Repost: The Classification of the Vietnamese Language

This ran first a long time ago, but I just sold an ad on this post, so I decided to repost it. Rereading it, it’s a great Historical Linguistics post.
One of the reasons that I am doing this post is that one of my commenters asked me a while back to do a post on the theories of long-range comparison like Joseph Greenberg’s and how well they hold up. That will have to wait for another day, but for now, I can  at least show you how some principles of Historical Linguistics, a subfield that I know a thing or two about. I will keep this post pretty non-technical, so most of you ought to be able to figure out what is going on.
Let us begin by looking at some proposals about the classification of Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese language has been subject to a great deal of speculation regarding its classification. At the moment, it is in the Mon-Khmer or Austroasiatic family with Khmer, Mon, Muong, Wa, Palaung, Nicobarese, Khmu, Munda, Santali, Pnar, Khasi, Temiar, and some others. The family ranges through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, China, and over into Northeastern India.
It is traditionally divided into Mon-Khmer and Munda branches. Here is Ethnologue’s split, and here are some other ways of dividing up the family.
The homeland of the Austroasiatics was probably in China, in Yunnan, Southwest China. They moved down from China probably around 5,000 years ago. Some of the most ancient Austroasiatics are probably the Senoi people, who came down from China into Malaysia about 4,000 years ago. Others put the time frame at about 4-8,000 YBP (years before present).
A major fraud has been perpetrated lately based on Senoi Dream Therapy. I discussed it on the old blog, and you can Google it if you are interested. In Anthropology classes we learned all about these fascinating Senoi people, who based their lives around their dreams. Turns out most of the fieldwork was poor to fraudulent like Margaret Mead’s unfortunate sojourn in the South Pacific.
The Senoi resemble Veddas of India, so it is probably true that they are ancient people.  Also, their skulls have Australoid features. In hair, they mostly have wavy hair (like Veddoids), a few have straight hair (like Mongoloids) and a scattering have woolly hair (like Negritos). Bottom line is that ancient Austroasiatics were probably Australoid types who resembled what the Senoi look like today.
There has long been a line arguing that the Vietnamese language is related to Sino-Tibetan (the family that Chinese is a part of). Even those who deny this acknowledge that there is a tremendous amount of borrowing from Chinese (especially Cantonese) to Vietnamese. This level of borrowing so long ago makes historical linguistics a difficult field.
Here is an excellent piece by a man who has done a tremendous amount of work detailing his case for Vietnamese as a Sino-Tibetan language. It’s not for the amateur, but if you want to dip into it, go ahead. I spent some time there, and after a while, I was convinced that Vietnamese was indeed a Sino-Tibetan language. One of the things that convinced me is that if borrowing was involved, seldom have I seen such a case for such a huge amount of borrowing, in particular of basic vocabulary. I figured the  case was sealed.
Not so fast now.
Looking again, and reading some of Joseph Greenberg’s work on the subject, I am now convinced otherwise. There is a serious problem with the cognates between Vietnamese and Chinese, of which there are a tremendous number.
This problem is somewhat complex, but I will try to simplify it. Briefly, if Vietnamese is indeed related to Sino-Tibetan, its cognates should be not only with Chinese, but with other members of Sino-Tibetan also. In other words, we should find cognates with Tibetan, Naga, Naxi, Tujia, Karen, Lolo, Kuki, Nung, Jingpho, Chin, Lepcha, etc. We should also find cognates with those languages, where we do not find them in Chinese. That’s a little complicated, so I will let you think about it a bit.
Further, the comparisons between Chinese and Vietnamese should be variable. Some should look quite close, while others should look much more distant.
So there’s a problem with the Vietnamese as ST theory.
The cognates look like Chinese.
Problem is, they look too much like Chinese. They look more like Chinese than they should in a genetic relationship. Further, they look like Chinese and only Chinese. Looking for relationships in S-T outside of Chinese, and we find few if any.
That’s a dead ringer for borrowing from Chinese to Vietnamese. If it’s not clear to you how that is, think about it a bit.
Looking at Mon-Khmer, the case is not so open and shut. There seem to be more cognates with Chinese than with Mon-Khmer. So many more that the case for Vietnamese as AA looks almost silly, and you wonder how anyone came up with it.
But let us look again. The cognates with AA and Vietnamese are not just with its immediate neighbors like Cambodian and Khmu but with languages far off in far Eastern India like Munda and Santali. There are words that are found only in the Munda branch in one or two obscure languages that somehow show up again as cognates in Vietnamese.
Now tell me how Vietnamese borrowed ancient basic vocabulary from some obscure Munda tongue way over in Northeast India? It did not. How did those words end up in some unheard of NE Indian tongue and also in Vietnamese? Simple. They both descended long ago from a common ancestor. This is Historical Linguistics.
The concepts I have dealt with here are not easy for the non-specialist to figure out, but most smart people can probably get a grasp on them.
A different subject is the deep relationships of AA. Is AA related to any other languages? I leave that as an open question now,  though there does appear to be a good case for AA being related to Austronesian.
One good piece of evidence is the obscure AA languages found in the Nicobar Islands off the coast of Thailand. Somehow, we see quite a few cognates in Nicobarese with Austronesian. We do not see them in any other branches of AA, only in Nicobarese. This seems odd,  and it’s hard to make a case for borrowing. On the other hand, why cognates in Nicobarese and only in Nicobarese?
Truth is there are some cognates outside of Nicobarese but not a whole lot. In historical linguistics, one thing we look at is morphology. Those are parts of words, like the -s plural ending in English.
In both AA and Austronesian, we have funny particles called infixes. Those are what in English we might call prefixes or suffixes, except they are stuck in the middle of the word instead of at the end or the beginning. So, in English, we have pre- as a prefix meaning “before” and -er meaning “object that does X verb”. So pre-destination means that our lives are figured out before we are even born.  Comput-er and print-er are two objects, one that computes and the other that prints.
If we had infixes instead, pre-destination would look something like destin-pre-ation and comput-er and print-er would look something like com-er-pute and prin-er-t.
Anyway, there are some fairly obscure infixes that show up not only in some isolated languages in AA but also in far-flung Austronesian languages in, say, the Philippines. Ever heard of the borrowing of an infix? Neither have I? So were those infixes borrowed,  and what are they doing in languages as far away as Thailand and the Philippines, and none in between? Because they  got borrowed? When? How? Forget it.
Bottom line is that said borrowing did not happen. So what are those infix cognates doing there? Probably ancient particles left over from a common language that derived both Austronesian and AA, probably spoken somewhere in SW China maybe 9,000 years ago or more.
Why is this sort of long-range comparison so hard? For one thing, because after 9,000 years or more, there are hardly any cognates left anymore, due to the fact of language change. Languages change and tend to change at a certain rate.
After 1000X years, so much change has taken place that even if two languages were once “sprung from a common source,” in the famous words of Sir William Jones in his epochal lecture to the Asiatic Society in Calcutta on February 2, 1786, there is almost nothing, or actually nothing, left to show of that relationship. Any common words have become so mangled by time that they don’t look much or anything alike anymore.
So are AA and Austronesian related? I think so, but I suppose it’s best to say that it has not been proven yet. This thesis is part of a larger long-range concept known as “Austric.” Paul Benedict, a great scholar, was one of the champions of this. Austric is normally made up of AA, Austronesian, Tai-Kadai (the Thai language and its relatives) and Hmong-Mien (the Hmong and Mien languages). Based on genetics, the depth of Austric may be as deep as 30,000 years, so proving it is going to be a tall order indeed.
What do I think?
I think Tai-Kadai and Austronesian are proven to be related (more on that later). AA and Austronesian seem to be related also, with a lesser depth of proof. Hmong-Mien seems to be related to Sino-Tibetan, not Austric.
The case for Vietnamese being related to S-T is still very interesting, and I still have an open mind about it.
All of these discussions are hotly controversial, and mentioning it in linguistics circles is likely to set tempers flaring.

References

Author and date unknown, What Makes Vietnamese So Chinese? An Introduction to Sinitic-Vietnamese Studies.

No Conservatives Allowed on This Website!

We have had a few conservatives posting here in the past few days. These are US-style conservatives, which are the worst kind of all. US-style conservatives are absolutely banned from posting here in any way, shape or form.
Conservatism means different things in different countries, so conservatives from much of the rest of the world (except Latin America and the UK) can continue to post. Even Canadian conservatives can continue to post, as I do not mind them. It’s not conservatism itself that is so awful. Almost every country on Earth has people who call themselves conservatives, and there are conservative parties in almost every country on Earth. But being a conservative just about anywhere outside of the Americas is more or less an acceptable position for me. I probably won’t like their politics much, but I could at least look at them and say that this is an opposition I could live with.
US conservatives and their brethren in the UK, Latin America, the Philippines, Nepal and and Indonesia are quite a different beast.
I have to think hard about conservatives in Eastern Europe, especially Estonia, Latvia and the Czech Republic. These fools had such a bad experience with Communism that they went 180 degrees in the other direction. I would have to see the positions of these conservative parties in those countries to see whether they would be OK or not.
Just to give you an example, Vladimir Putin is considered to be a right-winger, and his party United Russia advocates a politics called Russian Conservatism. Looking at the party’s platform, this is not only a conservatism that I could live with but one I might even vote for!
Conservatives in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and most other places in Asia are acceptable. The conservatives in the Stans, Georgia, Ukraine, and Armenia can be rather awful, particularly in the nationalist sense, but I will not ban them.
I dislike Indian conservatives, but I will not ban them.
Conservatives from the Muslim World are all acceptable. In the Muslim World, conservatism just means religious and sometimes nationalist. I can live with that. Even the ones in Iran are orders of magnitude better than the US type.
Conservatives in the Arab World are acceptable. They are mostly just religious people.
Turkish conservatives are awful, but I will not ban them. They are just religious and a particularly awful type of nationalist.
African conservatives are OK.
Conservatives in Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany,  the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Italy, the Balkans, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania are sometimes good, sometimes pretty bad, but they are all acceptable here. Conservatism in Europe mostly means nationalism. I am actually rather fond of the conservative running Hungary, Orban. LePen conservatives leave something to be desired, but they are acceptable. They’re mostly just nationalists. Hell, I might even vote for Marine LePen! If it was down to LePen versus Macron, I would absolutely support LePen!
Conservatives from Indonesia, Nepal and Philippines are not OK. These are an “everything for the rich elite, nothing for anybody else” type of conservative. Some of them even hide under the labels of Socialist or even Communist.
The word conservative has no real inherent meaning. It means whatever people say it means.
Anyway, the conservatives in the US are pure garbage and recently they have become out and out fascists after moving in that direction for a long time. And a particularly horrible type of fascist at that, a Latin American/Filipino/Indonesian style fascist. I will not allow any US conservatives to post on this board. You all are lucky I even let you lurk here. That’s an idle threat as I can’t ban lurkers, but if they all stopped lurking, I would not mind frankly.
You all really ought to go back to the gutters you crawled out of.
PS This especially applies to Libertarians, the very worst of all the US conservative vermin. We shoot Libertarians on sight here, so you better watch out.
*This applies only to economic conservatives. If you are not an economic conservative, and your conservatism is only of the social variety or you are only conservative on race, religion, guns, law and order, respect for tradition, American nationalism, the military, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity issues, you can stay. I’m not crazy about some social conservatives, but I can live with them. I will probably even let patriotards post as long as they are not economic conservatives.
I am an American nationalist myself. I just don’t like patriotards. Of course, I very much dislike and even hate the country as it is right now, but I sure don’t want to make it worse! I have to live here too you now, and it might as well be as pleasant as possible as long I stay here.
I want what’s best for my country. I don’t want to harm this country or screw it over. That will be bad for me! And believe it or not, most US patriotards do not want what is best for the country! I have dreams of a greater and better America. It’s not impossible, but we will have to undergo some serious cultural changes. One of the reasons I am so against illegal immigration is because it is ruining my country and making this place even worse. Also illegal immigration is terrible for US workers and I am for the workers. I am against H-1B visas for the same reason – they are wrecking my country. IT workers are workers too, so they are my comrades. I want what is best for America and American workers.
I cannot live with economic conservatives. I like cancer way more than I like US conservatives. Cancer is much more decent and respectable.

The Hell with the Pentagon

As the agency which enforces US foreign policy at gunpoint, the Pentagon has always blown.
First of all, there is no such thing as the Defense Department. When has the Pentagon ever defended the country? Pearl Harbor? They did a fine job there, huh?
Obviously the task of the Pentagon is not to defend the US mainland, which is all it ever ought to do anyway.
Its task is to running around the world starting wars and killing people in other countries. Leaving aside whether that is sometimes a good idea (and I think it is,) what’s so defensive about that?
The real name of the Pentagon is the War Department.That’s what it was always called until World War 2, which the War Department won. After that in a spate of Orwellian frenzy, we named an army of aggression an army of self-defense and comically renamed its branch the Defense Department.
It’s like calling cops peace officers. You see anything peaceful about what a cop does in a typical day? Neither do I?
There was a brief glimmer of hope there in WW2 when we finally starting killing fascists and rightwingers instead of sleeping with them, but the ink was barely dry on the agreements before we were setting up the Gladio fascists, overthrowing Greek elections and slaughtering Greek peasants like ants.
Meanwhile it was scarcely a year after 1945 when the US once again started a torrid love affair with fascism and rightwing dictators like we have always done. We were smooching it up right quick with Europe’s fascists, in this case the former Nazis of Germany (who became the West German elite), Greek killer colonels, Mussolini’s heirs, actual Nazis in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, Jew-Nazis in Palestine, Franco (who we never stopped sleeping with anyway), Salazar, the malign Mr. Churchill, the true repulsive Dutch royalty and disgusting European colonists the world over, who we showered with guns and bombs to massacre the colonized.
In 1945, a war against fascism, reaction, Nazism and malign colonialism had ended, and for some reason America had fought against these things instead of supporting them as usual.
1946, and we were back in old style again, hiring Nazis by the busload for the CIA, overthrowing democratic governments and putting in genocidal dictatorships, becoming butt buddies with fascist swine everywhere.
So you see we have always pretty much sucked. World War 1 was fought amidst one of the most dishonest propaganda campaigns the world had ever seen, the Korean War was a Godawful mess where we turned North Korea to flaming rubble with the population cowering in caves while slaughtering 3 million North Koreans.
The horrific catastrophe called the Indochinese Wars, such as the Vietnam War, the Secret War in Laos and the Cambodian Massacre, where we genocided 500,000 Cambodians with bombs, driving the whole place crazy and creating the Khmer Rogue.
Panama and Grenada were pitiful jokes, malign, raw, naked imperialism at its worst.
The Gulf War was a brief return to sanity but turkey shoots are sickening.
Of course that followed on with the most evil war in US history, the Nazi-like war on aggression called The War on the Iraqi People (usually called the Iraq War), the Afghan rabbit hole which started out sensibly enough but turned into another Vietnam style Great Big Mess.
I suppose it is ok that we are killing Al Qaeda guys and I give a shout out to our boys over there fighting ISIS or the Taliban and Al Qaeda in South-Central Asia, Somalia and Yemen. Some people need killing.
But I sure don’t feel that way about their superiors, the US officers who fund and direct ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. out of an Operations Center in Jordan with Jordanian, Israeli (!), Saudi, UAE, and Qatari officers.
And it was very thoughtful of the Pentagon to cover up the Ukrainian Air Force shootdown of the jetliner which we saw on the radar of our ships in Black Sea.
And it was nice of the US to relay the flight path of the Russian jet to the Turks 24 hours in advance so they could shoot down that Russian jet and kill that pilot.
One hand giveth and the other taketh away. For every good thing we do in Syria and Iraq, we do 10 or 20 bad things. Pretty much the story of the Pentagon.
Sure if you fought in WW2 or one of the few other decent wars, you have something to be proud of, and I can even say, “Thank you for your service,” but the main thing is that you signed up for the rightwing army of the rich that is dead set against the people and popular rule everywhere on Earth. Sure, it’s a great army, professional, super-competent and deadly, but it’s generally tasked with doing lousy things. Why anyone would sign up for that reactionary nightmare of an institution is beyond me. America needs to level the Pentagon and put in a true People’s Army instead. Like that would ever happen.

