first among the stillborn to be exposed will be the Noble Savage – a myth that has, in the West, been the lop-sided smile of cultural relativism.
That this feel good smile is still at its charming best in modern popular culture is evident in cinematographic representations such as Colin Farrell’s The New World and Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves. Films that, in brief, try their sentimental utmost to convince the emotion- intoxicated viewer that primitive societies were (and are) virtuous to the core and that their conquerors, the West, embodies all that human depravity could muster in its quest to destroy all that is beautiful and innocent on the planet.
In the academia, the myth of the Noble Savage has been kept alive by Rousseau’s Romanticism (as evident in e.g. current ecotopian idealism based on disillusionment with the modernity project), the Protagorean relativism and Lockean ‘tolerance’ of Franz Boas, and the Wittgensteinian relativism of Peter Winch. Together, these three bodyguards have ensured the survival of its master since his modern ‘discovery’ on erotic 15th century islands till the Nobel Prize for Peace award ceremony of Nelson Mandela in 1994. A formidable force of intellectual champions indeed, but all with feet planted firmly in the clay of naïve idealism and recalcitrant relativism. And opposed, we only have a handful of rationalists constantly warning that ultimate knowledge and virtue are not in the eye of the beholder; stating explicitly that we simply cannot accept the fact that we are unable, even in our day and age, to say with any philosophically grounded authority that there is nothing morally ‘wrong’ with female circumcision, the stoning of Arab adulterers or the burning of ‘witches’ in South Africa – the rational conclusion engendered by a relativistic world-view! Alas, the legacy of relativism; a world in which all is determined by the existential Satrean individual whose inevitable death does not spell the end of truth.
Sad to admit but, although being a feel good creation of the West’s lucid imagination, and given every opportunity to prove himself, the Noble Savage has never, not once, been able to honour the faith placed in him to rise above perennial Western moral crises, to guide us back to Rousseau’s ‘Paradise Lost’. For example, even though his supposed Noble Savage moral ‘superiority’ (and Noble Peace Prize) demands it, Nelson Mandela’s steadfast refusal to criticize Robert Mugabe’s horror regime in Zimbabwe has left the West stuck, as usual, with the 500-year old dilemma as to what his mythical creation can actually offer morality. Let us be brutally honest here; the standing of the modern world’s two most famous Noble Savages, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, is purely due the fact that they reminded us of certain values and ideals we have cherished for millennia (e.g. the freedoms& dignity of the individual, democracy, etc.). In short; modern moral imperatives that have (and still are), glaringly evident by their absence in their own primitive societies.
But yet, we somehow continue to place the Noble Savage on a glorious pedestal that negates everything we know is scientifically, rationally and morally progressive. Why? Well, the sentimentality evoked by perennial Western disillusionment has something to do with it. According to Rousseau; “I dared to strip man’s nature naked…and showed that his supposed improvement was the fount of his miseries”. Let’s, for example, strip the Noble Savage, Robert Mugabe, to his naked self; what do we find? A primitive man feasting on the misery his fellow countrymen has to suffer because he embodies all Rousseau’s positive ‘regressions, like, e.g. the negation human rights and modern (‘rational’) farming methods. In short; homo homini lupus (man is a wolf to man); something Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud etc, will wholeheartedly agree with.
Staying with the West’s modern-day Hurons and Zande; one shudders to think what other moral atrocities Mandela would’ve condoned (or committed), hadn’t he been locked up for 27 years during the life-or-death Cold War struggle between the freedom of the individual and the integrity of the collective. It suffices to say that Mandela’s claim to fame is just another feel good ‘time-capsule’ which, like the 500-year old myth itself, feeds on the hope of the West to find redemption for perennial ‘sins’ committed in the name of human advancement. Leading from the front is always an incredibly lonely and ungrateful task – something the West is only starting to realize now that its accomplishments are under siege. Nearly everybody has the A-bomb now and the export of our morality (e.g. human rights, democracy, etc) is increasingly running into civilizational tariff barriers we arrogantly assumed would not be in place anymore, given the progressive example we have set.
The way back is shut, and the way forward is fraught with uncertainty. And no amount of imaginative thinking, on the part of the West, will ever detract from the fact that the feel good animation of the ‘Other’ (Mickey Mouse and the Noble Savage) is but a pathetic attempt to find a worthy companion to accompany it on the ultimate quest, yet unfulfilled. There is no going back, something that even less zealous ecotopians are slowly but surely starting to realize. Chaining oneself to railroad tracks to prevent the passing of Atommuell trains in Germany, or the ramming of whaler ships in the Japanese Sea will not save the planet from dire environmental problems; something only the (rational) ‘re-focusing’ of existing technology can accomplish – and definitely not going back to the jungle to join the Noble Savage in his supposed environmentally friendly and morally ‘pure’ Utopia that has, in all its supposed a-historical and all-encompassing ‘truth-filled’ superiority, failed dismally to halt any of the woes besetting 21-century humanity. Why? Well, it has to do with the fact that naïve idealism, like relativism, is innately incapable of rationally tackling the existential problems we face head on.
This brings us to the old-hat Protagorean relativism and the Lockean ‘tolerance’ of Franz Boas, according whom; “The general theory of valuation of human activities by anthropological research, teaches us a higher tolerance than the one we now profess” (The mind of Primitive Man, 1911). Now this is all fine and dandy, but what level of tolerance should we display when, for example, a Noble Savage in South Africa rapes a baby in the belief that it will cure AIDS/HIV or, less sickening, how tolerant should we be when two tribes go to war over a dead cow? The tolerance Locke and Boas demand is very much applicable to philosophical deliberations in the ivory towers of the academia, but has, unfortunately, preciously few answers to give when it concerns moral integrity in a world at war with itself. The cultural relativism of Boas and Peter Winch is underpinned by the belief that people think differently in different cultures simply because all thought reflects the traditions to which it is heir, the society it is embedded in and the environment to which it is exposed. So far so good; especially since Winch uses cutting-edge Wittgensteinian relativism (e.g. ‘all is language games’) to drive a permanent linguistic wedge in between cultures and, at the same time, to dismiss the belief that there is such a thing as an a-historical cross-cultural ‘universal’ rationality.
