It’s culcha, stoopid

Tim Newman hosted an interesting debate over at his place this week on the neo-colonialism of Africa by China.

To summarise; some African states are preferencing Chinese investment over Western countries because they believe, rightly or wrongly – time will tell, that the conditions and requirements that accompany the cash are less onerous. No hectoring about legislating for same sex marriage before a couple of billion dollars of humanitarian aid is released into the president’s Swiss bank account, that kind of thing.

This piqued my interest and I felt it deserved being exposed to a smaller audience (still trying to find a font for sarcasm, by the way).

Colonialism has a bad reputation these days, hence why the description above of the Chinese indulging in neo-colonialism would probably grate if read by anyone in Beijing.

The pros and cons of the era of colonialization are often debated and we could spend a long time discussing the multiple motivations of each country during their various land grabs into Africa, Asia and South America. Geo-political power and financial theft were clearly the defining factors in most “adventures” into the dark interiors of these continents but there were also many individuals motivated by altruism and a higher moral purpose.

We can cynically dismiss these as fools or worse but there’s enough evidence to show they truly believed what they were doing was moral. If you find yourself challenging that statement, perhaps have a thought experiment and switch the Christian missionaries for Wahhabi-inspired jihadis – both were/are motivated by a certainty of moral purpose.

But, whether we feel that the moral standards or geo-political decisions by people a hundred or more years ago are still compatible or comparable in any way with today is not particularly interesting.

To clarify; what’s the damn point of criticising the King of Belgium for taking the Congo in 1886? He did it because all the major powers around him in Europe had done it elsewhere and he felt left out. Belgium’s little personal ego trip was simply a tragic and farcical conclusion of similar decisions made for mildly different reasons in the centuries before. The British got India because they didn’t want the French, Portuguese, Russians, et al to get it, for example. Very different times, very different situations.

Whatevers, as the kids say.

No, what’s really curious is to examine how the experiments have turned out post-independence and hypothesise about the results.

My original thought on how to tackle this was to search for a ranking of countries by a measure of something like “safety”, then look down the list for ex-colonial states and see how they compare, perhaps examining if there were unique or common aspects that might explain differences.

The first search brought up this, the Global Peace Index from the Institute for Economics and Peace. Looks credible.

Hang on, France (61) is lower than Sierra Leone (35)? The USA (121) is only one point above Myanmar (122) and 3 points above the Democratic (ahem) Republic of Congo (126)?

Oh do fuck off. Let’s have a check of our old friend the test of expressed versus revealed preferences… where exactly in the Democratic Republic of Congo are your offices, you people working for Institute of Economics and Peace?

I bet the poor workers in the Mexico office are spitting tacks they didn’t get the New York job.

Well this explains a lot;

It is a United Nations accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Ok, let’s find another survey then, one with slightly more credibility than a Caitlyn Jenner Instagram post of a positive pregnancy test.

Here’s the WEF with their list claiming Rwanda is 9th whilst the UK is 78th. Look, we all know Britain has been on the slide for some time now but is it really that far below Rwanda in terms of safety (excluding Tower Hamlets, obviously)?

Christ on a bike, this is turning into a struggle. If you didn’t previously realise that UN-funded organisations are highly-politically motivated, perhaps today is the day your moment of satori arrives.

This list is curious though, the list of countries ranked by migration rate (you may need to click the button to sort in descending order).

Turkey has the 2nd largest intake of immigrants after the USA? Hmm, curious. Just an uninformed guess here, but I wonder if that’s something to do with Syria?

Here’s another curious list and one more relevant to the original question; countries people WANT to move from and to.

Vilfredo Pareto being a hero round these parts, we’ve made some pretty charts for your edification;

The chart above somewhat contradicts the taxpayer-funded studies of the WEF and IEP. In fact, with almost two thirds of the population of “peaceful” Sierra Leone wishing to get the hell out of Dodge, it’s almost as if the respondents to the Gallup poll are trolling our lefty tax breastfeeders.

This chart also shouldn’t surprise anyone in the least either. When we get to South Africa (1% of potential migrants want to move there) we perhaps ought to bear in mind that, if you’re in the half of the Nigerian population who want to leave, South Africa is actually a more realistic prospect than the USA.

Also, the statistical margin of error of this survey is plus/minus ~1%, so there’s that.

Bill’s Opinion

Hats off to Western European post-Enlightenment culture; it’s the most popular in the world and the most successful at providing a safe and stable environment for common people (i.e. those who don’t have privileged careers working for UN quangos in New York) to just get on with their lives.

Liberia’s constitution was written as an almost cut and paste from the American one.

Draw your own conclusion as to why half of Liberia’s population want to move, and most likely want to move to the USA.

My opinion is that the culture of the USA is universally-accepted to be hugely more preferable than that of any of the countries listed on the first chart, nearly all of whom have been independent nations without colonial masters for 70+ years.

2 Replies to “It’s culcha, stoopid”

  1. Many of these African countries are tiny EUs where bureaucrats sit in far flung capitals making stupid laws and funnelling state funds to nicer places.

    While I agree with the premise that there’s a cultural reason why Africans are the way they are. Maybe allowing these countries to dissolve into little fiefdoms may help. Nigeria is as big as France and Germany put together but for some reason received lots of British help to remain a massive bureaucracy that benefits no one (Nigerians nor Europeans who have to deal with unruly immigrants)

    1. I’ll defer to Tim Newman on this but my suspicion is that splitting Nigeria into smaller independent states is likely to result in smaller but frequent brutal conflicts.

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