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[P]
Angola: Peace at Last? Or More of the Same?

By UncleMikey in Op-Ed
Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:50:09 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Several news outlets are running stories about the apparent death of Jonas Savimbi, long-time leader of Unita, in an attack on his rebel army's head quarters by Angolan government forces. If true, then it seems on the surface that a sea change is coming for Angolan politics. But it's also possible that Angola's real problems -- crushing poverty for the vast majority, while the President and his elite live in deep luxury -- will only get worse without anyone meaningful to oppose them.


Jonas Savimbi's Unita Movement spent the last 27 years fighting a non-stop guerilla war against the Angolan government in Luanda -- pretty much from the day Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict grew out of pre-independence rivalries between Unita and the Marxist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which is now the governing party. During the Cold war, the USA backed Unita, while the USSR backed the MPLA and its subsequent government.

In the early '90s, a peace accord between the two parties finally allowed for peaceful Presidential elections -- the first since independence. When Savimbi was narrowly defeated by incumbent Eduardo dos Santos, Unita again took up arms. A second attempt at peace was signed in 1994, but that accord also failed. Mr Savimbi had lost much of his credibility with his former Western friends as a result.

With the Cold War over, the conflict in Angola ceased to have much international importance, and was widely forgotten. Now, most reports (notably those in today's New York Times (free registration required) and on the BBC's website are focusing on the idea that Angola may finally have peace, for Mr Savimbi had no clear successor, and was widely seen as the driving force behind his movement. They further suggest that with peace will come economic development long desperately needed.

But will it? Angola is a major oil producer, counting the United States (with our deep hunger for petroleum) amongst its customers. It ought to be a wealthy nation, yet all but a small number live in abject poverty. The government has often blamed Unita, and the need to fight them, for this, but there's little evidence that the government has made much real effort. Indeed, Mr dos Santos and Mr Savimbi both lived extremely well. During the Cold War, both could draw from the coffers of their respective sugar daddies. In the years since, the government-controlled oil fields have funded both Mr dos Sandos' lifestyle and his government's army, while Mr Savimbi was able to keep himself solvent through the sale of what came to be known as 'blood diamonds'.

In short, the battle between the MPLA and Unita has long seemed from the outside to be a battle between two entirely unsavory characters, both of whom might once have truly cared for their people, but who had ultimately come to care only about their own standing and prospects for power. Mr Savimbi's death may well bring peace, but it may be the peace of an unopposed kleptocratic tyranny, rather than the peace of a functioning republic.

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Angola: Peace at Last? Or More of the Same? | 53 comments (49 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
*Grunt* (4.58 / 12) (#1)
by m0rzo on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 01:04:08 PM EST

It ought to be a wealthy nation, yet all but a small number live in abject poverty

Angola is like every African nation. Every African country, if we look at it logically, should be rich. The entire continent is rich in natural resources; gold, diamonds, copper, bauxite, manganese, nickel, platinum, cobalt, radium, germanium, lithium, titanium, and phosphates, coal, oil, gas.

Succesive post-independence governments in every African country have run the place into the ground. I refuse to believe this is all the fault of evil, meddlesome European colonialists. There is something much deeper - I don't know what it is.

It's clearly not the whole fault of Colonialism. Looking towards Asia is proof of this.

Angola's problems are inherantly African. The only reason why S.Africa seems to be escaping a similar fate is because they are living off post-apartheid gold reserves. They will run out.

I can't see Africa's problems being sorted out in my life time. There is too much ethnic and regional upheavel. Not to mention the greedy aspirations of Africa's military leaders.


My last sig was just plain offensive.

Tribalism? (3.40 / 5) (#2)
by goatse on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:00:55 PM EST

Do you think it could have been the tribalism? I think Asia had empires, not tribes, so that could be the diffrence. It seems tribalism is what screwed up Afganistan (the opertunity was created by the U.S. and U.S.S.R).


[ Parent ]
Tribalism. (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by Alarmist on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:01:56 AM EST

That may be a factor.

My knowledge of African history is admittedly lacking, but I don't recall any real steps towards empire-building, except for the Zulus and possibly the Dervish movement. Both had the misfortune to take place during the height of European colonialism, though, and were crushed. One wonders what would have happened had these movements taken place a few centuries earlier.