Be that as it may; following from Martin Heidegger’s notion that ‘language is the house of being’, Winch comes to the following conclusion; “Reality is not what gives language sense. What is real and what is unreal shows itself in the sense language has”. Brutally summarized; what Winch is saying is that the respective discourses (i.e. language games) of disparate societies are what give sense to their approximation of what constitutes reality, in their disparate ‘realities’. Winch therefore comes to the conclusion that the primitive magic systems of Noble Savages actually have the exact same constitutive elements displayed by Western science in so far as both form a coherent discursive universe from which ‘logical’ conclusions and, subsequent, ‘rational’ courses of action can be derived. A very basic example; it is common among South African Noble Savages to interpret the natural phenomenon of lighting as a sign of the anger of their gods/ancestors. And it is also not uncommon to find a sangoma (witchdoctor) running to his tribal chief to consult him on who the culprit (witch) is that caused this misfortune and must, subsequently, be punished – sometimes by being burned alive. This whole process, i.e. occurrence, interpretation and the resultant deliberated action, is, according to Winch, as rational as us Westerners seeing the lightning strike, interpreting it as dangerous (i.e. electro-magnetic discharges of the indiscriminately fatal kind) and, subsequently, seeking shelter. Now, different strokes for different folks you might conclude (pun intended), but the fact remains that Winch is right, depending, of course, on your definition of rationality - but more about that later.
It is therefore no wonder that relativism has prompted postmodern thinkers to come to the inevitable conclusion that ‘we’, as different cultures, are permanently stuck in our ‘own’ a-historical insular socio-historical and linguistic cocoons (worlds) with no hope ever being able to find universal criteria that can determine what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’, ergo the Lockean tolerance forced on us by cultural relativism to refrain from judging Noble Savage witchcraft as ‘wrong’ and judging female circumcision as ‘bad’. And given its appeal in the West, one cannot blame less courageous philosophers, like the pragmatic Richard Rorty, to come to the cocoon-bound (relativist) ethno-centric conclusion that “I’m an American, before I’m a human being”.
Having accepted Wittgensteinian relativism as truth, thinkers of the more courageous kind, like Steven Lukes and Donald Davidson, are tireless in their efforts to establish inter-linking strands of universal inter-cultural understanding (‘bridgeheads’) by taking the signified ‘tolerance’ itself to task and milking it for everything drop its supposed signifier-determined relativist ‘essence’ can produce by stating that, for example, the Principle of Humanity and the Principle of Charity are what ultimately binds our cocoons together. Now this is all fine and dandy, but fighting the enemy (relativism) from within, according to the rules imposed by the enemy itself, usually doesn’t stand a very good of success. And the mere fact that translators (linguists) can stand with feet in different cocoons, doesn’t help the cause either. That translators are forced to be ‘liberal/charitable’ with cocoon-caused signifiers and their cocoon-bound signified when it comes to translating from one language to another is obvious. For example, when the Noble Savage witchdoctor uses the signifier “Ooga booga” to act as linguistic representation for the sense-filled lightning strike (the burn someone ‘signified’) he just witnessed, and I, as a Westerner, use the signifier “lightning” (the seek shelter ‘signified’), then a translator would surely have a very unenviable task to fulfill in finding a strand common understanding to meaningfully link our respective insular cocoons. To Lukes’ credit though, he realizes that the mere possibility of being able to recognize belief-systems in foreign cultures (cocoons) presupposes the existence of a commonly shared set of criteria through which the truth-value of statements can be determined and whereby, subsequent, conclusions can be drawn from.
It is just a pity that he never developed this insight a bit more, because if he had then he would’ve realized that the mere fact that we are actually able to recognize cross-cultural criteria of ‘rational’ processes, like in my example of occurrence, interpretation and subsequent action (evident in all cocoons), implies that there is such a thing as a universal ‘rationality’. In short; the mere fact that we can see our ‘sameness’ in their ‘otherness’, and vice versa, automatically implies that we are not as mutually isolated as cultural relativism would have us believe. Now, how is this possible, you might ask. Well, it simply has to do with the logical inconsistence that underpins old-hat Protagorean relativism. If everything is relative, then the axiom/statement itself must, to be logically consistent, be relative as well – thereby leaving everything else, except for the axiom itself, open to be non-relative. What the vast scope of this non-relative ‘everything else’ may encompass is, of course, another story, but certainly one that can never be confined to that which it cannot be relative to.
Relativism has always had the uncanny ability to question the integrity of that which we commonly understand as the ‘truth’. Protagoras limits the truth to our status as individual speakers in a world not of our making, whereas Wittgenstein limits the truth to our status as disparate linguistic ‘groups’ fated to get lost in translation whenever we attempt to actually make sense of this world we’ve been thrown into - with 1001 thesauri, but no single dictionary. Now, all being fair and equal, the skepticism of relativists are well founded. ‘Doksa’ (the opinion of the individual speaker) and the ‘language games’ of the powerful (e.g. scientism, religious fanaticism, etc) have caused their fair share of havoc in history. But to automatically rope ‘independent’ truth into the simplistic equations our perennial ignorance evokes, is simply unfair.
This reductionist thinking has emboldened many relativists so much as to actually state that there is no reality (and, by approximation, truth) ‘independent’ of our experience and, following Wittgenstein, no reality ‘independent’ of that which we capture in language. In short; the sum-total of that which our senses and language behold and describe/define, is all there is (be it ‘reality’, ‘truth’, etc.). This nonsense has been taken even one step further by Aestheticism, where the moronic idea that we create (like painters) our world has become very fashionable in our postmodern world.
Be that as it may, relativism regards the possibility of an independent knowable ‘reality’ (and, by approximation, truth) as very slim, to put it mildly. To summarize; the integrity of that which cannot be captured by our senses and expressed in language is questioned by relativism. Now, a Wittgenstein fan might immediately raise the legitimate question and ask what the ‘integrity’ of the signified ‘integrity’ (i.e. the abstract concept thereof) is. Easy; poke yourself in the eye. The signifier “Ouch” has nothing to do with the signified ‘integrity’, but if you poke yourself in the same eye again, you’ll definitely come to the conclusion that there is something abstract like ‘integrity’ – in this case, the integrity of physical pain. The same could be said for all other abstract concepts that have, unfortunately, been forced to placate the fuzzy whims of experience and Wittgenstein’s signifiers. Another example, it’s fashionable to say there is no love, only proof of love. That this is ridiculous is painfully evident when the absence of love reminds your loneliness – as one who has never experienced love before - of its existence. And no amount of seeing (experiencing) others having fun, or reading romantic novels (i.e. abstract love ‘captured’ in language) can ever fill that void, which can only be filled when the ‘independent’ reality of love comes knocking on your door. To summarize; the innate integrity of the signified, with its independence anchored in independent reality, will never be compromised by the relativism perennially engendered by experience and the language we use to describe it.
