Tag Archives: Culture

Legitimacy, Power, and Culture

We’ve heard it said, culture is downstream of power, or is power downstream of culture? Which controls the levers to the other?

As I’ve said before, power (the ability to force your will) comes from authority (the ability to command), which comes from legitimacy (people’s beliefs in your right to command).

The power/culture discussion is always off because it misses the underlying link between the two: legitimacy.

Power can do whatever it wants within its dominion. That’s the inherent nature of power. If you can not do what you want, you, definitionally, do not have power. The limits of power exist where you can no longer accomplish your will.

Someone with power over culture can change the culture to be whatever he desires. If multiple people have power over culture, the culture will be changed to wherever the limits of their power meet. Power creates, destroys, and changes culture.

Note: Culture is always, to at least some degree, organic, so power over culture is always widely distributed. No one ever has absolute power over culture.

But, power creates culture only insofar at it has authority. Culture is organic and of men. If men do not obey, there is no power and culture can not created, destroyed, or changed. Culture is only changed insofar as men allow it to be changed.

Men only allow culture to be changed, in so far as they think the change and the power causing the change are legitimate.

This is where culture influences power. Legitimacy comes from culture. If the culture holds to the Divine Right determines power men will obey power with Divine Right. If culture holds to patriarchy determines power, men will obey fathers. If the culture holds to popular will, they will obey democratically elected politicians.

Power is downstream of legitimacy, which is downstream of culture, which is downstream of power.

By changing culture, power can change what men view as legitimate, changing legitimacy, authority, and, ultimately, where power lays.

This is how power destroys itself. It changes the culture that made itself legitimate, which then changes what legitimizes power, changing the basis of authority, changing the power itself. Power changing culture undermines itself.

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Culture change is slow and difficult, so changing the method of legitimacy is slow and difficult. It is easier to destroy legitimacy than to create. Culture change is also unpredictable. When you destroy culture, what replaces it may not always be what you expected or hoped.

This is why revolutions are so turbulent and unstable and often end in a strong man: one can destroy the legitimacy of the present order, but creating a new order viewed as legitimate is time-consuming and difficult. When you destroy a culture and legitimacy, it is hard to predict what form legitimacy will take, hence revolutions often destroying their instigators.

In a legitimacy vacuum, the simplest form of legitimacy to create is martial: men naturally respect strength and strength is relatively simple to demostrate. A strong-man short-circuits the legitimacy-creation process by focusing the creation of legitimacy among a group of armed men through his strength. Once he obtains enough power through this specific legitimacy, he kills those who oppose him until they obey. He is then free to influence culture until another strong-man overthrows him or until he creates a more sustainable legitimacy.

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Power flows from legitimacy. Culture creates legitimacy. Power influences culture.

In a stable system culture will reinforce legitimacy which will reinforce power, which will in turn reinforce the culture. For example, the church supports supports divine right, which legitimizes the monarch, who in turn supports the church.

In an unstable system, power destroys culture (or its own legitimacy) and/or culture undermines power’s legitimacy. For example, enlightnment ideas and culture undercut divine right, the monarch mismanages power squandering legitimacy, and then revolution occurs.

Christian Culture

Evo X asks why Star Wars is more popular than God. I’ll answer.

My parents were really into the Christian culture thing (my mom even owned a small Christian bookstore home business for a couple years) and so was I until some time in my early 20’s. I watched Veggie Tales, McGee & Me, the Greatest Adventures, Gerbert, and the rest. I listened to the music of Carmen and DC Talk (but not the Newsboys), and tons of Christian metalcore, punk, and hardcore (FaceDown Records!). I read the Left Behind, Wally McDoogle, Baker Street Sports Club (and spin-off), and Lightning on Ice series, among many others. I owned the Picture Bible (the Bible in comic book format), many of the Archie Christian comics, and Heroes of the Faith bible comics (which I thought were pretty cool at the time, because look at that blood and brain matter. That series was surprisingly gory for the Christian culture industry).

So, you can believe me when I say I know that there are people who do (or at least did) try to keep their kids in the Christian culture industry. As far as I can tell, some people in my church still do. I’ve seen kids in my church carrying around their Action Bibles and Christian manga.

The problems are many. First, it doesn’t work unless you isolate your children from non-Christian children. I enjoyed Veggie Tales, but when your friends at school have no idea what “Whoa I ate the bunny” is and are instead referencing the Simpsons (which you’re not allowed to watch) then you want to watch the Simpsons, just so you can understand what “Hi diddly ho, neighbourino” refers to. When the secular culture is omnipresent, its very difficult to confine your kids to Christian culture.

(This can lead to some ridiculous situations. If you can only listen to Christian music or have Christian cultural products, it becomes tempting to try to define what is Christian as broadly as possible, so you can enjoy what your friends do. Every even quasi-spiritual band is scouted for how Christian they were. I’ve watched as young Christians argued that Linkin Park is Christian).

Second, it’s limited. Sure, there are some comics, some shows, and some movies, but there’s only some (and even fewer which are actually good). How many times can your kids watch Veggie Tales before he gets bored? How may times can you turn on the Greatest Adventure, until you get sick of hearing it in the background, much less your kid? There’s more books, but still it’s limited. There are only so many Christian products being produced, you’ll eventually run out. I like metal, there’s some, but not very many, Christian power metal bands. I couldn’t fill my desire for metal on them alone.

Third, it’s comparatively crappy. Everyone, including almost every Christian, knows that Christian cultural productions are not very good. This is especially so in the area of movies and TV. The only truly good Christian movie I can think of was Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, which was created apart from the Christian culture industry. Most of the rest range from crappy to mediocre. As someone in our sphere (I think, I can’t find the piece), wrote on somewhat recently, it takes the whole support system of Hollywood to make a believable movie, and Christians just don’t have that.

