Re: poly: Stress-induced cultural dysfunction (was Angola)

From: Carl Feynman <>
Date: Tue Apr 07 1998 - 07:49:08 PDT

This message will contain first, a calm scientific query, then a rant.

At 12:30 AM 4/7/98 -0700, James Rogers wrote:
>After looking into the feasibility of investing in Angola (I too am
>Angola seems to be suffering from the cultural equivalent of Post Traumatic
>Stress Syndrome. 20+ years of internal strife and bloodshed seems to have
>created a plastic (vs. elastic) deformation of the memes that make up the
>culture and values of the local population.

You haven't really described the symptoms of your postulated 'cultural
dysfunction', except to say that a high murder rate is part of it. And the
cause of it is apparently also a high murder rate (whether politically
organized or not). Saying that a high murder rate for twenty years
produces a high murder rate in the next twenty-year period is not a very
exciting statement. One could explain it by methods that did not involve
postulating a new theoretical entity. For example, it might be caused by
economic and legal conditions that increase the rewards for murder. Do you
mean to claim more than that murder causes murder? I think you do, but
it's not clear to me what... Perhaps you could give some other symptoms of
'cultural dysfunction'?

> Or for that matter has there
>ever been a case of severe stress-induced cultural dysfunction that
>reverted to its pre-stress state?

 I know a lot of history, and I'd be happy to come up with examples either
for or against, if I knew more exactly what it was you were claiming.

Begin rant:

>I question whether it is possible for the current culture of the
>Angola population to be modified in any reasonable length of time without
>the severe application of outside intervention at one level or another.

> ... any
>"treatment" for the change will never reverse the damage, only "fix" it.

>A question is: Should we preserve/ignore the culture in its dysfunctional

>state, or apply the necessary changes to make it function though
>fundamentally different from the original?

Yeah, sure, they're just a bunch of ignorant negroes with damaged thinking.
 Let's get some right-thinking people who went to college in there, and
change their hearts and minds. And if they don't want to change? Well,
the 'severe application of outside intervention' always goes better with
plenty of barbed wire and helicopter gunships. After all, it's all
justified by our theory.

Hmm... 'damaged thinking'... 'stress-induced cultural dysfunction'...
'treatment'... sure sounds medical. And if the problem is medical, then
it's OK to apply life-threatening means to save the patient. Just like the
life-threatening means that were applied to the problem of 'non-aryan
genetics', or 'counter-revolutionary personality disorder'. And since the
patient is, in this case, a whole society, and it is sometimes necessary to
cut out a tumor to save the patient, why, we just might have to sacrifice a
few people to progress.

End rant.

The century presently drawing to its close is full of people who thought
that other people had problems that justified 'severe intervention'. After
the disastrous history of such intervention against the Boers, Armenians,
Kulaks, Jews, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and educated Chinese, I am amazed
that you would propose that any theory justifes violent intervention
someplace far away. Theory is not yet reliable enough to justify mass

Received on Tue Apr 7 14:55:23 1998

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