The Xhosa Cattle Killing Movement
In April or May 1856, the teenaged Nongqawuse and her friend Nombanda went to fetch water from a pool near the mouth of the Gxarha River. When she returned, Nongqawuse told her uncle and guardian Mhlakaza, a Xhosa spiritualist, that she had met the spirits of three of her ancestors.
She claimed that the spirits had told her that the Xhosa people should destroy their crops and kill their cattle, the source of their wealth as well as food. In return the spirits would sweep the British settlers into the sea. The Xhosa would be able to replenish the granaries, and fill the kraals with more beautiful and healthier cattle.
Mhlakaza repeated the prophecy to Paramount Chief Sarhili. Sarhili ordered his followers to obey the prophecy, causing the cattle-killing movement to spread to an unstoppable point. The cattle-killing frenzy affected not only the Gcaleka, Sarhili’s clan, but the whole of the Xhosa nation. Historians estimate that the Gcaleka killed between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle.
Nongqawuse predicted that the ancestors’ promise would be fulfilled on February 18, 1857, when the sun would turn red. On that day the sun rose the same colour as every other day, and the prophecy was not realised. Initially, Nongqawuse’s followers blamed those who had not obeyed her instructions, but they later turned against her.
In the aftermath of the crisis, the population of British Kaffraria dropped from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000 due to the resulting famine. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nongqawuse )
This is just one example of a social disorder which sweeps through societies from time to time. It is called Millenarianism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millenarianism). The symptoms are an end-of-days myth and an urgent need to take desparate action coupled with a belief in the absolute moral rightness of the cause. Usually there is a designated folk-demon group whose purpose is to undermine the myth. It is impossible to reason with the proponents because any attempt to do so is dismissed as the activity of the folk demon group. Often believers are members of an oppressed minority although it may well be that these circumstances provide fertile ground for a new myth to gain adherents and become well known.
The Xhosa incident can perhaps be dismissed as the consequence of a primitive culture and/or the poor education of those involved. Note however that these incidents have occurred throughout history and have afflicted many different cultures. The most dramatic was perhaps the Taiping Rebellion which ranks as the bloodiest civil war in human history. Estimates of war dead range from 20 to 70 million, to as much as 100 million, as well as millions more displaced. These casualties occurred because one man thought he was the brother of Jesus and people believed him.
At the present time ISIS is perhaps the most deadly and dangerous functioning Millenarian group but it is not the only one.
On December 5, over 2,300 people packed into the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Speakers included Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said
[Circumstances we] now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns. They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on November 8th, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.
According to Barack Obama the folk demons are the climate change deniers:
97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made, and affecting communities in every part of the country.
Yet too many of our elected officials deny the science of climate change. Along with their polluter allies, they are blocking progress in the fight against climate change.
Find the deniers near you—and call them out today.(https://www.barackobama.com/climate-change-deniers/#/ )
The real threat to civilization is not climate change, it is Millenarian zealots like Chomsky and Obama and their millions of followers.
Millenarian eschatology is often complex, but there is always one, single, foundation myth that underpins the whole enterprise. The foundation myth of Environmentalism is of course dangerous, runaway, man-made climate change. This overides all considerations of common sense, of morality, of common decency, of rational discussion, of integrity, of the established principles of scientific research. When you are saving the planet all bets are off. Any attempts at reasoned argument are dismissed as the rantings of “climate deniers” and are ignored; the foundation myth cannot be questioned.
But isn’t it harmless? After all, it is surely a good idea to keep the air clean and preserve the environment.
It has been relatively harmless up until now. No cattle have actually been slaughtered yet.
As with the Xhosa, our Millenarian myth is focused on the core wealth-producing instruments of our society. The Xhosa’s wealth was in their cattle, in our case it is in our power stations. Although the Green Hegemony has been gaining ground for a couple of decades, it is only now that its effects are beginning to be felt. Power stations such as Hazelwood have a 30 to 40 year lifespan. Hazelwood reached the end of its life as expected. Under normal circumstances a replacement power station would have been on the drawing board five years ago. Because of the climate change myth this did not happen. As more and more coal-fired power stations reach the end of their lives, the same thing will happen – no replacements.
Other than renewables of course.
Renewable energy is the sacred talisman of the Environmental movement, a sort of Promised Land. When renewable energy is discussed in environmental publications, at first sight it looks like a fait accompli but closer reading reveals a different story. Difficulties are glossed over and price comparisons with conventional power sources, distorted. A good example can be found at http://renew.org.au/articles/100-renewable-grid-just-how-feasible-is-it/
The main challenge for renewables is to supply an extended period when wind and sunlight are scarce. In response, plans for 100% renewables tend to employ a mix of solutions. A partial answer is to simply build extra solar panels and wind turbines to maximise generation when the resource is weak.
They also recommend pumped hydro, concentrated solar thermal or batteries to overcome the intermittency problem. Pumped hydro requires hilly terrain and the other two methods are going to be hugely expensive notwithstanding their highly optimistic predictions of future pricing.
The thrust of the article is, as usual, about how we must use energy more efficiently in the home, e.g. Swimming pool water must be filtered, but this can be done at any time of the day.
But, as they ruefully admit: Commerce and industry make up about 70% of Australia’s electricity consumption and measures have already been identified for substantial reductions in this sector’s energy use. That’s right, we have to get our heads around the idea of running a steel foundry on car batteries. The most likely outcome is that such industries will up-stumps and leave.
This demonisation of coal and spruiking of dubious renewables is completely unnecessary. It entirely depends on belief in the Millenarian myth that humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels. It is a myth which can be shown to be false for the following reasons:
- There is no significant trend in global average temperature. Observed changes are due to the “red noise” character of environmental temperatures and are not significant.
- The bomb-test curve implies that observed recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration are largely natural.
- The total amount of CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution is only about one percent of the total.
It is time this nonsense stopped before real, irreversible, economic damage is done. The South Australian incidents are a warning.
No cattle have been slaughtered yet but it may be about to start.