Posts Tagged ‘Denis Diderot’

History Debunked on the Genocidal Brutality of the Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda’

October 1, 2021

Simon Webb, the main man of the History Debunked channel on YouTube, has today put up a very revealing video exposing the horrific reality behind the hero of the 1990s film, Hotel Rwanda. Set during the Rwandan genocide, the film told the story of how its hero, Paul Rusavajena, a Hutu, saved the lived of a thousand Tutsis by providing them sanctuary in the hotel he managed. He claimed he did this on his own, but the fact is that the hotel was occupied by UN peacekeeping forces, who were the real protectors of the Tutsis. Survivors have alleged that instead Rusavajeni extorted money from them and gave room numbers to Hutu murder gangs. Despite this a film was made of the events with Rusavajena’s collaboration, which made him into a hero. And he did very well from the film. It was very popular with what Webb describes as White liberals. Rusavajeni became rich and bought two houses, one in Texas and the other in Belgium. However, after the war in Rwanda ended, Rusavajeni was actively involved in the terrorist group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which particularly targets women and children in its attacks, and founded his own terrorist group, the FLM. He has been exposed however and arrested. Last week he was tried for his crimes and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

Webb tells this unedifying story in order to attack the double standards he believes White liberals have towards Blacks. If a White man commits and assault, he is punished with the full force of the law. If a Black man commits a similar offence during a robbery he is committing, White liberals will attempt to excuse him by saying that he was desperate because he was unable to get a job through racism. And while Webb claims that he believes that all peoples and politicians, whether White, Black or Asian, can be just as greedy, brutal, prejudiced and xenophobic, White liberals believe non-Whites to be somehow far nobler. Thus, if a famine occurs in Africa, Webb wonders whether it is due to the local leader stealing aid money and spending it on guns or hiding it in a Swiss bank account. White liberals, however, will blame it on the international banking system and colonialism. And if Black Africans turn on each other and fight terrible genocidal wars, like Europeans did in World War II and the Holocaust, this should be offset by finding a Black hero, who shows the essential nobility of his people by standing against it. This all shows the low standards White middle class liberals apply to Blacks, and consequently their low and patronising view of them.

Much of the poverty in Africa and elsewhere in the Developing World is due to the West in one way or another. It has been hampered by crippling debts with international banks with resulted in the nations of the Third World making huge interest payments which were far larger than the initial sums borrowed. Africa and other nations like it are kept poor through the neo-colonial agreements made with their former imperial masters during decolonisation. These agreements forced the newly independent nations to concentrate on producing raw materials, such as agricultural products and minerals and prevented them from industrialising. There are a large number of such nations producing the same goods and because competition is great, prices can be kept low. The strictures against industrialisation prevents them from developing industries producing finished products, such as, say, cars, for which they could charge more and diversify their economies.

However, much of the poverty in the Developing World really is through the corruption and brutality of the region’s rulers. Way back in the 1990s the Financial Times stated that the corruption in many African nations was so great that they were kleptocracies, who were only called states by the grace of their western partners. Just how nasty this corruption is was described by a visitor our local church hosted last year from Africa. This gentleman had had a very hard childhood, and was several times at death’s door from starvation. His family had had some property to support themselves at one point, but this was stolen from them. As for xenophobia and racism, many African countries were created by amalgamating territory from different tribes, many of which were historical enemies. Nigel Barley in his book, The Innocent Anthropologist, describes how some Cameroonians would angrily denounce western racism, while sneering and reviling their own country’s Dowayo people whom Barley was researching. They did not, however, regard this as racism. And famine and the looting of western aid money have been used as an instrument of genocide by the continent’s dictators.

Some of you will remember Band Aid, the charity record produced by various western pop stars, and the Live Aid global concert in 1985, organised by Bob Geldof to raise money to help the victims of a terrible famine in Ethiopia. But it’s been revealed since then that precious little money or food actually reached the victims. It was stolen by the Communist military dictatorship to prevent it reaching the victims of the famine, who were part of a tribal rebellion.