Evidently, the African tribes did not feel any particular impetus towards nationalism or empire-building. Why this is so remains a mystery to me. The usual religious motives did not seem to exist, as they did in Europe, which might have been a factor. (These motives didn't exist in Asia either, to my knowledge, so the answers may lie elsewhere.)


[ Parent ]

Tough questions... (4.16 / 6) (#4)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:08:59 PM EST

This is actually one of the things occasionally cited as "support" for various theories of inherent racial group differences.

On the one hand, that bugs me a lot. On the other hand, I'm emotionally fine with the idea that "black people" are taller, faster, and stronger than white people, so it wouldn't entirely surprise me if they were also "more violent" or "less likely to form stable governments".

I would have to see an explanation of *why* before it would make any sense, though.

If it were true, though, what the hell would we do? Let the suffer? Go in and "take over" like good benevolent imperialists? Release a special genetically engineered virus that Ender's sister says will "cure" them?

On the whole, I hope this is just a cultural quirk that goes away.


[ Parent ]
Guns, Germs, and Fertiliser (4.00 / 4) (#5)
by Scrymarch on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:28:42 PM EST

On the other hand, I'm emotionally fine with the idea that "black people" are taller, faster, and stronger than white people, so it wouldn't entirely surprise me if they were also "more violent" or "less likely to form stable governments".

I'm pretty uneasy with that. They are much more complicated phenomena. And how much of the athletic prowess is selection bias for health (because of poverty and lack of rights) over hundreds of years?

The most plausible explanation seems to me that in Guns, Germs and Steel - Africa is a longitudinally aligned, equator-spanning continent, and so had a handicap when it came to developing cities and the engines of civilisation. I'm sure that my tribal ancestors were just if not more vicious and self-defeating in similar circumstances; but they were part of a larger Eurasian experiment that allowed successful solutions (rule of law, commerce &c) to become widely dominant. Southern continental Africa was separated from this experiment by rough terrain and tropical diseases. Egypt was obviously not, cf Pyramids, Antony & Cleopatra. (People, including me, often conveniently ignore Egypt when they say "Africa".)

This is actually connected to a population argument I am as yet undecided on. It argues Africa is badly underpopulated, and is unable to achieve the scales required for a more stable and prosperous society. It is normally associated with attacks on the environmental movement, citing figures like more fertiliser spread on US lawns yearly than the entire African continent.

[ Parent ]

Selection for health? (4.80 / 5) (#6)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:37:41 PM EST

Well, of *course* it's selection for health - but something like 20% of the world record holders in the 100-meter dash come from a very small area in Africa. That's not "lack of rights", that's "hunting". So, it wouldn't surprise me if, since the first things we can call "human", Africans have been being selected for speed and power.

A friend of mine was part of a program where a guy from Africa, coming to the U.S. to study medicine, moved into his house for a month. The guy was afraid of the cat at first, and also of a squirrel, and was shocked to discover that we have essentially no poisonous snakes. He's from a world where almost everything that moves can kill you. You think that wouldn't, over 40,000 years, tend to lead to great deal of twitch muscle?

We know, roughly, where and when that came from. We know it's been in these people for *millennia*. It's not a recent result of poverty; it's a very good adaptation to their environment.

I certainly agree that concepts like "more violent" are way more complicated, and I'm not really inclined to believe they can be hereditary until someone shows me proof. I haven't seen proof yet.

I do like the theory of underpopulation, but I'm not sure I believe it; there have been underpopulated parts of the rest of the world, and they don't seem to be as unstable.

One theory I've seen is that colder climates tend to end up selecting (socially, probably) for people who cooperate well and plan for the future.


[ Parent ]
Hunter-Gatherers, not blacks. (4.50 / 4) (#12)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 03:47:22 PM EST

The situation you describe (highly hostile environment, selection for health) isn't unique to Africa - it's found equally in South America, whose indigenous tribal population is no taller than anyone else. Hunter-gatherers are quite simply, more active than we civilised folk are (interestingly enough, they also tend to be dumber due to poor nutrition - it's a trade-off that I'm pretty sure I got the good end of, personally). They aren't even really healthier, because life expectancies are much lower in hunter-gatherer groups than in civilised ones.

