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  #1  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:16 AM
NineToTheSky NineToTheSky is offline
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Why does Africa suffer?

Why is it that most African countries below the Sahara are in such a terrible state? By almost every yardstick most of them are suffering. In terms of politics, economics and human rights, they are below the standards that we would find acceptable. Is it to do with the climate? Is it to do with the consequences of colonial rule? Is it because of tribal cultures? I've never understood.
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:31 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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I would say it is a combination of B and C. It is a consequence of initial tribal rule and of colonial rule. However, my understanding is limited as I do not know the state of affairs in Africa Prior to colonial rule. Except for Egypt...I don't know it's history prior to the formation of countries.
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  #3  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:37 AM
Renob Renob is offline
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It is a consequence of colonial rule only insomuch as colonial rule produced horrible dictators that are the ones who are responsible for the devastation you see in much of sub-Saharan Africa today. Look at Zimbabwe. It is in a horrible situation today. It certainly isn't because the British colonized the place. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Robert Mugabe and his anti-freedom activities. Any country in sub-Saharan Africa suffering from a similar fate has a current or former leader who resembles Mugabe. Look at those thugs if you are looking to assign blame.
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  #4  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:41 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Personally, I blame Whitey...


...but seriously....

It's to do with colonialism, tribalism, religion, sexism, and geography. Let's not underestimate that latter bit, either - N-S axis, big deserts and jungles, some pretty shitty natural pests like Malaria and Tsetse Fly, mostly worn-out soils because of being old stable cratons (cf Australia), astride the equator & tropics:all that doesn't help.

I think colonialism, while still having an effect today, was just the cherry on top. Africa and its displaced twin South America (Which is not that much removed from the banana republis stereotypes of the 70s) were always destined to be the poor relations of the continent family.

As for tribalism and general ignorance - fuck they're still going on honest-to-god witchhunts in Kenya. What the fuck can you do for people like that?
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  #5  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:46 AM
The Understander The Understander is offline
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Accident of history is my WAG. Why were there Dark Ages in Europe? Why does the United States seem like it's heading for a long period of ignorance and backwardness?

In Africa's case? Never underestimate the deleterious effects of colonialism and fruitless internecine tribal warfare.
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  #6  
Old 06-27-2008, 08:47 AM
MikeG MikeG is offline
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Don't forget almost no navigable rivers. Seems quaint but both Europe and the Eastern US have an excellent network of rivers.
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  #7  
Old 06-27-2008, 09:25 AM
Mellivora capensis Mellivora capensis is offline
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I don't think there are any easy or straightforward answers. Nonetheless, I do think colonialism is given too much weight. If colonialism were an overwhelming factor, or a factor on its own, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana would be in tatters.

Admittedly Botswana was never a colony, but it was a British protectorate.

Last edited by Mellivora capensis; 06-27-2008 at 09:27 AM..
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  #8  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:00 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Far too many brutal, kleptocratic leaders. Little experience in sustained democratic practice. Religious, tribal and ethnic tensions. Illogically-drawn national boundaries. Chronic poverty. A terrible healthcare system. Widespread illiteracy. Environmental degradation. And so on.
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  #9  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:22 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Nonetheless, I do think colonialism is given too much weight. If colonialism were an overwhelming factor, or a factor on its own, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana would be in tatters.
I'd make the comparison between Africa and South America. If less than a hundred years of colonialism ruined Africa, why didn't over three hundred years of colonialism destroy South America?
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  #10  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:29 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeG
Don't forget almost no navigable rivers. Seems quaint but both Europe and the Eastern US have an excellent network of rivers.
Good point. SE Asia, too.
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  #11  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:32 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
I'd make the comparison between Africa and South America. If less than a hundred years of colonialism ruined Africa, why didn't over three hundred years of colonialism destroy South America?
Because new diseases decimated the population first. The Americas were nearly a blank slate once the natives stopped dying from smallpox and measles. I'd wager that of most of Africa had died upon the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s, you'd see a much more S.America-like continent.
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  #12  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:36 AM
Burton Burton is offline
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Corrupt leadership in who's interest it is to keep their population uneducated, poor and at odds with others.
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  #13  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:37 AM
NineToTheSky NineToTheSky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burton
Corrupt leadership in who's interest it is to keep their population uneducated, poor and at odds with others.
Why is it in their interests?
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  #14  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:38 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
I'd make the comparison between Africa and South America. If less than a hundred years of colonialism ruined Africa, why didn't over three hundred years of colonialism destroy South America?
The genocide of the native populations in south america looks a lot like 'destroy' to me.