Tolerance for Male Homosexuality in the Muslim World

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Gulf countries tolerate it well, and it is said to be epidemic in places like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. There is also quite of bit of it in Syria, Egypt and Morocco.
It is not tolerated at all in Iran, Iraq, or Shia Lebanon, as Shia Islam is much more condemning of male homosexuality than Sunni Islam.
It is not that Sunni Islam necessarily is more tolerant of male homosexuality but that there is more variation in the Sunni world.
Palestine is not tolerant of male homosexuality at all, as gay men are frequently killed there. They are also commonly killed in Iraq and Iran. Syria used to be relatively more tolerant, but the parts of Syria taken over Islamists are very intolerant of gay men to the point where they are murdering them.
I have no data on male homosexuality in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan or Sunni Lebanon.
I also know nothing about it in the Muslim Sahel, Horn of Africa and West Africa.
I know nothing about male homosexuality in Muslim Europe such as Bosnia and Albania, although I assume it is more tolerated there than elsewhere.
Turkey is a mixed bag, as there is said to be a lot of male homosexuality, but it is also officially not tolerated. Sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell thing.
I know nothing of male homosexuality in the Caucasus, Muslim Russia, the Stans, India and Xinjiang.
I do not know what it was like before, but a lot of gay men are being murdered now in Bangladesh. I think there have been 30-40 such murders in the past couple of years. Gay rights advocates rather than gay men in general have been targeted.
I also know nothing about male homosexuality in Muslim Thailand, Muslim Burma, Muslim Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Southern Philippines. Male homosexuality is pretty well tolerated in Thailand and the Philippines, but I am not sure how ok it is in the Muslim parts of those nations.
Admittedly I am not the best person to ask about the situation for male homosexuality and gay men in the Muslim World.
Any further information would be interesting.

Journeys in Asian Prehistory

Repost from the old site.
In this post we will look at the prehistory of the Asian or Mongoloid Race and some its subgroups. After humans came out of Africa about 70,000 years ago, they moved along the coast of Arabia, Southwest Asia, South Asia and eventually to Southeast Asia.

One Asian man’s rendering of modern Asian expansion, contrasted with the typical model. I don’t agree with either model, but I like the one on the left a little better. For starters, the yellow line on the map to the left should be hugging the coast quite closely and the brown and red lines should be radiating out from a base somewhere along the yellow line. Unfortunately, my artistic skills are not good enough to draw my own map.

We think that these people looked something like the Negritos of today, such as those on the Andaman Islands.
At some point, probably in Southern China, the Mongoloid Race was born. The timeline, as determined by looking at genes, was from 60,000-110,000 years ago. As humans are thought to have only populated the world 70,000 years or so ago, it is strange that the timeline may go back as far as 110,000 years.
One thing that is very interesting is that there is evidence for regional continuity in Asia (especially China) dating back 100,000’s of years, if not millions of years. This is called the multiregional hypothesis of human development.
Though it is mostly abandoned today, it still has its adherents.
Some of its adherents are Asian nationalists of various types, especially Chinese and Indonesian nationalists. They all want to think that man was born in their particular country. Others are White nationalists who refuse to believe that they are descended from Africans, whom they consider to be inferior. The problem is that the Asians can indeed show good evidence for continuity in the skulls in their region.
A good midway point between the two, that sort of solves the conundrum, is that humans came out of Africa, say, ~70,000 years or so ago, and when they got to Asia, they bred in with some of the more archaic types there. The problem with this is that the only modern human showing evidence of pre-modern Homo genes in Mungo Man in Australia from 50,000 years ago.
There is evidence that as late as 120,000 years ago, supposedly fully modern humans in Tanzania were still transitioning from archaic to modern man. Ancient South African humans 100-110,000 yrs ago looked like neither Bantus nor Bushmen.
Nevertheless, we can reject the multiregional theory in its strong form as junk science. We also note cynically that once again ethnic nationalists and regular nationalists, including some of the world’s top scientists, are pushing a blatantly unscientific theory. Yet again ethnic nationalism is shown to be a stupidifying mindset.
There must be a reason why ethnic nationalism seems to turn so many smart people into total idiots. I suspect it lies in the fact that the basic way of thinking involved in ethnic nationalism is just a garbage way of looking at the world, and getting into it distorts one’s mind similar to the way a mental illness does.
We think that the homeland of the Asians is in Southern China, just north of the Vietnam border. This is because the people with the greatest genetic diversity in Asia are found in Northern Vietnam. Since the Vietnamese are known to have largely come from Southern China, we can assume that the homeland was just north of the border. From there, all modern Asians were born.
This means all NE and SE Asians, Polynesians, Micronesians and Melanesians came out of this Asian homeland.

School kids in Hothot, a town in Inner Mongolia. There is some question about whether China really has a right to control this area. These Northeast Asians originally came from a homeland in SE Asia near the China-Vietnam border. As this race is only 9,000 years old, NE Asians could not possibly have gone through an Ice Age that molded their brains for high intelligence, as the racist liar and scientific fraud Richard Lynn claims .

There is even evidence that the Altaics of Siberia originated from the SE Asian homeland. They are thought to have moved out of there to the west and north to become the various Altaic groups such as the Buryats. Later Caucasian lines came to the Altaics from the West.

A Mongolian man on the steppes with a grazing animal and possibly a yurt in the background. Yurts are conical structures that the Mongolians still live in. I believe that Mongolians also eat a lot of yogurt, which they cultivate from the milk of their grazing animals. Note the pale blue eyes and somewhat Caucasian appearance.
My astute Chinese commenter notes: “While Mongolians do have ‘Caucasian genes’, they look distinct from Uighurs, who are mixed. I’m thinking Mongolians and Central Asians lie in a spectrum between Caucasoids in West Asia and “Mongoloids” in Northeast Asians, while Uighurs were the product of Central Asian, West Asian, and Northeast Asian interbreeding.”
In fact, all of these populations are on the border genetically between Caucasians and Asians.
A Mongolian woman. Note short, stocky appearance with short limbs to preserve heat in the cold. Note also the long, moon-shaped, ruddy face, possibly red from the cold weather. Are those ginseng roots in her hand?
More Mongolians, this time with what look like grazing reindeer in the background. Mongolians herd reindeer? Note once again the long, flat, moon-shaped face, the almost-Caucasian features and especially the pale blue eyes of each woman. I cannot help but think that both of these women also look like Amerindians. Neither would be out of place at a pow wow.
More Mongolians, this time a Mongolian boy. Other than the eyes, he definitely looks Caucasian. He looks like a lot of the kids I grew up with in facial structure. Mongolians are anywhere from 10% Caucasian to 14% Caucasian.

From their Altaic lands, especially in the Altai region and the mouth of the Amur River, they moved into the Americas either across the Bering Straight or in boats along the Western US Coast. Another line went north to become the Northeast Asians. And from the Northeast Asian homeland near Lake Baikal, another line went on to become the Siberians.

An Evenki boy with his reindeer. Prototypical reindeer herders, the Evenki are a classical Siberian group. Strangely enough, they are related to both NE Asians and other Siberians and also to Tibetans. This indicates that the genesis of the Tibetans may have been up near or in Siberia.

From 10-40,000 yrs ago, the Siberian population was Mongoloid or pre-Mongoloid. After 10,000 yrs BP (before present), Caucasians or proto-Caucasians moved in from the West across the steppes, but they never got further than Lake Baikal. This group came from the Caucasus Mountains. They are members of the Tungus Race and are quite divergent from most other groups genetically.

More Evenkis, members of the Tungus Race, this time some beautiful women and kids in traditional costumes. But this photo was taken in some Siberian city, so they may have just been dressing up. They probably have some Caucasian genes, as the nearby Yakuts are 6% Caucasian. Many of the Evenki women have become single Moms, because the men are seen as violent, drunk and a financial drain.

Soon after the founding of the Asian homeland in northern Vietnam 53,000-90,000 yrs ago, the proto-Asians split into three distinct lines – a line heading to Japanese and related peoples, another heading to the North and Northeast Asians, and a third to the Southern Han Chinese and SE Asian lines.

A beautiful royal member of the Southern Han Dynasty in Hong Kong, member of the South China Sea Race. This race consists of the Filipinos, the Ami and the Southern Han from Guangdong Province. The Ami are a Taiwanese Aborigine tribe who made up the bulk of the Austronesians who populated much of island SE Asia over the past 8,000 years.
These Southern Chinese people never went through any Ice Age, and the SE Asian Race is only 10,000 years old anyway. So why are they so smart? Unlike some NE Asian groups, especially those around Mongolia, the Altai region, the Central Asian Stans and Siberia, the Han have no Caucasian in them.
A bright Chinese commenter left me some astute remarks about the South Chinese IQ: “Some possible reasons for high South Chinese IQ’s: Chinese culture is very… g-loaded. For example, understanding the language requires good pitch, recognizing Chinese characters takes visual IQ and good memory, Chinese literature and history span 3,000-4,000 years for references, etc.
For several thousand years testing determined your social position (and it still does to some extent in Confucian nations). Those left in the countryside were periodically left to famine and “barbarian” invasions (slaughter).
Likewise, when Chinese people interbreed, there is strong pressure to breed into the upper class of a native population. Whatever caused the high selection when Chinese and Mon-Khmer/Dai groups interbred probably gave the Chinese immigrants leverage to marry into the upper classes when they did. This is something the Asian diaspora still tends to do.”
Regarding South Chinese appearance, he notes, “Lastly, the Chinese in Fujian have distinct features. They have thicker lips, curlier hair, more prominent brow, less pronounced epicanthic folds, etc. I’m in Taiwan now and I do notice it. I was at a packed market a while ago and was noting the way people look.”

As a result of this split, all Chinese are related at a deep level, even though Northern Chinese are closer to Caucasians than to Southern Chinese. Nevertheless, we can still see a deep continuum amongst Asian populations.

A Northern Chinese man with distinctly Caucasian features. Although they have no Caucasian genes that we can see anymore, they are still closer to Caucasians than to the Southern Chinese.

The major genetic frequency found in Japan, Korea and Northern China is also found at very high levels in Southern China, Malaysia and Thailand, and at lower levels in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. Incredibly, even higher levels are found in Southern China, Malaysia and Thailand than in Northern China.
The proto-NE Asian or North Asian homeland was around Lake Baikal about 35,000 years ago. The Ainu and a neighboring group, the Nivkhi, are thought to be the last remaining groups left from this line. The Ainu are related to the Jomon, the earliest group in Japan, who are thought to have originated in Thailand about 16,000 years ago and then came up to Japan on boats to form the proto-Jomon.
The Jomon culture itself formally begins about 9,000 years ago. Japan at that time was connected to the mainland. Jomonese skulls found in Japan look something like Aborigines. Later, around 2,300 years ago, a group called the Yayoi came across the sea from Korea and moved into Japan.

The woman on the left is more Yayoi and the one on the right is more Okinawan. The Okinawans, members of the Ryukyuan Race, seem to be related to the Ainu, and they have a long history in the south of Japan. The Ryukyuan Race is a very divergent grouping.
Most Japanese are members of the Japanese-Korean Race (like the Yayoi woman at left) but there is a divergent group in the South called the Southern Japanese Race, made up of the Honshu Kinki (the people around Kyoto) and the island of Kyushu. They may be more Okinawan than the rest of the mainland Japanese.

Over the next 2,300 years, the Yayoi slowly conquered and interbred with the Ainu until at the present time, the Ainu are nearly extinct as a cultural and racial entity. The Ainu have always been treated terribly by the Japanese, in part because they are quite hairy, like Caucasians.
The hairy body is thought to be a leftover from proto-NE Asian days, as some other groups in that area also have a lot of body hair. Despite the fact that they look down on the Ainu, about 40% of Japanese are related to the Ainu, and the rest are more or less related to the Yayoi. Actually, Japanese genetics seems a lot more complicated than that, but that’s as good a summary as any.

The Ainu. Though despised by the Japanese in part due to their Caucasian-like “monkey hair” on their bodies (note the guy’s hairy legs), the Japanese themselves are about 40% Ainu. The Ainu are members of the Ainu-Gilyak Race and are one of the most diverse groups on Earth.
A photo of Ainu Yasli Adam in traditional garb. I love this photo. Note that he could be mistaken for an Aborigine or a Caucasian. For a long time, the Ainu were considered to be Caucasians, but recent genetic studies have shown conclusively that they are Asians.
The Ainu language is formally an isolate, but in my opinion it is probably related to Japanese and Korean and thence to Altaic, nevertheless I think that both Japanese and Korean are closer to Altaic than Ainu is. Genetically, the Ainu are closest to NE Asians but are also fairly close to the Na-Dene Amerindians. Cavalli-Sforza says they are in between NE Asians, Amerindians and Australians.

At this time, similar-looking Australoids who looked something like Papuans, Aborigines or Negritos were present all over Asia, since the NE Asians and SE Asians we know them today did not form until around 10,000 years ago.
There are still some traces of these genes, that look like a Papuan line, in modern-day Malays, coastal Vietnamese, parts of Indonesia and some Southwestern Chinese. The genes go back to 13,000 years ago and indicate a major Australoid population expansion in the area at that time. Absolutely nothing whatsoever is known about this Australoid expansion.

God I love these Paleolithic types. A Papuan Huli man, member of the Papuan Race, who looks somewhat like an Australian Aborigine. Although it is often said that Papuans and Aborigines are related, they are only in the deepest sense. In truth, they really do form two completely separate races because they are so far apart.
Once again, while Afrocentrists also like to claim these folks as “Black”, the Papuans and Aborigines are the two people on Earth most distant from Africans, possibly because they were the first to split off and have been evolving away from Africans for so long. I don’t know what that thing in his mouth is, but it looks like a gigantic bong to me. There are about 800 languages spoken on Papua, including some of the most maddeningly complex languages on Earth.
NE Asian skulls from around 10,000 years ago also look somewhat like Papuans, as do the earliest skulls found in the Americas. The first Americans, before the Mongoloids, were apparently Australoids.

The proto-NE Asian Australoids transitioned to NE Asians around 9,000 years ago. We know this because the skulls at Zhoukoudian Cave in NE China from about 10,000 years ago look like the Ainu, the Jomon people, Negritos and Polynesians.

Waitress in Hothot, Inner Mongolia. Zhoukoudian Cave is not far from here. Note the typical NE Asian appearance. Mongolians are members of the Mongolian Race and speak a language that is part of the Altaic Family.

We think that these Australoids also came down in boats or came over the Bering Straight to become the first Native Americans. At that time – 9-13,000 years ago, Zhoukoudian Cave types were generalized throughout Asia before the arrival of the NE Asians.