And the statement that blacks are taller, strong and faster, and this is is related to Africa's environment is erroneous at best, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the African blacks that end up becoming world-famous runners tend to fairly upper-class. We aren't talking Joseph Mgumbe coming out of the jungle here, we're talking relatively well-educated, safe, provided for and well-fed members of the elite. They aren't tromping around in the jungle fighting poisonous snakes, they're exercising at expensive Olympic training grounds.
Secondly, a large number of athletic Blacks are from the West-Indies, where miscegenation with indigenous Indian groups has been ongoing for generations. Any genetic predisposition that was part of the African gene-pool would almost certainly be watered down, yet we find dozens of athletes come from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and similar places.

The 'taller' statement at best applies to a nomadic tribe in Kenya whose name escapes me at the moment (starts with an M), who, through the benefits of a relatively small gene pool, are currently the tallest people on average on earth. Of course, they are counter-balanced by groups such as the Pygmies, who are equally, the on average shortest group of people. There are about as many 'giant' white people as there are black people, but the white guys tend not to go off and play basketball, and thus have a much lower profile.

The majority of things you cited (faster stronger, taller) are a result of environment far more than heredity. A good diet, and a desire to say, be an Olympic sprinter when you grow up will do more for you than being black, white, asian or purple will do.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
I don't buy that at all. (3.75 / 4) (#13)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 05:03:38 PM EST

Oh, so it's just environment, so, it's perfectly reasonable that the poorest and least-well-fed ethnic group in America is so heavily represented in the NBA and the NFL.

I don't buy that one for a minute. A much larger proportion of american blacks are good athletes than american whites. If anything, by your argument, the generally-richer whites should be in the lead.

The genetic origins of muscle mass and height are pretty well established. Yes, there are other factors, and the other factors can be significant... But at the end of the day, given the same diet and upbringing, some people will be taller than others, and that's genetics.


[ Parent ]
poor != hungry (4.50 / 2) (#14)
by gibichung on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 05:37:26 PM EST

Oh, so it's just environment, so, it's perfectly reasonable that the poorest and least-well-fed ethnic group in America is so heavily represented in the NBA and the NFL.
Not at all true (in the U.S., at least). A quick google search produced this Maryland-centric source. The poor are not malnourished. Statistically, the more money you have, the less likely you are to be overweight. I won't speculate on the explanation of this apparent contradiction.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
Overweight and malnourished... (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 05:48:34 PM EST

Can coexist quite nicely. Malnourished can have to do with nutrients, protein, and vitamins; overweight can be pure calories.


[ Parent ]
You're going too far the other way. (5.00 / 7) (#15)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 05:37:48 PM EST

Whites dominate body-building, weight-lifting and 'World's Strongest Man' competitions. Does this mean whites are stronger than blacks, or that white people are simply more likely to participate in these sports?

And from whence do you get the statement that "A much larger proportion of american blacks are good athletes than american whites"? What role does Hockey play in that view, considering that all of hockey's main stars over the years have been white? Or baseball, where the greatest players over the years have been overwhelmingly white? In purely aerobic sports, what about long-distance running and bicycling, where the majority of people participating (and winning) are white?

It may surprise you to know that the NFL and NBA comprise a rather small percentage of actual athletes.

The genetic origins of muscle mass are meaningless. Muscle strength (far more meaningful that muscle mass) in real life is almost totally a result of environment - training, proper nutrition, exercise, drug-use, whatever. Using ceter paribus (all things equal) in this case is a fallacy, because _no_one_ trains equally. That's the drive amongst athletes to get on a better program of training than their competitors, and it's why we shell out big bucks for coaches for Olympic athletes, rather than just running a little genetic testing clinic to see who gets to compete.

And simply saying that height is genetic is equally meaningless. Yes, it is, to an extent. On the other hand, the average height of Europeans went up almost half a foot due simply to better nutrition during the Industrial Revolution, an obvious effect on height that is not genetics. You haven't shown me any evidence that black genetic pool contains a greater distribution of the 'tall' gene than the european one does.