Now this is all fine and dandy, but how do we, in the final instance, know that there is an independent ‘reality’ (and, by approximation, truth)? Easy; the fact that we die proves it. One can safely assume that one individual’s existentialist ‘self’ and his/her personal ‘world’ of reality, truth, etc., has the same being as that of his/her neighbor. Now, when I die, my existentialist self and my personal ‘world’ die – no dispute there. But when my neighbor dies, the world goes on as before – mine and yours (not his/hers, of course, RIP). This automatically implies that the ‘ultimate’ existence of reality is independent of the temporal being of the beholder, be it all the experiences and all the language games of the individual, the group, civilization or, heaven behold, the species. It suffices to say that we can safely assume that even if a gigantic meteor wipes out all of us, that the Rover explorer on Mars will continue to be (i.e. exist) – as will the name ‘Rover’ written on its side (and all the experience and signifiers that brought it into being) In short; ultimately, we neither determine nor create ‘ultimate’ independent reality, we can only approximate its truth as accurately as possible.
So much for relativism in general; back to the West’s unrelenting worship of the Noble Savage, as demanded by the cultural relativism of its one-sided multi-culturalism. Even if we discard my above critique of relativism in general, we’ll still find ample ‘scientific’ reasons to discard the notion that ‘we’, as various cultures, live in completely different worlds, as Boas and Winch would have us believe. Even just a basic understanding of Darwin will illustrate that life expands, and that any theories based on a static model of existence are doomed to fail. So, even if ‘we’, the various cultures, actually did live in completely different worlds, then the mere fact that ever-expanding life/existence would’ve brought (and did bring) us into contact with each other some or other time, implies that we share a common fate in an independent world ‘outside’ of our insular little ‘cocoons’. In all fairness to Boas and Winch, their static view of existence is inevitable, seeing that if everything is relative, it must be so forever. In other words, in their case, these independent cocoons must exist in isolation for all eternity. That Darwin’s expanding life makes such a preposition ridiculous, is therefore obvious.
Sticking to Darwin, and other scientific facts; the principle of entropy holds, by approximation, that any disorder in a closed system (remember that ‘God is dead’, ‘there is nothing outside the text’, etc) will inevitably affect (spread to) the whole system. Seeing that ‘our’ (humanity’s) original disorder, i.e. ‘we’ all need natural resources to survive – in a ‘closed’ world (sysyem) in which their availability is limited – was always bound to affect the whole system, makes the notion of independently existing a-historical insular cultural worlds (cocoons) even more absurd. In short; we were bound to get ‘inside’ each other’s cocoons – whether we like it or not. And one only has to look at the inevitable cultural exchanges (be it linguistic, scientific, etc.) and adaptive measures (on the part of weaker ‘cocoons’) to realize that we are definitely all sharing the same world. So much for certain relativist assumptions underpinning cultural relativism!
Which brings us back to the myth of the Noble Savage; when the inevitable clash of ‘cocoons’ occurred, some survived better than others and some perished, like the original Noble Savages on their erotic islands - ravaged by venereal disease. In all fairness to their 15-century European conquerors; viruses are also just follow their Darwinian programming to expand their ‘world/existence’ whenever and wherever possible. And it will be brutally unfair towards Westerners to hold them responsible (via White Guilt) for the, then unknown, clash of microbiological ‘cocoons’ caused by their loins. The aforementioned tragedy has, thanks to advances in science, little chance of occurring again – simply because we do have the innate ability to recognize the error of our ways. To be able to do so automatically implies progressive behaviour; something which, given the human condition 2000 years ago, needs no further explanation. Why? Well, error recognition is based, for the most part, on our innate rational ability to recognize patterns. Whether it is the EU’s recognition that Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ or Fukuyama’s ‘need for/of recognition’ drove individuals like Hitler or Napoleon to be the authors of their socio-cultural locale’s collective discontent, or Einstein’s recognition that mass increases in proportion to an increase in speed, the fact remains that pattern recognition is fundamental to any rational understanding of the truth we so desperately try our utmost to approximate. So, when a Noble Savage in South Africa deems it necessary to kill an innocent person simply because a purely random natural phenomenon like a lightning strike occurred, then we are, as rational beings, obligated to ask if there is actually some or other universally recognizable pattern that justifies this specific course of action. Now, I’m not even going to be politically correct by trying to honour any Noble Savage belief-system by using every-day examples (and experience) to disprove this primitive nonsense. It suffices to say that no universally recognizable pattern will ever emerge when examining such despicably barbaric actions that, ultimately, only succeed in negating all the collective knowledge humanity has painfully gathered over the ages.
This immediately prompts the question which has been conspicuous by its absence throughout my lengthy and, hopefully, justifiable attack on the continued feel good propagation of the myth of the Noble Savage. What constitutes ‘more’ rational behaviour and what constitutes ‘less’ rational behaviour? Now this, obviously, depends on the way you define ‘rationality’. According to the South African philosopher Anton van Niekerk, one of the foremost experts in this field worldwide, any definition of rationality has to, at the very least, include firstly, the demand of logical consistency (i.e. it is irrational to simultaneously claim p and not-p) and secondly, the fact that an agent can be judged as being irrational when s/he acts in a way that is contradictory to his/her own interests. In his excellent book Rasionaliteit en Relativisme (HSRC Publishers, 1992), Van Niekerk, like Juergen Habermas, is relentless in his efforts to broaden our understanding of rationality by including communicative rationality - the innate character of all languages to seek and attain common understanding between speech agents. Unfortunately, the incredibly broad scope of this remarkable discourse falls outside the ambit of this article. I prefer instead to concentrate on banal ‘survivability’ as a vital aspect of any attempt to determine what is ‘more’ rational and what is ‘less’ rational. Getting back to my example of the lightning strike; both my and the Noble Savage’s actions are rational in terms of its teleological intent (i.e. actions taken to satisfy a chosen goal). However, mine differs fundamentally from his in so far as they can be defined as an instrumental action, whereas his is strategic in intent. The former denotes actions whose success can be determined by the survival chances of the agent in the natural (non-social) world, and the latter pertains to survival chances in the social world of the agent. The strategic killing of the chosen ‘witch’ (potential rivals of the tribal king, of course) by the agent (the witchdoctor) is therefore quite rational in so far as the agent secures his continued privileged survival in his group. That the supposed influence of the gods/ancestors initiated this course of action is actually quite irrelevant in the abovementioned rational process.
