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    The pagan beliefs of many tribes is a key factor in their constant warring with each other, and still is. I didn’t say Christianity solved all their problems, I am saying it was more of a stabilising provenance than hugely diverse pagan beliefs that caused even more friction between tiny tribes.

    The intertribal racism and bigotry that stems from such diverse pagan religions may technically be cultural heritage, but it’s not exactly a catalyst for development or stability. If Africa is ever going to sort out its economies, tribal head-hunters and herders with pagan believes need to go.


    Banning slavery not an achievement? I think it is. You're judging our imperial past with retrospective opinions. It wasn’t an achievement by today’s opinions, since we had already stolen millions of them, but since many of the countries in Europe, South America and Arabia still believed in making money from the slave trade at the time, our nation's belief that it was morally wrong was pioneering. Our willingness to police the ban with the navy was of great expense, as was compensating many nations for their losses. Yet the empire still gets berated for raping this countries of their populations, if we didn’t stop it, and make everyone else stop shortly afterward, far worse would have happened.

    I keep on getting jib for Germany not being a valid form of comparison; explain to me exactly why, in the circumstances I mentioned, Germany is so different that it can’t be used as a comparison. It was occupied, suffered a massive population discrepancy, had much of its resources taken from it, and had foisted upon it by the allies a form of government they weren’t used to. Sounds a fair bit like what the British did to the colonies according to you guys.

    If somebody gives me a detailed analysis discounting every comparison I make, I will graciously admit defeat and shut up. Just saying ‘they’re different, you can’t compare them’ isn’t a response. I've posted this Soc. in a University sub forum; there will therefore be people with much more knowledge that me on this subject. If someone does come along with superior knowledge and discounts properly what I say, I'll happily just be quiet. Until someone does give me a proper rebuttal to my statements however, I won’t accept 'they're like apples and oranges' as a proper negation.

    Additionally, I'm not saying they're exactly the same. I was simply using Germany as an example to show what is achievable with good government. Germany has gone through more turmoil in a century that almost any other nation on the planet, yet it sorted itself out. I'm simply arguing that no matter what state your left in, you can sort yourself out in a short period of time. So saying sustained turmoil in Africa is largely down to us it garbage.

    Stop drawing assumptions from things I say. At what point did I say Christianity solved everything, I simply said we brought it to these countries, and implied it was better than the pagan religions they had beforehand.

    Your attacking me on insignificant, isolated points is getting away from the boarder argument. Although we did damage these countries, we also gave them a lot. And although we left them in a bad state, any nation that can get its act together can sort itself out quickly, especially in such resource rich countries as Nigeria and Zimbabwe. You can’t blame the sustained chaos in Africa on our imperial presence there, which left half a century ago.
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    "I keep on getting jib for Germany not being a valid form of comparison; explain to me exactly why, in the circumstances I mentioned, Germany is so different that it can’t be used as a comparison. It was occupied, suffered a massive population discrepancy, had much of its resources taken from it, and had foisted upon it by the allies a form of government they weren’t used to. Sounds a fair bit like what the British did to the colonies according to you guys."

    Although the two's situations are ostensibly similar, the point you make is sophistic in the respect that it ignores other prevailing factors. Yes, Germany was "occupied, suffered a massive population discrepancy [whatever that is!], had much of its resources taken from it, and had foisted upon it by the allies a form of government they weren’t used to", but compared to Africa it was very different. Before WW1, Germany was fast emerging as one of the most powerful countries on the planet, accruing a colossal industrial might. It was one of Britain's foremost trading partners (one of the reasons Lloyd George didn't want Versailles to cripple her totally) and was a civilised country, at the epicentre of pioneering scientific and industrial research. This is obviously nothing like Africa, whose economy - which we supposedly helped with - was largely designed for the exportation of raw materials to the West.

    I must concede that Germany did have natural resources taken from it, but it was by no means devoid of any after Versailles, and many industrial areas taken were due to be returned after successful plebiscites a decade or so later. As for Germany having 'foisted upon it by the allies a form of government they weren’t used to', I must strongly disagree. Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated, leaving few other options open other than democracy - and, more to the point, what's so bad about that? You yourself in another post positively extolled the virtues of that system. I quote: "Additionally, it didn’t take a dictatorship to get Germany back on its feat after WW1; it took a republic – the Wiemar Republic. People like Stresemann rebuilt an economy under some of the harshest economic circumstances ever experienced by a country. The government not only had to face up to the demands form external powers, but also hostility from a nation that had never experienced democracy, a military that wanted a Kaiser, and communists trying to cause revolutions. Despite all this, Germany is sorted itself out..."