Northern Chinese prototypes from a photo of faculty and students at Jilin University in Northern China. People in this area, members of the Northern Chinese Race, are closely related to Koreans. Note the lighter skin and often taller bodies than the shorter, darker Southern Chinese. The man in the center is a White man who is posing with the Chinese in this picture.
My brother worked at a cable TV outfit once and there was a Northern Chinese and a Southern Chinese working there. The Northern one was taller and lighter, and the Southern one was shorter and darker. The northern guy treated the southern guy with little-disguised contempt the whole time. He always called the southern guy “little man”, his voice dripping with condescension.
This was my first exposure to intra-Chinese racism. Many NE Asians, especially Japanese, are openly contemptuous of SE Asians, in part because they are darker.

Native Americans go from Australoids to Mongoloids from 7,000-9,000 years ago, around the same time – 9,000 years ago – that the first modern NE Asians show up.

Prototypical NE Asians – Chinese in Harbin, in far northeastern China. This area gets very cold in the winter, sort of like Minnesota. Keep in mind that this race is only 9,000 years old. Note the short, stocky body type, possibly a cold weather adaptation to preserve heat.

Some of the earliest Amerindian skulls such as Spirit Cave Man, Kennewick Man, and Buhl Woman look like Ainu and various Polynesians, especially Maoris.

A Hawaiian woman, part of the Polynesian Race. Kennewick Man does not look like any existing populations today, but he is closest to Polynesians, especially the virtually extinct Moiriori of the Chatham Islands and to a lesser extent the Cook Islanders. Yes, many of the various Polynesians can be distinguished based on skulls. Other early Amerindian finds, such as Buhl Woman and Spirit Cave Woman also look something like Polynesians.
It is starting to look like from a period of ~7,000-11,000 years ago in the Americas, the Amerindians looked like Polynesians and were not related to the existing populations today, who arrived ~7,000 years ago and either displaced or bred out the Polynesian types. Furthermore, early proto-NE Asian skulls, before the appearance of the NE Asian race 9,000 years ago, look somewhat like Polynesians, among other groups.

An archaeologist who worked on Kennewick Man says Amerindians assaulted him, spit on him and threatened to kill him because he said that Kennewick Man was not an Amerindian related to living groups, and that his line seemed to have no ancestors left in the Americas.
Furthermore, most Amerindians insist that their own tribe “has always been here”, because this is what their silly ancestral religions and their elders tell them. They can get quite hostile if you question them on this, as I can attest after working with an Amerindian tribe for 1½ years in the US.
To add further insult to reason, a completely insane law called NAGPRA, or Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, mandates that all bones found on any tribe’s territory are the ancestors of that tribe and must be returned to the tribe for reburial. This idiotic law is completely anti-scientific, but most Amerindians, even highly educated ones, get pretty huffy about defending it (Trust me!).
Hence there has been a huge battle over the bones of Kennewick Man. Equally idiotically, White Nationalists insist that Kennewick Man is a Caucasian, so that means he is one of theirs. They also use this to conveniently note that Whites occupied the US before the Indians, and therefore, that the Amerindians implicitly have no rights to the place and that the land-theft of Amerindian America by Whites was right and proper.
This is even more insane than Zionism by orders of magnitude. First of all, Kennewick Man is not a Caucasian! He just sort of looks like one. But that is only because Polynesians, the Ainu and even Aborigines look somewhat Caucasian. This is not due to Caucasian genes, but is instead simply a case of convergent evolution.
These dual episodes above, like the Asian paleontologist morons above, adds weight to my hypothesis that ethnic nationalism, and nationalism in general, turns people into dithering morons. Among other reasons, that is why this proudly internationalist blog casts such a wary eye on nationalism of all kinds.
The prehistory of SE Asia follows a similar storyline. Once again, all of SE Asia was inhabited by Australoids. They probably looked something like the Negritos of today. Skulls from 9,000-11,000 years ago in SE Asia (including Southern China) resemble modern-day Australoids.
The oldest skulls in Vietnam look like Negritos. 25,800 yr old bones from Thailand look like Aborigines and the genes look like the Semang, Negritos of Thailand and Malaysia. There are skulls dating back 44,000 years in Malaysia and these also look like Aborigines. Some say that the Semang go back 50,000 years in Malaysia.

Andaman Islands Negritos. This type was probably the main human type all throughout SE Asia, and a variation of this type was in NE Asia too. These are really the first people to come out of Africa. Afrocentrists like to say that these people are Black, but the truth is that these people are very far away from Black people – in fact, they are Asians.
Andaman Islanders have peppercorn hair like the hair of the Bushmen in Africa. This would differentiate this group from the woolly-haired Negritos in the Philippines. Genetic studies have shown that the Andaman Islanders are quite probably the precise remains of the first people to come out of Africa.
Genetically, they tend to resemble whatever group they are living around, with some distinct variations. In truth, this group here, the Andamans, is one of the “purest” ethnic groups on Earth, because they have been evolving in isolation for so long. This is known as genetic drift. At the same time, I think there is little diversity internally in their genome, also due to drift.
The Andaman Negritos are part of the Andaman Islands Negrito Race. Their strange and poorly understood languages are not related to any others, but there is some speculation that they are related to Kusunda in Nepal, a language isolate. I tend to agree with that theory.
One of the problems with genetic drift is after a while you get an “island” effect where the population lacks genetic diversity, since diversity comes from inputs from outside populations. Hence they tend to be vulnerable to changes in the environment that a more genetically diverse population would be able to weather a lot better.
Although racist idiot Richard Lynn likes to claim that all people like this have primitive languages, the truth is that the Andaman languages are so maddeningly complex that we are still having a hard time making sense out of them.
As in the case of Melanesians, Papuans and some Indian tribals, Afrocentrists like to claim that the Negritos are “Africans”, i.e., Black people. The truth is that Negritos are one of the most distant groups on Earth to existing Black populations. Negrito populations tend to be related, though not closely, with whatever non-Negrito population are in the vicinity. This is due to interbreeding over the years. Furthermore, most, if not all, Negritos are racially Asians, not Africans.
Another misconception is that Negritos are Australoids. Genetically, the vast majority of them do not fall into the Papuan or Australian races, but anthropometrically, at least some are Australoid. There is a lot of discrimination against these people wherever they reside, where they are usually despised by the locals.
White Supremacists have a particular contempt for them. As a side note, although White Supremacists like to talk about how ugly these people are, I think these Negrito women are really cute and delightful looking, but do you think they have large teeth? Some say Negritos have large teeth.

Around 8,500 years ago, the newly minted NE Asians, who had just transitioned from Australoids to NE Asians, came down from the north into the south in a massive influx, displacing the native Australoids. We can still see the results today. Based on teeth, SE Asians have teeth mixed between Australoids (Melanesians) and NE Asians. Yet, as noted above, there are few Australoid genes in SE Asians.

8,500 years ago, NE Asians moved down into SE Asia, displacing the native Australoids and creating the SE Asian race. If NE Asians are so smart though, I want to know what these women are doing wearing bathing suits in the freezing cold. Compare the appearance of these Northern Chinese to other NE Asian mainland groups above.

A prominent anthropology blogger suggests that a similar process occurred possibly around the same time in South Asia and the Middle East, where proto-Caucasians moved in and supplanted an native Australoid mix.
One group that was originally thought to be related to the remains of the original SE Asians is called the Yumbri, a group of primitive hunter-gatherers who live in the jungles of northern Laos and Thailand. Some think that the Yumbri may be the remains of the aboriginal people of Thailand, Laos and possibly Cambodia, but there is controversy about this.

Yumbri noble savages racing through the Thai rain forest. The group is seldom seen and little is known about them. They are thought to number only 200 or so anymore, and there are fears that they may be dying out. This paper indicates via genetics that the Yumbri are a Khmuic group that were former agriculturalists who for some odd reason gave up agriculture to go back to the jungles and live the hunter-gatherer way.
This is one of the very few case cases of agriculturalists reverting to hunting and gathering. The language looks like Khmuic (especially one Khmu language – Tin) but it also seems to have some unknown other language embedded in it. Genetics shows they have only existed for around 800 years and they have very little genetic diversity.
The low genetic diversity means that they underwent a genetic bottleneck, in this case so severe that the Yumbri may have been reduced to only one female and 1-4 males. It is interesting that the Tin Prai (a Tin group) has a legend about the origin of the Yumbri in which two children were expelled from the tribe and sent on a canoe downstream. They survived and melted into the forest where they took up a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The Khmu are an Austroasiatic group that are thought to be the indigenous people of Laos, living there for 4,000 years before the Lao (Thai) came down 800 years ago and largely displaced them from the lowlands into the hills. The Austroasiatic homeland is usually thought to be somewhere in Central China (specifically around the Middle Yangtze River Valley), but there are some who think it was in India.
They moved from there down into SE Asia over possibly 5,000 years or so. Many Austroasiatics began moving down into SE Asia during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties due to Han pushing south, but the expansion had actually started about 8,500 years ago. At this time, SE Asia was mostly populated by Negrito types. The suggestion is that the Austroasiatics displaced the Negritos, and there was little interbreeding.
The Austroasiatic languages are thought to be the languages of the original people of SE Asia and India, with families like Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, Indo-European and Dravidian being latecomers. There are possible deep linguistic roots with the Austronesian Family, and genetically, the Austroasiatics are related to Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai and the Hmong-Mien speakers.

There is an interesting paradox with the Southern Chinese in that genetically, they look like SE Asians, but they have IQ’s more like NE Asians, around ~105. There do not seem to be any reasonable theories about why this is so. It is true that NE Asians came down and moved into SE Asia, but they moved into the whole area, not just Southern China, yet SE Asian IQ’s are not nearly as high as Southern Chinese IQ’s.
Of relevance to the IQ debate is that Asians, especially NE Asians, score lower on self-esteem than Blacks, yet they do much better in school. This would tend to argue against the contention of many that Black relatively poor school performance is a consequence of them not feeling good about themselves.
This seems to poke one more hole in Richard Lynn’s theory that a journey through the Ice Age is necessary for a high IQ, as the Southern Chinese made no such sojourn.
As a result of the Northern and Southern mix in Southern China, groups such as the Yunnanese are quite a mixed group. Yunnanese are mostly southern and are extremely distant from NE Asians. The Wa are a group in the area that is almost equally mixed with northern and southern admixture.

Two pretty Laotian girls being starved to death by murderous Communist killers in Laos. The Lao are related to the Thai and are members of the Tai Race that includes the Lao, Thai, Aini, Deang, Blang, Vietnamese, Muong, Shan, Dai and Naxi peoples. The Lao language is a member of the Tai language family.
The Thai are related to the Tai group in Yunnan in Southern China. They evolved there about 4,000 years ago and then gave birth to a number of groups in the region. The modern Thai are latecomers to the region, moving into the area in huge numbers only about 700 years ago to become the Lao, Thai and Shan. The Lao are the descendants of recent Tai immigrants who interbred heavily with existing Chinese and Mon-Khmer populations.
Gorgeous Dai women in China. The Dai are an ethnic group in China, mostly in Yunnan, who are related to the Thai – they are also members of the Tai Race and speak a Tai language . It looks like the Thai split off from the larger Dai group and moved into Thailand in recent centuries.
The Dai were together with the Zhuang, another Yunnan group, as the proto-Tai north of Yunnan about 5000 years ago. They moved south into Yunnan and split into the Zhuang and the Tai. There were also Tai movements south into Vietnam via Yunnan.
More Dai, this time two young Dai men from Thailand. They do seem to look a bit different from other Thais, eh? They look a little more Chinese to me. The Thai are not the only ethnic group in Thailand; there are 74 languages spoken there, and almost all are in good shape. These people apparently speak the Tai Nüa language.
A proud Dai father in China, where they Dai are an official nationality together with the Zhuang. He’s got some problems with his teeth, but that is pretty typical in most of the world, where people usually lack modern dental care.
A photo of a Thai waitress in Bangkok getting ready to serve some of that yummy Thai food. Note that she looks different from the Dai above – more Southeast Asian and less Chinese like the Dai. The Thai are also members of the Tai Race.
Another pic of a Thai street vendor. The Thai are darker and less Chinese-looking than the lighter Dai. The Tai people are thought to have come from Taiwan over 5,000 years ago. They left Taiwan for the mainland and then moved into Southwest China, which is thought to be their homeland. Then, 5,000 years ago, they split with the Zhuang. The Zhuang went to Guangxi and the Tai went to Yunnan.
A Thai monk. Am I hallucinating or does this guy look sort of Caucasian? In Thai society, it is normal for a young man to go off and become a monk for a couple of years around ages 18-20. Many Thai men and most Lao men do this. I keep thinking this might be a good idea in our society. Khrushchev used to send them off to work in the fields for a couple of years at this age.

Nevertheless, most Yunnanese have SE Asian gene lines and they are quite distant from the NE Asians (as noted, NE Asians are further from SE Asians than they are from Caucasians).

More beautiful women, this time from Yunnan, in Communist-controlled China. Look at the miserable faces on these poor, starving women as they suffer through Communist terror and wholesale murder.
Yunnan was the starting point for most of peoples in the region, including the Tai, the Hmong, the Mon-Khmer, the Vietnamese, the Taiwanese aborigines and from there to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia.
In a sense, almost all of SE Asia was settled via a southward and southeastward movement out of Yunnan. Why so many groups migrated out of Yunnan is not known, but they may have being pushed out of there via continuous southward movements by Northern Han. Yunnan was seen as a sort of rearguard base and sanctuary for many Chinese ethnic groups who were being pushed out of their areas, mostly by Han expansions.
The terrain was rough but fertile. At some point, the Han started pushing down into Yunnan and that is when many southward expansions into SE Asia over the last 5000 or so years took place. A discussion of Asian racial features and their possible evolution is here.

Tibetans are close to NE Asians genetically, though they are located in the South. This is because they evolved in NE Asia and only recently moved down into Tibet. After coming into Tibet, they moved down into Burma. Many of today’s Burmese came from Tibet.

A Tibetan tourist in India. This woman has more of a classic Tibetan look than the younger woman below. Tibetans characteristically have darker skin than many NE Asians – Tibetans are actually NE Asians displaced to the south in fairly recent times. Although it is high and cold in Tibet, the region is at a more southerly latitude. Nevertheless, UV radiation is very intense in Tibet, which probably accounts for the darker skin.
It looks like all humans were pretty dark at the start and in some cases have lost melanin in cold climes where they needed to lighten to get Vitamin D. White skin in Europe is merely 9,000 years old, so European Whites never went through any brain-sharpening Ice Age either.
Tibetans are members of the General Tibetan Race, which includes the Tibetan, Nakhi, Lisu, Nu, Karen, Adi, Tujia, Hui and Kachin peoples. They speak a Tibeto-Burman language, part of the larger Sino-Tibetan family.
My observant Chinese commenter notes about the Tibetans: “As for the Tibetans, they seem to be primarily Northeast Asian (they look to be the most “yellow” of any Asians) with some other (South Asian-looking) element that interbred with them fairly recently. They tend to also be more ruddy, and have skin tones from reddish to yellow to brown.
You can see some similarities with Burmese, but they are distinct. Another thing to note is that the prevalence of colored hair and eyes is relatively higher in Tibet.
A gorgeous Tibetan woman, but to me she does not look typically Tibetan. Note that she seems to have put some whitening powder on her face – note contrast between her face and her darker hand.
Although this blog supports Tibetan freedom and opposed the colonial Chinese takeover and racist ethnic cleansing of the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communists, it should nevertheless be noted that the wonderful regime that the Dalai Lama apparently wants to bring back was one of the most vicious forms of pure feudalism existing into modern times, where the vast majority of the population were serf-slaves for the Buddhist religious ruling class.
Yes, that wonderful religion called Buddhism has its downside.
The Buddhist paradise of Burma, run by one of the most evil military dictatorships on Earth (No satire in that sentence). I thought Buddhists were supposed to be peace loving?
A Burmese woman with classic Burmese features. The Burmese, better known as the Bamar, are members of the General Tibetan Race. Boy, she sure is cute. And yes, I do have a thing for Asian women. I think I need to retitle this post Hot Asian Babes.