My instrumental action (to seek shelter) is based on the fundamental recognition of certain universal laws which, through pattern recognition, human logic, etc. has ensured that my survival chances (as a Westerner) are much higher than that of the Noble Savage, whose historical cognizance of instrumental actions, that have proven themselves to be very successful, is very limited. An example; Thabo Mbeki’s refusal to acknowledge that AIDS/HIV is caused by a virus and his Health Minister’s advice to rather eat beetroot than take anti-virals, have definitely lessened the survival chances of their affected countrymen – a 1000 of whom die per day of this dreaded disease. So, in terms of instrumental actions (as demanded by rational behaviour) I can, with absolute certainty say, that my rationality is ‘better’ than that of the Noble Savage – simply because my survival chances are greater.
In terms of strategic (social world bound rationality) actions, things are obviously a bit more complicated when trying to judge whose rationality is better, or are they really? The survival chances of the individual amid the inevitable Darwinian power struggles within a group are infinitely higher when the excesses of the aforementioned are mediated through consciously created institutions (e.g. the Rule of Law) that are not bound to the claims to power of any other individual. That this is obviously not the case in Noble Savage societies is glaringly evident. When tribal kings (like Mandela’s friend, Robert Mugabe) kill their fellow countrymen in order to survive, then their actions are strategically rational – no argument about that. But seeing that we can safely assume that the innocent person to be killed (e.g. the ‘witch’ in my example) has also been amply endowed with the normal Darwinian survival instincts, it would be irrational of her/him not to take adequate strategic actions to ensure his/her continued survival. Without stepping into the field of morality; if non-ruling Noble Savage individuals had acted rationally, according to my notion of ‘survivability’, then a sort of ‘French Revolution’ would’ve been inevitable – something sadly lacking in all Noble Savage societies. In short; in terms of strategic actions, Noble Savage rulers are rational but their followers aren’t. To summarize; Noble Savage societies are ‘less’ rational than Western societies when it comes to engendering successful ‘survivability’ through instrumental and well as strategic actions. So much for much-vaunted Noble Savage superiority!
To conclude; the West’s sentimental attachment to the myth of the Noble Savage is irrational, to say the least. This feel good creation of the West’s, sometimes very naive, idealism is but another burden foisted on him on/in his quest to rationally approximate and understand the truth about this world we’ve been thrown into. Primitive societies are simply what they are namely, primitive. It is absolutely foolish of us to look to them for any guidance in an era which has long since disproved any claim to truth they could ever conjure up. And for us to employ the banal primitiveness of the Noble Savage to act as the conscience (as we did with Mandela!) to issue guilt for the perennial ‘sins’ (e.g. over-industrialization) we inevitably commit in/our quest to find the elusive answers to the questions that have made us the most progressive people on the planet, is even more idiotic. In short; the Noble Savage is dead!
That there are ‘ultimate/final’ truths must be abundantly clear by now, and no amount of cowardly relativism will ever succeed in permanently misleading us into believing that that which we are yet not absolutely certain about is but a figment of our mortal imagination. We have been endowed with all the faculties (e.g. rationality) it takes to make sense and find meaning in a world we are, ultimately, not the authors of. And it is precisely those faculties that have impregnated history again; ready to foster the future the West must now bear…in order for the Truth to be.
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Revolutions eat their children
June 16, 2007 12:41 PM EST
Revolutions eat their children; ask Robespierre, Trotsky and Liberia's Charles Taylor. And South Africa is certainly no exception. The lust for more power and money brings even the most self-righteous to a fall. Yesterday's terrorist is today's freedom fighter, and tomorrow’s dictator. It was never really about democracy and human rights….just unadulterated power! All the handshakes applauded and accolades bestowed on the lawns of the White House - all in vain. Alas, just another sorry saga in Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s feel-good biographies.
The current public service strike in South Africa bears all the hallmarks of just another run-of-the-mill ethnic African power struggle. Amidst the trashed ICUs of the state hospitals, the closed shops and schoolchildren wandering aimlessly through streets overflowing with rubbish, the established elite (Xhosa President Mbeki and his cronies) are desperately trying to protect their ill-gotten gains while their main rival, Jacob Zuma (the Zulu deputy leader of Mandela’s ANC) has rallied the all-powerful trade union COSATU, the anachronistic South African Communist Party, the Brown Shirt ANC Youth League and the poor masses to his ‘noble’ cause to lead the country to Afrolantis.
These erstwhile champions of 21-century postmodern liberal idealism are now engaged in a cut-throat struggle to claim their self-allotted pieces of the South African pie – the last First World country on the African continent. As one very senior member of Mandela’s party so brazenly admitted; "I didn’t get into the struggle to be poor!" It started with the murderous Winnie Mandela and continued with 'liberation heroes' like Alan Boesak and Tony Yengeni, both now convicted criminals. And it has only taken 13 years for the predictable revolutionary rot to have reached the very foundations of the self-entitlement movement (the ANC/COSATU/SACP alliance). But then, who can blame the less satiated? The obese Black Economic Empowerment ex-USSR comrades (Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale, etc) just can’t get their fill, and the crumbs falling of the Affirmative Action table only aggravate the insatiable appetite of the power-hungry and have-nots.
This is Africa, so why be clement when there is a very real possibility of having the whole pie – all to yourself! Face it, South Africa is a de facto one-party state; Africa at its ignoble best! So you play the disillusioned masses, like Zuma, the unions and the ANC Youth League are doing, by promising them all they’ve ever seen on TV (e.g. rich farms, easy jobs, wagonloads of money), till the gout-ridden powers that be are forced to invite you to share in their feast lest you threaten the status quo that sustains their lordship over all they survey.
But, unfortunately, the pie is only so big! The civil service, corporate boards, media and town names have all been Africanized. The so-called 'Black Diamonds' (middle-class blacks) are nothing but debt-ridden dismally incompetent feel-good replacements for the qualified pale males who were forced to vacate their jobs in order to vindicate the sensibilities of those who claim to have conquered the eternal moral high-ground. The Rule of Law has broken down and the skills capacity to sustain a knowledge-driven economy has all but ceased in the economic powerhouse of Africa…..the only real hope for an African Renaissance! So what is left to devour? Not much I’m afraid - and heaven forbid when you lose a preciously creamy bit, like Helen Zille’s Cape Town. No real new sustainable jobs have being created, unofficial unemployment stands at 40% and the existing wealth has been hijacked by the obligatory greed and corruption that characterizes the post-colonial African mindset.