Here's an idea for you: Black culture in the US puts a heavy emphasis on basketball as a 'black' sport, and as a result, young blacks are encouraged to go into it more than say, young whites, who are encouraged to go into other sports (such as hockey). You know, the idea that there are sports other than basketball and football, and that certain ethnic groups participate in these sports more than others, not because they are on average better in some genetic sense, but because culturally it is encouraged (South Americans and soccer come to mind).

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
I don't agree. (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 05:52:09 PM EST

Sure, "no one trains equally" - but that doesn't make it irrelevant. If I know that people in one group will have a 5% advantage over people in another at weight lifting, no matter how long they train, then that's going to show up in the final results.

Agreed that the NFL and NBA are a small subset of athleticism - but still, I think you'll find plenty of evidence for hereditary differences involved.

The evidence for height would be a little hard to get, but consider that, in America, blacks are taller than whites, except maybe for scandinavians. The best counter-argument we have is that maybe some of these people have poor nutrition - but if anyone, it's probably the blacks who have the poor nutrition.

The existance of other causal factors doesn't mean genetics isn't involved. Compare, if you will, the heights of identical twins raised separately.


[ Parent ]
Race and genetics not identical (4.75 / 4) (#19)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 06:40:51 PM EST

"If I know that people in one group will have a 5% advantage over people in another at weight lifting, no matter how long they train, then that's going to show up in the final results."

Agreed. But, you haven't shown me any evidence that that 5% exists in real life though, that it is in any way related to race, and specifically, is a genetic feature of being a black of pure African descent (as opposed to being of mixed SoAm-African heritage such as people from the West Indies).

"but still, I think you'll find plenty of evidence for hereditary differences involved. "

But not necessarily hereditary differences related to race, which is what this argument is about.

"in America, blacks are taller than whites, except maybe for scandinavians. "

Then the statement that blacks are on average taller than whites is meaningless, unless being scandinavian renders one some entirely different racial group than white. It's as if I said 'I'm taller than blacks in general, except for all blacks taller than me'.

And I'm not arguing that genetics isn't important. I'm arguing that racial differences do not constitute strong enough foundations for generalisations about innate talent, genetic or otherwise, and specifically do not support the 'taller, stronger, faster' hypothesis.
"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
Hereditary differences... (none / 0) (#26)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 10:09:39 PM EST

While heredity and race are not interchangeable, there's certainly reason to suspect that hereditary characteristics tend to come in groups; if my parents had blue eyes, and died of cancer, I'm likely to have blue eyes, and I'm likely to be at risk for cancer.

The point about the "taller than whites" is that if you take "all people called white", you tend to find that they're shorter than "all people called black". If you compare scandinavians only to blacks, I think they come out fairly equal - which, if anything, supports the idea that "ethnic groups" (which may be much narrower than "race") tend to have common characteristics.


[ Parent ]
Race is functionally meaningless in North America (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 11:42:45 PM EST

I'm still not sure where you're getting this data about blacks being taller than all-non-scandinavian whites (what about the Scotch, for example, who used to be reknowned for being tall?). And considering the amount of miscegenation that goes on in NorAm amongst the white population, I'd be surprised if you could find _anyone_ without Celtic or Scandinavian heritage, which once again makes the whole issue fuzzy. How 'Scandinavian' do I have to be before my average height is equal to a black man? Is one eighth enough? What about one sixteenth?

And let's not be under the illusion that 'black' is a homogenous group either. As I said earlier, there are ethnic groups within it that vary in height, from the Pygmies to those Kenyan nomads. And once again, miscegenation on this continent makes the whole issue of separating out ethnic groups very fuzzy. Hell, let's not forget that a large number of those black people are probably a 1/32 or more 'white' (just about any black person you meet with a 'pointy' nose or sharp cheekbones probably has a white ancestor, probably due to rape back during the days of slavery).

Frankly, the whole issue of race and ethnicity on this continent is so confused as to be meaningless, especially if we're talking about genetics as opposed to mere surface features. I'm Scotch-Irish-Portugese with a German ancestor as well. Which ethnic group do you classify me into to determine what my average height should be? I have a friend who is about three-quarters black with blond hair, blue eyes, paler skin than I have and "black" facial features (flattened cheekbones, a broad nose). Does he count as black or white for purposes of calculating height?