There are several interesting points in the sketch above. First of all, much as it pains them to be compared to people whom they probably consider to be inferior, all NE Asians were originally Australoids similar to the Australian Aborigines.
NE Asians like to accuse SE Asians of being mostly an “Australoid” group, an analysis that is shared by many amateur anthropologists on the web. We will look into this question more in the future, but it appears that both NE and SE Asians are derived from Australoid stock. Further, there are few Australoid genes left in any mainland SE Asians and none in most SE Asians.
It is true that Melanesians, Polynesians and Micronesians are part-Australoid in that the latter two are derived from Melanesians, who are derived from Austronesians mixed with Papuans. Any analysis that concludes that non-Oceanic SE Asians are “part-Australoid” is dubious.
If anything, NE Asians are closer to Australoids than most SE Asians. The Japanese and Koreans are probably closer to Australian Aborigines than any other group in Asia. I am certain that the ultranationalist and racialist Japanese at least will not be pleased to learn this.
Second, we note that all Asians are related, and that the proto-Asian homeland was in northern Vietnam. It follows that NE Asians are in fact derived from the very SE Asians whom the NE Asians consider to be inferior. A NE Asian who is well versed in these matters (He was of the “SE Asians are part-Australoid” persuasion) was not happy to hear my opinion at all, and left sputtering and mumbling.
NE Asian superiority over SE Asians is a common point of view, especially amongst Japanese – the Japanese especially look down on Koreans (Their fellow NE Asians!), Vietnamese, Filipinos (the “niggers of Asia”), the Hmong (the “hillbillies of Asia”) and the Khmer.

The beautiful, intelligent, civilized and accomplished Koreans. Tell me, the Japanese look down on these people are inferiors why now? Note the rather distinct short and stocky appearance, possibly a heat-preserving adaptation to cold weather. Note also the moon-shaped face.
The Koreans seem to have come down from Mongolia about 5,000 years ago and completely displaced an unknown native group, but don’t tell any Korean that. Koreans are members of the Japanese-Korean Race and the Korean language is said to be a language isolate, but I think it is distantly related to Japanese, Ainu and Gilyak in a separate, distant branch of Altaic.
My Chinese commenter adds: “I get the impression that Koreans are at least comprised two major physically discernible groups. Some of them have a shade of skin similar to the Inuit or Na Dene. But I think they have intermixed quite a lot during some relatively stable 5,000+ year period, which results in a fairly even spectrum.”

Third, Richard Lynn’s Ice Age Theory takes another hit as he can explain neither the Southern Chinese high IQ, nor the genesis of high-IQ NE Asians from lower-IQ SE Asians, nor the fact that NE Asians do not appear in the anthropological record until 9,000 years ago (after the Ice Age that supposedly molded those fantastic brains of theirs), nor the genesis of these brainy folks via Australoids, whom Lynn says are idiots.
Fourth, the Negritos, who are widely reviled in their respective countries as inferiors, are looking more and more like the ancestors of many of us proud humans. Perhaps a little respect for the living incarnations of our ancient relatives is in order.

Sendero Fades and FARC Rises in Peru

Repost from the old site.
Web Archive is your friend.
What wonderful dead Internet things it has managed to preserve for us, little snapshots long expired, such as Argentine Jewish journalist Uki Goni’s interview with Nicholas Shakespeare, author of the novel The Dancer Upstairs, based on the Shining Path* insurgency.
The novel was later made into a movie. Goni asks Shakespeare about the years he spent in Peru searching for Abimael Guzman (Presidente Gonzalo, leader of the Shining Path).
He never found him of course, but he did find a man who he said was the real brains behind the Sendero Luminoso movement, anthropologist Efrain Morote Best, former rector at the University of San Cristobal of Huamanga in Ayacucho, Peru from 1962-1968. This is where philosophy professor Guzman started his movement.
Many of the administrators, professors and students at the university were the nucleus of the movement, and Shining Path probably started 20 years before they burned ballot boxes in Chuschi, Ayacucho, on May 17, 1980, almost exactly 200 years after the last Inca rebel, Tupac Amaru, on May 17, 1781, was drawn and quartered by Spaniards, the four pieces then buried at far corners of Peru.
The Chuschi ballots burning was an inauspicious affair. At 2 AM, five masked youths and one adult entered the office of the registrar, tied him up, burned the ballots and registry and retreated into the night. The attack had been led by a schoolteacher. The incident was scarcely even noted in the press. But the single spark to light the prairie fire had been lit.
The correlation with the execution of Tupac Amaru was not accidental, yet this little-noted fact has hardly been noticed by anyone who studied the insurgency. But it has profound implications for understanding the movement.
Best’s son was the head on the military wing of Sendero and was the 2nd in command of the group. His brother and sister were also members. All were arrested and are serving sentences in prison. Best himself died in 1992. Shakespeare describes meeting Best in his hideout in northern Lima, surrounded by books and classical records, and coming face to face with the first truly evil man he had ever met.
Drinking coffee in Best’s home and talking for three hours, Shakespeare was shaking the whole time. Best had “no emotions”, while Gonzalo had “no personality” – an ascetic, humorless brainy type who bragged that he drank a bottle of mineral water on his honeymoon – this was his idea of a wild time.
Shakespeare’s interview paints Sendero as calculating and completely evil, a new Khmer Rouge. I do not necessarily agree with that, but I never supported them either. I believe that Sendero rejected Pol Pot’s back to nature Year Zero agrarianism, and surely they had nothing against intellectuals.
Indeed, it was a product of Mestizo intellectuals from the neglected provinces, victims of omnipresent racism and discrimination at the hands of the White ruling class.
Most of the cadres were young Mestizos, male and female, high school to college age, from the big cities on the coast and the provinces. Later there were many supporters amongst settlers in the jungle, amongst the ever-oppressed Indians in the Highlands, some jungle Indians and the urban poor and working class in Lima.
Shakespeare acts as if Sendero cared not one bit about the Indians. This is not true. The funeral of Edith Lagos, a fighter killed in 1982, drew over 30,000 (in a city of 70,000 people) – mostly Indians – to her funeral in Ayacucho, the capital of the province where it all began. The huge crowd had defied a ban on her funeral.
Furthermore, Lagos (rare photos of the strikingly beautiful Lagos here and here) had recently graduated from a Catholic high school run by nuns in Ayacucho. She had been a model student at the high school.
Earlier, her parents had sent her to Lima to study to be an attorney. She often skipped school to watch movies from India, because, she said, she liked to cry. When she was not doing that, she was meeting with trade union workers in the city and talking revolution.
She was rapidly recruited into the Shining Path and her rousing speeches electrified Indians throughout the Southern Sierra. At age 17, she was already a guerrilla commander. Lagos was captured several times by government forces. There is a photo of her in government custody in 1981, face swollen by beatings, 18 year old eyes already hard with determination. By now, Sendero held the northern third of Ayacucho.
On May 2, 1982, in one of Sendero’s most impressive actions, 500 Senderistas raided and took over the university city of Huamanga, a city of 80,000 people. They blew up the local jail and liberated 304 Senderistas, including Lagos. They held the city for a short time, confiscated every weapon in sight, and left.
After that, Sendero went on the offensive in Ayacucho. Bridges, electrical towers, police stations, barracks, banks and businesses were attacked. Three months later, President Belaunde declared a state of emergency in nine districts in the southern Andes and put them under military control. At the end of 1983, 8,000 peasants lay dead. Maybe 5% were Senderistas. The war was on.
Once, with other fighters, she blew a hole in the Ayacucho jail and liberated all of the Senderista prisoners. In the months before her death, a legend was born, the heroic Robin Hood guerrilla, a female Che Guevara. In the market of Huancayo, Edith Lagos wooden statues were already being sold, a young woman standing before a budding tree.
Legend* has it she was wounded in a shootout with authorities soon afterwards, apparently taken prisoner while alive, raped, tortured and finally bayoneted to death by government forces. She was all of 19 years old. This was pretty typical behavior by government forces.
In contrast, Sendero often tended to wounded government soldiers’ wounds, took them prisoner, and asked them to defect from the security forces or join Sendero.
Her father was asked to come to Andahualyas to identify the body. He came, picked up the body and took it back to Ayacucho. All along the way, the procession was repeatedly stopped as throngs of peasants poured into the road to mourn their dead heroine.
Her funeral and mass were held in the main Catholic (Lagos was a Catholic, as were most of rank and file Senderistas and even some of the leadership – Abimael Guzman himself is said to be Catholic) cathedral in Ayacucho, where her coffin was draped with a hammer and sickle flag inside church, an odd sight.
There is a rare videotape of the funeral. The chapel is packed with peasants, storeowners, government workers, all dressed in Indian garb. As her coffin is borne out of the church, a rousing, clapping chant rises from the crowd as it presses forward and drapes a hammer and sickle flag over her coffin: “Commandante Edith presente! The people will never forget your spilled blood!”
The crowd circled the square three times, each time swelling the crowd as more and more people poured out of their homes to join the march. Marching into the cemetery was a solid wall of humanity. The Shining Path banner rode on the outstretched arms of the crowd.
There are those who swear that Abimael Guzman himself was in the crowd. He may as well have been. The commanding officer of the police had ordered all of his men to stay inside during the procession.
Lagos is still regarded as a heroine by the local Indians at the time and for a long time afterwards. Her grave become a local shrine. Three times, government death squads blew up her grave to kill her vision. Three times, her father painstakingly rebuilt it, even though after the first blast there was not that much to put in there.
Each time he rebuilds it, he rewrites the poem that Lagos had composed before her death as her epitaph. Every year on the anniversary of her death, her mother brings a bouquet of yellow broom flowers to put on the grave, Sendero’s symbol of resistance. Even now, Edith Lagos banners, poems and sculptures festoon the city of Huamanga. The myth of Commandante Edith lives.
Lagos’ funeral, along with reports that many Catholics, including nuns and priests, supported the Shining Path, also gives the lie to the anti-Sendero line that “Sendero deliberately targeted the Church”, while at the same time accentuating the dramatic role that women played in the Shining Path.
In 1993, an organizational chart of the top leadership of Sendero showed 12 men and 11 women.
The widow of one of Peru’s most famous novelists, Jose Maria Arguedas, Sybila Arredondo, was arrested as a member of Sendero, sending shock waves through Peruvian society. Arguedas, a mestizo born in the Andes, captured the true spirit of the Peruvian Indian better than perhaps any other Peruvian author. He died a suicide in 1969.
1/3 of Sendero’s members and leadership were female. One of Peru’s top ballerinas was an associate of the top Sendero leadership and was one of those arrested with Guzman in 1992.
Clearly, the notion that Sendero oppressed women in general, widely made after the group killed Maria Elena Moyano, “Mother Courage”, in 1991, is without merit. Further, Moyano was killed, albeit brutally, for organizing counterinsurgency patrols and turning in supporters and members of Sendero to the police. As such, she was no longer a civilian.
The very name of the group was the Peruvian Communist Party en el Sendero Luminoso de (in the shining path of) Jose Carlos Mariategui. Mariategui, who wrote his most famous work in 1928, was one of the Peru’s most famous Marxist thinkers.
He was particularly important for highlighting the Woman question and Indian question. He was also a Catholic and was particularly harsh about the way that the Marxists in Peru at the time criticized the spiritual beliefs of the peasants. For an extensive review of the role of Catholic believers in many Communist parties and movements in the 20th century, see this fascinating web page.
One cannot really understand Sendero without knowing about Mariategui. So from the start, Sendero raised feminism and the liberation of the Indians as two of their banners.
Simon Strong’s Shining Path (1992) is the finest book ever written on the movement. He spent a lot of time in Peru and concluded that at the time, the movement had a huge amount of support, even among the military, the Catholic church, teachers, students, workers, peasants, the urban poor and exiles.
They also had massive support among the Ashaninka Indians in the Amazon, and also with some other tribes. The notions that Sendero held 1000’s of Indians “prisoner“, or that they massacred scores of unarmed jungle Indians, are total nonsense. At the time Strong wrote his book, the movement was at the peak of their popularity. Later that year, Guzman was captured, and it has been all downhill ever since.
But the general assessment of anti-Sendero authors, that Sendero either had no understanding of, or was hostile to, Peruvian values and traditions is just not true.
I also disagree with the standard assessment that Sendero is widely despised in Peru. Many people do have ambivalent feelings about them, true.
When the media writes about the flap about Cameron Diaz infuriating Peruvians with her Maoist “Serve the People” purse (the rightwing blogosphere has had an idiotic field day with this, but I seriously doubt that Diaz supports or supported Sendero, so the whole affair is just the usual rightwing character assassination), the Peruvians they refer to are elite, the only ones the media ever talks to.
No one else in Peru matters or has a voice.
At the moment, Sendero is fairly unpopular, even among those who formerly supported them. These same people also despise the government, the system, and the White elite who exploit them. But Sendero was so vicious and crazy, killing so many people, including the masses and other Leftists, that they left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
These people have not given up on revolution by any means. After all, the Peruvian system is worthless, insane and evil, and it should be destroyed. It is only reasonable that such an insane and evil system should produce an insane and evil insurgency – Sendero.
Now, Guzman and his fellow leaders sue for peace in prison, while a few holdouts under Comrade Artemio wage armed struggle, mostly in Ayacucho, the Huallaga Valley, the Satipo River area and Huanuco. A few years back, they were recruiting in the squalid slums of Lima once again.
These days, a more intelligent group of guerrillas is in Peru – the FARC* of Colombia. A massive, wealthy movement with deep roots in the Colombian poor, especially the rural poor, FARC has been spreading out lately down into the Ucayali River area in the jungle. They are primarily in the area of Yurimangas and north.
They have been spotted as far south as the Apurimac River near Ayacucho (where Sendero is still active) and even in Lima. They are very well-supplied, upbeat, loaded with cell phones and radios, very well-disciplined and are making deep inroads in Peru.
They give medical care, food, cooking utensils and field tools to the people and don’t bother a soul. They are quite popular with the masses they are interacting with, who see them as better than Sendero.
Many former supporters and members of Sendero have lined up with the FARC in Peru. Earlier this year, a column of Senderistas went back to Colombia, probably for training. FARC has been urging Sendero to join with FARC and modify their line.
Another column of the remaining leadership of the MRTA* (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) from around Tarapoto and Moyobamba in San Martin Province (their longtime headquarters – photo here) also left for Colombia around the same time – FARC is trying to join together remnants of both Sendero and MRTA with FARC in Peru – a very interesting and possibly fruitful plan.
For a great webpage on Tarapoto, complete with awesome pics, by an American woman who spent some time there, see here.
The notion that the MRTA was finished after the hostage raid in 1998 is not true – as the century turned, they continued to build the movement in every province of Peru. One of the problems with the MRTA is that they never had much money. Even around Taratopo, where they had a lot of support, they were a sorry sight, often sickly, pale, thin, and broke, wearing ragged clothes.
Compared to that impotent picture, and Sendero’s madness and brutality, many of Peru’s peasants think that the FARC are just dandy. Even in Colombia, the FARC has been much more sane and less brutal towards the masses than Sendero was.
As such, you can now go into areas of Colombia where everyone for miles around is in the FARC in one way or another, every villager in every town, every ragged farmer in every field with a gun hidden in his clothes, every woman in apron cooking in her kitchen. And it has been this way for decades in Colombia in these areas. This is the reality of FARC’s roots in rural Colombia.
The interview with Shakespeare, who is hostile to revolution, nevertheless makes clear that Peru is one nasty place. It is the most racist country he has ever been to, Shakespeare opines. Sure it is.
If someone from a lower class (or caste, really) asks a white elite for the time of day in Lima, the rich man will not even speak to the lower-class person. In fact, he won’t speak to him virtually no matter what he wants. The Indians have been killed, enslaved, raped, abused, ignored and basically slaughtered with hunger, disease and out and out murder since Pizarro stepped ashore in 1521.
Shakespeare went to Ayacucho, where a white man had been murdered by Indians a week before. Everywhere he goes, the Indians whisper pistaco – the name for a mysterious white giant that murders Indians for their fat which he uses to run Western industry. Pistaco does not exist, but the Indians think he does.
Shakespeare said that Sendero started a myth that Tupac Amaru’s body, quartered and buried over 200 years before, was slowly growing underground and would regenerate as he rose with Sendero’s victory. The materialist Sendero would never make up such a story. The story could only come from the Indians themselves, and I am sure they believed it.
And in many ways, Peru today is the same as at any time in the decades and centuries after Pizarro waded ashore 500 years ago. Until that changes, Peru will always be in a revolutionary situation.
Peru created Sendero; it could not have grown in any sane or decent society. If Best was evil, so was the land that made him. The crimes of the Sendero Frankenstein rest in large part with its creator, the horror called Peruvian society itself.
Sendero carried out 96 actions last year, about 2 a week; clearly, it is still alive, though nowadays they are fighting to get their leaders and cadres released and negotiate and end to the war – reasonable demands that no Peruvian state will cotton to. A few years back, they were recruiting again in Lima’s horrid shantytowns (photo here).
Meanwhile, FARC expands with great success across Peru.
They combine this success with a group in Venezuela, FARV – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Venezuela – (which has 2,000-3,000 members but has not engaged in many actions yet) and another group in Ecuador called FARE – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Ecuador – mostly in the border area with Putamayo and just building a movement now.
FARB – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Brazil – exists in the Dog’s Head region of Brazil where Peru, Brazil and Colombia all come together, building a movement once again.
FARC also uses the border areas in Panama as an R and R area. The local Cuna Indians of the Darien are quite cooperative, but the Panamanian state has murdered some of them for allowing FARC to stay with them, though FARC has never done a thing in Panama.
Recently, FARC has been spotted all the way over in far northern Guyana, where they are trying to tax the gold mining operations. This sighting implies that FARC also has a presence all across far northern Brazil.
US media reports place FARC operatives recently in Bolivia, where they were giving political advice to groups associated with the new president Enrique Morales before his election.
Despite recent offensives by the Colombian state, FARC is alive and well and expanding across much of Latin America. This as the radical version of Sendero peters out.
Revolution is a bloody thing. If states don’t want 12 year old kids carrying AK-47’s professing revolution while roaming their slums*, they need only create a semblance of a decent society.
There is no end of history, and you can only push a man so far before he rises up to strike you back.
*A Salvadoran man I met in a San Mateo, California restaurant in 2001 told me he saw a 12 yr old boy in the San Salvador slums carrying an automatic weapon and chanting revolutionary slogans in 1969. He went home and told his family, and his parents resolved to sent him out of the country, saying that revolution was surely on its way. Their omniscience was keen. 11 years later, it exploded in full force via the FMLN*.
*This blog strongly supported the FMLN in El Salvador to the point of contributing money to their weapons fund. We also strongly support the FARC in Colombia, all of its regional split-offs and the MRTA in Peru. We do not support the project of Sendero Luminoso as they kill people who are completely innocent. All support for groups is with certain reservations.