Tokyo Sexwale, Black Economic Empowerment multi-billionaire and presidential candidate, recently bought his wife a brand-new LearJet for Valentines Day. President Mbeki, Mandela’s chosen successor, approved a 57% pay raise for himself and his honoured inner circle, while giving his 'lowly' minions only 6%. The have-not illiterate masses are seething because they have to stand in the ever-lengthening queue of promises unfulfilled. Zuma’s Zulus are sharpening their traditional spears, the Cape Coloureds, shunned by Mandela’s Xhosas for not being black enough, have become drug-addicted gangsters and more than a million skilled whites have left the country since 1992 – that fateful day when they voluntarily placed their future in hands of the Great African Unknown…at the behest of the liberal West.
Alas, Darwin has become the master of ceremonies at the Iron Age feast that will devour the last morsel of civility in Mandelatopia. The gloves have come off, the buffet for anarchy is set and there will be no Queensbury Rules when the battle-cry 'We demand our piece of the pie!' makes South Africa just another sorry footnote on the endless list of post-colonial African losers. Yawn….so bloody boring!
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Woodstock's last Lullaby
July 31, 2007 01:00 PM EST
Every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations come beating on your door…or so the song goes. Every age has its –isms, whether as heirlooms, or by choice. And as every age comes to pass, so the songs of praise (ideals) of the generation that defined it desperately try to echo into the next. But, given the nature of unchanging change in a world not of our bidding, a new age always plays its own tunes.
The age of Western supremacy is over, and the ideals that led to its ascendancy are finding it increasingly difficult to assert themselves in a world in which our modern feel-good self-centeredness (existential-humanism), greed (unbridled capitalism) and scientific knowledge (e.g. the A-bomb) have been globalized. To therefore persist in insisting on having others play second fiddle is rather unrealistic, something the Woodstock generation stubbornly refuses to accept. But then, who can blame them? They have, for the past 40 years, had their way when it comes to exploiting the unique opportunities afforded by being the lead singers in an age of the West fortunate enough to have dominated the world stage. It has been a forty-year festival, in which the banal realities of ignoble existence in Darwin's Zoo have taken back stage to Lullaby songs of Heaven.
And what a party it has been! Being heir to an age bereft of the 'repressive' existence of the God of Abraham (who 'died' in Auswitsch), the newly-liberated (by their WWII parents) immediately hijacked the idea of Universal Love (as anchored in the Christian faith) and inferred that its 'actuality' was the fons et origo binding/bonding all of humanity. In other words, just like the 'dead' God loved us eternally, so we love each other…for all eternity.
But that was not enough; earthly gods had to be found to preach the way to Happy-Ever-After Land. So forth were sent the disciples of Freud and Marx to convert the latest Infidels. Straddling both the Old and New World, these missionaries of modernity have been the song writers of all the Lullabies of terrestrial Heaven sung by our honoured Baby Boomers. 'Make lave not war' was the credo of the Freudo-Marxists (e.g. Reich and Marcuse) who mesmerized the American youth with Lullabies of eternal brotherly love. Across the ocean, die-hard Marxists, disillusioned by Stalin's authoritarian horrors, convinced student and unionists to stick it to 'the Man', so that worker-driven socialism (via industrialization) could herald in eternal bliss. And so the party started, with the 69ers in America and the 68ters in Europe…till 9/11.
It certainly was a grand start to a great party. But seeing that all songs fade, the applause soon died out. And so started the blame game. We are not eternally happy (in love), so who struck the wrong cord? In America the anti-psychiatry movement 'transported' Freud's 'cure' to society in general and proudly proclaimed to have found a way to fly over the cuckoo's nest. In other words, if the 'culprit' is not 'inside' then he must be 'outside'. Being the poor sod unfortunate enough to have dominated the globe at that stage of history, the pale male became the heretic of the witch-hunt that was to follow via the idea of 'innocence stolen', (global pedophilia). To paraphrase Orwell; we are all innocent, but some are more innocent than others.
Cowed into moral submission, pale males immediately turned on their own (via, e.g., the compensation industry) and legislated themselves out of any meaningful contribution to the future, while going on their knees to blow the trumpet of the 'Other' (e.g. radical feminists, homosexuals, the Noble Savage, etc.). Penance had to be paid, but where to do so? In public, of course. And thus the old Roman Catholic confessional ended up on Oprah's couch, where the fickle norm has become the Ten Commandments in a world in which morality has been democratized. A confessional of the plebiscite where man can be 'de-traumatized' from the 'unfairness' life has foisted on his/her supposed innate innocence.
Across the ocean, over-industrialization caused ex-Marxists to, rather predictably, change their tune as well…to point accusing fingers at the capitalist sons-of-swines (pale males, of course) who over-exploited the natural environment. Green became the new working-class white of the Free Willy crowd. And, as an edifice to their hubris, they convinced their cousins in the USA to erect the Biospheres (modern-day Towers of Babel) – a symbol of man's newly-discovered 'independence'.
But that song wasn't the curtain call of all human discontent as well. An excess of carbon forced the bionauts of the Ecospheres to abandon that Utopian narrative as well. And all that is left is the disgusting incivility of Simon Cowell's Reality TV and Al Gore's scare-mongering 'An Inconvenient (blame it on carbon) Truth'.
And so the children of Woodstock keep humming to the tunes they know best. Blame, blame, blame. But all hats off to Flower Power; it even succeeded in convincing Ban Ki-moon, the newly-appointed Secretary General of the United Nations, that the current genocide in Darfur is the result of too much carbon.
How do they do it? Well, it's all got to do with the moralization of all human activity through the idea of eternal neighbourly-love….still denied. And this is where the ultimate Lullaby jukebox starts rocking. You choose your sweet delusion, and pays your monies. Attention-seeking pubescent adults, who actually do the same 'job' kids do for fun (make-believe), are enlisted in Hollywood to scare the living guano out of the gullible in Oprahverse, thereby ensuring incessantly sweet encores.
An uncannily successful strategy one has to admit but, unfortunately, their age has come to pass. For example, China needs 44 million tones of oil to match America's annual consumption, but current world production only amounts to 40 million tones per annum. Something has got to give, sometime in the near future. And no amount of Leonardo di Caprio (The 11th Hour) moralization, via toeing the politically-correct line, will succeed in convincing a 5000-year old civilization to abandon its quest to have exactly that which the Woodstock generation arrogantly believed was their birthright.