No serious study of North America could ascribe height to race genetically because the situation is a mess of mixed up ethnic groups. The only way to truly measure it is to either ignore the racial aspect all together and get down to the genetics of it, or to ignore the genetic angle all together and look at environmental factors.

Remember, it's not Nature versus Nurture versus Race.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
Pet Peeve... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by ti dave on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 11:51:43 PM EST

what about the Scotch, for example, who used to be reknowned for being tall?

"Scotch" is an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps "Scottish" is the word you're looking for?
If so, then realize that Scotland had more than its' fair share of Viking Blood introduced back in the day.


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 11:21:59 AM EST

As far as I know, Scotch is a valid description for anything coming from Scotland, including people.

For example, it's properly Scotch _whiskey_, not just Scotch, because it is whiskey that comes from Scotland.

And the various teutons and scandinavians that went into Scotland mostly stuck to the lowlands, much like the britons who also moved in. Highlanders were the tall gippers, and they were basically pure celt due to the insular nature of their society.


"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
A lesson learnt... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by ti dave on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:52:28 PM EST

Scotch is a valid description for anything coming from Scotland, including people.

Once upon a drunken time, after I made that same mistake, a platoon of Gordon Highlanders
ever-so-carefully explained to me that people are the exception to that rule.


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
wrong (none / 0) (#48)
by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:11:28 AM EST

For example, it's properly Scotch _whiskey_,

No. If it's Scotch, it's Whisky. Whiskey is whisky from anywhere other than Scotland. There was an EU labelling case on this a few years ago

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Well then... (none / 0) (#51)
by gordonjcp on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 02:05:49 PM EST

As far as I know, Scotch is a valid description for anything coming from Scotland, including people.
... that shows what you know. Come over to Scotland and we'll *explain* things... Ignorant American :-)
Seriously, I think your ethnography is somewhat flawed. The Scandinavians didn't mostly stick to the lowlands. You'll find that most of the Shetland population is pretty much Viking in origin. Orkney, too, but not to the same extent. They don't speak Gaelic there at all, for example, and much of their dialect is derived from Norse roots.
Likewise, in the south of Scotland, you find a lot of Anglo-Roman and Anglo-Saxon interbreeding. Most Scottish people do tend to run to the tall side, except in cities but that's an environmental thing, due to poor housing and food over the past 100 years or so. This is why you get all these 6' Highlanders going to Glasgow to join the "polis" - we tower above all the Weejie shortarses...

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
I'm a Canadian, actually. :P [nt] (none / 0) (#52)
by Pseudoephedrine on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 05:14:05 PM EST

No text
"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I know... (none / 0) (#53)
by gordonjcp on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 05:31:37 PM EST

I clocked the .ca address. My point was that getting called American probably pisses you off about as much as getting called "Scotch" (or worse, English) pisses Scottish people off.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Depends on the sport (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by pietra on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 01:28:47 AM EST

Some sports are extremely expensive to train for--they require basically full-time residence at ski resorts, or access to skating rinks, or Olympic-length swimming pools. Others are very cheap--a $25 investment in a basketball and access to a crappy asphalt court with a pair of wire rims, a punching bag, or as FloJo put it, a pair of shoes. Simply put, being tall and having lots of endurance and muscle mass is a Good Thing for most sports; it all depends on what resources you can best draw on in order to utilize your natural gifts. This is why the first gold medal awarded to a black person in the Olympics was given out *this week*, which pretty much blows your blacks-are-automatically-better-athletes argument out of the water. In addition, an awful lot of black athletes didn't really have any other options, unlike a lot of whites. My former boss was 6'6" and played basketball for Cal in a very good year for the school. However, he became an accountant. He wasn't reliant on a basketball scholarship to stay in school, and he recognized that he had better long-term employment options as a CPA. If he'd been a poor black guy out of Oakland, he probably would have tried to make it in the NBA.

[ Parent ]
re: Depends on the sport (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by Maserati on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:40:11 AM EST

Bzzzzzzt ! Wrong !

