The West Sits Crippled By Doubt & Guilt.

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Wed May 13 09:35:07 MDT 2009

[Western culture and civilization is killing itself by trying to rid itself 
of carbon-based fuels, when alternatives just haven't been perfected. - JAQ:]

Death of a Civilization

by <mailto:ddeming at>David Deming
by David Deming


Save a link to this article and return to it at
Save a link to this article and return to it at
Email a link to this article
Email a link to this article
Printer-friendly version of this article
Printer-friendly version of this article
View a list of the most popular articles on our site
View a list of the most popular articles on our site

Over the past several years we have learned that small groups of people can 
engage in mass suicide. In 1978, 918 members of the Peoples' Temple led by 
Jim Jones perished after drinking poisoned koolaid. In 1997, 39 members of 
the Heaven's Gate cult died after drugging themselves and tieing plastic 
bags around their heads. Unfortunately, history also demonstrates that it 
is possible for an entire civilization to commit suicide by intentionally 
destroying the means of its subsistence.

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. 
The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at 
the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and 
their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of 
westernizing the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and 
their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of 
being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa 
developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a 
prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice 
telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating 
their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice 
insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and 
every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were 
accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life 
would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. 
The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food 
and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the 
earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be 
restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the 
establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, 
the uncle was skeptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his 
niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard 
nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her 
dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the 
chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, 
Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle 
and, in a symbolic act, killed his favorite ox. As the hysteria widened, 
other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead 
arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even 
floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to 
support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken 
out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so 
quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely 
devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa 
slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built 
new, larger kraals to hold the marvelous new beasts that they anticipated 
would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of 
June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing 
movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again 
the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which 
its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the 
prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been 
completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of 
milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, 
there was a minority community of skeptical non-believers who refused to 
kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into 
the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 
1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields 
and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from 
trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfillment of the 
prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

The resurrection was rescheduled yet again for February 16, 1857, but the 
believers were again disappointed. Even this late, the average believer 
still had three or four head of livestock alive. The repeated failure of 
the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfill the 
necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they 
finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were 
slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. Any viable means of sustenance 
had to be destroyed. Any cattle that might have escaped earlier killing 
were now slaughtered for food.

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. The 
starving population broke into stables and ate horse food. They gathered 
bones that had lay bleaching in the sun for years and tried to make soup. 
They ate grass. Maddened by hunger, some resorted to cannibalism. Weakened 
by starvation, family members often had to lay and watch dogs devour the 
corpses of their spouses and children. Those who did not die directly from 
hunger fell prey to disease. To the end, true believers never renounced 
their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the 
prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 
26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest 
migrated. With Xhosa civilization destroyed, the land was cleared for white 
settlement. The British found that those Xhosa who survived proved to be 
docile and useful servants. What the British Empire had been unable to 
accomplish in more than fifty years of aggressive colonialism, the Xhosa 
did to themselves in less than two years.

Western civilization now stands on the brink of repeating the experience of 
the Xhosa. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late 
eighteenth century, Europe and North America have enjoyed the greatest 
prosperity ever known on earth. Life expectancy has doubled. In a little 
more than two hundred years, every objective measure of human welfare has 
increased more than in all of previous human history.

But Western Civilization is coasting on an impetus provided by our 
ancestors. There is scarcely anyone alive in Europe or America today who 
believes in the superiority of Western society. Guilt and shame hang around 
our necks like millstones, dragging our emasculated culture to the verge of 
self-immolation. Whatever faults the British Empire-builders may have had, 
they were certain of themselves.

Our forefathers built a technological civilization based on energy provided 
by carbon-based fossil fuels. Without the inexpensive and reliable energy 
provided by coal, oil, and gas, our civilization would quickly collapse. 
The prophets of global warming now want us to do precisely that.

Like the prophet Mhlakaza, Al Gore promises that if we stop using 
carbon-based energy, new energy technologies will magically appear. The 
laws of physics and chemistry will be repealed by political will power. We 
will achieve prosperity by destroying the very means by which prosperity is 

While Western Civilization sits confused, crippled with self-doubt and 
guilt, the Chinese are rapidly building an energy-intensive technological 
civilization. They have 2,000 coal-fired power plants, and are currently 
constructing new ones at the rate of one a week. In China, more people 
believe in free-market economics than in the US. Our Asian friends are 
about to be nominated by history as the new torchbearers of human progress.

May 13, 2009

David Deming [<mailto:ddeming at>send him mail] is associate professor 
of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in 
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: lg-share-en1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 605 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-s-icon-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 314 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-s-text-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 133 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-e-icon-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 295 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-e-text-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 141 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-p-icon-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 302 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-p-text-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 135 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-mp-icon-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 297 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: h-mp-text-l1.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 174 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : 

More information about the Rushtalk mailing list