Colonialism just took different forms and was done by different people at different times in different circumstances. It's a catch-all, not a technical term.

And in Africa the europeans 'left', leaving behind arbitrary borders that paid no attention to tribal boundaries thus leaving a legacy of tribal rivalry that dominates politics everywhere from Zimbabwe to Nigeria. In South America we never left - we just supplanted the native survivors and founded new, Pope ordained nations.
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  #15  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:45 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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The genocide of the native populations in south america looks a lot like 'destroy' to me.

Colonialism just took different forms and was done by different people at different times in different circumstances. It's a catch-all, not a technical term.
That raises the question of why Africa is suffering in 2008 and South America isn't. If it's a matter than European descended people took over South America and not Africa. Then the question becomes why isn't India or South East Asia screwed up like Africa? Their native populations weren't replaced by Europeans when they were colonies.
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  #16  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:55 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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I would say it is because Sub-Saharan Africa never abandoned tribalism. To be an effective nation-state, you have to put aside differneces. instead, Africa has been riven by civil wars and tribal conflicts. It seems to have no end. take Nigeria-oil rich, but ethnically divided (north=muslim, south=christian). Billions of $ coming in from oil, with NO discernable improvement. Instead, the educated people leave for the US or Europe. Staggering levels of corruption, and a stifling beaurocracy.
Not a good foundation for a nation.
It is a bad state and seems to be getting worse.
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  #17  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:55 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
That raises the question of why Africa is suffering in 2008 and South America isn't. If it's a matter than European descended people took over South America and not Africa. Then the question becomes why isn't India or South East Asia screwed up like Africa? Their native populations weren't replaced by Europeans when they were colonies.
India was a rich and powerful civilisation in its own right and so the British interests lay in co-opting the rulers. The British did not colonise India, they exploited it as a colony with a large managerial and military presence.

And the S American question isn't raised. It's the difference between a family moving into a house they've evicted the owners from (South America) and moving in and trashing a house and then moving out while obliging two or more hostile gangs to live under the same vacated roof (Africa).
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  #18  
Old 06-27-2008, 11:00 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
I'd make the comparison between Africa and South America. If less than a hundred years of colonialism ruined Africa, why didn't over three hundred years of colonialism destroy South America?
"Less than a hundred years"? Africa has been colonised by Europe and the Middle East since before they knew South America existed.
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  #19  
Old 06-27-2008, 11:05 AM
Renob Renob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble
"Less than a hundred years"? Africa has been colonised by Europe and the Middle East since before they knew South America existed.
Certain parts, yes, but a lot of the colonization didn't really begin, in full, until the late nineteenth century. And it lasted less than a hundred years in many areas.

Last edited by Renob; 06-27-2008 at 11:05 AM..
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  #20  
Old 06-27-2008, 11:25 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renob
Certain parts, yes, but a lot of the colonization didn't really begin, in full, until the late nineteenth century. And it lasted less than a hundred years in many areas.
...and other bits had been colonies since the 1400s. Sure, there was the Scramble for Africa in the 1800s, but to discard everything before that is shortsighted. It had a huge influence on later African history, from the African Diaspora (starting in the 15th C) to the present day. Look at the legend of this map from 1736. Yes, most of the interior didn't get carved up until the Scramble, but there's more to colonialism than just carving up administrative districts.
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  #21  
Old 06-27-2008, 02:08 PM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Originally Posted by NineToTheSky
Why is it that most African countries below the Sahara are in such a terrible state? By almost every yardstick most of them are suffering. In terms of politics, economics and human rights, they are below the standards that we would find acceptable. Is it to do with the climate? Is it to do with the consequences of colonial rule? Is it because of tribal cultures? I've never understood.
If you are seriously asking this question, I would ask you to consider the hypothesis that (generally speaking) people in sub-Saharan Africa are less intelligent than people in the rest of the world.

Most people reject this idea (at least publicly) because it's so offensive. But still, it would seem to fit the facts pretty well.
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  #22  
Old 06-27-2008, 02:21 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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How does it "fit the facts"? - what's intelligence got to do with poverty, or human rights?
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  #23  
Old 06-27-2008, 03:33 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brazil84
If you are seriously asking this question, I would ask you to consider the hypothesis that (generally speaking) people in sub-Saharan Africa are less intelligent than people in the rest of the world.

Most people reject this idea (at least publicly) because it's so offensive. But still, it would seem to fit the facts pretty well.
But what are the facts?