It’s somewhat better in books, because those don’t require as much support, but even so: Left Behind was the Christian cultural phenomenon, but the books were decent at best (I read most of them) and the movies (I haven’t seen) were supposedly terrible. Wright’s the best contemporary Christian fiction author I’ve read (by far) and he’s outside the Christian culture industry. TheChristian talent pool is also much smaller, so the likelihood of a spectacular Christian writer is lower. As well, the need many Christians have for works to have an explicit Christian message and to eliminate vice (no swears or drinking) makes subtler and/or realistic stories more difficult, while also severely limiting some genres such as fantasy (ironic, given the predominance of Tolkien and Lewis in the genre, I know) or SF.

Music is also somewhat better. There are some solid bands, but still, Christian music is generally inferior. Besides the talent pool issue, one problem is the Christian music industry attempts to be relevant, which generally ends up meaning they’re chasing whatever trend is popular at the time. So, by the time they actually get around to writing and producing the music, they’re already feeling like mediocre derivatives of trends from a few years ago. KJ-52 is an excellent example of this. He is (was?) the biggest name in Christian rap, but he put out his first CD a year after the Slim Shady LP, and was signed to a Christian label a couple years later. He sounded like an Eminem clone chasing the trend (and naming one of his main tracks Dear Slim didn’t really dispel this). Most Christian music is like this, copying what was popular years, sometimes decades, before. The only genre I can think of where Christians really lead the fore is metalcore (I don’t know how or why Christians became such a strong presence in metalcore, although it might have something with the influence of Living Sacrifice).

The Christian music industry also has the problem of mainstreaming. There’s a general trend that as a Christian band distinguishes themselves and becomes more popular, they begin to tone down the Christianity and lose their distinctiveness. For example, my two favourite bands a decade ago were Disciple and POD. In their early stages, Disciple had a heavy, distinct, and somewhat vicious rap-metal sound with a very strong Christian message (most of their early CD’s contained a sermon as a closing track), but as time went on, they became more popular and started getting some mainstream attention. The music became more generic, less heavy, and the rap-metal sound was replaced by grungy heavy rock. The Christian message was heavily muted. Same with POD, who got a lot of mainstream attention for a Christian band. A band that had a song called “Abortion is Murder” and explicitly named Jesus in their first album, eventually moved to esoteric talk of Zion and Jah, sounding more Rastafarian than Christian. They also moved from a distinct, heavy rap-metal sound to a reggae-infused generic nu-metal. This process has repeated among countless other bands.

That being said, given the nature of the music industry, there are some great Christian bands out there. In metal, Theocracy is one of the best power metal bands, period, while Tourniquet played unique progressive thrash I have yet to see matched. I’m sure most other genres have similar examples.

Finally, a major issue for individuals is cost and availability. Christian stuff simply costs more and is available in fewer places. A mainstream CD costs from $10-15 (CAD) from HMV, which can be found in any mall. A Christian CD from a Christian bookstore is generally $15-20 (or more, I remember one Disciple CD putting me out $28), and you have to drive out of your way to get there. Even buying from Amazon it costs more. I remember the books costing more and the movies costing more. Amazon may be leveling this out, but I remember the price differences being quite significant.

So, the Christian culture thing is possible and people do it, but there are a lot of factors that pull against it and make it difficult. Bu even if you do do it, in the end, it doesn’t really work. Even if you homeschool, eventually your kid will join the rest of the world (unless you do an Amish colony type thing) and secular culture will get him. There’s a huge trend of Christian kids losing their faith in college and the Christian cultural industry is one of the contributors to it. Antibodies to secular culture needs to be built up while young so the child has a hope to resist it. For example, I’m the only one of my siblings to remain a practicing Christian, despite our upbringing in the Christian cultural industry and my parents attempts to limit secular culture. I’ve seen a number fo other families whose Christian-culture raised kids have strayed upon leaving high school. Some come back, some don’t.

A Facebook Poll asked people to list their favorite books; while Harry Potter came in first, 7.2% of people listed the Bible.

Obviously this is not a good way of comparing affection for Star Wars to affection to the Bible, but having interacted with people, 7% feels rather close to the actual percentage of real Christians.

This one is interesting, because despite my regular quotations of the Bible around here, I would likely not list the Bible as being among my favourite books.

I’m not fully sure how to explain it, but there’s something separate between the sacred and the profane. Important sacred things are measured by different standards than mundane things. I wouldn’t read my Bible for fun and enjoyment and I know of few Christians who actually enjoy reading scripture, yet it’s the book I’ve spent the most time reading by far. I wouldn’t call it my favourite book, but it is definitely the most important and influential book in my life. It’s simply measured differently.

Maybe a more relatable example will help. Amazing Grace is simply the most beautiful, emotionally moving song I know. Yet, I have never listened to it for entertainment. It’s not and has never been in my iTunes or on my MP3 player. I would definitely not call it my favourite song. It’s in a separate category all its own, along with other hymns. It’s set apart.

Relatedly, however much I love heavy metal, I’d strongly object if we added heavy metal worship music to my church. It simply wouldn’t be right.

That might be the problem with the Christian cultural industry, particularly music. It is trying to make the sacred profane and bringing the profane into the sacred. Worship music is set apart; the old hymns have a power and meaning to them. Translating that power, that meaning, into popular music is difficult. The Bible has deep truths, translating those into mundane stories of popular fiction is difficult, something only the most skilled wordsmiths are capable of doing right, which is why so much popular Christian literature is so heavy-handedly clunky.  It takes a lot of skill to produce Narnia, very few writers have that skill. While trying to make a mass market thriller spiritually meaningful is a near hopeless task.

One example of the profane infecting the sacred that really rankles me is Grace Like Rain. It’s a “redone” Amazing Grace in contemporary style that adds a course. The song itself is okay if you like CCM, but churches have taken to adding this to the worship music repertoire. So, you’ll be singing along to Amazing Grace, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a pop music course of “Hallelujah, grace like rain…” will interject itself, completely ruining the power and atmosphere of the hymn. The sacred song is profaned by the injection of CCM.