As for middle class White liberals viewing Blacks and other non-Whites as somehow nobler, I’m afraid there’s something to this too. This ultimately comes from the myth of the Noble Savage which emerged in the 17th century. This viewed the First Nations of America as somehow more noble than Europeans as they were uncorrupted by civilisation. Diderot and the philosophes of the French Enlightenment produced a similar myth of the people of Tahiti when they were encountered by western explorers in the 18th century. To European intellectuals like Diderot, the people of Tahiti lived a freer, more natural life untouched by the artificiality of European culture. In the 1960s and ’70s one of the currents among western left-wing intellectuals was Third Worldism. Impressed by the experiments in socialism by some Third World governments and the apparent lack of materialism amongst their traditional societies, these intellectuals similarly believed that these peoples were somehow more nobler than those of the west. They looked to them to start the socialist transformation they hoped would soon spread throughout the world

As for the left excusing Black criminality and violence through appeals to poverty and deprivation due to racism, that has also occurred. One of the right-wing YouTube channels last week posted a video showing how the supposedly left-wing American media had provided such excuses when covering the case of a Black man responsible for a racial assault.

Against this is the far more obvious obvious, and far better known negative view of Blacks and other non-Whites, which has resulted in their abuse and exploitation and which still supports continuing discrimination against them in the west. One result of this is that not only may Blacks and some other ethnic groups have a higher unemployment rate and experience greater poverty than Whites, but they may also receive tougher sentences for crimes they have committed.

Rusavajeni isn’t the only supposed hero who has been exposed as a much darker figure than portrayed in film. Oscar Schindler, whose rescue of his Jewish employees from the horrors of the Third Reich was depicted in the 90’s film, Schindler’s List, has similarly been alleged to have been an extremely exploitative employer. And it’s fair to say that many of the great heroes of history are far darker and more morally ambivalent, especially when viewed by modern standards.

Blacks and other ethnic groups aren’t any more or less virtuous than Whites, and should deserve the same treatment. Just as they shouldn’t be demonised, monsters like Rusavajeni shouldn’t be idealised either because of the colour of their skin.

18th Century Religious Scepticism Not Based on Science: Part 2 – Atheist Materialism

June 8, 2013

In the first part of this essay, I examined how most of the arguments against Christianity and revealed religion used by the Deists were philosophical, rather than scientific. Science did play a part in their attacks on Christianity, but it was a subordinate role. The same is true of 18th century atheism. Most of the arguments used by Jean Meslier in his Testament, for example are again, moral, philosophical and political, rather than scientific. Meslier was a former Roman Catholic priest, who attacked Christianity and particularly Roman Catholicism for its supposed immorality. He considered that religions were artificial creations of ruling elites, intended to justify and further their own power. He attacked Christian morality for supposedly preaching an acquiescent attitude towards tyranny, like monarchist rule in contemporary France. Like many later atheists, he also attacked the idea of an immortal soul and rewards in the hereafter for discouraging people from social reform here on Earth.

The Three Scientific Developments Used to Argue for Atheism in the 18th Century

Like some of the Deists, he also believed that matter had self-organising properties. The evidence for this came from three sources. These were John Turbeville Needham’s experiments into spontaneous generation, Haller’s discovery that muscles from recently deceased animals contracted when pricked, and the hydra’s ability to regenerate when cut. Needham was an English Roman Catholic priest. In his experiments he noted the appearance of microscopic organisms from the remains of vegetable matter and even the gravy from roast meat. Albrecht von Haller was a Swiss naturalist, who believed that there was an unknown force present in the heart. This indicated that matter had its was able to move itself independently of the soul. La Mettrie, the author of the materialist, L’homme machine (Man a Machine) of 1747 incorporated it into his own arguments against the existence of the soul. The dissection of polyps showed that this creature would become two or more when cut into pieces, and so apparently disproved the idea of indivisible animals. Finally, the great 18th century atheist, Denis Diderot argued living creatures may have evolved over millions of years to produce their present forms. He suggested a kind of natural selection, in which useless or defective physiological features had died out. This gave living creatures the appearance of design, even though they were simply the products of chance evolution.