    "If somebody gives me a detailed analysis discounting every comparison I make, I will graciously admit defeat and shut up. Just saying ‘they’re different, you can’t compare them’ isn’t a response. I've posted this Soc. in a University sub forum; there will therefore be people with much more knowledge that me on this subject. If someone does come along with superior knowledge and discounts properly what I say, I'll happily just be quiet. Until someone does give me a proper rebuttal to my statements however, I won’t accept 'they're like apples and oranges' as a proper negation."

    This is just meant to be a fun discussion isn't it, not some high-level polemical debate? Of course you don't have to change your mind; we're just throw ideas around.

    "Additionally, I'm not saying they're exactly the same. I was simply using Germany as an example to show what is achievable with good government. Germany has gone through more turmoil in a century that almost any other nation on the planet, yet it sorted itself out. I'm simply arguing that no matter what state your left in, you can sort yourself out in a short period of time. So saying sustained turmoil in Africa is largely down to us it garbage."

    Germany's famous Chancellor Bismark, whom you complemented in another post, would be the first to admit that he was just riding on the other impersonal forces in history - i.e. his success wasn't simply because he was an outstanding leader. He said himself: 'Man cannot create the current of events. He can only float with it and steer.' (Taken from Big Questions in History, p.38 :p: ) So, by saying ' [African] governments just need to sort themselves out', you're really asking them to swim against the tide! So much is stacked against them, what with ethnic violence, AIDS, famine, a hostile climate, the bias of the global trade system and numerous corrupt politicians, it's insane! Finally, adducing mineral rich countries as examples of governments not properly harnessing their latent wealth is misleading; such cases are atypical of the continent as a whole.
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    Consie:

    I certainly haven’t neg repped you, I think I have made my opinion clear enough in my posts. BUT if I were to hazard a guess as to why you have been, I’d say it’s probably because your arguments do suggest a particularly insidious kind of racism, the kind that genuinely doesn’t even realise it is racist because it thinks it only deals with facts, based on evidence, and how can facts be racist? Or maybe it’s just because your argument is teleological and therefore deeply flawed – it pretty much runs like this: ‘Africa has many failed states because Africans, for whatever reason, cannot run their countries properly. How do I know that Africans cannot run their countries properly? Why, because there are so many failed states there’.

    As for the German comparison, the ‘apples and oranges’ analogy is pretty fair. I’m guessing from what you’ve written that you know a lot more about German history than African. Fair enough, it’s probably the opposite for me. I don’t want to sound patronising, but I can’t be bothered going to the library and digging up statistical proof that this is simply not a valid comparison, so you’re going to have to either believe the three separate people who have told you it’s not or go and look it up yourself.

    How much aid have we given them since independence? How many debts have we written off?

    The so-called ‘aid’ we give to Africa is largely useless, and symptomatic of a wider Western supposition that problems can be solved by throwing money at them. And writing off debts….yes, it helps, but frankly it’s like saying you saved someone’s life by stopping beating them to death.

    The attitudes of other countries are relevant. People are making directed attacks on the character of Britain, and its attitudes to other nations, as though we are wholly to blame. We need to remember this attitude was widespread at the time.

    Well, you did invite people to discuss the British empire and whether or not it was a good thing…. so no, they are not relevant to this discussion.

    Your attacking me on insignificant, isolated points is getting away from the boarder argument. Although we did damage these countries, we also gave them a lot. And although we left them in a bad state, any nation that can get its act together can sort itself out quickly, especially in such resource rich countries as Nigeria and Zimbabwe. You can’t blame the sustained chaos in Africa on our imperial presence there, which left half a century ago.

    The topic is really too big for broad arguments unfortunately. There is no way to say whether something so large was ‘generally good’ or ‘generally bad’, like ten schools and a church over here makes up for a thousand dead over there. Sometimes chipping away at something a little bit at a time is the best approach. I can’t help thinking it’s funny that having previously criticised Niall Ferguson for being too mainstream, you have managed to reproduce not only his conclusions but his analytical style as well!
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    To Jerby:

    By a massive population discrepancy I mean the amount of people who died from food shortages and battle left Germany void of millions of young men; a valuable economic resource had been lost. I used this point because one of the arguments used for Africa being in the mess it’s in is due to our steeling large portions of their countries’ populations through slavery. I was also just highlighting it as another difficulty that was overcome.