The secular and the sacred are separate. Adding the sacred to the secular is difficult and the unskilled will ruin it. Adding the secular to the sacred ruins the sacred. (also, CCM should be kept out of the church).

Culture Loss

Why not bring in immigrants and refugees? These people just want a better life, why not open the doors and let them in?

Spandrell found a thread of a Belgian couple sharing their journey through the Congo in 2008, and it is interesting, and answers why we shouldn’t.

Big mistake. We were stuck. The water came to the bottom of the door. This particular mudpit had a bit of a funny smell. It was the favourite place of the pigs so it probably contained a fair amount of sh*t. It sure smelled like it. The entire village gathered round us while we got out, knee deep in sh*t.

They did not offer help.

We started clearing the wheels. Josephine hurt her foot on a stick, the pain could be seen on her face. The people thought this was extremely funny and burst out laughing. This was very humiliating for Josephine and I could see the anger on her face. We looked at eachother and understood that this was not the time to get angry or start discussions with 50 or so people. We continued to work. As I bend over to clear the mud from underneath the car my pants get wet up until my ehrm.. ‘privates’.. . Once again this is the funniest thing these people have ever seen. Hilarity ensues. This was very humiliating to us.

Eventually they offered to help us if we pay them. I tell them that I do not have money. They did not move an inch.

The same thing happens a little bit later:

No surprisingly nobody they offered their assistance, they even had some shovels. But they wanted money first. By now you probably think we are just stupidly stubborn and naive. We probably are, but we refused to give in to corruption. I once again told them they were free to help, but we would not give them money. So I continued to dig on my own with an entire village as an audience.

Here man meets tribal culture. He calls it corruption, but it isn’t, it’s culture. Why would people help others outside their tribe without a reason? Why would someone honestly expect unrelated others to help them?

I live in Canada. Everybody gets stuck in the snow on occasion. When you do, you’ll always have someone stop to help push your car out and get you on the way. One time I slid up the curb and got stuck in a small snowbank at 2 am on New Years (it was a patch of ice, not alcohol). The family in the house came out and helped me push and dig it out for 15 minutes, until someone in a 4×4 showed up and gave me a quick tow. I’ve stopped to help others push as well. Helping to jump-start someone else’s car is barely worth remarking on. It’s just something you do because you trust people will help you out when you need, and so we all get to avoid freezing to death trying to get our cars going.

This is a cultural practice built up by an uncountable number of positive interactions over a unnumbered years. The Canadian experience is the unnatural outlier, the Congolese experience is the natural norm. Helping strangers get their car unstuck is an unnatural cultural practice held by a limited number. It is just one of many western Europeans have built up. These practices have not built up in many (most?) other countries.

If you import foreigners from Congo who do not have this cultural practice, fewer positive interactions and more negative interactions build up, and eventually a some tipping point, you no longer have the cultural practice.

This is the harm immigration causes, it wears away at built-up cultural practices. The insidious danger of it is that this regression is barely noticeable until one day you get stuck, look around, and wonder, ‘why is nobody helping me?’

Of course, cultural practices go far beyond simply pushing someone’s car.

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I asked them if they would want us to help them if they had a problem. The acknowledged this. I said what they would think if we asked for money before we would help them. They called us racists and immediately demanded money from us.

Welcome to your future.

Also, the demands for money or free stuff is omnipresent throughout the trip. Everywhere they go, someone is demanding money, drinks, phones, or the like from them. Is this the cultural practice you want imported to your country, where ‘le Blanc’ is seen primarily as a source of free stuff?

We opened a can of Coke (still from Zambia) and a jar of pickled onions to eat with our bread.

Those ‘horrible’ people did not have a Coke, even if they had the money to buy it, it was not avaialble. They did not have pickled onions either. And between the two of us we ate as much bread as an entire family would eat for an entire day.

We tried putting things into perspective. Maybe we shouldn’t be here after all?

This is what immediately follows their ‘stuck in a mudpit’ story. The answer to the question is ‘correct, they don’t belong there’.

But more interesting is how they do not seem to make a connection. Maybe there’s an underlying reason why people who won’t help others stuck in mud don’t have Coke and pickled onions available. Coke and pickled onions require cooperation in the marketplace, but how can there be cooperation when you can’t even trust your neighbour to help pull you out of the mud?

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If you want to know why there’s no social trust, here’s an illustrative example:

We came across a small motorcycle. You’d see them from time to time, it is the most luxurious transportation people have here. They are litte chinese 50cc (or 125cc) bikes. We stopped to let him pass and he stopped to greet and ask us if we had some oil for his engine.

All over the world there is an unwritten rule that in remote or difficult to travel areas people help eachother. That is why in the sahara everybody says hi to eachother. That is why in the Mongolian steppe people drive for kilometers just to check up on you. People help when needed as they know they will be helped when they are in need. We very much honour this unwritten rule and will always assist when we can.

So when this guy asks for oil, I do not hesitate and take out a my spare can of oil. I warn him that this is oil for diesel engines, but that does not matter to him. It is probably the best oil he would ever find to put in his little bike. As I am pouring oil from my can in his can the passenger of the bike starts begging with Josephine. I am not impressed when Josephine tells me. And when the bike owner too start to ask for money, it really pisses me off. We are helping this guy and still he begs for more? So I pour the oil out of his can back into mine and tell them to sod off. In our car and off we go.

For almost a month now we were in a serious fight with Congo. We were fighting against corruption. We were fighting against the roads. A constant battle. Congo was giving us a serious beating, but we stood strong and did not give in. Slowly but steadily we were winning this battle against the Congo.
But while we were so busy battling the roads and the corruption, Congo sneaked in from behind. It had transformed us into loud and angry people. With no remorse, no compassion, and a total lack of rules.

What happened to the unwritte rule of the road less travelled? The rule we nohour so much? All out of the door..

