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  • Whining Causes Powerlessness

    Posted by Shannon Love on March 1st, 2011 (All posts by )

    I was reading this post on why the fattest populations are Polynesians. One of the commenters claimed to be Polynesian and he was such a whiner that I that rather went off on him. I don’t think it’s good form to copy his entire post, but the first paragraph rather fully sums up the tenor of his whine:

    I am unsure on your reasons for postulating that “obesity may seem like a small price to pay for access to the modern world and all its comforts and opportunities.” I can resolutely say, as a Pacific Islander, that it is needed a massive price to pay. The ‘opportunities’ of the modern world that you seem to be praising, must include the western tradition of monetizing the health and happiness of a person – in this case to the detriment of Pacific communities. Obesity is a disease, a disease that robs people of their ability to realize the fullest potential of their bodies (and all of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth that results from increased health)
    … (continued here.)

    That whining really got under my hide and I went off on the guy:

    Oh, give me a break.
     
    Stop it with the polynesian version of pastural idealism. Pre-contact Polynesia was a blood soaked land of incessant warfare, conquest and mass murder. You know, just like everywhere else. The societies were highly-heirachial and oppressive and ruled by a warrior elite who gained their positions with murderous violence. Just like everywhere else. The technology level meant that the vast majority of the population lived and died at the whim of nature. Just like everywhere else.
     
    Everything in the past uniformly sucked and everything in the present by comparison uniformly rocks. Don’t believe me? Well, how about that pre-20th century dentistry? What, did traditional polynesians have some secret for antibiotics and anesthesia?
     
    Anyone who whines about being provided to much food and treats it like a crime against humanity has never watched a child starve to death. At anytime prior to the last 30 years the idea that making people fat was doing something wrong would have provoked gales of laughter. It still should.
     
    People like you are the reason that Polynesians are marginalized. Brained dead romantics who would rather whine about the loss of a mythical past than adapt to the modern world. Polynesians are marginalized because they don’t have the individual and collective skills to make themselves powerful in the modern world. You can’t use traditional Polynesian culture to find success in the modern world anymore than white Americans could act like their medieval ancestors and expect to prosper.
     
    You whine just like American Southerners used to whine. Oh, it was so unfair that the South was as rich and economically advanced as the North. It was all the fault of the greedy and exploitive Northern industrialist and capitalist! In response, the Southern states adopted a wide range of economic policies intended to “protect” themselves from Northern exploitation such as making it nearly impossible for out of state banks to operate.
     
    In reality the Souths economic backwardness was entirely self-inflicted. They needed to lose the slavery, lose the Jim Crow, lose economic protectionism and lose the hostility to entrepreneurism. Starting in the 1960s they did all those things and like magic the South began to grow and even outpace the North (which ironically was headed in the opposite direction.)
     
    If you want to run your society the same way that grandpa did, expect to have grandpa’s standard of living and grandpa’s place in the world.
     
    Playing on the sympathies of others just makes you a well respected beggar. Even if you it earns you a house of gold you are still a beggar and still marginalized. You still depend on the whims of others for your livelihood and you never have any real respect.

    The worst fate to befall any people is for leftists to decide they are victims. The moment the people themselves buy into the fallacy of their own helplessness, they doom themselves to a life of economic marginalization and permanent political dependency.

     

    8 Responses to “Whining Causes Powerlessness”

    1. tyouth Says:

      Two words for the poor fellow: “Eat less”

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      Tyouth,

      Although that is of course the only option, Polynesians and just about any low-tech peoples e.g. Native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans etc have higher rates of “thrifty genes” that while rendering them more resistant to famine, leave them prone to obesity and diabetes. So, they’re fighting an uphill battle.

      On the other hand, there is nothing the rest of us can do about the problem short of forcibly starving them periodically. Somehow, I don’t see that becoming international policy.

    3. ElamBend Says:

      Shannon,
      Genes, of course, play a part and Pacific Islanders are naturally big people (possible from the selection pressure of all that warfare?). I knew someone in the medical profession in California and she once regaled me with stories of 15 pound babies being born to Tongan and Samoan women there.

      Speaking of California, there are more Tongans and Somoans in California than in Tonga or Samoa. When the last Tongan king died, the new one had to come from California. While obesity among Pac Islanders in the US is high, perhaps higher than average (like American Indians), it does not reach the proportions as on the islands; nor do you find the defeatist attitude.

      I know someone spent some time in some of the lesser Pac Islands for the Peace Corp (and ended up getting sent home when she was really sick). When talking about her experience, one thing that stuck out was her disgust at the fatalism there as well as the adherence to gorging on food. In the days of the warrior past, being able to provide big feasts as a big deal. That past has morphed into a perverse drive to gorge, even when it is known not to be good. In essence, she couldn’t understand why someone would keep doing something that hurt them. It was a surprising sharp critique from a very nice girl.

