Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Insane Nations

After reading Kaplan I had described in a comment thread that starting from the northern and southern tips of Italy and Sicily and moving east, one encountered nothing but nations that were frequently, or even continuously insane in their hatreds and violence. I kept moving east and found I could go all the way to the Pacific. I was doing this in my head, however, so I took out a world map to see exactly what parallels these were, and if I should modify them upward or downward to get the highest concentration.

I had not forgotten that in the other direction, Italy and Spain had also been insane within the last century. But looking at the map, forcing the lines upward and downward (I have to include Ukraine...and Libya...and Syria...), I found there was no limit. It is not merely that every tribe on the globe has at one time or another exploded into widespread torture and genocide, but that so many tribes never stop. Only under tyranny do they cease, and they reemerge from the breakup of empires seemingly unchanged. Central European countries go on for decades in relative calm, then explode into ethnic cleansing. And that is far better than most other places do.

The American and Canadian genocides were mostly unintentional by disease, punctuated by the occasional insanity of wiping out whole tribes in warfare. Oppression, sometimes orderly, sometimes haphazard, interwoven with fits of righteous anger on behalf of the oppressed, has been more our style. It is a sorry record. And yet it is unmatched. The Scandinavians might claim a better grade, but with their homogeneous populations they aren't taking as rigorous a course-load as we are. The British colonies - Australia, New Zealand, a few islands - and GB itself are comparable to North America. Everyone else is insane. I should say more insane. Peaceful Belgium and France and Netherlands - say "Congo" and "Algeria" and "South Africa." Latin America, with its continuous but low-level violence is actually well-behaved by world standards.


Anna said...

Sorry for spacing - who was Kaplan again and what book did you just read?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Two: Balkan Ghosts and Eastward to Tartary. I liked 'em both, though reading so much straight through I saw limitations to his approach I might not have noticed. I had several long quotes from the latter book if you want to use the search feature at the top and refresh your memory.

Anna said...

Oh yes I remember now.