Congo had beaten us a long time ago already. Just like it had beaten most of its own citizens.. And we didn’t have a clue

The defections finally got to our generous tourist and finally defected himself. I wonder if this will cause him to further defect in the future?

Foreign cultural practices are acidic and burn away your cultural practices.

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Here’s the price for not having a culture of trust and cooperation which would allow for road-building:

As said, traffic is always local. They somehow manage to get cars into larger towns and then drive it around town, but no trough traffic. So cities/towns/village that are not on a river or on the limited railroad network have very limited supplies.

Up to 600kg of goods are transported on these bicycles. They do not ‘ride’ them, but push them instead. You can see there is a stick connected to the bikes handlebars.

This is the major transport method in Congo. It is probably one of the most ‘popular’ (this does not seem like a good wordchoice) jobs. There are fixed routes and people often travel in groups. For security reasons but also to help eachother on the hills.

At regular intervals on the main “bicycle” tracks there are “service stations”. This is usualy a small hut where one can eat a meal of fufu. They would also have a pump and some basic tools to fix flats.

We saw many of these overloaded bicycles before, but on this stretch of the road it seems to be the only means of transportation.

It must be very hard work to get these loads over the sometimes very rough roads. The ‘drivers’ are away from home for weeks on end and probably barely make any money out of it.

And here’s another cost:

We came across a truck that was parked in the middle of the track. Luckily the surrounding area was pretty open, so we could pass it.

Us: “Bonjour, ca va?” – “Hi, how are you?”
– Them: “Ca va un peu bien ” – “I am doing a little bit ok” -> typical Congelese answer this!

Us: “Votre vehicle est en panne?” – “Did you truck broke down?”
– Them: “Oui, mais ils vient avec des nouveaux pièces” – “Yes, but they are coming with spare parts”

So we chat a bit and we ask what their problem exactly was. They left Ilebo for Kananga with a load of building materials for a rich guy in Kananga. Their engine had completely seized. Their cargo was transferred onto another truck and they had taken the engine out and transported the engine to Kinshasa to get it rebuild. In the meantime the truck ‘crew’ stayed onsite to safeguard the truck. But they were very happy as they just received news that the necessary parts for the engine were now ordered in Germany, so the parts would come arrive in Kinshasa in a few weeks time!

A fascinating story, and they told it as if the was the most normal thing in the world. Fair enough. We said our goodbyes and asked them one more final question. How long had they been here?

“Un peu plus qu’un an maintenant” – “Just over a year”

The most normal thing in the world“. Is this the culture you want to import?

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After the preceding stories, someone did help them:

It took three more attempts to drive out before the village priest (7th day Adventist by the way) encouraged a few strong men to help.

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Some other people in the Congo were more proactive:

When we continued on the same road we would pass other smaller mudpits. These bogholes always had a “crew”. When a truck arrived, they would throw in rocks so the truck could pass… for a fee ofcourse. After the truck passed they removed the rocks again. A lucrative occupation!

In our books this is just plain wrong and we refuse to support such behaviour. So we always charged trough in 4×4, hoping we would not get ourself stuck.

The corruption is omnipresent and not just limited to roads. The tourists can hardly go anywhere without some official or another demanding a road toll, a non-existent “tax”, or a “fine” for some made-up infraction. As the tourists note, despite all the road tolls:

Nothing ever returns to the maintenance of these roads, or anything remotely related to the province it is in. It shows:

All the roads are like that or worse, My favourite is the one with the tree in the middle of it:

Here’s there first two days of travel. Remember, day one was the fast part of their trip with the best roads.

Less than 200 miles in day one, barely 50 in day two, while driving a sturdy 4×4. That’s how bad the roads are.

But between the corruption and and distrust, why would anyone build a decent road? Who would build a decent road?

There was one group who tried, the Belgians, which brings me to the next point.

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At some points the trip reminds me of Skyrim. The Congo resembles a pre-civilized society but there’s the (sometimes functioning) ruins of an ancient civilization scattered about.

Fallout 4 or a Belgian Ruin in the Congo

They’re driving down unkempt, potholed dirt roads, then suddenly:

The bridges were something we were very concerned about upfront. Congo has a lot streams and rivers and we knew the roads had not seen maintenance in many many years. If a bridge broke down, that could be a major problems. Up until now however we did not have any problems with the bridges. Some of the smaller bridges might have been dodgy, but all of them were passable. Most of the large bridges were fortunately made out of steel and in reasonably good nick.

Take the bridge we just crossed for example. I find it amazing that is still there. Numerous armies have crossed the Congo in the last 20 years, chasing their enemies down to the capital. Now, I am not a military expert, but if my army was losing terrain to the enemy army and I have to retreat. The one thing I would certainly do was blow up all bridges after me. Had it happened but was the damage so small that it could easily be repaired? Or did they just not bother? Or did they lack the explosives and time to actually blow it up? Who knows…. but at least the outcome is good for us now!

A bridge made by the evil Belgian colonialists over a half-a-century ago still functions, but the Congolese can’t keep basic roads functional. Here’s the ruins of “what once must have been a grand building… marked with logos from a Belgian University… [that] must have once been some scientific study centre of sorts.”

Everybody talks shit about imperialism and colonialism, but when the Belgians were there the people of the Congo had peace, order, bridges, working roads, a functional bureaucracy, non-corrupt police, and scientific study centres. Are the Congolese better off being ‘free’?