People are extrapolating a heck of a lot from what is, let's be honest, a rather short period of human history. Africa's a relative shithole NOW, but you can pick any number of points in history when Europe was even worse, when China was a wreck, so on and so forth. Why is the political and economic situation of 2008 indicative of relative intelligence, but not of 908? or 1200 BC? Surely our intelligence doesn't change that quickly?
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  #24  
Old 06-27-2008, 03:34 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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How much of Africa was actually colonized? By that I mean a significant part of the population coming from elsewhere (ie, Europe)? Obviously South Africa fits that bill, but wasn't most of sub-S Africa ruled by a small elite governing class, mostly civil servant types, with not a lot of farmers/tradesmen/etc coming in to settle?

Waves and waves of immigrants came to North and South America, and in what is now the US most of the native population was destroyed. Although many of the natives in parts settled by Spain were killed (or died of diseases) many countries south of the US maintain a very large native or mixed population today. I can't see a parallel with this over much of Africa. Perhaps in some of the eastern part there was a similar process driven by the Arabs...?

Last edited by John Mace; 06-27-2008 at 03:34 PM..
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  #25  
Old 06-27-2008, 03:43 PM
Lama Pacos Lama Pacos is offline
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Originally Posted by 124c
take Nigeria-oil rich, but ethnically divided (north=muslim, south=christian).
Islam and Christianity are ethnicities now?
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  #26  
Old 06-27-2008, 03:56 PM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay
But what are the facts?

People are extrapolating a heck of a lot from what is, let's be honest, a rather short period of human history. Africa's a relative shithole NOW, but you can pick any number of points in history when Europe was even worse, when China was a wreck, so on and so forth. Why is the political and economic situation of 2008 indicative of relative intelligence, but not of 908? or 1200 BC?
It's kind of hard to know the relative shitiness of Africa, Europe, and Asia in 1000 BC. Probably they were all pretty shitty by the standards of today, but that doesn't answer the question.

And by the way, I do think that intelligence can change relatively quickly. For one thing, improved nutrition could have a pretty big impact in a generation or two. Microevolution would obviously be slower, but it may very well have a noticeable impact over 50 generations.

Such a process has been hypothesized for Ashkenazi Jews.
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  #27  
Old 06-27-2008, 05:16 PM
Great Dave Great Dave is offline
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Originally Posted by brazil84
It's kind of hard to know the relative shitiness of Africa, Europe, and Asia in 1000 BC. Probably they were all pretty shitty by the standards of today, but that doesn't answer the question.

And by the way, I do think that intelligence can change relatively quickly. For one thing, improved nutrition could have a pretty big impact in a generation or two. Microevolution would obviously be slower, but it may very well have a noticeable impact over 50 generations.

Such a process has been hypothesized for Ashkenazi Jews.
Wait, what has been hypothesized for Ashkenazi? That better nutrition has increased their intelligence? Fairly vague, I'd say.

Africa got dealt a pretty tough hand. So many ways to die, so people don't have much time or energy for anything beyond survival.
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  #28  
Old 06-27-2008, 05:21 PM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Originally Posted by Great Dave
Wait, what has been hypothesized for Ashkenazi? That better nutrition has increased their intelligence?
That there was a selection process over 1000 years or so.

http://homepage.mac.com/harpend/.Pub...jbiosocsci.pdf

Last edited by brazil84; 06-27-2008 at 05:21 PM..
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  #29  
Old 06-27-2008, 05:23 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brazil84
If you are seriously asking this question, I would ask you to consider the hypothesis that (generally speaking) people in sub-Saharan Africa are less intelligent than people in the rest of the world.

Most people reject this idea (at least publicly) because it's so offensive. But still, it would seem to fit the facts pretty well.
But other aspects of the situations "fit the facts" much better.

Asian colonialism resulted in established nations being conquered and then administered by foreign powers, leaving the cultures generally intact.

South American colonialism resulted in massive numbers of deaths among the local population, pretty much wiping out the original cultures that were then re-established as a new fusion of European and Indian populations relying on established cultures (at least for political and economic structures) imported from Europe.

African colonialism occurred in separate waves, with each having a dfferent effect on the region colonized. Northern Africa resembled Asian colonization. Southern African colonization resembled that in South America. Central African colonization was a separate thing altogether, where old cultures were destroyed (and rival societies arbitrarily merged), and no real new culture was permitted to develop. On top of that, millions of Africans were ripped from their homes and lives and simply shipped away.