This is why the first gold medal awarded to a black person in the Olympics was given out *this week*

You mean Winter Olympics, the name Jesse Owens springs to mind blowing a whistle and waving a flag. The Winter Olympics are dominated by people from cold, mountainous regions; a whole bunch of 'em are even blond.. Just like track and field events are dominated by people from hot, flat plains - who tend to have greater access to winter sports (more winter for starters); I knew this French girl in high school who lived in the alps, a bus that stopped on her block went up the mountain and to a ski lodge an hour away. For that matter, the mountains an hour north of Tucson have skiiable snow in May and sometimes June - maybe they'll take over both the Winter and the Summer Games.

ps. I have been so massively trolled.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Whoops, yes ;) (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by pietra on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 08:41:48 PM EST

Two weeks of constant Winter Olympics hoo-ha in the living room has pretty much warped my poor little mind. You get my point, though.

[ Parent ]
Africa (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:48:54 PM EST

The most plausible explanation seems to me that in Guns, Germs and Steel - Africa is a longitudinally aligned, equator-spanning continent, and so had a handicap when it came to developing cities and the engines of civilisation.

Why do you believe there has to be a simple "explanation" at all? For all we know, it's just a matter of historical accident.

I'm sure that my tribal ancestors were just if not more vicious and self-defeating in similar circumstances; but they were part of a larger Eurasian experiment that allowed successful solutions (rule of law, commerce &c) to become widely dominant.

Oh, yeah, because in Africa, the rule of law and commerce have never been dominant, right?

I think all of you seriously need to get to first base in your knowledge about Africa before spouting off.

This is actually connected to a population argument I am as yet undecided on. It argues Africa is badly underpopulated, and is unable to achieve the scales required for a more stable and prosperous society.

I must remind you that the models you most likely have in mind for "a more stable and prosperous society" came about by a process which obliterated much of the culture of the people who lived there before the rise of the civilizations in question (if not by outright genocide). (The closest thing to this in Africa is the Bantu-speaking peoples...)

--em
[ Parent ]

oh, come on (5.00 / 2) (#23)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:41:16 PM EST

On the one hand, that bugs me a lot. On the other hand, I'm emotionally fine with the idea that "black people" are taller, faster, and stronger than white people, so it wouldn't entirely surprise me if they were also "more violent" or "less likely to form stable governments".

And you would be surprised if the smaller, slower, and wimpier white people were more likely to be violent and/or form stable governments? Please. Europe is very well represented when it comes to the greatest known genocides and massacres, for instance. Or succession wars, or any other such thing.

--em
[ Parent ]

I think you missed my point... (none / 0) (#27)
by seebs on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 10:34:47 PM EST

I'm not saying that "tall should correlate to violence". I'm saying "I have seen other things that lead me to suspect, although it is hardly proven, that many traits are hereditary, and that racial groups may correlate to some hereditary traits."

Europeans have certainly had their fair share of wars, but the way in which they go about them seems to be different, and I have no idea why. It's quite likely cultural, or a side-effect of the different climate.


[ Parent ]
yeah, right... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:22:39 AM EST

Europeans have certainly had their fair share of wars, but the way in which they go about them seems to be different, and I have no idea why.

I take it you are ready to support your claim about which ways the wars are different.

Certainly, in recent history when Europeans get into a war with each other, the amount of casualties is much, much higher. You know, that makes me suspicious. Perhaps it is a side-effect of climate, that living in places where winters are cold makes people emotionally colder and more likely to shoot the people from the other side of the border?

--em
[ Parent ]

Different in lots of ways... (4.00 / 3) (#36)
by seebs on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:37:38 AM EST

At least recently, European wars have been (I think) bloodier... but also shorter. The concept of what a war is like is also very different; I seem to recall some hints that some of the wars in Africa aren't being fought at all in accordance with the Geneva conventions, for instance.

Fascinating, though, trying to figure out what differences came from where. Are the ongoing military actions in Africa a result of culture, environment, or what? I have no idea.

Imagine that you were given $1 trillion to spend and told "find a way to stop the fighting in Africa". What would you do?