Here’s the tourist on the dark Belgian history:

I presume you are referring to the “not so nice” role Belgium has had in the history of Congo. For a while I thought that would be a problem as well, but it isn’t. Just about anything that still exists in Congo is made by the Belgians. The older generation who had their education from the Belgians really have fond memories of that era. And at the moment Belgium is still one of the main funders of the country (via aid). The dark pages of history during the Leopold 2 era is not what the Congolese people think about. All in all I think being Belgian was actually a plus. As a matter of fact, a lot of people asked how things were going with the “war” in Belgium :-o

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Speaking of functional bureaucracy, mismanagement is not limited to infrastructure. Here’s the tourists on getting a permit to be tourists:

Nobody really know what kind of permit one needs, let alone where to apply for it. But everybody agrees that a permit is required. Officially it has got something to do with the many mining areas to be crossed. We contacted the few people who have attempted travelling trough congo but they too never managed to get hold of the permit. One of these guys did get arrested and deported because he could not provide a permit.
Our Belgian Consulate really tried hard to get this stupid little piece of paper for us, but to no avail. They even managed to get us invited with the governer of Katanga, but he too could not give it to us. After many days of trying we asked the consulate to give us some sort of official looking letter with an official looking stamp. We would chance it without the permit!

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There are some actual functional paved roads around, made by foreigners:

So, why is there an asphalt road in the middle of Congo? Not connected to the rest of the road system (due to lack of road system).

There reason is simple: Diamonds. This is the main diamond center of Congo. This has attracted many people ofcourse, but the local people barely benefit of the natural wealth of the region. Officially it is the third largest city of Congo, after Kinshasa & Lubumbashi. Although by now it is probably the second largest city with over 2 million inhabitants. It also a politically important region. Most of the recent political problems start here. When Mbuji-Mayi “explodes” the rest of the country usually follows shortly after.

The diamong mining companies ofcourse need transport. Most is done via air, but the heavy supplies (fuel) are brought in by train. The nearest train station is in Mwene-Ditu. Hence the tar road between Mwene-Ditu and Mbuji-Mayi.

It’s hard to say “the local people barely benefit” when the mine is the only reason there’s a decent road in the area.

Here’s an interesting tidbit on who they talked to while prepping for their trip:

2) Coca-cola company: If there is ony thing you can find anywhere in the world it is Coca-Cola. They should know how to get their goods in the country. We had no response on mails, so we called them up. Their answer was pretty short: They do not have a distribution network outside the major cities in Congo 8O And it proved to be true, Congo is the first country we have visited were Coca-cola is hard to get once you leave the major cities.

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An interesting thing about the trip, is the number of Catholic missions in the Congo, how often that’s where the tourists stay at them, how much the tourists appreciate them and their kindness, and how much a relief the priests are. From the way the tourists talk about them, Catholic monks seem to be what keeps the country even somewhat functional. I’m not going to quote all of the references, but here’s a few.

Here’s some priests picking up the white man’s burden. It speaks for itself:

The priests (Brothers actually) are nice guys. There are 4 of them, young and smart. All of them have studied in Lubumbashi or Kinshasa. After they finished the seminary they were sent to a mission. They cannot choose which one. We could hear the sadness in their voices when they told their stories.

They sampled the “world” when studying, they have a degree (one of them had a masters in engineering) and then they are sent to a mission. They know they will probably never have the chance again to live in a city. At the mission they take care of the kids, teach, etc.. A noble and rewarding job. But they carry all this knowledge that they cannot put in practice here. They have no computers, no tools, no electricity, no budget, …

Their living quarters were very comfy and clean for Congolese standards. They had a radio and a TV set. Because of their proximity to Lubumbashi they had a regular supply of newspapers.

The priest-engineer was setting up a project to generate clean energy from a river. He had a recycling project. A radio project. An irrigation project, … He had to run all these projects without any funds, without material. So many ideas, so little chances.

They remained positive but you could see it in their eyes that they were sad. Without a doubt they would take the first opportunity to get out of there. It would be a great loss for the mission and the village but I couldn’t blame them. In the way our talks went we thought we could hear them crying for help. To take them to Europe, to give them funds, to supply them with material. They did not speak these words, but to us it was clear that they really longed for those things. We were not able to provide this. It made us sad and we felt guilty.

Here’s another set of priests carrying the burden and the thanks they get for it:

We rolled into Kamina and had a warm welcome by several “frères” (Brothers), among them Frère Louis, the belgian brother that hosted us in Luena. The other frères were Croatian. They all have their missions deep in the brousse, but this week they had their annual gettogether.

The missions was big and well organized. They had all the facilities, even a workshop. They were responsible for almost everything functional in Kamina. Churches, school, farms, factories, …

That night we talked for hours with Frère Louis. Our little adventures here dissapear in the nothing compared to everything he went trough. He had been in DRC for over 40 years, he stayed during all the wars. He had to abandon everything and run for his live three times as teams were sent out to kill him. But he always returned. Many books could be filled with his adventures.

He is also responsible for most of the bridges Katanga. He build hundreds of bridges himself. He has a small working budget from Franciscans, but he funds most of it all by himself. He has put every last penny in the Congolese people. That is why his house in Luena was so rundown.

He also told us about the Mayi-Mayi rebels that still roam the jungle. We were not prepared for the horror stories we would hear. I still have problems giving these stories a place. They are not just stories though, he gave us a 100 page document with his interviews of victims. If you thought, like us, that cannibalism was something that belonged in comic books and dusty museums about Africa. You are wrong. :cry:

But not everybody is called to the self-sacrifice of the mission field:

Unfortunately the father of this mission was not there, but his apprentice was. A very young guy, fresh out of school. He was not happy to be here, that much was clear. He did nothing else but complain and he would whine on endlessly. He was not a bad guy, but was wan’t very good company either.. oh well.

And not every priest remains uncorrupted:

We discussed our plans with Abbé Omer in the garden of the mission (it must have been a wonderfull garden back in the days.. now it looked a bit rundown). The good news was that there was good ferry here that could take us across the mighty Kasai river. The bad news was that nobody every uses that ferry and it does not see any regular action.