In each case, those countries which suffered the least cultural disruption have done best, those that have had new cultures imposed on them have survived, but not easily, and those cultures that have been seriously disrupted or destroyed have suffered the worst.

Given that people who attempt to measure intelligence cannot even agree on the best way to do that (or even how best to define intelligence), it seems rather pointless to try to assign the failures of different societies to their respective (and never adequately defined or measured) intelligence when there is a pretty clear correlation between societal disruption and later success.
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  #30  
Old 06-27-2008, 05:27 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Dave
Wait, what has been hypothesized for Ashkenazi? That better nutrition has increased their intelligence? Fairly vague, I'd say.
More that constant persecution required them to stay on their toes, such that only the best and brightest survived. This then has been posited as the reason such a disproportionate number ( relative to percentage of population ) of successful people in modern, western society have been Jewish.

It's an interesting hypothesis, but one I find more than a little dubious myself. For one thing teasing out ( or even defining ) innate biological intelligence as distinct from cultural factors is so difficult as to verge on the impossible. But YMMV.

Quote:
Africa got dealt a pretty tough hand.
Yup. Geography gave sub-Saharan Africa a pretty solid kick in the nuts, even before colonial abuses added a layer of chaos.
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  #31  
Old 06-27-2008, 05:27 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeG
Don't forget almost no navigable rivers. Seems quaint but both Europe and the Eastern US have an excellent network of rivers.
The one part of Africa that does have a river, the Nile, spawned both Egyptian & Classical Sudanese civilizations.
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:21 PM
Great Dave Great Dave is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
The one part of Africa that does have a river, the Nile, spawned both Egyptian & Classical Sudanese civilizations.
I'd re-write that- drop the initial "The". There are other rivers in Africa. The Nile is the longest and most well known, of course, but there's also the Congo, the Niger, the Gambia, just off the top of my head.
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  #33  
Old 06-27-2008, 06:44 PM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Originally Posted by tomndebb
But other aspects of the situations "fit the facts" much better.

Asian colonialism resulted in established nations being conquered and then administered by foreign powers, leaving the cultures generally intact.

South American colonialism resulted in massive numbers of deaths among the local population, pretty much wiping out the original cultures that were then re-established as a new fusion of European and Indian populations relying on established cultures (at least for political and economic structures) imported from Europe.

African colonialism occurred in separate waves, with each having a dfferent effect on the region colonized. Northern Africa resembled Asian colonization. Southern African colonization resembled that in South America. Central African colonization was a separate thing altogether, where old cultures were destroyed (and rival societies arbitrarily merged), and no real new culture was permitted to develop. On top of that, millions of Africans were ripped from their homes and lives and simply shipped away.

In each case, those countries which suffered the least cultural disruption have done best, those that have had new cultures imposed on them have survived, but not easily, and those cultures that have been seriously disrupted or destroyed have suffered the worst.
How would one objectively assess the amount of cultural disruption?
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  #34  
Old 06-27-2008, 07:03 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
I'd make the comparison between Africa and South America. If less than a hundred years of colonialism ruined Africa, why didn't over three hundred years of colonialism destroy South America?
I would say because in Africa, the colonial powers failed to utterly wipe out the indiginous people and replace them with white colonists, as they did in the New World. When the whites abandoned power or were kicked out, the Africans fell on each other fighting over the ruins.
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  #35  
Old 06-27-2008, 07:05 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane
More that constant persecution required them to stay on their toes, such that only the best and brightest survived. This then has been posited as the reason such a disproportionate number ( relative to percentage of population ) of successful people in modern, western society have been Jewish.

It's an interesting hypothesis, but one I find more than a little dubious myself. For one thing teasing out ( or even defining ) innate biological intelligence as distinct from cultural factors is so difficult as to verge on the impossible. But YMMV.
The hypothesis I've seen was that it was due to their being confined to certain professions which required intelligence, rather than a general persecution of the population. Not sure I buy that hypothesis either, but that's been floating around for awhile.
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  #36  
Old 06-27-2008, 09:09 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Sure, there was the Scramble for Africa in the 1800s, but to discard everything before that is shortsighted. It had a huge influence on later African history, from the African Diaspora (starting in the 15th C) to the present day. Look at the legend of this map from 1736. Yes, most of the interior didn't get carved up until the Scramble, but there's more to colonialism than just carving up administrative districts.
It's possible to get so involved in quibbling over small details that you lose sight of the overall situation. While there was some very minor European colonialism on the fringes of Africa prior to the nineteenth century, the reality is that less than ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa was part of a European colony in 1875. And less than ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa was part of a European colony in 1975 as well.

