poly: Stress-induced cultural dysfunction (was Angola)

From: d.brin <brin@cts.com>
Date: Wed Apr 08 1998 - 14:21:11 PDT

Carl and James were talking at odds in discussing whether a culture can be
looked a from the outside and labelled disfunctional, and if so whether
that might justify outside intervention. One can come up with anecdotes
supporting both points of view -- some in which such intervention was
beneficial: e.g. imposing outside will upon Nazi Germany, or recent UN work
in Cambodia, or nationbuilding in Ethiopia & Eritrea, possibly Haiti... but
there are even more examples of horror stories: e.g. King Leopold's
holocaust in the Congo, in which terrible crimes were perpetrated
supposedly for the natives' 'own good.'

The same quandaries can be seen in families today. When are parents
justified intervening if a child is caught up in drugs or a cult, and when
is it obnoxious meddling?

No question that Uganda would've been happier if someone had gone in and
taken out Idi Amin. But is that also the start of a brutal path of
rationalized paternalism?

In many cases, such as Nazi Germany, early intervention might have been in
the best interest of outsiders, as well as those within.

In re: wounded cultures OR wounded teens, the hallmark of decent
intervention must be this question... is it aimed utterly toward assisting
the helped-one to achieve a level of calm deliberation, using all available
knowledge and skills to evaluate the situation on their own? Will it
result in them standing up and taking over as soon as possible?

If that's the case, even if they then turn around and say to their
benefactors, 'Fuck you very much,' instead of 'thank you,' something
worthwhile may have been achieved. In any event, the helper must not
expect to profit from the venture, and above all not feel offended if he's
not thanked.
Received on Wed Apr 8 21:18:04 1998

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