[ Parent ]
easy (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by fhotg on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:17:17 PM EST

Fascinating, though, trying to figure out what differences came from where. Are the ongoing military actions in Africa a result of culture, environment, or what? I have no idea.
Clearly the major factor is poverty. Why do people stay poor and uneducated despite natural ressources ? Because we (the North) need it that way, so that our economies can profit from those countries.
Imagine that you were given $1 trillion to spend and told "find a way to stop the fighting in Africa". What would you do?
Try to buy the right people in Europe and the US in order to change the economic policy. 1 trillion might not be enough though.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
the military will die off (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by turmeric on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:57:17 PM EST

no more free money from the US and the USSR.

[ Parent ]
Natural Resources vs Agriculture... (4.60 / 5) (#10)
by vefoxus on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 03:01:09 PM EST

The natural resources that you mention unfortunately cannot really matter for the people of these countries (metals, oil, gas...). They will never feed all people in the country... just bring money to the people who own them and the foreign industries which exploit them. Even when the corporations are not foreign, the money generated is just too easy too monopolize by an oligarchy...

Unfortunately no capitalist model proposes this necessary redistribution of the wealth. Maybe now that the communist model is no longer attraying (...), some intermediate, reasonable model may emerge... But nationalization of industries in that purpose have been crushed (by western countries, more or less remotely).

In the development of African countries the missing step is obtaining a sufficient, stable agriculture... which is difficult due to the climates occuring in Africa. This would give a wealth which benefits (gives work and a more decent life) to all people, and it seems to me that for all "developped" countries a sustainable agriculture has always been reached at some stage of the development.

And AIDS is not going to help african countries either...

[ Parent ]
What?!?!?!? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:37:57 PM EST

Succesive post-independence governments in every African country have run the place into the ground. I refuse to believe this is all the fault of evil, meddlesome European colonialists. There is something much deeper - I don't know what it is.

Or rather, you don't want to openly admit to what you truly believe is the cause.

It's clearly not the whole fault of Colonialism. Looking towards Asia is proof of this.

Oh, yeah. Asia is a peaceful continent where everybody is rich. I forgot that.

--em
[ Parent ]

Rich and peaceful (none / 0) (#46)
by Scrymarch on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:32:44 AM EST

Oh, yeah. Asia is a peaceful continent where everybody is rich. I forgot that.

Frankly, compared to Africa, it is.

[ Parent ]

Colonialism is the problem (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by wiredog on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:49:57 PM EST

The colonies, which became countries, had their borders laid out without any regard for where the various tribes were. Now the various tribes are fighting for control of the countries. This has caused the troubles in Rwanda and Nigeria.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
re: Colonialism is the problem (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Maserati on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:25:07 AM EST

Redrawing the borders on tribal lines would probably make too much sense.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

What are the chances? (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by Your Mom on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 08:21:39 PM EST

I think that's absolutely correct, but I would have to say that a modern day Berlin Conference where everyone sat down and drew some borders that made sense has little chance of happening, it would catch flak from just about everyone involved. None of the political leaders would be likely to support this because it would destroy the power that they have built up. Corperations (and therefore nations like the US) wouldn't support it due to the ease with with Africa's resources are extracted and capitalized on under the current political situation. However as long as we have situations where Hutu and Tutsi live together in one politcal entity they will be trying to dominate the other.

--
"As far as I'm concerned, Osama bin Laden can eat a dick." -trhurler
[ Parent ]
that's interesting (none / 0) (#47)
by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:06:25 AM EST

Succesive post-independence governments in every African country have run the place into the ground. I refuse to believe this is all the fault of evil, meddlesome European colonialists.

Yes, very interesting, but why do you have this inexplicable hostility to the most obvious explanation?

My guess is that you actually believe in the second most obvious explanation (that the niggers are just born stupid), but are too scared to say so.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

why africa is a mess (none / 0) (#49)
by chia on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:29:21 AM EST

It clearly is the fault of Colonialism for 2 reasons.