African imperialism was a Hobbesian phenomena: nasty, brutish and short.
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Old 06-27-2008, 09:32 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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I'll never understand why people bring up the fact that Europe was backwards hundreds and hundreds of years ago in these kind of arguments. That was then, this is now. The point is that Africa is fucked up NOW. We have modern technology and medicine and communications and everything NOW, and the fact that Europe had the Dark Ages doesn't make any difference.
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  #38  
Old 06-27-2008, 09:33 PM
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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel". So I did.
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  #39  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:02 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
The hypothesis I've seen was that it was due to their being confined to certain professions which required intelligence, rather than a general persecution of the population. Not sure I buy that hypothesis either, but that's been floating around for awhile.
Yeah, but I find this one even more squirrely. My understanding is that most pre-modern Jews ( like most Europeans generally ) were simple peasants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
While there was some very minor European colonialism on the fringes of Africa prior to the nineteenth century, the reality is that less than ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa was part of a European colony in 1875.
Yes, but the European influence pre-1875 was vastly disproportionate to the actual real estate they dominated. In order to advance the argument that Europeans ( and Arabs ) had minimal impact on Africa between, say, 1500 and 1875, you have to ignore the elephant in the room - the African slave trade and its profound ( if much debated in its particulars ) demographic impact.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 06-27-2008 at 10:03 PM..
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:08 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brazil84
How would one objectively assess the amount of cultural disruption?
Well, one might look at cultural features.

Do the current inhabitants speak the same languages and practice the same religions as the inhabitants of the same regions in 1490? Are the traditions regarding marriage, inheritance, child rearing, and other familial phenomena more similar or more dissimilar to the practices in 1490? Do laws and economics follow traditions current in 1490 (with appropriate allowances for general development and evolution), or is there a hodge-podge of conflicting situations in which a legal system has one set of rules on the books while the population in its day-to-day existence carries out acts of "justice" in some different manner?

Conversely, how would one objectively assess intelligence?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers
I'll never understand why people bring up the fact that Europe was backwards hundreds and hundreds of years ago in these kind of arguments. That was then, this is now. The point is that Africa is fucked up NOW. We have modern technology and medicine and communications and everything NOW, and the fact that Europe had the Dark Ages doesn't make any difference.
The point is that every region of the world has a different history. Given that humanity (in some form) is 200,000 years old, the differences in benchmarks for technological progress (or even the progress of law, politics, and economics) that differs by a matter of a few hundred years is within a small margin of error within human history. If (for example) we pursue brazil84's suggestion of differing intelligences among populations, then a look at history seems to indicate that Europeans were dumber than Western Asians until around the fifth cunrutry, B.C.E., then Europeans got a lot smarter than the Western Asians for a while, but got stupider again around the fifth century while Western Asians began to get smart, but then Western Asians began to get stupid just about the time that Europeans began to get smarter, again. Meanwhile, China displayed fantastic intelligence right up until the time that the Brits cut the Grand Canal, then they gort stupid again until shortly after Nixon went to China.

If you don't decide to pursue intelligence as a cause, then the same exaples of superiority and inferiority still follow the same patterns in history. Pointing out that Europeans had a period in which they were every bit as backward as any other group in the world is simply a way of pointing out that any claims for innate superiority seriously stumble on the facts of history.

