Lately I’ve been subjected to old episodes of Kimba the White Lion, the Jacobin/Napoleonic inspiration for that 1990s tribute to shamanism and British mop-top quartets, The Lion King. In the Kimba storyline, a benevolent monarch seeks to set up an egalitarian, vegetarian, peace-loving animal utopia in the jungle. It’s kind of like a propagandistic Soviet version of Animal Farm, complete with the corpse of a former leader lying around for inspiration. Of course, lots of evil white guys keep trying to invade their Shangri-La and steal the animals, especially the prized white lion. They never really address the fact that they wouldn’t have drawn attention from the evil white guys if Kimba’s dad, Caesar (!), had not tried to liberate the cows from the local farms. And as for “locals,” there don’t seem to be any black people living in Africa at this time, only a white ranger, his white girlfriend, and the evil white hunters.
I have a strange feeling that 1000 years from now the history of Euro-American civilization may be pieced together from Japanese manga and anime, to the befuddlement of the Asians who will be writing history then.
So, while humming the Kimba theme song, I was thinking about how unlikely this ideal society would be in Africa. I mean, Africa is just way too libertarian for any of that communistic stuff. Seriously, just think about Somalia, for example: no central government bureaucracy to worry about. And universal health insurance? No problem with that in Africa. In Eritrea, Rwanda, the Congo, the Sudan, just do your own thing, be loyal to your extended family, and forget about the government.
I don’t mean to pick on Africa. You can find the same freedom in Columbia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, the Pashtun region of Pakistan, the South China Sea … anywhere the tough guys with guns get to live life on their own terms, just like in Mad Max.
Survivor is the latest diluted anarcho-primitivist fantasy to grip the US, a globalized, politically correct way to stick the idolatrous American psyche under a pagan magnifying glass. It would be interesting to see what would happen if they would ratchet up the tension a little on that show…. They could recruit whole families, then Jeff could start distributing supplies unequally and let the other tribe get really desperate, for example. So far, it has resembled public high school more than Lord of the Flies. It would probably be a little too shocking for Americans to see how thin the bourgeois veneer really is, which is why the show is edited before broadcast.
There is a valid underlying rationale for American exceptionalism, and it doesn’t have to do with Manifest Destiny. The root of exceptionalism is simply a sense of cultural uniqueness. The problem is that what is unique about you is something you don’t have in common with other people.
That sounds self-evident, but it isn’t obvious to anyone who believes that their mission in life is to build little New England town halls all over the world. The Enlighteners think that introducing the backward peasants of the world to the wonders of US social technology will cause them to immediately worship the images of the US founding fathers, in a secular, gender-neutral, racially sensitive, non-judgmental kind of way.
I think that liberty is more complicated than that. The liberty to “be who you are” is defined by culture, and culture is defined by history, language, and other unique circumstances. Real-world military strategists and intelligence operatives understand this, but the armchair imperialists don’t get it.