Come on chaps, stops singing please – the party is over! Making love was marvelous…..but war made the bed. We are truly grateful for the amusement offered by Paris Hilton, Barbara Streisand, Bill Clinton, Joschka Fischer, Elton John, Robert Mugabe, Bono….and the like. But we are back in Darwin's Zoo again where, unfortunately, love has to play second fiddle in the grand orchestra we have never actually been the true directors of. To paraphrase; every age blames the one before, for all the dire warnings left unheeded at future's door….
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August 10, 2007 01:53 PM EST
Hope springs forth eternally from the heart of man...so the saying goes. From the dawn of the West, hope has been the canvass on which the trails and tribulations of our civilization have been painted. Hope gave rise to the most humane empires, inspired some of the greatest works of art and led to the discovery of the most profound scientific truths. Transcending the interests of individuals, societies and nations throughout the various epochs, hope has guided us on our epic journey towards a better tomorrow – an enlightened future of true meaning and authentic existence. Finding expression in the discourse of Utopia, hope is the fons et origo of all the ideals that have animated the West's quest for eternal rest. From the confused adolescent strumming away on his guitar and the fearful elderly woman awaiting death, to the beguiled geneticist immersed in his research; hoping to understand, hoping for salvation and hoping to find the truth, has been the élan vital of our most ardent endeavors to find respite from the anguish, forlornness and despair of eternal mortality.
The story of utopia is, in a sense, an ongoing saga of the efforts of human Reason to mediate in the struggle between hope and despair that characterizes the human condition and his/her existence in via. Despair is rooted in the stark realization that we find ourselves in a world (Universe) that is not of our making, and that our desperate attempts to find meaning to existence are as much confounded by this arcane world as it is by our alien selves. It is as if our own incredulous amnesiac selves, of ourselves, have been thrown into an unrelentingly alien world that binds us together, gives us life, yet kills us - seemingly at random, and we don't know why, why we don't know why, or even if we could know why! The irreverence of existence towards humanity's well-being is, to put it bluntly, rather disconcerting. Consciousness is not an easy burden to bear - and despair, albeit less courageous, is always an option.
Despair comes in many forms, the most drastic and tragic being suicide - the fundamental negation of life itself. The more subtle forms of despair are, on the whole, less recognizable, especially when it comes to their manifestation in intellectual thought. The indifference of pragmatism, the escape into art of aestheticism and the irresponsibility of relativism, as evident in the main strands of postmodern thinking, are some of the more noticeable manifestations of despair in the current intellectual climate of the West. They all bear the hallmarks of disengagement, retreat and surrender - sometimes not unjustifiably so. But then, the quest for Truth is not for the fainthearted and, after more than 2500 years, something we simply cannot just turn a blind eye to or, heaven forbid, abandon. The hope for a better, more meaningful and enlightened tomorrow, is as important to us as the air we breathe. It is also that which has always distinguished us from all the other civilizations.
But hope is under siege, as never before. The age of Western supremacy is over, and the ideals that led to its ascendancy are finding it increasingly difficult to assert themselves in a world in which our modern feel-good self-centeredness (existential-humanism), greed (unchecked capitalism) and scientific knowledge (e.g. the A-bomb) have been globalized. Despair has set in. Hope seems to be utterly spent. Francis Bacon's quest to 'E = mc square' us back to Paradise has somehow got lost amidst the infuriatingly elusive box-within-the-box promise of modern science, alienation and the over-exploitation of the natural environment. Philosophy has, after Marx's 160-million dead, taken refuge in the abbey of Wittgensteinian language analysis, and Christianity is hanging on for dear life by evoking emotions exploited in an indifferent world centered on the alienated existentialist self. The series of dystopic recriminations that followed in the wake of the grand utopian schemes of the Enlightenment has diluted hope to such extent that all that is left is to blame an excess of carbon for all the woes besetting mankind.
The future does indeed look bleak (carbon-filled, according to silly Al Gore). The philosopher Richard Dworkin has, following John Gray's fundamental disillusionment (or realism?), forecasted that 'minor' utopias (e.g. human rights based idealism) is the only fate left for humankind. His skepticism is well-founded given the fact that none of the other civilizations have ever come up with any better suggestions. Even their religions are characterized by their innate exclusivity and escapism. Something which, given their desperate quest to emulate the 'progressive' example set by the West, certainly doesn't conjure up images of universal contentment. In our own divided camp; feminism and homosexuality have, rather predictably, remained reactionary, and our 'bridge' to Paradise Lost has been burned down by the death of the Noble Savage.
Not much to hope for, now is there? We are back in Darwin's Zoo again, and it is no wonder that the West is circling the wagons in the mean time - minus the poor white South Africans mercilessly abandoned to their horrific fate in Darkest Africa. Whether a global future of indifference or war will come to pass remains to be made history by the then present. Why? The way back is shut, the present is squabbling over the spoils left after the moral criminalization of the pale male, and the future is set to become a bloody fight over ever-diminishing natural resources in a world drowning in self-indulgent abundance?. Is global Rome to burn? Will we, in the words of the WWI poet Clive Owen, also succumb to utter despair?
"Was it for this the clay grew tall?
O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all"?
Yes...but only if we forget the three-letter word that has made the West the beacon of hope....for all humanity. Why? Ever since Plato urged us to emerge from the cave of ignorance to follow the light of Reason, we have fervently believed that the truth will set us free. The freedom implied by the genius of Plato, and the like, is not limited to knowing the truth, but, more importantly, to understanding the truth. It goes without saying that knowing the truth and understanding it is not the same. If, for example, it does transpire that we are indeed the apogee of apehood, as Darwin, Dawkins and Dr. Doolittle would have us believe, then we would accept it, albeit very reluctantly, heckle the Pope, pay compensation to our younger cousins and develop a finer appreciation for banana soufflés. But it will definitely not stop us from asking that question which has haunted us ever since Hector saw Troy destroyed because of one woman. Why? All sarcasm aside; it will merely broaden the scope of the question to include our antics during this less dignified period of our being in this world. In short; the Why? can never be derived from the What?
The West was built on the question Why? Socrates, the first martyr of Reason, refused to desist from inciting the Athenian youth from asking this very question, thereby inviting his own voluntary demise. Why? implies dissatisfaction with the given, it is a steadfast challenge to the status quo to reveal its un-truths, assumptions and injustices. It is an ardent longing to know and understand the Truth, because it is only in its satisfaction that true meaning is revealed. It may sound a bit old-fashioned, but man is more than homo Tesco (the numbed shopper), homo coitus (the bonking man), homo faber (the "making" or working man) and homo civis (the responsible citizen of the state); he is - above all - homo hermeneuticus (the sustained effort to find meaning in life).