= = =

Similar situations can be observed in comparisons of political development between Europe and Western Asia. It may be comforting to some to believe that Europeans are in some way superior to Western Asians, inasmuch as the Europeans have (relatively) stable democracies rather than clans and tribes and strong man dictators. However, that ignores the fact that between the Magna Carta and the 2006 election, the English speaking peoples fought numous civil wars in which the results of "elections" (at one level or another) were challenged at the points of halberds and the mouths of muskets before we finally got in the habit of accepting election results without going to war to change them. (Heck, Europe had more autocracies than democracies at the time the the Nazis took power in Germany and many of the elections that followed the political reorganization following 1918 were swept away in civil wars.) Societies that have not yet gone through the same labor pains have not yet given birth to democratic traditions. This does not mean that they are innately inferior, only that they are on a different milestone on the route from autocracy to democracy.
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  #41  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:36 PM
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Excellent post, tomndebb.
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  #42  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:40 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Throughout most of history, communication was very slow, and ideas spread as slow as pine sap in the winter. It makes sense that across the world, one culture might be quite advanced and another very primitive. But nowadays there's an unprecedented level of communication. Ideas travel in mere seconds nowadays. Like ideas about HIV and how to spread it, for instance (hint - fucking a virgin isn't the solution.) It seems like Africa logically should not be so far beneath the standards of the West, with modern communications technology.
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:05 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers
Throughout most of history, communication was very slow, and ideas spread as slow as pine sap in the winter. It makes sense that across the world, one culture might be quite advanced and another very primitive. But nowadays there's an unprecedented level of communication. Ideas travel in mere seconds nowadays. Like ideas about HIV and how to spread it, for instance (hint - fucking a virgin isn't the solution.) It seems like Africa logically should not be so far beneath the standards of the West, with modern communications technology.
Define "Africa" in your context. Do you really think that there are thousands of African university graduates who engage in virgin rape to avoid AIDS? Do you really think thart selecting the worst examples of the least educated portion of the population addresses your issue? Do you really believe that the majority of Africans outside the cities watch CNN or read the Wall Street Journal? Take a look at where most African nations fall on this list of TVs per capita by country. The fact that there may be good communications and education in Johannesburg or Nairobi or Cairo says nothing about the general level of information available to the typical person in a country.
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  #44  
Old 06-28-2008, 02:12 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vison
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel". So I did.
Sorry - I didn't think it needed mentioning, but obviously all the bit about geography in my first post was after Diamond.
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  #45  
Old 06-28-2008, 03:40 AM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomndebb
Well, one might look at cultural features.

Do the current inhabitants speak the same languages and practice the same religions as the inhabitants of the same regions in 1490? Are the traditions regarding marriage, inheritance, child rearing, and other familial phenomena more similar or more dissimilar to the practices in 1490? Do laws and economics follow traditions current in 1490
Would you agree that by this standard, places like the Philippines, India, and Algeria have suffered huge amounts of "cultural disruption"?

Last edited by brazil84; 06-28-2008 at 03:41 AM..
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  #46  
Old 06-28-2008, 04:03 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Originally Posted by brazil84
Would you agree that by this standard, places like the Philippines, India, and Algeria have suffered huge amounts of "cultural disruption"?
Philipines and Algeria, sure, but I'm not seeing it with India, I must admit.
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  #47  
Old 06-28-2008, 05:29 AM
Grey area Grey area is offline
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Let me give this is a shot.
Sub-Saharan Africa generally lacks the flora and fauna that is conducive to building civilization (grains and beasts and burdens that can be domesticated with ease), more or less explaining their relative lack of technological development. Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel does a great job of explaining this in a logical, well-researched fashion.
So contact with the expansionist Europeans led to colonization and afterwards when the Europeans left, they kind of sliced up Africa in a careless, haphazard way, without too much consideration for tribal antagonism that is still strong today. So what we are left with is a set of nations without any sense of nationhood, with tribal affiliations that are much stronger than any feeling of national pride. So when a leader from one tribe strong-arms his way into power, he of course oppresses members of the rival tribe, attempt genocide, etc etc. Then of course those that are most needed to develop these countries (the wealthy and educated) leave as soon as they can because they also lacking any sense of nationhood. And seeing the state of that region, who can blame them?
Also, the developed world is wary of investing in those unstable markets (and foreign investment is a must for development of these sorts of nations), though resource hungry China seems to be up for the challenge these days.

This how I've come to understand it in extremely simplistic and possibly inaccurate terms.
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  #48  
Old 06-28-2008, 08:11 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Dave
I'd re-write that- drop the initial "The". There are other rivers in Africa. The Nile is the longest and most well known, of course, but there's also the Congo, the Niger, the Gambia, just off the top of my head.
I should add "navigable".

By more than dugouts.
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Old 06-28-2008, 08:34 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Yes, but the European influence pre-1875 was vastly disproportionate to the actual real estate they dominated. In order to advance the argument that Europeans ( and Arabs ) had minimal impact on Africa between, say, 1500 and 1875, you have to ignore the elephant in the room - the African slave trade and its profound ( if much debated in its particulars ) demographic impact.
If I'm understanding your post correctly, you're saying that the difference between African and other post-colonial countries today is due to the effect of slave trading from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. You are correct that this was a factor that was mostly unique to Africa but I'd like to hear more about how its effect is still present in Africa today.
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  #50  
Old 06-28-2008, 09:13 AM
brazil84 brazil84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grey area
Let me give this is a shot.
Sub-Saharan Africa generally lacks the flora and fauna that is conducive to building civilization (grains and beasts and burdens that can be domesticated with ease),
You might want to check out this thread:

Why couldn't humans tame zebras?
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