1. borders never developed naturally (see other posts)

2. Europe, South Africa and USA benefit from an unstable africa. why?
a) because they get their raw materials (oil,diamonds) quicker than they would in a stable environment (generation of cash is a priority as money is needed for arms).
b) military governments are easier and more "efficent" to bargain with than democracies.
c) no local businesses can compete with western companies cause the economy is too unstable.

Therefore war in africa effectivly means that previous Colonial powers can still exploit Africa without hinderance. Yes African dicatators have run the place into the ground, but only because De Beers and Shell et al have provided the machine guns.


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. O Wilde
[ Parent ]
TV pictures (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by haro on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:07:43 PM EST

There are TV pictures, and from what I saw, it is unlikely that the reports are wrong. It looked like him.

I met a member of his Unita movement once, and he gave me the impression that it was one of the more democratic liberation movements in Africa, but that was a long time ago. After the election Savimbi lost, he has looked more and more to be in it for himself.



resource rich, money poor (4.33 / 3) (#7)
by turmeric on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 02:55:15 PM EST

Why does this happen.... resource rich places getting stripped and winding up behind everyone else? Africa is full of this sort of place, from the diamond mines and gold mines and cocoa plantations (without which chocolate would be impossible), it theoretically coudl be rich. Alot of the money gets exported to foreign companies, like Shell Oil, who are in US and Europe. Alot of it gets sent to flunkies for foreign interests, like the various 'kleptocrats' such as Mobutu, etc. Now that the cold war is ended, alot of those guys are still around, but they are leaving and dying. What will happen in the future? Who knows!

It doesn't just happen in Africa. Take Oklahoma for example. Oil rich, natural gas rich, but still one of the poorest states in the country. Not many rebel armies in OK, except maybe a few nutballs like McVeigh and the remnants of the Klan.

oh well

Your Answer: (1.00 / 2) (#20)
by 6502 on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:16:57 PM EST

'Cause it's cool to live on the coasts of America and Europe, but Africa, Alaska, Mexico, Tajikistan, Columbia; let's not forget Texas and Oklahoma.... well, man, these places suck! I mean, wouldn't you rather live in New York? Therefore, we deserve the money.

0x7F

[ Parent ]

ummmmmm (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by noop on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 08:21:43 PM EST

isn't Texas a coastal state?

[ Parent ]
re ummmmmmm (none / 0) (#34)
by Maserati on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 02:23:25 AM EST

Texas is bordered on the south by water. That's at the bottom of the map, and it confuses people - they don't get that far. Aside from a small naval squadron in the war with Mexico, Texas doesn't have a nautical tradition. Lastly, it's on a gulf, not an ocean.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Human resources (5.00 / 3) (#38)
by Paul Johnson on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 04:03:14 AM EST

To be a rich country its not usually enough to have natural resources: you have to have human resources.

You have put your finger on why natural resources do not usually make a nation rich. The only one I would add is that natural resources put you in a world commodity market with prices that can change +/-50% in a year (and take your GDP and tax base with them).

The only counter-example I can think of are the Gulf Arab states. They win by having a dominant share of the market and extraction costs that are a fraction of anyone elses.

Meanwhile look at the rich countries. All of them have become rich by having human capital: a workforce with high levels of education and the political and financial stability to make it worth using.

The other thing that the rich countries have is democracy. Without democracy you have autocracy, and autocracy always degenerates into kleptocracy because there is no penalty for theft. But a kleptocrat cannot rule a country with high levels of human capital because a well educated workforce will realise what is happening and throw the thieves out.

Once a country has a kleptocracy it will always be poor because theft and graft will gobble up any surplus that might otherwise go to make the people richer or to be invested for their future. So they bump along at starvation level indefinitely.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

NYTimes registration (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by pwhysall on Sat Feb 23, 2002 at 03:03:26 PM EST

For those who don't know, it's cypherpunks/cypherpunks.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
Does that work again? (none / 0) (#39)
by rusty on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 11:21:37 AM EST

I would swear they disabled it a while back.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
It is also cyberpunk63/cyberpunk63 (none / 0) (#45)
by BlowCat on Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 11:21:56 PM EST

... if you don't mind to be a 17 y.o. female government official from Punxsutawney, PA.

[ Parent ]
Angola: Peace at Last? Or More of the Same? | 53 comments (49 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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