    In my use of Germany’s pre war economy I was referring to its pre-unification economy form, when it was still largely backward and agrarian. I was comparing this underdeveloped economy to African ones at the moment, and saying that all that is needed is an individual with some political skill and a willing public to turn an economy around very quickly. Africa’s economies were still very under-developed when we left but they could have developed them quickly if they could avoid political infighting.

    Someone criticised my saying we brought Africans civilised government. They said we created more problems by forcing upon them a government they had no experience with. I was again comparing that Germany too had a form of government foised upon it by the allies, who didn’t want another dictatorship. The German people had no experience of democracy; they wanted another authoritarian leader, as did the army. This did cause massive unrest in the population, but the steadfastness and acumen of the government overcame these. I was therefore arguing that our forcing upon Africans a government they aren’t familiar with isn’t a valid reason for the turmoil they’re in toady, as the same happened to the Germans, yet they sorted it out very quickly. I wasn’t trying to say democracy was bad in an ideological sense, if that’s what you’re getting at.

    It is just a casual debate, but one of the other posters was getting hostile and cocky, and I wasn’t prepared to be put down by his poor comebacks.

    This argument about Bismarck believing he had no real control over events is almost as polemical as the one we’re having now! I can’t be bothered outlining all the arguments and evidencing them, but my opinion is that Bismarck did have a grand plan; you can’t turn a country around that quickly simply by riding events. Nor can you control foreign policy with such skill simply by riding events.

    Yes Africa has a lot against it, but the basis of my argument is that many other countries (I used Germany as an example) have faced equally hard problems and overcame them with great success. Some of the problems facing Africa you also outlined are often attributed to our Imperial footprint. A sub-argument of mine was that major factors such as corrupt politicians have nothing to do with our imperial heritage.

    Additionally, Africa is actually quite an abundant continent disregarding the Sahara desert (which is sparsely populated anyway). The middle of it goes right through the equator. If you look at satellite images, most of it is the same colour green as northern Europe. I’m over-simplifying, but you get what I’m saying, the resources aren’t that restricted. Also, I should clarify that I’m talking specifically about the problems facing African nations that Britain once ruled. Every country Britain ruled in Africa had, and still has, an abundance of resources.



    Gwai:

    I actually got neg repped for my post talking about Naill Ferguson and Oxford interviews. The comment was it was pointless to the argument. It was superfluous, but a trivial reason, and also increases the irony you discovered! My other neg rep was for saying Kitchener’s concentration camps have been the most effective way of dealing with a guerrilla enemy to date. This statement’s implications are obviously nasty, but I did clearly say I was making no comment on them having virtues and I said they were immoral, I was simply stating a fact that they are the most effective way of dealing with a guerrilla enemy. I wasn’t making any references to the methods it used. I did imply however that compared to today’s methods of supposed ‘precision’ bombing, Guantanamo bay and secret CIA jails, were concentration camps really that much more immoral that how we treat a guerrilla enemy today, if they’re not, how can we call them immoral if we haven’t improved upon this supposedly immorality? NOTE: I am not trying to justify concentration camps.


    I disagree with this aid argument, with it being ‘useless’ and ‘symptomatic of a wider Western supposition that problems can be solved by throwing money at them’. Why is the blame on us again? Aid works if the governments you give it to aren’t corrupt and actually use it for its purpose. You’re overcomplicating the issue. If we give them aid, and they use it properly, the problems will be healed in some ways. They aren’t though; the governments are so corrupt the aid that is given is put into the back pockets of officials. You can say the west isn’t doing enough to stop this corruption, but what do you want us to do? Act like a colonial power again and have a physical presence in these countries making sure corruption isn’t taking place? As for the international trade system being skewed against them, what do you want us to do? Totally revamp the international economy to the detriment of the hundreds of nations that benefits from using it just so corrupt African countries get it easier?

    Yes, I invited the discussion of the British Empire, so arguments that apply solely to the British Empire would therefore be ok. However, using the argument that we were morally despicable in indulging in the slave trade, and implying Britain was the only nation to do this, isn’t arguing solely against the British Empire. It is therefore justifiable to say that our slaving past wasn’t singularly down to our unique mentality, but down to a pervasive colonial mentality at the time.

