Theroux journeys through the heart of darkness
Recall to mind
every American Renaissance
article you’ve ever read about the corrupt, disfunctional, and dangerous conditions in some black-run city or country. Now add together the backwardness and incompetence and danger that you read about in those articles, multiply by five, and you have something like AR’s review of travel writer Paul Theroux’s new book about Africa, in which the author recounts a land journey the length of the continent. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is an unrelieved picture of hell on earth
The thought has sometimes occurred to me that life under black rule is a fate worse than death. Theroux, who is not a racialist or even a political conservative, seems to have provided ample support for that thesis. AR’s reviewer Scott Trask concludes (and I agree) that the best thing we could do for Africa at this point would be to recolonize it, and that the second best thing would be to cut Africa off from the West entirely and let it return to its traditional ways, free of the Western humanitarian interference that has made things there even worse than they would otherwise be.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 13, 2004 05:14 PM | Send
I offer this interesting insight shared by an African immigrant with whom I am acquainted. During a conversation about Charles Taylor I asked him how he would compare conditions in Africa today with those during European colonization. Without hesitation he said that the situation of the latter was far preferable. He noted that there was rule of law, and that there were functioning economies in which, while still poor, the people at least had enough to survive.
Somewhat taken aback by his candor, I asked him to compare the situation in South Africa now to that under Apartheid. Again, with no hesitation he stated that conditions under the latter were far better, for much the same reasons. While he felt that Apartheid was itself an unfair system, he also asserted that now people are starving, and crime is rampant to an intolerable degree.
Finally, (somewhat in line with Mr. Auster’s 2nd proposal.) I asked him whether conditions were preferable _before_ colonization. He replied in the affirmative, forasmuch as what we would call pre-civilization involved a whole different set of isolated cultural patterns wherein people could live adequately. But he also contended that civilization in the modern sense was inevitable in any case, (recalling the resigned view of Chief Joseph.) Which in fact returns us to the view that colonization is preferable.
Albert Schweitzer’s “African Notebook,” so I am told, included a rather stark and candid observation along these lines.
I had an experience similar to Mr. LeFevre’s, in a hotel bar in Johannesburg in 1983. I had just arrived in South Africa, the destination of a four-month overland trip south from Egypt after leaving active duty in the Marine Corps: “Cairo to the Cape” in fine imperialist style, although accommodations were often squalid. Upon arrival in South Africa I nearly kissed the ground: here was a country with running water and cold beer. But I digress…
I was sitting with another American (now a prominent foreign correspondent for one of our Leftist weekly newsrags), when we were hailed in friendly fashion by two black Africans, who asked to join us. (Although apartheid was still in force, the Group Areas Act had been moderated, so blacks could be in city centers after dark.) Of course we said yes, so they did. We had a very interesting conversation, during which the two - Zulus, they said they were - asked what we thought of South Africa. We started to reply with the usual platitudes about how awful apartheid was but how beautiful the country was. They put up with that for a little while then cut us off. One then explained, earnestly, that apartheid was necessary, that South Africa was the only country on the continent that worked, that the neighboring countries needed a white-run South Africa to provide their people work and that if the country were turned over to blacks any time soon, it would go to Hell in a hurry. My fervently liberal Democrat countryman (a Princeton boy from NYC) nearly swallowed his tongue in astonishment.
It occurred to me that these fellows might be BOSS (the SA security service) plants in a place where foreign visitors congregated, but they seemed very sincere to me, and they weren’t pretending to drink - they matched us round-for-round. In later years as South Africa was being handed over to the ANC, I often thought about what those men had said. Whatever their motives for saying it, they look like prophets today. HRS
I remember a debate close to 40 years ago in which William F. Buckley, Jr. was arguing against decolonialization of Africa. His opponent, whose name I have forgotten, thought to squash Buckley by demanding: “If they are not ready now, when will they be?” Buckley’s response: “When they quit eating one another.”
When one keeps reading in the AR that carries Trask’s review, one finds that some Africans still are (eating each other, that is) HRS
According to Lynn and Van Hanen, “IQ And The Wealth of Nations,” average IQ in Sub - Sahara Africa is probably around 75. Consider what government here might be like if operated by people of that level of intelligence.
I cannot resist pointing out that it often seems that our government IS operated by people of that level of intelligence.
I think two points are worth making here. Some of those commenting above seem to equate “Apartheid” with white domination in South Africa. That is a myth created by the left in the last 30 years. White domination had always existed in the Union of South Africa, but “Apartheid” in the original sense was a particular policy instituted by the Afrikaaner Nationalists in 1948 and rammed down the throat of the English-speaking whites. (It is worth noting that Rhodesia also had white minority domination but never had Apartheid at all.)
The suggestion that any rational African could prefer the situation before colonization is a strange one. East Africa, at least, was in the process of being depopulated by Arab slave-traders before the Europeans came; and conditions elsewhere were often pretty awful. By the way, I do not share the low opinion of Africans’ innate abilities held by many here; but the cultural level of pre-colonial Africa can hardly be said to be high.Bleeding on the floor over the sins of “colonialism” is just another result of leftist brainwashing.
Mr. Levine is right about South Africa, but one caveat: the pre-1948 Union of South Africa did not have the overt apartheid that the National Party imposed after taking power in that year, but it was a racially segregated society with a political system designed to secure white dominance. The Nats were as motivated by Afrikaner resentment of the British as they were by fear of black power. If they had been more subtle, and avoided the brutalities of apartheid, white South Africa might have lasted longer (it would still have been the object of unremitting pressure from the anti-white Left and the UN, but it would have been a bit harder to demonize).
Having invited themselves into the morass of Africa, the European colonial powers incurred a moral obligation to stay far longer than they did. Exhaustion from the world wars, Soviet pressure and American anti-imperialism drove them out far too early. It is impossible to say when, if ever, they might have brought their African colonies to such a level of civilization that it would become morally responsible to grant them independence. As it was, the colonial powers cut and ran (with the exception of the French, who have maintained their sphere of influence - not always very honorably), and the abandoned Africans are following them home. HRS
I in complete agreement with Mr. Sutherland; the African colonies were cut loose far too soon for their own or anyone else’s good.
While recolonization by Western governments seems highly implausible at present, one wonders whether some kind of colonization might not occur through the initiative of private profit-seeking corporations. Didn’t Britain end up holding India as a result of the initiative of the East India Company, for example, rather than because of a deliberate imperialist program?