Omer knew the guy who was responsible for the Ferry, a chap called Barthélémy. He even has his phone number, but he does not have credit on his phone. No problem, he can use ours. A conversation in Lingala starts, it takes about ten minutes until we run out of credit on our phone. I actually think they talked 1 minute about the ferry and the other 9 minutes about other things, but anyway. Here was the deal:

– Price for a two-way trip is 50$US
But,
– we have to supply our own diesel the engine of the boat. 150 liters is required (!). that’s about 200$US (Diesel here is cheaper because they have a regular supply via boats from Kinshasa).
– we have to supply two batteries to start the engines of the boat
– the ferry is on the other side of the river and they would only be able to get it across somewhere next week

That’s just great!

We immediatelly uttered to Omer that that was a ridiculously high price, one we would never pay. And that we wanted to cross as soon as possible. preferably tomorrow.

What followed was a very difficult negotiation. Abbé Omer insisted that he acted as an intermediate person. According to him to protect us from getting ripped off (because we were white). I was actually convinced that he was playing a game with his mate Barthélémy to make some money out of us. It took us many hours on the phone to finally convince this Barthélémy to come to see us to discuss the price. He would come at 8 the next morning.

Later that evening Omer suggested that we he would have to inform the police of our presence (c’est normal!), it took us a lot of persuading for him not to ‘give us in’.

Interesting that Omer is a local.

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Of course, some secular non-profits are there to, but they are not as effective as the evil Catholics, MNC’s, and imperialists:

They told us about the mysterious roads. Apparently some NGO (they did not know the details… or they told the details and we forgot) has funded the construction. Several teams started working at several locations. The different bits were supposed to connect at one point. As of recent, work had nearly stopped… no more budget. It was unclear if more budget would become available or not. In any case the idea of the construction was to invest all the money in labour instead of buying an expensive CAT. Great idea ofcourse, that way all the money stayed in DRC, instead of filling the pocket of some bigwig at CAT. If you look at the road it was quite a feat. They thought about drainage and everything. Unfortunately they could not compress the earth enough with the tools they had. We already started a few ruts, it would only take 1 heavy truck to completely destroy these roads again. These roads would not last a rainy season.

Here’s Barthélémy’s ferry:

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we finally saw the ferry.

It looked brand new!
It wasn’t..

A German (?) NGO had funded the restoration of the ferry recently. It had received a nice fresh coat of paint, but the money to rebuild the engines had gone missing.

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Here’s some more local cultural practices excerpted from a 131-page document by a priest:

“Y”‘s brother went fishing in Missa and saw mischief like cutting of ears. They fry the ears in a pan eat them. They make the victims look at how their own ears are being fried and eaten. They are being accused of cooperation with the Congolese FAC army. The May May continue to eat humans. Y’s brother managed to escape to Bukama, this is where I met him.

They kill those four soldiers and eat them. They then carry one of the heads of the murdered soldiers to Kintobongo and put the head on the table in our mission. They do this as warning not to attack hem, if not this is what happens.

..The hunters (May-May) asked food at the woman of Chef Kitumba. The women told they did not have food. The hunters then demanded that they roast their children for them to eat.

The commander Bati dared to display a naked woman. With a pen he pointed at every part of the “intimate organs” and told the onlookers the names in dialect. What a humiliation.

We are living in a situation of pure and simple cannibalism. The may-may plunder, rape and kill the civilian population. They then eath their meat, raw or smoked. This is true for the May-MAy chief Kabale, who was killed recently (15/05/2006) by the population of Kayumba.

Do we really want to bring these kinds of cultural practices here?

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Of course, it’s not all bad:

We stopped in the first village. A car in the village.. with white people in it. Now that is an attraction ofcourse. And if they are covered in mud from head to toe it is even more interesting.

I do not have to explain we drew a bit of a crowd?

But people were actually quite nice. They offered us to use their shower (a tree with a mud wall before it and a bucket) and after an hour or so they actually left us alone.

Later that evening some kind of custom officer came to see us. He wanted to see our permits and whatnot. We kindly told him to bugger off and come back tomorrow. Surprisingly, it worked. Next day we were gone before he came back ;-)

As soon as it got dark we got into our tent and looked outside. We could see several fires in the village were people would gather around and sing and dance (mostly women). Small groups of men were having discussions. Peaceful village.

But small villages aren’t all good either:

The first village we encountered seemed deserted at first, but as soon as we entered the village we saw people coming at us from all sides. They had machetes and sticks and were shouting. “Des Blancs. Argent!” – “White people. Money!”. They were all over the place. This was not good! I floored it and sped out of the village. A rock hit the back of our car.

What in gods name was that all about?

Very few Congolese had made us feel welcome, but this was plain agression! It scared the hell out of us.

We passed another village, and once again a mob formed as soon as they heard us coming. Machetes flying round, racist slogans shanted. Once again we did not give them the chance to get near us and blasted out of the village. They tried following us. This was turning ugly, if we would get stuck here we would be in big trouble, these people did not want a chat!

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Anyway, I’m about twenty pages into the thread and it goes on for almost 100 pages. I’m done reading and commenting on this (for now?), but I hope you found this illuminating, or perhaps endarkening?

Cultural Genocide

Cultural genocide has been in the news in Canada recently due to a report on the Canadian treatment of aboriginals. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

“Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group,” the report reads. “States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized, and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are persecuted, spiritual practices are forbidden, and objects of spiritual value are con?scated and destroyed. And, most signi?cantly to the issue at hand, families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next.

That’s seems a fair and workable explanation of the concept, but today, I’m not planning to talk on the aboriginal cultural genocide.* I’m planning to talk about this:

As you’re probably aware, the Cathedral has been whipping up hatred against the symbol of the South. A bunch of private corporation have been banning the battle flag at the Cathedral’s behest. This is just the latest in anti-Southern activities whipped up by the North.

We all know of the Civil War, where the Yankees, primarily at the behest of the abolitionists of Massachusetts, refused to let the South to either run their own affairs or be independent. After killing almost half a million confederates, Massachusetts conquered America.