    Isn’t one of the key skills examined in history exams the ability to look at details from isolated incidents, and use this analysis in a broad argument that balances pros and cons? If historians spent all there time studying microcosms of history and not trying to draw conclusions from the bigger picture, it would lose a lot of its purpose. (Potential spark for another debate?)

    You’re right, I have an A level standard grasp on German history from just before unification, but I’ve only began studying British imperial history recently, and in my own time. I do therefore have limitations in my knowledge when arguing against someone who has studying Imperial history at A level. You could argue I shouldn’t start a debate on the side of something I don’t know everything about, but I figured arguing my case and seeing the counter arguments used would be the best way to increase my understanding of imperial history. I guess you guys have done me a favour. That I only have really in depth knowledge of German history and early 20th century British domestic history means I’m limited in stuff I can use to backup my arguments with. So although Germany may not be the best comparative example to illustrate my argument, it’s all I can go off.
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    By a massive population discrepancy I mean the amount of people who died from food shortages and battle left Germany void of millions of young men; a valuable economic resource had been lost. I used this point because one of the arguments used for Africa being in the mess it’s in is due to our steeling large portions of their countries’ populations through slavery. I was also just highlighting it as another difficulty that was overcome.

    Thanks for explaining the phrase; I've learnt something in the History Soc. already! :p:

    NOTE: I am not trying to justify concentration camps.

    Sorry to say this, but you sound an apologist for them!

    It is just a casual debate, but one of the other posters was getting hostile and cocky, and I wasn’t prepared to be put down by his poor comebacks.

    Yeah, let's relax a bit and cool the hostility. Why don't we discuss what uni courses we're apply to (some of us seem at that stage) and what periods of history we've an interest in? Sounds sappy, but I'd find it fun, especially as my mates would probably die of boredom if I told them (they're not philistines , it's just we all have different interests).

    If the debate so far has made me feel anything, it's that I want to get to uni and learn modern history in detail!
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    Hmm, well I didn't do history at A-level...in fact I didn't do any A-levels!

    What I said about aid was an off the cuff remark, what I really meant was that 'aid' as understood today is a very different proposition to the likes of the Marshall aid in scale, purpose and the context in which it is used. The classic example is of money being given for some prestige project, a hydro-electric dam say, on the understanding that the job is given to western contractors, when in fact a few roads and wells would have had a more direct impact on peoples lives. Or, as with, writing off debt, it might be tied to some spurious, western-orientated 'progress indicators'. 'Democracy' or 'gender rights' and the like. This kind of thing really does happen. In Afghanistan at the moment, for example, you have a situation where spending includes raising awareness of women's rights, while people have no electricity and cannot afford to eat. Obviously there is corruption, and obviously aid also achieves a lot of good (I may have been getting carried away when I called it useless....) but my point is that 'aid' is not some kind of magical elixir - and a lot of people have trouble understanding that. 'How can Africa still be a mess? We are giving them aid! They must be wasting it, because aid is the cure for all ills'. I'm being facetious, but it's a common attitude.

    International trade is, as you say, stacked against poor countries such as those in Africa. I'm no economist, but it's important to remember that almost without exception developed countries have resorted, by necessity, to protectionism at some point in their history, and that western countries developed alongside globalisation over several hundred years. African states did not have that option, and were effectively thrown in at the deep end, denied the process of growth and development that we had. The natural resources you mentioned are of little real use to them as they are so vulnerable to external exploitation. I'm convinced that these problems run much, much deeper than the problems faced by Germany after the two world wars.

    So what to do? I have no idea, I'm not sure it's our responsibility to try to help Africa (although I think we should), and I don't think we should take all the blame. What I am pretty certain of, and what we are after all discussing, is that the colonial era in general, and therefore also the British empire, had an extremely negative impact on Africa and its subsequent development.
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    I'm going to apply to Oxford, since it’s so strong in British and European histories, which are my main areas of interest. Also because it’s Oxford . I was looking at places like Bristol and LSE as well. I don't how great LSE's rep is for history, but the course content is top notch. Napoleonic and Anglo Saxon history are also favourites of mine.

    I see you’re applying to Cambridge Derby. I was going to apply there originally, but I prefer the city of Oxford much more.
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    You can say Africa was thrown in at the deep end, but so was India, which is now booming almost on par with China. India's past is probably more similar in a colonial sense to our ex-possessions in Africa than almost any our country.