More on Socialist Institutions in Capitalist States

Repost from the old site.
In response to my post, Dr. Andrew Austin, a sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, commented, rejecting my notion that all government structures in a capitalist system were de facto socialist institutions.
His response is a typical Marxist rejoinder.
Andrew Austin:

Socialism is a political economic system in which the workers own and control the means of production. That means the workers run the firm, so to speak.
Leaving aside the question of whether they produce anything of value (in an exchange sense), soldiers and police officers do not run the firm. They are employees of the state and are told what to do by those who run the state. They have no say-so in determining who stands above them. The hierarchy that controls their work lives (and to a large extent their leisure lives) is not comprised of democratically-elected offices.
Moreover, the military and the police serve the interests of the capitalist class and its managers and associated functionaries, not the interests of the working class.
Government functions are socialist to the degree that they are controlled by and benefit the working class.
An example of a public system in the US that is often said to have the appearance of socialism is the educational system. School board members are elected, subject to public pressure, and every child can access the system. However, public education has become a system for indoctrinating children into the values and norms of capitalist society.
Just because the state sector is involved does not signal socialism. The capitalist state is by definition not socialist because it is controlled by capitalists for the benefit of capitalists and the perpetuation, expansion, and entrenchment of capitalist relations.
States reflect the character of the underlying mode of production. I see a lot of people make the error of thinking that extensive state intervention means socialism. The only way state intervention is socialist is if the social relations are socialist or society is undergoing a revolutionary transformation.
Authoritarian capitalism – fascism, whatever – has a massive state sector, but it is the antithesis of socialism. Capitalism can be more or less democratic – though there are always sharp limits on how democratic capitalism can be. Socialism can be more or less democratic. Unlike capitalism, the more democratic socialism becomes, the more socialist it is.

I’m not going to comment on this because I am more or less at a loss for words. Feel free to comment in the comments section.
On the other hand, astute commenter James Schipper agrees with me, but takes a non-Marxist and more social democratic view of socialism.
Keep in mind that social democrats call their system socialism, while Marxists reject that, calling social democrats “bourgeois democrats” when they are in a good mood and “social fascists” when they are in a bad mood (recall the epithet used by the German Communists against the German social democrats in the 1920’s and early 1930’s).
Schipper:

I agree totally with you. Every country in the world has a socialist sector. The market can’t exist without the state, but the state can exist without the market. A country in which the state ran everything would be a disaster, but it could exist. A country in which literally everything were left to the market would sink in anarchy and misery. Some African countries have come close to this.
Socialism means essentially three things: state-directed production, state-directed distribution of income and state-regulated private production. There is plenty of that all over the world.
The biggest department in the socialist sector in the US is the Pentagon. Many American generals might balk at being called employees in the socialist sector, but that’s exactly what they are. They don’t get their paychecks from a corporation.
However, I would like to add that socialism in the sense above does not necessarily mean egalitarianism. There can be such a thing as socialism for the rich. Even a totally socialist economy could be run mainly for the benefit of an elite, in the same way that a corporation can be run mainly for the benefit of senior managers and at the expense of shareholders and employees.

I respond, agreeing with James:
Indeed, what we have under Bush seems to be something like a socialism for the rich. The rich are allowed to gamble all they want with their money and possibly even blow up the economy. If they make money, they get to keep all of it. If they lose, we taxpayers cover all of their losses. Hence there is nothing to prevent them from making mad and wild gambles with money, which are quite risky for the economy.
Guaranteeing the losses of capitalists is something that economists call “moral risk”. It’s like if I get to go to the casino all day and win as much as I want, but once I start losing, I get to come hat in hand to the taxpayers and demand that they bail out all my losses. I might just stay at the casino all the time if that were the case.
This is the moral risk inherent in today’s corporatist system.
On the other hand, we cannot allow big banks and strange institutions like Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac to fail. In return for bailing these clowns out, though, taxpayers must demand either an ownership share in Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac (I would argue that there is an excellent for nationalizing these institutions, but after Ronald Reagan, that’s hardly possible).
Or those two institutions, and the entire finance industry for that matter, must submit to the kind of intense state regulation that they formerly labored under, and that worked very well from 1935 until 1973 or so when capitalists started destroying it.
Surely socialist states can be run solely for an elite as James notes. This is why I object to supporting the Burmese state. Some Leftists are supporting Burma on the basis that the Western sanctions on Burma are not because it is an evil murdering state, but because it refuses to open up its state economy sufficiently to multinational capital. They are correct that this is the real reason for the sanctions on Burma.
But while Burma is formally a socialist state and most of the economy is in state hands, the state sector is run by a venal, callous, paranoid and murderous military elite as a cash cow. They pocket the substantial profits of this state sector while disallowing any private competition with it and at the same time treating their people little better than chattel.
This is something like a crony state capitalist state, and there is nothing progressive about it, especially while the vast majority of Burmese wallow in the worst misery. Just to show that there is nothing progressive about it, the Burmese Communist Party (admittedly very radical Maoists) has been waging armed struggle against the Burmese “socialist” junta since it was formed in 1962.
The junta has oppressed the various Burmese nationalities, most of whom never even consented to be a part of the new Burmese state freed from colonialism in 1948 in the first place.
A proper progressive state gives substantial rights and autonomy to national minorities, and the USSR, Vietnam and China have all done this, despite a lot of problems along the way. The progressive socialist states in Europe also give cultural rights to national minorities.
Vicious repression of minorities is a quality of fascism and ultranationalism and not properly of the Left. On the other hand, the divergent, quirky and twisted Khmer Rouge ferociously attacked all non-Khmers, though they were surely Marxists. The Khmer Rouge was a sad case of ethnic nationalist and racist Marxists. I would agree that a racist Marxist is still a Marxist, but he just isn’t a very good one.

Cool Page On Social Democracy

Repost from the old site.
This is a really cool page on the Social Democratic Party of America. There are several social democratic parties in the US, and no, rightwing fuckwads, they are not much like the Democratic Party at all. A lot of them don’t even like the Democratic Party. Social democracy means a lot of things all over the world.
There is a Socialist International of socialist parties all over the world, and I support that organization. Even a lot of Communists don’t necessarily hate it. A lot of us on the Left support all sorts of socialist models, from Communism to social democracy even all the way to the US Democratic Party.
Your average US rightwing shithead can’t seem to figure that out, but then, they subscribe to a philosophy that is narrow-minded and stupid in both intent and praxis.
Truth is, as you can see by this page, there is not a lot of love lost between at least this social democratic party and Communists. To say that they are one and the same just shows that you are a stupid rightwing asshole. No serious political scientist would make such a statement.
I don’t necessarily agree with this party in their critique of Cuba, Belarus and other countries ruled by Communist-type regimes, but hey, it’s a big tent here on the Left.
There are all sorts of social democratic parties all over the world. As you can see, they are major parties in Slovenia, Japan, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, Iceland, Austria, Serbia, Poland , Paraguay, Portugal, Finland, Cameroon, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Macedonia, France, Italy, Sweden, Belarus, Denmark and all sorts of other places.
I have varying opinions on how well they are doing; I think that the ones in Europe have done a pretty good job. But I have a pretty low opinion of Lula’s PT in Brazil, Bachelet’s Socialist Party in Chile, the UK Labor Party (An imperialist socialist party?), and I doubt if this new Guatemalan party is going to get much done.
The Peruvian social democrats have a particularly horrible record. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua will not be able to get much done either. Cristina Merkel is having a hard time getting a lot of her agenda through in Argentina.
Social democracy seems to work best in highly developed and wealthy countries, as you can see above. In the poor Third World, they haven’t been able to do much to change the reactionary and backwards nature of society, nor to alleviate poverty, nor to do much of anything.
I think in a lot of cases there may be a necessity for revolutionary change, either via the way of the gun, or possibly peacefully in a more civilized society via the Hugo Chavez model.
In Europe, the ruling classes and the Right were completely destroyed in World War 2, which left millions of rightists and fascists dead and left the whole rightwing movement scattered and discredited. Hence social democracy was able to make a lot of headway with a defeated and more or less rendered-civilized and neutered Right.
Further, society itself changed in that even the wealthy, the upper middle classes, the middle classes, and corporate executives began to support social democracy.
In part this social pact was due to massive pressure from the Left which caused the European Right and business classes to sue for peace via a Social Compact. Also, society itself changed and social democracy became the dominant model for all classes.
Something similar occurred in Japan. The Right was destroyed by the war, and those that were not dead were discredited and humiliated.
In Eastern Europe, decades of Communism may have left a distaste for Communism but not for social democracy. Once again, most of the rightists were simply slaughtered, the rest were in jail or discredited, and society itself was well-molded along socialist lines for decades.
In Latin America, faced with a much more backwards, venal, dishonest, amoral, criminal, corrupt, and murderous upper class and upper middle class intent on staying in power at all costs, social democracy has had a really hard time getting much done. It’s fascinating that the US has allowed social democracy to flower in Europe, but has smashed every glimmer of it in Latin America as “Communism” or “dictatorship”.
Socialist parties in India (the Congress Party) have failed for similar reasons as the ones in Latin America. Social democracy in Sri Lanka has a good record.
In most of the Arab World, there is a more or less socialist model in place, no matter what the governments call themselves. Radical free market capitalism is contrary to Arab society and to Islam itself, hence it is not likely to succeed in any Arab or Islamic society.
Cambodia is run by a socialist party. So is Burma, but most socialists want nothing to do with them.
Contrary to rightwing bullshit, socialism in the form of social democracy has not failed at all. It is not a failed or discredited model or any of that.
Social democratic parties have sadly had a really hard time getting off the ground in the United States. For the most part, this is because America is extremely rightwing for a developed country. It is no exaggeration to say that the US is the most reactionary developed country on Earth, in both its leadership and in its citizens. This is 100% the fault of US Whites, and always has been.
There’s been a decades-long propaganda war against socialism in which the word “socialism” was deviously married to word “Communism”. Americans being a bunch of morons, and basically very rightwing in their natures, swallowed the whole thing. But in the mid-1970’s, things were different.
We had had over a decade of fairly progressive politics, even under Republicans, and leaders of major US corporations got together, agitated and worried. They said that if something is not done now, we are going to have a European-style social democracy in the US. This began a years-long project to set up and fund a series rightwing foundations and think tanks in the US.
They are still going strong, and have tremendous influence on US politics due to their ability to churn out papers, speakers and conferences on issues almost immediately. They have deep ties to the reactionary corporate media and quickly popped onto TV and the front page and kept there as long as the Right wants or needs any issue to be spotlighted.
It is true that there is a tradition of radical individualism in the US, but that’s only among White people. This may have been slightly reasonable at some point if you were Davey Crockett building a cabin in the woods, but those days are long gone.
One great thing about the loss of a White majority in the US (which will be both good and bad) is that US non-Whites, in particular Hispanics and Blacks, are much more sympathetic to at least Democratic Party politics and possibly social democracy.
On the other hand, reactionary politics have such a deep hold on this country that even some younger Blacks and Hispanics, once they start making some money, adopt some form of reactionary politics, typically nowadays along the lines of the faddish but ultra-rightwing libertarianism. This is discouraging, and shows that a non-Whites in the US are not necessarily a progressive bloc.
Another thing to note is that despite the hostile rhetoric some US social democratic parties take towards the Democratic Party, we already have a lot of social democracy here in the US, brought to us actually by both political parties.
The Right, meaning White America, has been savagely slashing away at this social democracy for decades now, but even so, it’s a Hell of a lot better record than the social democratic parties in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Jamaica and Brazil, which in my opinion have failed to varying degrees.
If Americans were anything like Europeans, social democracy ought to be an easy play here in the US. But for one thing, White Americans’ opposition to high taxation is going to make this a difficult project.
White Americans’ opposition to socialism and social democracy is rooted in a lot of things, but one of the main things is race. It’s all about taking the hard-earned tax dollars of White Americans and giving them to worthless gangbanging, welfare-addicted, drug-abusing Hispanics and Black criminals, scumbags and lowlifes.
Truth is that this simple-minded mindset has devastated a lot of hardworking working-class lower to mid-income Whites, but White America just can’t see that.
White Americans don’t have much in the way of racial solidarity. If there is anything, there is solidarity based on class and that’s it. Whites in the suburbs think that low-income and working class Whites, whom they refer to as White trash, can fuck off. While White American politics are indeed often rooted in race, they are also rooted in class too, and the two can be contradictory.
Life is complicated.