Of course, the US Civil War did not spring out of nowhere, but goes much earlier, to the English Civil War, where the roundheads and cavaliers fought over whether power should be held by the king or by the parliament. These groups carried their quarrels and ideologies over to the new continent. The North was settled by roundheads, a group of puritans, proto-anarcho-socialists, levellers, and apocalyptic Christians. The South was settled by royalists, cavaliers, and loyal Scotsmen. The northern puritans continues to wage their ancestral war on the cavaliers to this day.

After the US civil war, the US began reconstruction to ‘destroy the political and social institutions’ of the South and force the federal government’s agenda on it. Carpetbaggers swarmed the South to politically manipulate, seize land, loot the South, and forcibly conquer churches.

This has not ended. The Yankees continue to use their power to import foreign populations into the South. They continue to force their religious values on the South and suprress Southern religious values.  They continue to attack and ban symbols of the South. They enforce schooling where southern children are taught Yankee values. They use their media power to continually denigrate the South and southerners.

The descendents of the Roundheads are waging a very quiet, slow, and low-key cultural genocide against their historical enemies. Keeping it soft and slow prevents the South from realizing and rebelling against it (again). One flag, one religious desecration, one child, one small denigration at a time, the Yankees are gradually destroying Dixie culture to eventually turn them into good little puritans.

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* Maybe I will a little, here’s a quick rundown: Yes, whites committed cultural genocide on aboriginals. No, it wasn’t because they hated aboriginals, but because they wanted to civilize aboriginals (the white man’s burden). Yes, it was wrong for Europeans to destroy traditional aboriginal cultures, excepting in cases where they were wholly evil (ex. the Aztec’s culture of human sacrifice probably needed destroying). No, modern whites don’t hold any guilt for it. Yes, aboriginals have a right to be angry, but what is done can’t be undone and fixing their own situation rather than complaining would be more beneficial to them. Yes, their current situation is, on an individual level, their own fault, but evil institutions such as INAAC need to be destroyed. As for what should be done, the same as with blacks and Jews, give them a fair allotment of land, and let them set up independent aboriginal states.

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This was mostly written before NBS put up his piece on white genocide. I’m not sure how much traction the concept of cultural genocide gets in the US, but up here it’s a pretty big in intellectual/midbrow circles due to aboriginal issues. The WN’s may seem more reasonable and be more influential if they start calling it “white cultural genocide”, although I think “Western cultural suicide” is far more apt.

I think Steves is partially wrong. Whining about white genocide accomplishes nothing, but conservative/moderates whites do need to be informed of the ongoing cultural genocide/suicide and how leftists are purposefully carrying it out.

I also think NBS is wrong on this:

If you indict Cultural Marxists for White Genocide, then you can indict European Americans for the genocide of Native American and Australian peoples for exactly the same reasons. Strong peoples out-compete weak peoples. They always have and always will.

Just because something is does not mean that something is right. Dead European Americans are guilty of the cultural genocide, but those who committed the acts are mostly dead, those currently living are not guilty of the sins of their fathers and in fact have bent over backwards, too far backwards, to atone for them.

The Simpsons and Cultural Decline

I’ve been watching the first two seasons of the Simpsons the last couple weeks. It’s been years since I’ve watched the show, but I still remember the first ten seasons or so as some of the best TV yet produced.

The first season came out in 1989-90, just 25 years ago, and I remember the show being controversial when it came out; I wasn’t allowed to watch it until some time in high school, about a decade after it first started showing. It was controversial enough that Bush actually used the Simpsons as a negative example of a family. Yet, re-watching now, it’s amazing how tame and traditional it is compared to media offerings today.

Obviously the ‘offensive’ humour in the Simpsons is nothing compared to stuff like Family Guy or South Park, but that’s not the whole of it or even the most important part. It’s not the stated messages, but the basic assumptions in the show.

The Simpsons family is intact and stable, if slightly dysfunctional, and hold to functional, almost traditional, family values. They all love each other, however much they might bicker. Homer is a flawed man, often selfish or stupid, but still loving and caring towards his family. Marge is shown to love and respect Homer, despite her occasional anger at his flaws. Bart disrespects Homer occasionally, but it is shown as a clear deviancy for laughs; it also clearly shown that he does look up to and admire Homer. The kids fight, but at heart care for each other.

Compare those family values that to the three highest-rated sitcoms of 2013: Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and Modern Family. The first is about a bunch of (fornicating) nerds and their slut friend who spend the entire show snarking at each other. The second is about a cad, his divorced brother, and his nephew who regularly snark at each other; the cad is shown as cool, while the ‘family man’ is shown as a loser. According to Wiki, the third is about a blended family, a somewhat normal family, and a gay couple; the ‘modern family’ is so screwed up wiki needs a chart to keep family relations in order.

The Simpsons has a subtext of Homer as patriarch. A few times in the first couple of seasons Homer makes a family decision, whether it is selling the TV to attend counseling, buying a new TV, or choosing a camping spot, to name a few examples. The rest of the family complains or looks unhappy, yet it is not even questioned that, however flawed he or his decision may be, it is Homer’s place to decide these things. The show just assumes the father makes the major family decisions. Other than Duck Dynasty, would any modern show simply assume the father’s position as head of the home?

The episode Homer’s Night Out, centres around a picture of Homer dancing with a belly dancer at a bachelor party. The (non-nude) picture creates a town-wide scandal, brands Homer as a ‘swinger’, and is seen as something fundamentally deviant and abnormal. In any modern show would bachelor party antics, especially such comparatively tame ones, be shown as being so shockingly deviant?

The show assumes that normal people go to church on Sundays and say grace at mealtime. Prayer is a casually accepted part of the show, as is religion. Does any major show today, other than Duck Dynasty, so casually accept religion as a normal, unremarkable, everyday part of life?

Other, less remarkable, moral lessons are also included. The pro-family/loyalty message of Life on the Fast Lane. How Marge’s sisters constant denigration of Homer is shown as negative, destructive behaviour. In one episode, Marge is casually referred to as Mrs. Homer Simpson.