The mere fact that we can take cognizance and articulate our incredulity about having been delivered into this alien Existence, illustrates quite succinctly that we are not as hapless as our initial take on the world (...to cry) would have us believe. We have, very much like Chomsky's child, been endowed with that which it takes to take stock of, to comprehend and navigate this world that we find ourselves in. Reason, Faith and Art (in no particular order) are the handles we have to come to grips with ourselves and this alien reality confronting us. These innate 'faculties', that underpin our sense-making endeavors and engender our meaning-giving activities, all have one thing in common namely, hope!
The Hope of the West has an incredible legacy - grounded by those who realized that this amazing, yet tragically flawed world we live in cannot, and must never, be left to its own devices, because then we'll cease being human. Although also animals, we are not mere animals; nothing illustrates that more succinctly than the fact that no animal commits suicide. Suicide, the final negation of a world in which all hope has faded, is the only way we can stop being human. Hope is what makes us human. Hope is what fuels our confrontation with our alien selves and this alien Universe we have been thrown into - an imperfect existence in which our only real freedom is the care for its betterment.
Dare we hope....even as our darkest hour approaches? Yes we do! The owl of Minerva takes to wing at dusk.
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How to shave a Liberal
August 20, 2007 01:22 PM EST
The problem with modern liberals is that they have a huge problem. This quagmire is so fundamental that it needs to be continuously hidden behind lesser problems lest it brings their whole moral house of cards down in one cynical swoop. Bereft of the belief that God is the creator of all that presents itself to our senses and intellect, liberals are forced to stand on the bedrock of Darwinism to, ultimately, ground all they so fervently believe in. Let's be frank here, it's either God or Darwin...in the current tide of human affairs animating our quest for Final Meaning.
Conservatives of Christian persuasion obviously have a problem too when it comes to grounding their fundamental beliefs. The existence of God can neither be proven, nor disproven. It is simply a matter of faith, practical wisdom and philosophical humility – all being fallible, as any true Christian would readily admit. But this problem pales in comparison to the quandary confronting liberals of atheistic hue.
In The Decent of Man, Darwin writes; "It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet that an increase in the number of well-endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another."
Without restating the obvious; what Darwin is saying is that any deliberation about what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' is actually superfluous. In the struggle for survival the material well-being of the individual is paramount – something Mr. The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins will wholeheartedly agree with. In a nutshell; stuff morality, I want immortality (i.e. the biological imperative driving me to give my genes the best chance to survive when I kick the bucket).
Rather disillusioning, isn't it? Well, welcome to the bedrock of ultimate meaning in the universe of modern liberalism. A world in which the likes of Hillary Clinton have to resort to opinion-poll politics in order to ensure the survival of her intellectual genes (memes) by imbedding them in the quantitive survival chances guaranteed by the masses. Why outthink them, when you can outvote (outbreed) them?! Alas, a socio-political climate determined by the demographic power of Oprah-endorsed opinions. The dictatorship of the alienated existentialist 'I'...grounded in the gullible norm borne by the sheer weight of numbers.
Now, if we look at the above quote carefully then it would imply that conservatives are more successful in doing the Darwin thingy ... i.e. they are a group very successful in pragmatically exploiting resources to their own benefit. This implies that there is nothing morally 'wrong' with President Bush's invasion/liberation of Iraq. They (the Iraqi tribe) have the resources (oil) needed for our (America's) survival. Or even more cynically interpreted; democracy makes for rather good capitalist consumers. So why criticize the President? Seriously; if you believe that Darwin rules the world, why bemoan the fate of the 'Other'?! You simply cannot have your bread buttered on both sides!
But it even gets better; according to Darwin, "A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, and sympathy, were always ready to aid each other, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection."
What he is saying is that 'morality' is a (biological) virtue solely because it gives one tribe of men a bigger club which to whack a rival tribe with. Self-sacrifice, altruism and reciprocity are therefore beneficial because it can greatly better the survival prospects of the group. Isn't this exactly what our brave boys are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or what Al Qaida terrorists are doing as well?! So, seen from this angle, liberals should actually applaud the fact that American soldiers are fighting the Al Qaida tribe.
Rather topsy-turvy, isn't it? It would seem that conservatives are better liberals than liberals themselves. For to appeal to an a-historically universal scheme of morality is anathema to Darwin's fundamental teachings. Different moral strokes for different moral folks, it 'ought' to seem. Tribes need to have divergent 'moralities' in order to stimulate conflict which, according to the Darwinian scheme of things, is the spice of evolutionary life. What the respective 'content' of these moralities are, is completely irrelevant....as long as they are divergent enough to impel us to kill our neighbor in order to successfully transfer our – and only our - genes (and memes) into the next generation. In short; evolution needs strife in order to survive!
It is therefore rather schizophrenic of liberals to even postulate any notion of a 'shared' morality, not to mention moralizing about what ought to ultimately, constitute 'good' behavior and what ought to constitute 'bad' behavior per se. There is neither a universal human tribe, nor a universal morality; there is only the group/tribe-embedded 'I' solely intent on surviving. Shave a liberal and all that shines through is Darwin's grizzly stubble.
Now, the obvious question is; how did modern liberals become the holier-than-thou keepers of the Holy Grail of Good& Bad in this complex world we live in? Well, it is quite simple. They simply grew a beard. A feel-good façade that hides their Achilles Heel so well that, at first glance, one cannot help but bow down to the supposed humane 'wisdom' they so brazenly flaunt via modern popular culture. 'Cry moral havoc, and unleash the poodles of Hollywood!' Bono and Brangelina will sing and act us back/to Paradise.
According to Edward Swanitch; "Dabei sind linke Blaetter dogmatischer und unliberaler als rechte. Das liegt daran, dass Linke sich viel staerker ueber Meinungen, Ideologien und Programme definieren als Konservativen. Da sie die beteiligung an der Macht weitgehend ueber die Eroberung der Diskurse und der Kulturellen Lufthoheit erzwungen haben, ist fuer sie die korrekte politische Linie weit wichtiger als fuer die Konservativen, die ja schon ueber das Geld verfuegen."