More "Nazism is a Left Movement" Insanity

A rightwinger writes the following in the comments, arguing that Nazism, bizarrely enough, is a movement of the Left.

I have to disagree with you comment that the right wing and conservative movement being about smaller government is “just rhetoric.” If you look at the U.S. constitution, you can see that it is very much about enumerating, specifying and limiting the powers of the federal government while reserving power to the much smaller governments of the states and to the people.
The separation of powers in government to executive, legislative, and judicial branches that keep each other in check was specifically designed to prevent the kind of runaway government that exemplified Nazi Germany or the British Crown in the 1700’s. I fully agree with you that the U.S. government has not lived up to that ideal in many ways, but this government has hardly been in the hands of right-wingers or conservatives for the past half century.
Also, some bloggers claim that the fact that Nazis fought against other left wingers proves that they were not socialists. This argument has no more validity than saying that different denominations of Christianity fighting each other proves that any one of them wasn’t Christian. Within any belief system, you may well find factions fighting over who will be top dog.
The unbridled centralized power of the Nazi government to control the economy and corporations, while trampling on the rights of individuals and exterminating millions of people based upon race and religion is just an especially warped form of socialism. I maintain that one of the biggest lies of the twentieth century has been that Nazis were right wing. That kind of centralized government power is completely inconsistent with right wing ideology which strives to put strict limits on government. George Washington said it well: “Government is like fire – a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

There is a field called political science. They don’t agree with you. Nazism is considered by political scientists to be a movement of the far right, for what it’s worth. There is a recent movement by some lunatics, mostly in the US, to repackage Nazism as a movement of the Left. This movement is led by extreme rightwing loons like libertarians, extreme Chicago School neoliberals and the Austrians who follow Mises. Because the rightwing in the US is insane, it’s filtered down to the Republican Party as a whole. You would be hard-pressed to find a single respected political scientist anywhere on Earth who thinks Nazism is a Left movement.
It’s not. It’s not a Left movement. Not at all.
The founding fathers were actually liberals, progressives, and in some ways libertarians. A movement for limiting the extreme powers of government at that time was a very liberal movement. Back then, conservatives were all big government types. The rightwing in the US at the time, the Federalists under Hamilton, were big government types. They were monarchists, elitists who were anti-democratic. The rightwing has been opposed to democracy all over the world and at all times. Conservatism is a movement of elites, typically wealthy elites. Democracy is bad for business.
Your notion that the Right is about small government is ridiculous. Here in the US it tends to be, but they don’t even do very good on that score. Government is usually much more repressive under a US rightwing regime than under a left one. George Bush’s regime was one of the most dictatorial we have ever seen in the US. It was a radical rightwing regime.
Around the world, rightwing regimes have almost always been big government projects, at least in terms of the national security state. They are typically quite repressive too. The “small government” conservatism is pretty much a uniquely American phenomenon. Other than Thatcher’s Britain, show me one more rightwing government since WW2 that believed in or practiced “small government.” This is a fetish of US conservatism not shared by the Right of the rest of the world.
I have a hard time understanding why this “Nazism is a Left Movement” has got going. This is a recent thing. When the Nazis were in power, they were generally loved by the Right all over the world because they were some of the most badass anti-Communists that ever lived. After the war, former Nazis sought refuge in hard rightwing regimes in South America and joined with CIA groups and the rightwing governments of Taiwan and South Korea in fighting the Left all over the whole world. Post World War 2, many hard right dictators have lauded the Nazis as their heroes. No one on the Left has.
I suppose it is because we say that Nazism was a far rightwing movement. Well it was, and it is. Big deal. So the right is defensive about this because they don’t want to be associated with Nazis. It’s ridiculous. It’s as if every liberal had to renounce the Khmer Rouge and deny that they were a Left movement for fear of being tainted with them.
There have been plenty of nasty folks on the Left. The Khmer Rouge were mass murderers. Mao, Stalin, the North Koreans, the Vietnamese, Hoxha, Mengitsu – they all killed lots of people when they were in power. But the Nazis were not among the mass murderers of the Left. Those were the mass murderers of the Right. As if it matters though, really.

Conservatives Promote Stupidity, How and Why

In the comments, Matt astutely notes about Republicans’ willful promotion of stupidity:

Rob, You may remember how conservatives at one time were writing all those books about how l “liberal” education policies were making American children stoopid (Closing of the American Mind, Don’t Know Much About…, Cultural Literacy). Whether their idea of the causation was correct or not, they were right; Americans are stoopid. But you’ll notice they’ve mostly shut up about it. They must have figured out that the poorly educated and the willfully ignorant were their base.

Good point Matt. Of course that’s their base.
Sure, a lot of people who vote Democrat aren’t very smart, but that’s just the way they are, and nothing can be done about it. Anyway, the Democratic Party in general is not hostile to science and does not promote complete and utter stupidity, except when they parrot GOP ideas and concepts.
What’s funny is that I’m sure the guys running the GOP are very smart people. No doubt they are often very intellectual guys. But they willfully peddle Stupid Juice by tankload to the masses, and they know full well what they are doing. It’s disgusting, but there’s a method to their madness. If they could get people to vote rightwing by peddling intelligence, I’m sure they would do that instead.
What’s disturbing is that conservatives have always promoted ignorance and stupidity everywhere they’ve been in power and at all times. The priests of the Middle Ages would not let the Bible be translated, because they didn’t want their flocks to learn to read. The Taliban burn down girls’ schools. The Nazis burned books.
When Fujimori seized power in Peru, he shut down most of the nation’s universities as hotbeds of subversion. The army raided the universities, ransakcked them, tore them to pieces, raided libraries and destroyed all the books, on and on. The universities were later reopened, and students shuffled back to campus, appalled at their trashed schools. Funding for the universities was gutted, and the books in the libraries were never replaced.
Curiously, Peruvian polls consistently show that a majority of Peruvians support Fujimori, so I guess Peruvians are even more retarded than Americans. At least we don’t send in the army to tear down UCLA and burn all the books in the library while the population cheers. Not yet anyway. I guess that’s in the future.
A similar thing happened in El Salvador under rightwing rule. The universities were shuttered as hotbeds of subversion.
Under Pinochet in Chile, funding for the public schools was gutted, and your average Chilean public school now is literally falling apart. The wealthy send their kids to public schools, so they don’t care. Not quite pro-stupidity, more like “we don’t want the masses educated.”
The same happened in Argentina, where funding for the public schools was incredibly transferred to private schools, leaving the public schools tottering and and decrepit. This is essentially what the Right in the US wants to do with their vouchers scheme.
The ruling elites have always feared that an educated population would figure out the rich people’s scam and cut off some of the loot or transfer some to themselves, so conservatives everywhere and at all times have attacked the education of the masses. The motto of conservatives is that the dumber the people are, the easier they will be for us to manipulate.
I am ashamed to admit that the worst Communists who ever lived, the Khmer Rogue, deliberately targeted any urban person with an education. They often signaled out those who worse glasses for execution. One wonders how much the national IQ went down during Khmer Rogue rule.
Mao executed intellectual dissidents during the 100 Flowers Campaign. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao shuttered universities and sent students to the work the fields with the peasants. The argument was that intellectual students were a privileged elite.
Stalin’s purges in the 1930’s disproportionately targeted the intellectual leadership of various ethnicities who he distrusted.
Otherwise, Communists have been some of the most pro-educational governments in the history of man, but we do have some shameful backsliding.
Any time your government is mass imprisoning and/or executing the intellectuals of society, it seems to me that the state is engaging in some pretty retarded behavior.
Here’s a plan! Let’s put all the smart people in prison! Better yet, let’s kill all the smart people! Duh. No better way to run your society into the ground.

A History of Social Contracts Around the World in the Last Century

Sometimes when there is a real threat from the Left, the Rich consent to a “social contract.” This has happened in numerous places. The US in the Depression, with the threat of Communism hanging over their heads..

Western Europe, once again with a threat of Communism.

It never happens without a serious threat though. The rich only give up stuff as a compromise to fend off something a whole lot worse.

In places like Latin America, social contracts are more or less impossible. Most of the 3rd World is like that. Social contracts usually only happen in more modernized states. The 3rd World is characterized by backwards elites that never give up anything at all without massive violence.

Mexican elites did give up stuff, but it took a horrible revolution that killed 5% of the population to do so.

Same thing in El Salvador. It took 70,000 dead to get the rich to compromise a bit.

They compromised in Costa Rica too in 1947, but I don’t understand why.

There was also a social contract under Peron in Argentina for reasons that are hard to figure.

It’s notable that both Argentina and Costa Rica are White. Social contracts are much more likely in White than in non-White countries.

Social contracts occurred in the Arab World because the Arab-Islamic World is socialism-friendly. They don’t like the idea of massive wealth accumulations and people with nothing to eat. Something about evolving in the desert I guess…

A social contract took place in Taiwan as a way to ward off Communism from China. Similar thing in Japan. Asians are sort of natural socialists too, like Arabs. They don’t like the idea of folks starving. Guess they’ve seen plenty enough of that.

In addition, those are collectivist cultures, possibly due to Buddhism. Radical free market capitalism won’t fly to well in a Buddhist society. The Buddha surely would not have approved of neoliberalism. It’s against everything he taught. There is another thing. These are homogeneous and extremely ethnocentric societies. If a Japanese person is starving or homeless, this strikes at the heart of every Japanese person, as he is automatically your brother on account of ethnicity. That man on the street under a pup tent may as well be your cousin.

Thailand is one of the few Asian countries that has avoided wealth redistribution. The rest – Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China, did it with guns. The Thai Communists had a lot of support due to SE Asian culture, but they eventually quit. They were resurrected recently in the Red Shirt riots, which was a classic socialist movement led by many former Communist guerrillas.

The Philippines has avoided wealth redistribution due to a horrible Spanish colonial culture that turned it into Latin America in Asia. Nevertheless, there is a huge Communist insurgency going on.

The situation in Indonesia is awful for a Southeast Asian country, but they had a huge Communist movement that was massacred by the state and the CIA. 1 million people were killed in 1965 to put that down. As in Pakistan, Islam gets in the way of justice.

Social contracts have been impossible in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, probably due to Hindu culture with its caste system in which the poor feel that they are ordained by God to their place. Caste and vile Indian culture has cemented in feudal relations in the entire subcontinent, even in Islamic nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Where wealth redistribution is prevented by peaceful means, as in South Asia, efforts shift to guns and bombs. The Nepalese Maoists have 40% of the government. There is a vast Maoist insurgency in India and a smaller one in Bangladesh. Sri Lanka has seen some nasty Maoist insurgencies. Afghanistan saw a Communist government for 15 years. Pakistan is an outlier.

Sub-Saharan Africa seems quite hopeless. Tribalism and worship of kings who steal it all and leave their subjects with crumbs mean that Africans apparently think it’s their lot to starve.

There is a militant redistributionist effort in South Africa though. Zimbabwe confiscated White farms. But in these places, the race factor was important. Africans won’t tolerate White grabbing it all and leaving them with crusts and heels, but apparently they let they don’t mind their own people doing it to them.

African tribalism is the worst. One tribe gets in power and tries to grab everything in the country and leave all the other tribes without a thing. The tribe in power thinks this is completely normal. Those out of power probably think it’s normal too. Those on the outside mostly plot to overthrow the tribe that’s in now so they can get in themselves and steal it all for their tribe. There’s little sense of justice in the continent. Everything is a zero-sum game.

Characteristics of Fascism

The Tea Partiers, rightwing extremists, Third Positionists, Yockeyites, etc. say that Fascism is a Left movement. No it’s not. It’s a rightwing movement, far right. Let’s look at the evidence:

Fascism is an extreme rightwing system characterized by:

  1. Varying degrees of contempt for democracy
  2. Intimidation of political opponents
  3. Utter contempt and hatred for liberalism, socialism and Communism
  4. Hatred for homosexuals and minorities
  5. Utter contempt for social programs as palliatives for the weak
  6. The notion that the strong survive, and the weak die
  7. Often use of extreme religiosity, usually Christianity
  8. Exaltation of masculine values and contempt for feminine values
  9. Emphasis on traditional values and traditional morality with hatred for “immoral” behavior
  10. Hyperemphasis on the family unit
  11. Utter hatred and contempt for feminism – the notion that women belong at home
  12. Ever-present propaganda
  13. Total dishonesty in government and society – the Big Lie
  14. A total marriage of government and business to where we can’t tell where one ends and the other begins
  15. Extreme emphasis on law and order
  16. Use of street thugs to enforce order
  17. Massive corruption in government and business
  18. Utter hatred for workers’ organizations and workers’ rights
  19. Exaltation of class society as divine and denial of class conflict
  20. Extreme, often belligerent, nationalism tending towards jingoism and militarism
  21. Hatred of most other societies as inferior or weaker
  22. Insulation and xenophobia – refusal to read anything from outside the motherland
  23. Hatred and contempt for all international institutions
  24. Hatred for all sentimentality, kindness, sympathy and other “soft, weak, feminine emotions”

Sound very Left to you? Not really. Not in general anyway. Sure, there have been crossovers. North Korea has fascist elements. The Khmer Rogue did too. So did Romania’s Ceaucescu.

National Bolshevik Video

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39IjFe4CS4c&feature=email]

I honestly don’t know where to begin with this crap.

This is some of the most fucked up and confused politics I’ve seen in a while.

Is socialism great, or is Socialism Death, as the video argues in one case?

The endless fascist imagery, the violent, morbid, punk, death and frankly occult imagery is very disturbing. This worship of violence, death and the occult is what fascism is all about.

The Communist leaders they love for the most part were some of the worst and most murderous Communists of all.

Stalin murdered 3.1 million people. Pol Pot caused the death of 1.7 million, 1/4 of the population. Mao did quite a bit of killing himself. Ceausescu was one of the worst, most backwards and most fascist-like leaders in the East Bloc. He had a ton of blood on his hands, and he’s nothing to envy. Ceausescu promoted natalism and made abortion illegal. This is progressive and pro-women’s rights? Stalin made abortion much harder to get in the 1930’s. Saddam Hussein was nothing but a murderer. The North Korean Kims have a horrific human rights record.

The video’s images of Nazis were very disturbing. Nazis are shit. They were shit then, they’re shit now, they’ll be shit forever. The video makes an extensive case that Stalinist Communism and Nazi National Socialism were basically one and the same thing. It’s not the case. They also play up the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a treaty that is very misunderstood. This Communism = Nazism, Nazism is socialism, Nazism is Leftism shit could have been written by an American hard rightwing anti-Communist.