    Germany didn’t have the chance to grow alongside globalisation for several hundred years. Globalisation on the scale we know it today has only really taken off in the last 125-150 years. Germany went from zero to hero in about 30 years, with no previous history of industrial strength. You can say Germany wasn’t held back by other countries having their fingers in its resources, but even if they did, you can use it to your advantage. China and India are both 'exploited' in the sense the west has harnessed their labour as it is so cheap, but China and India are both benefiting off this and growing very quickly. China has developed so much by this method that it now has the ability to improve working conditions without losing too much revenue, since other sectors of its economy has become so developed. Therefore, you can argue Africa are getting exploited too much by us to ever get on its feet, but you can use the exploitation to your advantage to pull you out of the rut, and then calm the exploitation once your out of it. It probably isn’t the most moral way of sorting out countries, but the world isn’t a moral place.
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    (Original post by Consie)
    I'm going to apply to Oxford, since it’s so strong in British and European histories, which are my main areas of interest. Also because it’s Oxford . I was looking at places like Bristol and LSE as well. I don't how great LSE's rep is for history, but the course content is top notch. Napoleonic and Anglo Saxon history are also favourites of mine.

    I see you’re applying to Cambridge Derby. I was going to apply there originally, but I prefer the city of Oxford much more.
    I liked Oxford too, but Cambridge just appeals to me more for some in explicable reason! Both the courses look awesome - I would be more than over the moon if I got in. I'm also going to apply to the others you mentioned. Good luck!
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    (Original post by Gwai)
    Consie:

    I certainly haven’t neg repped you, I think I have made my opinion clear enough in my posts. BUT if I were to hazard a guess as to why you have been, I’d say it’s probably because your arguments do suggest a particularly insidious kind of racism, the kind that genuinely doesn’t even realise it is racist because it thinks it only deals with facts, based on evidence, and how can facts be racist? Or maybe it’s just because your argument is teleological and therefore deeply flawed – it pretty much runs like this: ‘Africa has many failed states because Africans, for whatever reason, cannot run their countries properly. How do I know that Africans cannot run their countries properly? Why, because there are so many failed states there’.

    As for the German comparison, the ‘apples and oranges’ analogy is pretty fair. I’m guessing from what you’ve written that you know a lot more about German history than African. Fair enough, it’s probably the opposite for me. I don’t want to sound patronising, but I can’t be bothered going to the library and digging up statistical proof that this is simply not a valid comparison, so you’re going to have to either believe the three separate people who have told you it’s not or go and look it up yourself.

    How much aid have we given them since independence? How many debts have we written off?

    The so-called ‘aid’ we give to Africa is largely useless, and symptomatic of a wider Western supposition that problems can be solved by throwing money at them. And writing off debts….yes, it helps, but frankly it’s like saying you saved someone’s life by stopping beating them to death.

    The attitudes of other countries are relevant. People are making directed attacks on the character of Britain, and its attitudes to other nations, as though we are wholly to blame. We need to remember this attitude was widespread at the time.

    Well, you did invite people to discuss the British empire and whether or not it was a good thing…. so no, they are not relevant to this discussion.

    Your attacking me on insignificant, isolated points is getting away from the boarder argument. Although we did damage these countries, we also gave them a lot. And although we left them in a bad state, any nation that can get its act together can sort itself out quickly, especially in such resource rich countries as Nigeria and Zimbabwe. You can’t blame the sustained chaos in Africa on our imperial presence there, which left half a century ago.

    The topic is really too big for broad arguments unfortunately. There is no way to say whether something so large was ‘generally good’ or ‘generally bad’, like ten schools and a church over here makes up for a thousand dead over there. Sometimes chipping away at something a little bit at a time is the best approach. I can’t help thinking it’s funny that having previously criticised Niall Ferguson for being too mainstream, you have managed to reproduce not only his conclusions but his analytical style as well!
    wow, great post! Rep coming your way
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    You have some interesting views Consie and I'd just like to address a few of your points in turn. One thing that you have remained adamant about is this comparison between Germany and Africa and whilst I am by no means an expert on German history - indeed my knowledge would be considered sparse - I do have about enough to dispute your claim of their being comparable.

