Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cruore spumantem


New states are born free,  yet everywhere  they are in chains.
-- Ernest Gellner, “Democracy and Industrialization” (1967)

One gets the impression, after a slackening  following the end of the traditional Cold War, and the period of high hopes for newly-independent nations, born both of the breakup of the Soviet bloc, and the retreat of European colonialism  from the continents they once stabilized  tant bien que mal,  that lines are being drawn, for some wide-ranging upcoming conflicts.  But their pattern is not yet clear.  The antagonisms and (very unstable) alliances  will likely be determined as much by climate change, and water shortages, and the general worldwide “scissors effect” (Trotsky, before his time) as any traditionally recognizable allegiances.

Europe is nervous.  It looks south, and sees its future in Lampedusa.

[On that matter, consult the article "The Anchor", in the current New Yorker.]

Hannibal ante portas!

World population growth has been leveling off, save in the one region least able to feed itself, Sub-Saharan Africa.   And so the population presses north.

Fears of political submersion and cultural annihilation  would drive the privileged population into an ultra attitude:  liberalism would go by the board. … One can hardly feel very confident that Europeans-in-Europe, faced with a situation analogous to the one facing settler populations [e.g. Boers in South Africa, Jews in Palestine] -- no other world to which to retreat, and in danger of submersion -- would behave in a way markedly better than did or do the colons.
-- Ernest Gellner, Thought and Change (1964), p. 178

It is notable that this was written in the early 1960s, just before a wave of Western romanticization of the Third World arrived.  Gellner in 1964, like Enoch Powell in 1968,  was looking farther down the line.

Travaillant au noir,
le détective  se trouve aux prises
avec le Saint-Esprit
C’est quoi, le péché irrémissible ???

The 1996 book It Takes a Village, by Barbara Feinman (writing as “Hillary Clinton”), was meant -- commendably -- to point to the need (which in practice, in America, had never been denied, until recently) for community involvement in child-rearing, beyond the autarky of the nuclear family.  Such was the unquestioned state of affairs during my own childhood:  church, school, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, Little League, summer camps, YMCA, …  The need has become more acute in this time of fragmented families, or households that were never a full and normal family at all.   The book dissents, though in liberal guise, from the new-hatched doctrine that all you need for healthy happy productive children  is a baby-mama and her welfare check.

The title purports to translate an African proverb (which has enough truth not to quibble with;  see Wiki for originals);  and indeed, in the setting of traditional Africa (which largely no longer exists), it is true enough.  But in our own time, such does not suffice.  In the words of an especially perceptive socio-historian, writing over half a century ago:

A Greek village can produce a little Greek, a Nuer village can make new Nuers … It is however awkward to say that (for instance) a French village can produce a Frenchman.  Can it?  It can certainly produce a French peasant, who is a kind of Frenchman.  But a Frenchman without qualification?  [Meaning not: “a Frenchman without qualifications”, for that is exactly what a village can produce, but:  a Frenchman tout court.]
Village-size social units  are no longer competent to produce fully life-sized human beings.  A Nuer village can still produce a Nuer, but it is incapable of producing an effective Sudanese citizen.
-- Ernest Gellner, Thought and Change (1964), p. 158

Note the date.  The insight is striking, now that Sudan itself has fragmented into two, and the fragments themselves are dysfunctional.   A friend who has followed the Sudanese situation for years, reports that the race war between Nuer and Dinka  is currently absolutely savage, though this finds little reflection in the press, which (understandably) has its own space-limitations for Third World meshugaas.
This (widely anticipated, though unspoken) result, illustrates once more  the instability of micronationalisms;  and exemplifies (Gellner again), the tenet, “The world is richer in cultural differentiations, and in systematic injustices, than it has room for ‘nations’.” (http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2014/03/spheres-of-influence.html )

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[Update 21 April 2014]  When I suggested that battles over aqueous resources  might occasion fierce and feral realignments, I had principally in mind  certain regions of the Mideast.  But cf. this headline from today’s LATimes:

Lake Mead, the reservoir that supplies 90% of Las Vegas' water, is ebbing as though a plug had been pulled from a bathtub drain.

Now, that particular pickle  leaves one ambivalent.  What a blessing, were that urban blot upon the desert  to evaporate without a trace!   Still, in a general way, it is not a good thing  when lakes dry up.


There was also an update today on the little-followed Nuer/Dinka bloodbath:

According to the United Nations mission in South Sudan, rebel forces entered the town of Bentiu in Unity State and separated groups of residents — who had sought refuge in churches, mosques and hospitals — by their ethnicity and nationality.
Members of the ethnic Nuer community who did not support the rebels, along with South Sudanese people from other ethnic groups and Darfuris from Sudan to the north, were targeted and killed.
At the Kali-Ballee Mosque, “more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded,” the statement said. Some rebels used FM radio to broadcast ethnic-based “hate speech” and encouraged “men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community,”

[Update 26 April 2014]  And yet, remarkably, the riverains of the Tiber are currently actively welcoming the flood,  deploying the Marina Militare and the Guardia Costiera, not to defend Italy’s borders, but to make them more porous, at taxpayer expense:

Polémique : Mare nostrum coûte cher

Malta cannot believe its good fortune, as the Italian navy proactively undertook to rescue migrants in Maltese waters as well;  that overwhelmed island has accordingly seen its unwanted influx drop to zero:

[Update 16 September 2014]  Meanwhile, as Italy and Malta bend over backwards to help aliens attempting to reach their shores illegally, the traffickers themselves care less than nothing for their fellow Africans:

Up to 100 children may have been among 500 people who drowned after a migrant boat was sunk by traffickers near Malta last week, a migration body says.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) spoke to four survivors who were rescued from the water.  Four survivors told the IOM that the traffickers were Egyptian and Palestinian.

They said that had been forced to change boats three times since leaving Egypt in early September. However, when told to switch to a smaller vessel which many passengers deemed unsafe, a violent argument ensued.

The traffickers then rammed the larger vessel, causing it to begin sinking immediately, the survivors told IOM.
"After they hit our boat they waited to make sure that it had sunk completely before leaving. They were laughing," one of the survivors said.


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