Many of the Nazbol (the name itself is disturbing as it sounds like Nazis) marchers look like skinheads. The written introduction to the video defends not only nationalism (somewhat dubious) but also “racialism,” which is just a fancy word for racism. So Nazbols are apparently not only nationalists but also racists. Apparently Nazbols are also anti-Semites. Wonderful! Such a progressive movement, moving forwards and leaving barbarism behind! But that’s not so. Instead this movement embraces barbarism and looks backwards, not forwards. The opposite of progress, or progressivism.

Fuck this Nazbol shit. It’s interesting, but it seriously creeps me out. Even thinking about it makes my head spin.

Way Too Weird

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5fWTQvUxDQ]

This is “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, from the 1969. However, the music is recorded by Sin Sisamouth, a Cambodian recording artist. I’m sure you’ve all heard of him. Pol Pot killed Sin Sisamouth, that bastard.

The footage is from some weird Cambodian movie from the 1950’s called Apsara, starring Princess Norodom Bopha Devi. I’m sure you’ve all heard of that movie too and of course the actress is very famous too. Back then, Cambodian royalty often starred in the movies! The woman in this clip is Sak Si Sbong. She’s really a babe. At the end, she starts to get the lead into the Sak for some Sbonging, but then it cuts out. I think after the ending, it turns into a porno flick, but unfortunately, that part was cut from this version.

Check out the black and white footage, the period cars and dude singing the Archies song in the Khmer language! The guitar sounds weird too, almost like surf music or a Hawaiian steel guitar. I really think you need to be on LSD to truly appreciate videos like that, but unfortunately, I don’t take that drug anymore. Oh well, I can always conjure up a flashback.

Map of the Romance Speaking World

Here is a very nice map of the parts of the world that speak a Romance language, in whole or in part. The main languages covered here are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Nice map of the Romance languages of the world. Click to enlarge.

The heavy Spanish speaking zone is Spain, Rio Muni, New Mexico and Latin America except for Brazil, the Guyanas, Haiti and some Caribbean islands that speak French. To a lesser extent, it is spoken Spanish Sahara and Belize. To a much lesser extent, it is spoken in  parts of the US and in the Philippines where it is a dying colonial language.

The heavy Portuguese speaking zone is Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, other parts of Africa and East Timor. In the latter countries, it is a lingua franca.

French is heavily spoken in France, Quebec, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Belgium and Switzerland, less heavily in much of Africa, especially Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali, Togo, Cote d’Ivorie, Burkino Faso, Senegal, West Africa, Central Africa, Djibouti and Madagascar, less in the rest of Canada, and even less in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Louisiana, where it is a dying colonial language overtaken by national languages in Southeast Asia, Arabic in Northwest Africa and English in Louisiana

Italian is spoken heavily in Italy and less so in Libya and Albania.

Romanian is spoken heavily in Romania, Moldova and Serbia.

The “Communism Starves the People” Bullshit

Commenter tulio notes on this post, complaining about Communism:

Seems like there’s always some famine that happens in communist countries that wipes out hundreds of thousands if not millions. Look at China’s great famines. Cambodians had to resort to eating spiders they dug up just to survive. I think these were man-made events. Capitalism has it’s flaws, but Communism is just fucked up to the core. There hasn’t been one example of a communist success.

At least not one that didn’t have to throttle back and incorporate capitalism into their economy, like China. And then that’s not even getting into all the other shit communist governments do like the censorship of the internet, lack of freedom to protest, etc.

I’ll take capitalism any day, warts and all. I just think we need some elements of socialist safeguards and need progressive taxation to try and stop the rich from getting too rich.

I’m no Orthodox Commie by any means, despite what everyone believes. I’m just a socialist. That said, I tend to support most forms of socialism that actually work well (I don’t support fake socialism that doesn’t work, and I don’t support all Communist states). As Communism is a form of socialism, I tend to look favorably on it, but then I also look favorably on European social democracy, since I consider that also a form of socialism.

I support state funding of education, medicine, food, shelter, corrections, telecommunications, military, infrastructure building, public health, libraries, parks and wildlife reserves, R & D, social safety nets, housing, utilities, and maybe even a few industries here or there. I’m basically a Big Government with a capital B type of guy.

That said, I would like to defend the Communist record against one of the worst slanders, that “Communism equals starvation.” Not true, it’s actually capitalism equals starvation.

There were continuous famines in China under capitalism. In 1949, life expectancy was only 32 years in capitalist China. The rural people lived on the edge of starvation and death all the time. Read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck to see what it was like. From 1949-1980, Mao increased life expectancy from 32 to 65. That’s the greatest increase in life expectancy that the world has ever seen.

Furthermore, the Communists built that country up from nothing. Same thing with Russia. Russia was a zero pre-Communism. Communists built that country into a 1st World country. Even now it’s a good place. The press here bitches about Soviet style housing, but it looks decent enough to me. Anyway, compare the East Bloc, the former USSR and China to Latin America, Africa, India, the Philippines or the rest of the capitalist shitholes.

None of those places have the type of horrific slums, cardboard shack shantytowns, or outrageous poverty that you see every day in those capitalist paradises. Imagine if Latin America, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the rest of the shitholes had followed a Communist model of development. Sure, they would have run into problems and at some point, they may have moved in the direction of Eastern Europe, the former USSR and China. But let us look at housing alone. All of these places would have adequate housing. Now you can complain about Soviet bloc housing, but I’d rather see that in Brazil, Delhi, Manila and Lima than those horrifying slums and favelas. Medical care would be decent in all of those places – they would have good health figures, especially maternal mortality, infant mortality, and life expectancy. They would have enough to eat – malnutrition rates would be low.

The fact that capitalism everywhere seems to produce these horrific, nightmarish slums with no end or cure for them in sight is reason enough for me to feel that it’s a totally failed system.

There have been a few famines in the Communist countries, true, but you must realize that there’s a continuous famine in the capitalist world, mostly in the 3rd world. As I noted, capitalism starves 14 million a year, year in and year out. A couple years of that, and they’ve beaten everyone starved under Communism put together.

There was a famine in the USSR, true, at the beginning of collectivization. There was another in China around the same time. It seems like if they collectivize ag too quickly, ag collapses for a few years before the new system gets going. If they want to collectivize ag, they ought do so slowly.

It’s a big lie that Communism starves people. It’s capitalism that does that. In general, the Communist states like the USSR, the East Bloc, China, etc. have done a fantastic job of feeding the people, especially compared to the disastrous dietary conditions pre-Communism.

True, the diet is not top-notch, but it fills your stomach. There was a famine in the USSR in 1932, but there’s never been another. There was one in 1962 in China, but there’s never been another. Regular deadly famines spread through both places pre-Communism.

In 1980, Cubans had the highest dietary intake in Latin America. Right now, Cuba has the lowest rate of malnutrition in Latin America. It’s really hard to make this “Communism starves the people” argument. It’s generally not true. Communism is generally pretty good about putting adequate food in people’s stomachs.

And capitalism is not! One thing capitalism cannot ever seem to do is to feed its populations adequately. When I die in 30 years, capitalism still will be failing to feed its own populations. If there’s any indictment of capitalism, that’s it. WTF man? You call that a successful system? You can’t even feed your own people, give me a break.

I’m no fan of the Khmer Rogue, but realize that there was already mass starvation going on when they took over. Agriculture had collapsed in the countryside long since. I don’t agree with emptying the cities to the rural areas like they did, but the reason they did that was to try to get the ag system going again. Presently, capitalist Cambodia has a sky high malnutrition rate.

What happened with Communist economics is more a problem with chronic shortages of food and other basics and luxuries, long lines, housing shortages, etc. Also collectivized ag had poor productivity. The centrally planned economy doesn’t work very well because you have to figure out how much everyone is going to consume every year at the start of the year and plan for that. It’s almost impossible to do that, and that leads to economic deformations. Also, labor productivity was often poor.

The best system in a lot of cases seems to be some sort of mixed economy.