    The biggest distinctions I can see between Germany at the beginning of the period you mention and Africa are economic and cultural. While Germany had lagged behind Britain in the industrial revolution and the economy was for the most part agrarian, there was still a greater degree of industrialisation than in Africa when the colonising powers withdrew. However, the greatest difference is probably that of trade; while Germany did develop from hundreds of little states that were loosely allied, there were far greater trade links that dated back hundreds of years which were not shared by the Tribes in Africa. You have to remember that this wasn't the first time these loosely allied states were brought under a greater government, the Holy Roman Empire comprised almost if not all these states and more and whilst it was not as centralised as the German Empire that evolved, the economic links were there. Equally education had a major impact, from what I have read Germany's industrial expansion had a lot to do with graduates of their polytechnic institutes which had no equivalent in Africa when the imperial forces withdrew. I'd say therefore that economically Germany was not an apt comparison.

    Equally the culture of Germany when it was unified was distinctly different. As someone has mentioned, one of the major problems in the creation of nations in Africa was that the various tribes grouped together often hated one another, be it racially motivated or otherwise. This was far less the case for most of the German states, culturally they resembled one another greatly and that dates back for centuries. Martin luther, after all, did not merely remain in Electoral Saxony but instead travelled the Holy Roman Empire where his ideas were adopted. Trade equally helps this cultural homogenisation as when the nation states trade, different ideas and practices get brought together and a society is formed that has far greater links. While of course there were distinctions between the states that became Germany, I would say they were far lesser than those between the African tribes which were thrust together and there was far less enmity between them. Also a relatively minor point regarding democracy in Germany, I believe when the Reichstag was established around the time Bismarck became Chancellor, it was a democratically elected body, even if it wasn't particularly powerful. While certainly not what we'd call a liberal democracy nowadays, it was a form of democracy nonetheless.

    Now let's progress to the problems of Germany in the twentieth cenutry and why I think you have exaggerated them slightly. You stated that Germany 'were expected to pay huge amounts of reparations' but if you know the period well then you'd know that the Dawes Plan led to the withdrawal of allied troops from the Ruhr and in 1929 the Young Plan was introduced, reducing German war reparations by about 90% so I think you have exaggerated a bit there.

    I feel you have also misrepresented the state after the end of World War Two as well, especially in relation to the East and the Berlin Wall. you mention that East Germany was 'moved brick by brick back to Moscow' (although this is true immediately after the war when the USSR was demanding reparations) but actually it was one of the best served satellite states by the Soviets, especially in East Berlin as by ploughing money into the only place behind the iron curtain the West could in any way see, they were advertising the communist style of government. While it is of course true it was not as prosperous as West Germany at the time, the conditions in East Berlin at least improved.

    West Germany was served far better than is given credit as has been already mentioned - Marshall Aid was incredibly beneficial to the redevelopment of West Germany which was heavily invested in by the Western powers as the barrier between the East and the West. While you may compare it to the aid granted to Africa, I believe the two to be incomparable based on a number of reasons. Firstly as has already been stated by Gwai(?), most aid given to Africa is designated for specific projects that aren't necessarily the most beneficial and require the use of Western contractors (thereby not allowing Africa to develop a base of skilled labour amongst their own people, or provide employment opportunities). Not only is this true of workers, but it is also true of goods where a lot of aid is tied to the condition that it be spent on that country's goods so if say the Ivory Coast gets given money by France to buy tractors, it would have to buy French ones even if they were inferior or more expensive than their British equivalents. The Marshall Plan did not have such tight restrictions as the modern aid we send to Africa.

    That is about all I have to say on the comparison between Germany and Africa.

    You keep re-stating that Britain was doing no worse than others at the time, I think that everyone has recognised that British actions were endemic of the time, but given that this is a debate on the British Empire, people were only addressing the British Empire for the most part.

    I also take issue with your comparison between the arbitrary division of Africa, Canada and the cultural melting pot that is the United States. Firstly, Africa differs from Canada as the French and British Canadians weren't set upon the destruction of one another, unlike many tribes of Africa. Equally, the comparison to the United States doesn't hold up as the United States is such a culturally diverse place due to immigration, not because a group of people were thrown together against their will. I also think you have misrepresented the state of racial and cultural divisions in the United States anyway, segregation of communities still exists in the USA and there isn't this great cultural and social acceptance of one another. It dates back over the whole history with gangs fighting in New York being divided racially and even now there isn't the cultural harmony you seem to assert. Ever seen the movie Crash? I'd say that was a fair representation of people in Los Angeles.

