Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sustainable African Development: And Swift's Modest Proposal

If you think that Western civilization's — ah, concern — about people who aren't quite like Europe's or America's dominant ethnic group is something new, think again.

Although it was written more than 280 years ago, this discussion of rampant overpopulation and sustainability is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Just cross out "Irish," add your favorite part of Africa, and change a few of the culturally-specific examples.
"A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift"

"A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick.

"by Dr. Jonathan Swift. 1729...."
I strongly recommend reading — or re-reading — the entire essay on Not before a meal, though. Dr. Jonathan Swift's argument actually makes sense, in a "Soylent Green" sort of way.1

What's 18th century Ireland Got to do With 21st Century Africa?

Ireland in the 18th century was not doing all that well, economically: the Irish tended to think it was the fault of the English — and I've gathered that the English tended to think it was the natural result of Irish indolence and moral failings.

Sound familiar yet?

Africa in the 21st century — so far — isn't exactly the economic powerhouse of the planet. But there are what I see as hopeful signs. Consider Kenya's entertainment industry, for example. Piracy's an issue, but so is the potential. I'm inclined to think that piracy — which is hurting Kenyan entrepreneurs and performers — is in part a reflection of just how successful Kenyan music and film making enterprises are.

Solve the piracy issue and — well that's another topic.

I've seen thematic maps of Africa: the continent is almost incredibly rich in natural resources. And, today, has enough people to build thriving economies.

So, am I the only one who thinks it's odd that the more 'intelligent' European and Euro-American proposals to 'help' Africa involve reducing the number of Africans? To 'sustainable' levels?

Bon app├ętit!

1 I'm on the same page with the folks who think that Swift's essay was a satiric treatment of the Anglo-Irish situation in his day: not a serious proposal for a solution to the 'Irish problem.'

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.