All this is not to say the Simpsons is a font of traditional values, it is a liberal show, it does have some fem-centrism, and is rather subversive, but it is a good example of just how fast our culture is collapsing. Just a couple decades ago, the Simpsons was a controversial show that was held up by the president as an example of family dysfunction. Yet compared to today’s cultural wasteland, where broken families are common, disrespect and degeneracy are the norm, and the husband as the head of the family is, at best, a joke, it is very tame, almost traditional.

25 years is all it took. In 20 years, will Two and a Half Men and Modern Family be relatively tame and traditional?

More Encouragement for Bill

Bill over at Apocalypse Cometh was encouraged by the anger and planning of a young person who e-mailed him.

So, I thought I’d give him a bit more encouragement.

The rage that person expresses is not that uncommon among young men in their late teens and twenties. Our generation has inherited a world of shattered families, smashed gender relations, eroded civic virtue, and decayed social institutions.  Our education system is a broken mess of deceit, mental oppression, psychological castration, and exploitative larceny. When we finally graduate university, we face economic stagnation, unemployment, and hopeless economic prospects.

Rage is not uncommon. As an well-known example, advise him to check out /b/ on 4chan. (The link goes to Wikipedia. I am not linking to the site as it is very much NSFW. Do not visit it if you are prone to being offended by, well, anything). I’m not sure if Bill would know of it or not, it’s not something older folks are generally aware of.

The site is populated by, primarily, young adult males, mostly of the beta and omega male varieties. It is massive; it currently stands at about the 1,000 busiest website in the world (about 500-600th in the US), with about 18 million users a month (about 6% of the US population). As the origin point for almost every popular internet meme you may have encountered, it has huge cultural power.

Out of any place you can check, it is probably the best indicator of the attitudes of current generation of what young adult beta males. The anonymity of the site frees to talk as they wish without the confines of societal pressure.

So what are thoughts of the beta males on this site?

Rage, pain, and cultural nihilism.

It is infested with every kind of racism, violence, gore, misogyny, pornography, and the like you can imagine (and many you never would).  There are no taboos about anything: everything from suicide to religion to the handicapped is mocked and profaned. Those who don’t partake or object are mocked as “moralfags” (everybody on 4chan is labelled a ****fag).

Nihilism, anger, hatred, and sadistic glee permeate the site, but even underneath all that, it is hard to judge them for it. Because underneath all the rage is a sense of bitterness, pain, alienation, and unquenchable loneliness.

They are hurting; they are despairing. They are stuck in a society that is destroying them and are lashing out in the only way they know how.

Check out this comic which explains how many of them see themselves and their site. I’d embed it, but it becomes unreadable.

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This is the new generation of young males and it’s frightening.

There are 18 million young males spending good chunks of their time on this site. They feel betrayed, hurt, and angry and they are desensitizing themselves to the normal moral prescriptions that hold society together.

When we talk about the decline and the destruction of our youth, this is what we are talking about. When we talk about the economic and cultural hopelessness among our youth, this is it. When we talk of the beta males being ground down, this is what we’re talking about. When idiots talk about man-children or Peter Pan boys who refuse to grow up, this is what they don’t know they are referring to.

All the theory, all the hypothesizing: this is where it exists in reality.

Bill may find “Someone” encouraging, but I’m not so sure. He’s only the small tip.

Most of these people are probably outcasts sitting alone in their basements who will never take action on their own, but out of the millions, there are probably at least a few thousand that are leaders, some that are organizing something.

Even if there isn’t, how can a society continue for long when such a large portion of its young adult males are this disengaged, this nihilistic, this bitter about their society.

What happens when these millions of young adult males bring this bitterness and rage beyond the internet? A few protests from Anonymous (as they call themselves) at Occupy and elsewhere have been largely ineffective so far, but how long will that last?

I don’t know, but when there is this much unfocused rage and pain, among this many of the coming generation, it can’t be good.

What happens when the unfocused rage becomes focused?

Maybe this isn’t encouragement for Bill, maybe it is, but I don’t think the consequences will be anything anybody likes.

Really? Women need a guide to be a decent person?

Hooking Up Smart had a post entitled “25 Politically Incorrect But Effective Ways to Make Him Your Boyfriend.”

Now, I know that some of the manosphere have differences with Walsh, but just read the piece, the advice is mostly good.

Despite the advise being good, the post also makes me kind of sad. Almost the entire list can be summed up as “be a decent human being” and “don’t be a neurotic bitch”.

Do women really need to be told this, likes it’s some sort of secret?

Is “don’t be a neurotic bitch” really politically incorrect?

Look at some of the things on the list:

1. Actively support him.
2. Have his back.
3. Appreciate him.
4. Physically care for him.

5. Have eyes for no one but him.
8. Be unconditionally generous.
10. Remember his favorites.
12. Be a pressure relief valve.

13. Do not compete with family and friends.
15. Avoid controlling and possessive behavior.
16. Maintain privacy as a couple.
17. Respect his privacy.
18. Suppress your neuroses.
20. Resolve conflict without emotional excess.
25. Never go into a relationship with an idea of changing a man into what you really want.

Really?

I’ve been accused of misogyny before, but unholy hell, how low an opinion of women must Walsh have to think that women actually need to be reminded to be a decent human being and to spell out how to be a decent human being in bullet form?

What kind of women does Walsh have at her blog?

The even more pertinent question is, do women actually need this kind of advice? Really?

But the final and far more worrying question: is this advice really politically incorrect?

Has our culture and its gender relations degraded to the point where it is politically incorrect to tell a women not to be controlling and possessive and to support her man? Is “don’t be neurotic” really advice that is culturally discouraged?

I don’t know what to say.

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Also, this is an odd counterpoint to game. Game advice often boils down to telling men to be more of an asshole to attract women. Walsh’s advice to women is to not be a total bitch.

I don’t know which is more screwed up: that men need to be bastards to attract women or that women actually need to be told not to be bitches to attract men.