What Schwanitz is saying is that the toeing of the politically correct line is much more important for modern liberals because they owe their participation in politics to their conquest of political discourses and their resulting socio-cultural (in the academic sense of the term) supremacy in the moral high ground. They need to be dogmatic about the morally correct line because they do not have the financial power of the conservatives. So, their existence is, by and large, engendered and sustained by the rhetoric of moralization. This, in plain English, means that modern liberals have been rather slack in following the Laws of Evolution (i.e. to survive materially, at all costs) as laid down by their master (Darwin). No money, no Duracell Darwin bunny!
Let's be brutally honest here; modern liberals have no option but to follow the dictates of Social Darwinism, if they persist in prostrating themselves at Darwin's feet. And we all know where that road leads to! At the end of the day, Dawkins's infamous words, "Tough luck!" will come to haunt all those who thought they could pick up a turd by the clean end. Amen.
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Stop! Africa wants to get off the bus
September 14, 2007 01:44 PM EST
The last meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) saw Robert Mugabe, the despot of Zimbabwe, lauded and applauded like no other African leader since god Mandela himself.
Now, one will definitely be justified in asking why a brutal dictator, who has deliberately ruined his country (80% unemployment, 12 000% inflation, one-third of the population in exile, etc), is treated as a hero by his African peers.
Well, the answer can be found in what Mugabe has termed the 'Second Liberation'. The First Liberation obviously being de-colonialization followed by black self-rule. Brushing aside the obligatory old-hat Marxist rhetoric and fashionable anti-White platitudes, one quickly comes to the stark realization that what Mugabe has in mind is firstly, a recipe for ruin untold and, secondly, rationally unavoidable.
His current endeavour to rid Zimbabwe of all whites, and all that they represent (e.g. modern science, Western morality, capitalism, etc) is coldly indicative of his intention to reassert his country/culture's original African identity. His methods might appear insanely irrational to us, but the rationale underpinning them is faultless. For to reassert (re-actualize) the original identity of an African country automatically implies the negation of all that which is not historically indigenous to it.
Unlike all the cultures of the Alpha-civilizations (Hindi, Sino, Western and Arab), primitive cultures, like those in Africa, have absolutely no innate relation to the 'Gestalt' ('form/content') of the modern world. So to get rid of all that is not originally yours is perfectly rational, if you want to 'find' your authentic self (identity) again. And this is precisely the reason why Mugabe is so admired by his peers in Africa. He has, like the prophet of yesteryear, shown them a way to forever overcome that which the modern environment has so ruthlessly foisted on them - without their implicit permission and pro-active participation.
Mugabe's 'Second Liberation' ideology is spreading rapidly. In a keynote address delivered at an African Diaspora conference held in Paris recently, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the South African Foreign Affairs Minister, boldly stated; "Our task henceforth is to interpret ourselves, to define ourselves, to give shape to our own identity, to believe in our own ethics…". The idea of mineral-rich South Africa persuing its "own ethics" must certainly send a chill down the spine of big business and forever-meddling CIA policy-advisors. A fear certainly not unfounded given South Africa's blatant anti-Western stance as the current Head of the UN Security Council. 'As jy dom is moet jy kak' (foretold is forewarned), as the Boere would say.
Be that as it may; blaming the environment (the pale male, of course) no longer butters the bread because none of the other civilizations have experienced any real difficulties in reaching the most important benchmarks set for progressive survival like, inter alia, the Industrial, Nuclear and IT Revolutions. Sub-Saharan Africa, on the other hand, has proven time and time again that it is still in the dark, literally. And, given Mugabe's hero status among his peers, it would seem that they would rather remain in the dark than be willing passengers on the bus of progress.
To endeavour to seek reasons for Africa's inability to adapt to the demands of the modern world would, like it or not, also have to include examining the nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture dichotomy - something that must be avoided at all costs, lest a pale male wants to stand accused of being a Nazi, a baby seal clubber, a pedophile and an uprooter of saplings. Be that as it may; the PC excuse to always blame black failure on white prejudice (i.e. the Western-dominated current global environment) has lost all credibility.
The current state of South Africa is a sterling example of what is fated to happen to a modern country when a primitive people have the leeway to reassert their identity....at all costs. This process, known as indigenization, or re-primitivization, is characterized by, inter alia, abysmal levels of corruption, brutal inter-tribal conflict, nepotism and a collapsing infrastructure. Alas, the sad story of post-colonial Africa.
The results of this specific utopian experiment by the West to enforce cultural integration between a modern people (the whites) and a primitive people (Africans) is clear to see when one looks at the near complete collapse of the criminal justice system, the dismal failure of the black government to deliver even the most basic state services and the flight of 1.5 million whites since Mandelatopia was dreamt up.
Doomed from the start, this experiment has been underpinned by the feel-good assumption that both peoples have/had the same skills (be they psycho-social, moral or cognitive) to start off with. But is this really so? How should one then otherwise explain, for example, the fact that only 700 out of the 380 000 black South African matrics in 2006 passed HG Maths at C+ level and above? Similarly, why is it that the blacks who took over the (erstwhile) world-class white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe are producing 87% less than their 'evil' original owners?
Be that as it may; even a very basic understanding of evolution, as applied to human progress/development, shows that the sustaining and development of a specific environment is inextricably linked to the innate skills of those who have adapted (to) it. For example, an 14th-century European would've perished in an environment in which an Eskimo has thrived for ages. Similarly, a 16th-century Pacific Islander would most probably have died ignobly in London at the time from some or other venereal disease, or smallpox. Nature is merciless and morality is, unfortunately, a mere contingency when it comes to brutal survival.
Getting back to Mugabe's 'Second Liberation' (or Afro-fascism, to term it more appropriately); one shudders to contemplate the consequences of his quest to reassert Africa's original identity, especially given the results of a not dissimilar endeavour currently underway in the Muslim world. Driven by a handful of fanatics, this quest on the other side of the world has even managed to put a spell on moderate (real) Muslims tired of having to dance to the tunes of the over-bearing West. But then, who can blame them. The hubris of the West has sacrificed natural diversity on the altar of enforced equality in order to placate the feel-good sensibilities of those who have lost their sense of self (identity). Alas, the logical outcome of a relativist world-view desperately trying to ground itself.
Whether Robert Mugabe is morally entitled (or right) to lead Africa back to the Iron Age is not for us to judge. How could we then....seeing that we regard human progress as relative? Be that as it may; the journey will continue, with or without Africa, because the rest of the passengers on the bus will only wave once, then continue to station future.....as always.
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