    While of course some of the problems of Africa are down to poor governance, the imperial powers didn't exactly make it easy for the continent when they withdrew and left a complete power vacuum, it was an inevitability that warlords would rise up and seize what they could and corruption would run riot. The major difference between India and Africa was that there was a large nationalist movement in India willing the British to withdraw, not only that, but a lot more infrastructure had been developed in India and much of it remained at the end of the colonial era. Africa, by contrast, was abandoned and then used as a nice little playpen for the Cold War to be fought out.

    Anyway, my only final comments (as I feel the Russia comparison has been dealt with to a satisfactory level by others) is to ask what the problem with paganism is? The Greeks and Romans were pagans and they didn't do too badly. :p: I am sure there is more to say, I just am too lazy to say it right now and need to order a computer.
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    , wasn’t that good...*kicks floor in sulk*




    I'm sure everyone is reading the obligatory Historiography books whilst applying for uni’s. I’m personally really interested in it, but I know loads and loads of people who find it boring beyond belief. What do you guys think? Do you actually read people like Carr because you want to, or because you feel it is necessary to 'look good' on the UCAS form?

    Just reading my owning from the Oxford undergrad - writing response.
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    (Original post by Consie)
    , wasn’t that good...*kicks floor in sulk*




    I'm sure everyone is reading the obligatory Historiography books whilst applying for uni’s. I’m personally really interested in it, but I know loads and loads of people who find it boring beyond belief. What do you guys think? Do you actually read people like Carr because you want to, or because you feel it is necessary to 'look good' on the UCAS form?

    Just reading my owning from the Oxford undergrad - writing response.
    Carr is really dull in places, Evans is more interesting. Am I the Oxford undergrad? If so, wrong university :p: .
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    First of all, I did state that i was using Germany as an example of countries that survive hard circumstances and bad treatment. I was comparing it with Africa to say even if we did leave them in a state, if they had competent governments they could have sorted themselves out to some extent by now.

    I never misinterpreted the racial divisions in the USA. I was using the fact that despite these racial divisions, the country is still a superpower and enjoys a (relatively) free civil culture. It evidences the point I repeatedly stated that even if there is diverse cultural divisions, no matter how hostile they are between each other, genuinely good governments can resolve this and manage with it. The lack of genuinely good governments in Africa means this problem isn’t solved. You can say we don’t now how hostile these tribes are to each other, and America’s minorities aren’t as hostile to each other as African ones but it doesn’t matter; tribalism is obviously a key factor in African politics so good African politicians should know how to approach it and deal with it.

    Paganism as a belief isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s the massively different pagan beliefs one tribe has to another. This often plays a role in their hostility to another. The Greeks and Romans didn’t have such a problem in their own lands as most people worshipped the same gods led by Zeus. Such unity doesn’t exist in Africa. The Romans also dealt with the differing pagan beliefs of people like the Guals by successfully placing Roman religion on them, or at least reaching an agreement regarding the differences between the two religions. The type of religion doesn’t matter, its just how many people worship it. What I was saying is Christianity must have brought some sort of stabilising presence as it unified many people who previously had very diverse pagan beliefs, which was a factor in hostility.

    I am not disputing that we harmed African countries, and would therefore has some blame in it, I am disputing however that our influence in Africa which left 40-50 years ago should not be used as the major factor for the trouble they are experiencing today. It should be a factor, but only a minor one, the Africans themselves should take the blame for the current mess they’re making. As I said, if a country gets it act together, it can overcome hardships done to it.

    Finally, as I did say, I will admit the limitations of my knowledge and argument if someone comes and disproves my points in turn. JohnStuartMill has done a pretty comprehensive job lol, so I will happily be quiet. I just don’t want to be misinterpreted in my comparisons with Germany; my original intention in using that country was simply to show that countries that have experienced tough circumstances can get their act together quickly.


    P.S.

    I did honestly mean to write Cambridge, its just telling myself not to write Oxford because its Cambridge means I irritatingly write Oxford. I did it somewhere else in this thread actually. Response took sooo long coz i had to have dinner :P

    Haven’t read Evans yet, going to after Carr and Elton. Then ill resume reading my Africa books.
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    Ah, my good friend Ossie just reminded me of the point I forgot to make which was in response to your point about satellite maps of Europe and Africa showing the green to be the same.