Bad Place to Visit, Wouldn't Want To Live There

Repost from the old site. This article has produced a tremendous amount of controversy, angry comments, and even, oddly enough, virulent hate mail. I guess I hit some raw nerves. I stand by my comments that these cities are some of the worst in the world, and, in doing further research on the Net, have found only further support for my thesis.
Some of these cities, such as Bogotá, for instance, have large wealthy districts that are apparently quite pleasant. If one is rich, one can make a nice life just about anywhere on the globe. But this is not important – what is important is how the majority live.
The title is a play on the line, “Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there”, said about many less-than-desirable tourist locales. This post is about the worst places on Earth to visit, and probably to live too. The ratings were based on research done on the Internet in various places, including here and here.
I’m going to focus on the places that are dirty, smelly, crime-ridden, trashy, rip-off havens, unsanitary and dangerous (Third World), and avoid places that are merely depressing, unsightly, rude, etc. (First World). Why? Because I live in the US, and those Third World qualities are going to be the most disturbing to me. I’m also avoiding active war zones because everyone knows they are horrible.
To be fair to the “Third Worldists” out there, I noted that many people slammed various places in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Ireland Italy, the US, Great Britain and Australia for various reasons, mostly because they are said to be unfriendly, depressing, tacky, cheesy, boring, etc.
Detroit seemed to top the list as worst US city, along with Newark (though it had one fan), East St. Louis and New Haven (though some liked New Haven) were runners-up. Various small towns in the Rockies (especially Idaho) and Texas also were listed. For some reason, a lot of people hate Vancouver, BC in Canada.
To my thinking, many of the horrible cities below point out the catastrophe of Latin American, Indian, Indonesian and Philippine capitalism. In much of Africa, capitalism doesn’t seem to working very well.
For all its faults, impoverished Cuba certainly does not resemble any of these Latin American hellholes in any way, shape or form. I don’t think that capitalism in the First World is failing, but looking at many of the cities below, it’s hard to argue that capitalism is doing anything but failing in those places.
Some of the winners in the Loser Destination Contest:
Colon, Panama: A dirty, crime-ridden disaster of a city. The most dangerous city in Latin America, full of residents who seem like they would just as soon knife you as say hello. Other than the free trade zone, the entire city seems to be sprawling slum. Colon has no redeeming qualities. This city topped many worst lists.
Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador: Guayaquil is horrible. A stinking, steaming, downright dangerous heap of a city with miles of slums. With armies of glowering gang members, this place is dangerous even in mid-day. There are garbage dumps everywhere with corpses laying out in plain sight and guns going off all the time. Quito is similar. Guayaquil topped many worst city lists.
Johannesburg, South Africa: How sad that this country now has one of the worst violent crime rates on Earth. Although popular with tourists, this city is downright dangerous. This city also topped many worst lists. This blog supports the Mandela government, but the problems of this tragic nation seem insurmountable.
*****
Lagos, Nigeria, or the whole country: This city, and even the whole country, seems to top everyone’s list. Garbage is everywhere, the city stinks, the poverty is horrible, animals are slaughtered on the streets, and it seems that at least half the population wakes up every morning thinking, “Who can I rip off today?” Up to 90% of the economy may be “underground”, off the books, or crime-related in some way or another.
Nigeria has what must be the worst government on Earth and the country is rated the second most corrupt on Earth. The national airlines are dangerous and not recommended. The ripoff attempts often start as soon as you land at the airport and won’t let up until you leave.
It’s best to assume that most, if not all, Nigerians you meet in Lagos are out to rip you off in some way or another and then proceed from there. The city is full of impostors, and you really do not know if anyone is really who they say they are. The police and Customs officials are all crooks and so is 99% of the government.
Most bank and post office employees are also crooked. Imagine waiting in line at the post office, and a group of swaggering gangsters with fake ID’s strut in to pick up their stolen goods reshipped from overseas. They go straight to the front of the line ahead of everyone else, pick up their stolen property, and walk away laughing, having paid off the Post Office clerks. Welcome to Nigeria.
There are Internet cafes all over the city, where 150,000 full-time Internet scammers ply their trade in plain view of anyone to see, and the government doesn’t bat an eye or lift one finger to stop them. In many cafes, 80% or more of the patrons are Internet scammers. Nigeria is now world-famous for Internet scams. Even out-of-work TV newscasters scam away in the cafes, trying to steal from Americans.
The scammers started out with the famous 419 email scams but have now branched out into lottery, romance, auction, roommate, orphanage and check-cashing scams. The scams are continuously evolving, and Nigerian con artists are widely acknowledged to be some of the best in the world, as they have been practicing the art for decades now.
On highways outside of Lagos, you can see numerous vehicles wrecked on the side of the road, or even in the middle of the road, some with dead bodies still in them or beside them. Thieves pick through the wreckage and rifle the corpses looking for stuff to steal. All of the roads are dangerous, as armed robbers often set up roadblocks to shake down travelers.
Nigeria is now a world center for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, credit card fraud and drug dealing, and a district of Lagos, Oluwole, is now a world center for top-notch forgery.
The FBI and the US Merchant Risk Council recently came to Nigeria and inspected 40 packages coming into the country from the US to check for stolen goods. 39 of the 40 packages contained stolen property.
When the agents arrived at a Lagos neighborhood and tried to arrest an 18-year-old boy for reshipping scams that targeted US merchants, much of the neighborhood – up to 100 people – rushed out of their homes to defend the local punk from Big Bad Whitey.
Although the country is awash in oil, the power goes out all the time because the government power company is so crooked. The power company has either stolen all of its own budget money or the power comes in, but the crooked company resells it on the side.
As with elsewhere in Africa, Whitey is blamed for all the troubles here. Hatred of Whitey is higher in Nigeria than in much of the rest of Black Africa and the White visitor will definitely feel it.
The degeneration of Nigerian society is complete, and the culture appears near collapse. Mobs lynch thieves in the street and kill them in public for as meager a crime as stealing a cellphone, yet crime rages on anyway. Anyone can just up and say they own your house, put it on the market and sell it and you are out a house. Law enforcement, courts and anything resembling government seem to be nonexistent.
******
******
Lima, Peru: When they tell you to visit Peru, they don’t mean the nightmarish capital. There are teeming slums as far as the eye can see, horrible crime (although not a lot of violent crime), pickpockets everywhere, and on top of all that, the sun never comes out. The fog mixes with the smog and the filthy streets to make a toxic brew. Lima made many worst lists.
But it has its fans, and the upscale Miraflores district is said to be nice. The execrable Shining Path took up their nihilistic, deranged war in this country for a reason – because Peru is a rotten heap of a country.
******
******
Medan (Sumatra), Jakarta, Surabaya, Indonesia: Jakarta is a reeking city with terrible pollution, open sewers and wrenching poverty.
Medan seemed to top many lists for worst city on Earth, though it has a few fans. It’s hot, dirty and polluted, with factories, thieves and leering, menacing men everywhere. There is also nowhere to stay, not that you would want to stay anyway. Besides Medan, the rest of Sumatra is much better.
The river running through Surabaya is so polluted you might vomit walking across the bridge. As you suppress your gag reflex, you will look down and notice that people are actually washing their clothes in this river.
*****
*****
Mumbai, Patna (Bihar), Calcutta, all large Indian cities, India: Indian cities are very dirty and teeming with some of the most miserably poor and wretched people you will ever see, but at least there is not a lot of crime. The Hindu religion keeps crime down because believers fear they will be punished by returning in the next life as something terrible, like one of the huge rats you see scurrying about.
Mumbai has pollution that is so bad that people actually get lung cancer from breathing the air. Mumbai, a stinking and sometimes dangerous city, made many worst city lists.
Patna is the sorry capital of Bihar, the poorest state in India. It’s dirty and miserable, and it’s almost impossible to even get a taxi to get you out of town, which means it’s hard to leave the place.
Calcutta is generally agreed to be one of the worst cities in India.
*****
Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, China: Deadly pollution, mostly from coal.
Bucharest, all of Romania: Stalinist pollution covers the whole country and everyone seems depressed.
Bali (in particular Kuta Beach), Indonesia: Hopes so high, reality so low. It seems everyone is out to rip you off. Surly locals hungry for money. Dangerous roads, nightmarish traffic, rude, leering men. When it rains, the sewers flood into the streets. Very high crime rate, hustlers everywhere. Most of the rest of Indonesia is pretty nice. Kuta is a tourist trap gone to Hell.
****
Manila, Philippines: A crime-ridden hellhole. There are armed guards everywhere, especially in front of banks due to constant bank robberies. Their nemeses, criminal gangs armed to the teeth, roam streets filled with prostitutes and transvestites.
It’s a town where everyone seems like they are out to rip you off in one way or other, and the hotel workers and cab drivers are all crooked. The latest advice is to have your Filipino friend meet you at the airport and head straight to their place, thereby avoiding all the ripoffs and con artists that seem to descend on every tourist. Traffic is horrible, and pollution is so bad it kills people. But some people don’t mind it.
****
Gdansk, Poland: Combine a high crime rate and daylight robberies with totally crooked, thieving officials, and you get this Polish city. However, a number of others said it’s just fine.
****
Mexico City, Villahermosa, Mexico: Mexico City is a dirty, polluted city suffering an insane, surreal epidemic of street crime, especially violent crime. Add 20 million people, stir well, bring to a boil, cover with a lid of otherworldly smog, and simmer.
Reportedly, tons of human waste are blown into the air every day, and much of the population has constant respiratory infections. The sewer system is reportedly above ground and more or less runs through lots of neighborhoods where many people are residing.
Villahermosa is a Mad Max-style, violent, crime-ridden disgrace of a city. There are stabbings and shootings galore here, even with a 10 PM curfew in place.
*****
Tangier, Morocco: This is a dangerous place with lots of street crime. That’s unusual for a North African country, but Tangier is so close to Europe that it is almost a part of Europe.
*****
Cairo, Egypt: Cairo has horrible pollution, smells terrible, there is trash everywhere, nothing works, there are armies of miserably poor people and it boasts some outrageously awful traffic. In the souks there are huge rats and wild, mangy scavenging dogs running about in plain sight. There seems no escape from aggressive, pestering hawkers. On top of all that, all the Customs officials are criminals.
The crime rate is fairly low, though. Thank President Hosni Mubarak. 25 years ago, Cairo was one of the great world cities.
*****
Bangkok, Thailand: This gigantic city has pollution so bad you need to wear a mask over your face. However, some folks like this city and say it has many positive attributes.
*****
Brindisi, Naples, Italy: No one seems to like Brindisi. It’s a sad, dirty, polluted and ugly city, with hostile, brawling, drunken locals, hungry stray dogs, belligerent drivers, horrible traffic, and miles of soul-killing tenements.
You would think that despite all of that, being genuine Italians, they could still manage to make a decent pizza. Forget it: even the pizza is terrible. Brindisi topped many worst lists, although it has a couple of fans.
I had never even heard of Brindisi and had to look it up on a map. It’s located in southern Italy on the East Coast, southeast of Naples. Naples has a great deal of crime, and many think this city is overrated as a tourist destination, although others say that, despite the drawbacks, it has its joys. All of southern Italy has a lot of crime, but it’s mostly property crime.
*****
*****
Athens, Piraeus, or the whole country, Greece: Greece, especially Athens, gets mixed reviews. A lot of people really hate Athens; others don’t. The detractors say the city is dirty, ugly, depressing, polluted, and covered with garbage and traffic. I was surprised that Athens made the list, as I had always thought it was a wonderful city.
The port city of Piraeus is a nasty place. The whole city smells like a giant sewage treatment plant, and the ocean offshore has a sickening color to it.
*****
****
Suburbs of Paris, France: These tragic towns, full of hostile Arab immigrants angrily refusing to assimilate to French culture or join French society, are a sign that the French model is not working well, at least for some folks.
There is a terribly high crime rate here, and cops and firemen often won’t go there because they get attacked as soon as they show up. These mournful towns are packed with angry, unemployed young Arab men who like to seriously riot every year or so, or even more often if the mood strikes them. Lately, they have been staging mini-riots every night. If only 100 cars are burned, that’s a good night.
Otherwise, Paris, of course, is one of the world’s great cities. But that doesn’t mean you might not walk into a subway station reeking of urine and see junkies shooting up in plain sight. But still, Paris is a must on any serious travelers’ list.
******
Brussels, Belgium: As with Paris, the districts with many Arab immigrants are quite dangerous and unpleasant, but the rest of the city is as nice as any big city.
Abidjan, Ivory Coast: With one of the worst crime rates in Africa (although it has plenty of competition), this city topped many worst lists.
*****
Bangui, Central African Republic: One of the worst cities in Africa, as bad as Lagos. The crime rate is totally insane. The locals will try to steal everything you own and even a contingent of armed guards will not be enough to protect you.
Your hotel room will feel like a war zone. This fiendish city made a number of worst city lists. Lonely Planet’s guidebook more or less tells you to avoid this city altogether. Here is a harrowing report of a visit to Bangui.
*****
Bamako, Mali: Mali has one of the worst governments in Africa, admittedly a race with a lot of competition. Bamako is a sick joke of a town, where the tourist surcharge is rigorously enforced, and the ridiculous, potholed streets are undriveable by any vehicle.
Guatemala City, Guatemala: A totally dangerous, dirty, polluted, terminal patient of a city, full of scary, heavily armed teenage soldiers. The soldiers are there to keep the teeming, crime-ridden slums that stretch as far as the eye can see, from overrunning the place. But this city has a few fans.
Belize City, Belize: This sweltering, miserable, impoverished, crime-ridden, very dangerous city is built on a swamp, with a jungle for a backyard. The beggars are aggressive and even menacing, and shady characters shadow you on the streets as you walk about. Cops are nowhere to be seen. This is one of the worst cities in the Americas. But the rest of the country is a great place to vacation.
*****
Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Sao Paulo is the industrial engine of Brazil. This major city is full of garbage and very dangerous. There are hustlers as far as the eye can see, chaotic streets that render maps useless, not enough cops and Godawful traffic.
Rio de Janeiro, the popular tourist destination with the killer skyline perfect for any postcard, is a deceptive place. It’s a very dangerous city with lots of violent crime. Street gangs armed to the teeth regularly shoot it out in military-style wars with the cops.
Death squads of off-duty cops funded by local businessmen roam the streets at night, murdering homeless, drug-addicted street kids and petty criminals with impunity in a sickening “social cleanup” campaign.
There are pickpockets and muggers all about, often in menacing, youthful gangs (especially on the famous beach) and they frequently operate in broad daylight. A dystopian horrorshow of a city.
******
Nairobi, Kenya: Unfortunately, this city is seriously crime-ridden. Even locals admit that violent crime has reached catastrophic proportions.
Caracas, Barquisimeto, or the whole country, Venezuela: The crime is very bad here, sadly, and there is garbage everywhere you look. This blog supports Hugo Chavez, but crime in Venezuela is a tragic, long-standing problem with no quick fixes.
Guinea-Bissau: There is no water, no electricity, no place to stay, and the only hotel is half-demolished.
San‘a’, Yemen: In a Dickensenian touch, children are actually chained up here in order to beg!
Moynaq and Nukus, Uzbekistan: These two cities broiling in a merciless desert have been ruined and turned into ecological dead zones by Stalinist pollution.
*****
San Pedro Sulu, Honduras: This sad town has a horrible amount of crime. Swarms of locals will attack you on the bus, trying to steal your luggage. You will have to fight them off if you wish to retain your suitcase.
Like the rest of this wreck of a country, it’s full of US gang members gone home to Honduras. People here are very poor and desperate. If you can make it to the nice part of town and afford to stay there, though, you can be quite safe.
*****
*****
Dakar, Senegal: According to some, this large West African city has horrible street crime – it is very dangerous. They say if you don’t have armed guards with you, don’t even go outside your hotel room.
However, others report that they spent a week there and found it to be safe, in fact safer than many American cities. Violent crime is reportedly rare, and the country is one of the most stable in Africa, and has been that way since independence.
*****
Port Au Prince, Haiti: This filthy, degraded, extremely dangerous and desperately poor mess of a city is best avoided at all costs. It sports open sewers, enslaved children, riots, killings and lots of other fun things. This blog did support President Aristide’s efforts to improve the tragedy of a nation called Haiti.
Lome, Togo: Criminals are as common as mosquitoes here, walking around fearlessly in broad daylight in this terrible city full of miserable people and crooked taxi drivers.
*****
Istanbul, Turkey: The 200% tourist markup is fully in force in this dirty, ugly city full of harassing, hawking, hostile locals and crumbling buildings, and you can scarcely find a merchant who does not enforce it. There is also a lot of crime here, including some violent crime, unusual for a Muslim city. The weather is lousy, but there are some pretty mosques to visit. However, Istanbul does have a fan or two.
The rest of the country is a great place to visit, has many fans and is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Best bet for Turkey is just to head to the tourist spots and blow off Istanbul altogether.
*****
Phnom Penh, Kampuchea: This city has become a very dangerous, crime-ridden place. The gangs of little girl prostitutes add a particularly poignant touch.
*****
Bogotá, Colombia or really the whole country: Bogotá is one of the most dangerous places in the Americas but there seems to be agreement that Colon, Lima and Guayaquil are worse. Really, all of Colombia is dangerous as Hell, to be honest.
This comment about Bogotá was recently rebutted by a Bogotán blogger, with more comments here. His post aggressively taking issue with this entry is in Spanish, but my Spanish is good enough to get the gist of it. Also I am getting a lot of comments coming in from Bogotáns on the Internet aggressively objecting to the content.
The sole issue that these Defenders of Bogotá are taking issue with is my contention that the city is a very dangerous place. To be honest, Bogotá used to have a truly horrible reputation for crime, but in recent years, there has been a huge effort put into cracking down on street crime. For some more agreement that Bogota is dangerous, see here, here, here and here.
I will now attempt to prove that. There are twice as many murders in Colombia as in the US, and the US has seven times as many people. That means that the murder rate in Colombia is an outrageous 14 times that of the US, and the US is considered to have a high murder rate for the developed world.
Colombia has the highest murder rate on Earth, with Washington, DC and Johannesburg not far behind, but in the case of Colombia, we are talking about a whole country, not some festering city. Out of every 100,000 people, 60-70 will be killed every year. Defenders may try to argue that this is due to a simmering civil war, but 75% of the 25,000 homicides are merely of the criminal variety.
On an average day in Colombia, there are 2 bank robberies, 8 highway robberies, 72 murders and 204 assaults or muggings. You have a greater chance of being murdered in Colombia than you do of dying of cancer! Death squads made up of soldiers and off-duty cops roam the streets, murdering drug-addicted, petty criminal street kids, transvestites, homosexuals and prostitutes.
In fact, probably more prostitutes and homosexuals are murdered per capita in Colombia than even in the most barbarian parts of the Muslim World. Want to fly a plane in Colombia? Don’t. There have been 138 plane crashes since World War 2, with 2,745 deaths.
One of the most popular things in Bogotá is scopolamine. This drug is used by crooks to disable their victims so they can rip them off. It is sprayed in the face, dumped in your drink or spiked into a cigarette. Bogotá hospitals receive an incredible 2,000 scopolamine victims every month, or an astounding 66 a day. The drug knocks you out and can cause medical problems.
Colombia has one of the world’s worst road systems. Many roads are not even marked. Drivers are reckless and many cars don’t have headlights at night. Cows have a tendency to wander into the road.
Taxis are totally dangerous and are best avoided, if possible. Women are advised to avoid all taxis at night. Anyone is advised to avoid any taxi that already has someone in it.
In many cases, this is a criminal accomplice of the thuggish driver. In addition to getting scopolamine sprayed in your face, another popular scam is the “jump-start”: you are told that the taxi has stalled and asked to get out and help push. As you do so, the taxi driver leaves with your luggage.
Buses are also best avoided. Thieves haunt the buses, waiting for you to fall asleep, at which point, they rip you off. Certain bus lines are frequented by thieves offering drugged gum, sweets, food and cigarettes. After the drug knocks you out, they rob you blind. In addition to theft and druggings, kidnapping and extortion are also rife on buses.
In view of all of the above, it is nothing short of amazing that all of these Colombians are angrily protesting my characterization of their country as dangerous. Or perhaps they doth protest too much?
*****
Managua, Nicaragua: This dirty, crime-ridden, dangerous disaster of a city has a bombed-out look about it. This blog supports Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Party and prays that they can ameliorate this mess.
*****
San Salvador, El Salvador: See Managua. Full of dangerous former LA gang members. Death squads roam the streets, slaughtering gangsters by the dozen, but for every one you kill, it seems five more pop up in his place.
This blog supports the FMLN’s efforts to reform this ruined land, but the crime here has become so terrible, one wonders if anything short of an act of God could make things better. In fact, I used to make contributions too the FMLN’s weapons fund via an FMLN agent in Los Angeles during the 1980’s.
*****
*****
Detroit, New Haven, Newark, Gary (Indiana), Hammond (Indiana), USA: Detroit topped all lists as the worst city in the US. An ugly, dangerous, depressing and filthy city with a downtown that looks like a war zone – a despairing district surrounded by miles of crumbling, abandoned industrial buildings, torn-down fences and rusting cars.
Newark is similar, with few to no redeeming qualities. It’s a frightening, polluted city with a postwar look of miles of weedy, trash-strewn vacant lots where crumbling apartment buildings have been torn down. It’s also a dangerous city with a high crime rate.
New Haven, despite the presence of Yale University, is similar. There are legions of homeless, begging drug users clogging the streets, and the crime rate is very high due to hordes of crack-dealing gangs shooting it out on the streets. Congress and Columbus Avenues are notorious for drive-by shootings, drug dealing and muggings.
It is reportedly the HIV capital of the East Coast due to IV drug use. A lot of the more respectable people have been moving out for some time now. Although much of the city is quite ugly, New Haven does have its bright spots, thanks to Yale. There are nice parts of town, parks, trees, etc.
Gary is yet another postindustrial Rust Belt train wreck of a town. A grimy town full of abandoned factories, overgrown lots, rusting fences, graffiti, barred windows and vomit. Go downtown and see tall buildings all boarded up, with no vehicles in sight and unhinged stoplights swaying in the wind – for all practical purposes, a ghost town. This was once a vibrant, working-class city, and now it looks like Road Warrior.
Hammond is similar, a suicidally depressing city lined with shuttered factories on the shores of Lake Michigan. Yet another Rust Belt post-industrial ruin.
*****
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: A collapsing, dirty, crime-ridden hellhole.
Osaka, Japan: I never would have thought that this city would make the list but according to my friend Tumerica, she says it is the worst city she has ever lived in. I tagged her with the title of this story. In blogging, tagging mean you are supposed to write on the topic – kind of like, “Tag, you’re it.” I will let her explain why Osaka is such a crappy place in her post here.