    4. Percy Dovetonsils Says:

      At the risk of sounding like a synchophant, that might be the best response I’ve seen to the misguided romanticism that celebrates “the noble savage.”

      Bravo.

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      Elam Bend,

      In the days of the warrior past, being able to provide big feasts as a big deal.

      Yes, I think that many previously neolithic cultures simply have no rules for dealing with perpetual abundance. Neolithic cultures find it almost impossible to store food. In the tropics, it is nearly impossible for any preindustrial people. The only rational solution for someone who finds themselves with food windfall is to share it before it spoils. They trade a perishable material abundance for much more valuable status and future favors.

      We’re really no different. Think about the nouveau riche phenomena in which ordinary or poor people who acquire sudden wealth often spend it on gaudy and tacky things. Look people like Elvis or modern rappers. They come from poor backgrounds in which people desperately display any little emblem of wealth they might have e.g. gold teeth. When they make a lot of money, they don’t suddenly acquire the culture of old money but instead they put their culture of deprivation into overdrive by buying and display wildly exaggerated versions of the cultures status symbols e.g lots of gold teeth with diamonds, dozens of cars, houses with gold fixtures and bright exaggerated colors in fabrics. Elivs seemed to put rhinestones on everything just because rhinestones used to a low class form of decoration and people could only afford a few per item.

      If some aliens came down and handed out gadgets that let us cheaply and easily build our house straight up with as many floors as we wanted, we would probably go nuts with the gadget and end up with entire suburbs of needle thin mini-skyscrapers.

      Westerners, being the culture driving change over the last 500 years, have always had the advantage of being able to evolve our culture along with our technology. Even so, we sometimes find ourselves faced with “future shock” i.e. culture shock within ones own culture owing to change.

      We can have sympathy for other who are forced to make changes in a generation that we made over centuries but we can’t really assist them in the process. They have to puzzle out how to adapt their own culture. The only other option is to just abandon the old culture entirely and assimilate seamlessly into Western culture as it is now.

    6. tyouth Says:

      ….”If some aliens came down and handed out gadgets that let us cheaply and easily…..we would probably go nuts with the gadget….”

      Ha ha, kinda like “texting” and maybe, GPS, and in general, cell phone use? Myself, I’m holding out for an IPad that is more convenient and powerful than my desktop but so far I’m just holding on, barely.

    7. Mlyster Says:

      This is the first era in human history (correct me, anyone) in which obesity became a problem outside of privileged individuals. Recognition is the first step to cure, as they say. It’s a behavioral issue rather than top-down, EPA-style “Thou Shalt Not use Saturated Fats” mandates.
      Ultimately it’s a child-rearing issue, and a selfawareness issue in adulthood.

      I’ve never been obese (people hate me for that, but—hey, don’t hate me because I’m svelte…). My son is chunky. Even he, at 9 years old understands that snacking and lack of exercise are meaningful contributors. Doesn’t mean he can resist a donut, but: it’s a start.

      All of that said: yes, the “It’s the fault of my distinguished culture overrun by the evil West” is nonsense. Put your big boy pants on (size XXL, of course) and fix it. Period. Or hop on the dustpile of history, sport. Plenty of room

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Mlyster,

      This is the first era in human history (correct me, anyone) in which obesity became a problem outside of privileged individuals.

      Yep, one can search in vain for any serious concern over obesisty and even the concept of dieting prior to 1850. The concept that being fat was somehow a problem did really exist. Indeed, in most cultures and most languages, “fat” was synonymous with wealth. So strong is the association of fat and wealth that virtually all languages have some variant of the phrase “fat cat” meaning not physically obese but wealthy and powerful.

      I think obesity is a greater behavioral challenge for the poor today because many work jobs that are physically tiring without offering real exercise e.g. working standing as a cashier. I worked minimum wage jobs all through my extended college years and even through I was fit and healthy and the jobs not physically strenuous, I often felt exhausted after just standing around all day. When I got off work, the last thing I wanted to do was hit the gym. The urge to just go home and sit was very compelling. The only thing that saved me, frankly, was that we lost our car in an accident I ended up cycling everywhere for a few years. As soon as I had to stop cycling I started putting on weight.

      Plus, when you don’t have a lot, rich tasting foods are much more of treat and something more accessible. If the rest of your life is rather bland and boring, it takes more willpower not to fall to the temptation to spice things up with a bag of Doritoe chips.

      But in the end it doesn’t matter why a person is obese. Whether it is genetics, culture, family culture, economics, social dysfunction etc it is still the responsibility of the individual to control their own food intake. The only other option is to restrict an individual’s freedom to choose what, when and how much to eat.