Comments: Dark Star Safari (bottom up)


Another describes the same in Central America.

A Peace Corps worker in Guatemala in the 60's, he had started a thriving chicken cooperative in the high mountain village, using a small development aid grant. So he was thrilled on going back after twenty years to visit, to discover the chicken plant had been abandoned, now a rusty ruin, and some city locals selling Tyson drumsticks out of a freezer van at below the cost of production.

Seems Americans only like white meat, so Tyson basically gives away frozen dark meat for the return leg of the Mexican truck-produce imports. That meat ends up in Central American villages, below cost, gutting their hand-to-mouth economy, crushing farmers left with no cash market for their corn, destroying money base, and sending all the adult males north to work field labor in the Coachella Valley, USA, as illegal migras.

If US aid don't get you, the global agribiz will.

I've had a bit of a eureka moment about this sort of thing; the plight of the world and whether aid works or not. I think that we in the West forget ourselves, our history, where we have come from and how we progressed, truly progressed as a civilization.

Recently I've read two books on the Ancient World, one about the ancient Greeks and one on the Romans and the thing that struck me the most was the contrast between the ideal they represent as a touchstone for our culture and values today and the reality of their incredibly chaotic, violent and rude history. The selfish brutal nature of ancient rulers and oligarchs is breathtaking. And then I wondered. When did government stop being like this? When did the incessant intrigue, political murder and civil war that characterised Western government end. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it really didn't end until AFTER the European Enlightenment. And even then it took the First World War to discredit the practice of rule by aristocracy and the Second World War to fend off the facist reactionaries.

In short good govenment means limited LIBERAL government in the european enlightenment tradition and that idea has only been secured in the Western World since 1945.

So when we look at Africa we are looking at ancient man. We are looking at the human norm at what government has been to most people for most of human history; an entity that takes from the many to give to the priviledged few and will amorally exterminate anyone who gets in its way unless you kill those leaders and replace them.

If we want to bring hope to Africa we need to ask how do we bring Liberalism as a political philosophy, as a cultural trait, to Africans? I am just not sure it can be done by aid or by force. It is something that a group of leaders whithin an African country must choose for themselves and their countries future. For awhile it looked like Uganda was going to lead a liberal revolution for the continent, but it is falling back into a despotic form.