These Experiments Do Not Necessarily Lead to Atheism

In fact all three of these scientific discoveries could be interpreted in other ways that did not support materialist atheism. Needham himself did not see any danger to religion in his results. Indeed, he was attacked by Voltaire as an Irish Jesuit monger of fraudulent miracles, despite the fact that he was English, not Irish, and not a Jesuit. As for the new force of motion supposedly inherent in muscle tissue, Haller believed it was similar to gravity. Both forces were known through their effects, but were ultimately instruments of a Creator God. He considered the presence of this so-called “irritability” in muscle tissue was much less important than contemporary debates in embryology in supporting or leading to atheism. At the time Haller was engaged in an argument with C.F. Wolff over the nature of the development of the embryo. The debate centred around two rival concepts, epigenesis and pre-formation. Epigenesis was the view that the embryo developed from the less organised material of the egg. Pref-formation, by contrast, was the view that creature already existed, pre-formed in the egg or sperm of the animal. Haller strongly supported pre-formation. He considered that the development of living beings from unorganised matter would indicate that similarly life itself had originated through these forces without the action of a creator God. Wolff believed that his observation of chick embryos had indeed shown that individual organisms develop from the primordial, undifferentiated matter of the egg. Unlike Haller, he did not see any theological difference whether one believed in either theory. He stated that ‘Nothing is demonstrated against the existence of divine power, even if bodies are produced by natural forces and causes, for these very forces and causes … claim an author for themselves just as much as organic bodies do.’ Thus immaterial forces and the matter they shaped were both grounded in God.

AS for Abraham Trembley’s experiments with the polyp, this was only felt to show that polyps did not have indivisible souls. It was not believed to be relevant to other animals and humans. Indeed, more conservative naturalists believed that the polyp was actually a missing link in God’s great chain of being between plants and animals.

Joseph Priestley: Scientist, Revolutionary and Unitarian, Rational Christianity

Some Unitarians, such as the Dissenting Minister Joseph Priestly, also managed to combine materialism with a form of Christianity. Priestly was an active scientific research. His experiments on the various gases included the production of what he termed ‘dephlogisticated air’, which was later called ‘oxygen’ by Lavoisier. Priestly attempted to show that materialist science would serve to purify Christianity of what he considered to be superstitious features derived from ancient Platonism, such as, he believed, the doctrine of the Trinity. Priestly was a philosophical monist, who believed that God worked through forces that were neither physical or immaterial as commonly understood. They could be identified with matter, but this was a matter that possessed active powers of motion and organisation. He did not believe in an immaterial soul, but did look forward to the Resurrection. He also accepted miracles, and argued as proof that without them, Christianity could not possibly have spread. He was also an egalitarian, who supported first the French, and then the American Revolutions. He finally moved to America after the War of Independence. In an 1802 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Priestly described how he was looking forward to living under the protection of the American Constitution. He praised this as ‘the most favourable to political liberty, and private happiness, of any in the world’. Despite his scientific scepticism of orthodox Christianity, he always denied that he was an atheist. When one of his French materialist friends at a dinner stated that he no more believed in Christianity than they did, he replied that he was indeed a Christian believer.

Science as Means for Purifying Christianity, Unitarians Active in Scientific Advances of Industrial Revolution

For Priestly, scientific progress was ‘the means under God of extirpating all error and prejudice, and of putting an end to all undue and usurped ahtority in the business of religion as well as science’. These views were shared by other Unitarians in the main British manufacturing towns. These Unitarians were active in scientific research and their practical application in industry. They were particularly prominent in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, but were also strongly present in most of scientific societies outside London. William Turner, another Unitarian, was the dominant figure behind the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society. Turner has been described as believing that the Industrial Revolution was not happening behind God’s back, but at His express command.

Conclusion: 18th Century Science Not Necessarily atheist, Could Lead instead to Rational, Unitarian Christianity

Thus, scientific developments also played only a small role in the atheist arguments that arose during the 18th century. Like the arguments of the Deists, these were also primarily moral, philosophical and political. The three major scientific observations that did seem to argue for atheism and materialism – Needham’s observation of spontaneous generation, the response of dissected muscle tissue to stimulation and the polyp were largely seen as having no relevance to the wider debate about the Almighty. In the case of the continued activity in muscle tissue, this was seen as like Newton’s force of gravity in being based in God, and as a force through which the Lord worked.
Finally, Joseph Priestly and his fellow Unitarian scientists showed how some Dissenters combined a belief in science to produce an unorthodox form of rational Christianity.