26 March 2009

What Part of "I Don't Need Your Condoms" Don't You Understand?

Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko caught the attention of politicians and socialists alike with his bold rejection of Mendelian genetics in favor of theories of heightened production through "deep plowing" and unscientific planting tactics. In the early decades of communism, his theories were heralded as the path to abundance among the newly instituted farming communes, and the failures of these strategies were only acknowledged with ever more astounding propaganda claims for their success. Party ideologues found his theories amenable to their own strategies for industrialization, and so data that indicated they could not live up to their promises was ignored. Lysenko's theories were mandated as essential to the totalitarian aims of communism, and the losses in production are widely acknowledged as a signifcant reason why the USSR lost the cold war.

If you thought blind ideology was extinct, just peruse this little tidbit (via Zenit). A group of journalists from the West traveled to a HIV-care center in Uganda to see on the ground the conditions of this devastated region of Africa. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny:
Seeing the condition of the HIV-positive women, they were moved. They decided to make themselves useful and do something for the women: they gave them a small box of condoms.

Seeing this, the director reported, one of the women at the center, Jovine, looked at them and said: "My husband is dying and I have six children who will soon be orphans. What use are these boxes you are giving me?"

Many who talk about using condoms in Africa do so without the slightest knowledge of the problem and the conditions of the continent.

Because of this, the director observed, the Pope's statements caused little controversy in Africa itself.

'The Pope,' Busingye emphasized, 'is doing nothing else but defending and supporting precisely that which will be useful for helping these people: affirming the meaning of life and the dignity of the human being.'

The only thing more saddening than the inability of the West to surrender its ideological prejudices over the true nature of the problem is the hopelessness and suffering of the people themselves. You would think that a continent decimated by this incurable disease would be capable of drawing us out of our latex-sheathed ivory tower ...

... But you'd be underestimating the power of ideology.

Read the whole thing here.

There's also a series of videos and commentary on the controversy here.

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