    Agriculturally the two continents are vastly different. The climate and soil of Europe is far more suited to the growing of a lot of crops and especially the domestication of animals for livestock. I was reading an article just earlier today which proclaimed African soil to be its own worst enemy. It of course doesn't help that in order to get at the best soil deforestation is necessary which in turn leads to further soil erosion (see Amazon rainforest for a comparison).

    Anyway, Ossie reminded me of it by recommending the book 'Guns, Germs and Steel' and whilst I am familiar with the ideas, I must admit I haven't read the book itself. You may be interested as it looks fascinating, I daresay I shall end up reading it sooner or later.
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    They've lived on the continent for thousands of years, surely they can adapt. People in our ex-colonies don’t have that much of a raw deal in terms of recourses.

    As you can see, I just haven’t got much time for people saying Africans and most of the difficulties they have is down to us. The essence of my entire debate is that Its not, and even it was, they could have overcame it.
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    (Original post by Consie)
    I never misinterpreted the racial divisions in the USA. I was using the fact that despite these racial divisions, the country is still a superpower and enjoys a (relatively) free civil culture. It evidences the point I repeatedly stated that even if there is diverse cultural divisions, no matter how hostile they are between each other, genuinely good governments can resolve this and manage with it. The lack of genuinely good governments in Africa means this problem isn’t solved. You can say we don’t now how hostile these tribes are to each other, and America’s minorities aren’t as hostile to each other as African ones but it doesn’t matter; tribalism is obviously a key factor in African politics so good African politicians should know how to approach it and deal with it.
    Hmmmm, I would personally argue that tribalism is a difficult feature to deal with. To be honest, I think if you look at most African countries, the rulers don't want to deal with the problems as many of them are warlords who benefit greatly from the conflict and struggle. It is a shame that the success stories in Africa rarely get much news coverage. Outside of the Economist and a mention of the fact that George Weah was standing for President, I saw very little on the Liberian elections from earlier this year.

    (Original post by Consie)
    Paganism as a belief isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s the massively different pagan beliefs one tribe has to another. This often plays a role in their hostility to another. The Greeks and Romans didn’t have such a problem in their own lands as most people worshipped the same gods led by Zeus. Such unity doesn’t exist in Africa. The Romans also dealt with the differing pagan beliefs of people like the Guals by successfully placing Roman religion on them, or at least reaching an agreement regarding the differences between the two religions. The type of religion doesn’t matter, its just how many people worship it. What I was saying is Christianity must have brought some sort of stabilising presence as it unified many people who previously had very diverse pagan beliefs, which was a factor in hostility.
    Oh I realised you meant that as being a major problem, just whenever you mentioned paganism it seemed to be a dirty word and was wondering if you had a problem with it. :p:

    (Original post by Consie)
    Haven’t read Evans yet, going to after Carr and Elton. Then ill resume reading my Africa books.
    Not read Elton, I meant to but never got around to it. I have read his Reformation Europe book though and that was good and easy to follow, if The Practice of History is similar then it should be a good read.
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    Elton writes in a convoluted, pomous way if you ask me, and reading his words has rubbed off on my style. I used to have Economist level clarity down to a tee...alas. Evans is superb in terms of clarity and simplicity.

    'To be honest, I think if you look at most African countries, the rulers don't want to deal with the problems as many of them are warlords who benefit greatly from the conflict and struggle'

    Which is why we shouldn’t get the blame. Sure, say our leaving the place meant these guys could rise up and try to fill a power vacuum like in a revolution, but as with many revolutions, the new order is established quickly and things return to relative stability relatively rapidly.
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    [QUOTE=Consie
    I'm sure everyone is reading the obligatory Historiography books whilst applying for uni’s. I’m personally really interested in it, but I know loads and loads of people who find it boring beyond belief. What do you guys think? Do you actually read people like Carr because you want to, or because you feel it is necessary to 'look good' on the UCAS form? QUOTE]
    I didn't read Carr and co before I came up, I concentrated on reading around my as/a levels in more depth, and besides, the admissions people probably see so many stating it that it just becomes par for the course. So any perceived advantage is probably overrated, unless you can somehow use it intelligently in an interview. I was never asked anything that could've touched on those works. I've read some of the usual historiography books now, for HAP, but while I can see they are useful, I wouldn't choose to read them above all others.
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    Yeahh, I know its become sort of the norm to read them. I just find it really interesting, and was suprised when loads of people i knew said it was really dull and confusing.

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