No cattle have been slaughtered yet

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. ( )

This is just one example of a social disorder which sweeps through societies from time to time. It is called 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.

Sound familiar?

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.
( )

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

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The bomb-test curve implies that observed recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration are largely natural.
  3. 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.

12 Replies to “No cattle have been slaughtered yet”

  1. Thank you John. Interesting background in mass psychology, new to me. Your comparison of cattle to powerstations is fair enough. However, if one head of cattle was compared to a million dollars of taxpayers’ funds, the picture unfortunately becomes somewhat bleaker, they are being murdered world wide. I fear SA is facing a big economic shock. Hopefully something will be learnt, though as you say, every effort will be made to defray the cause away from “CO2 mitigation”.
    Keep up the fine work.

  2. A credible analogy but I’m not alarmed … yet. I think The Donald will pull us back from the brink … and the common sense of more than half of the populations of countries with a democratic form of government.

  3. I have read of that Xhosa incident before but I remember it as the Xhosa being caught between the British and the expanding Zulu nation as represented here –
    Also that many members of the tribe quietly stole away to escape the madness.
    There is little new under the Sun. Certainly not human fallibility and the scarcity of sapient ones.
    More African tribal oppression –

  4. I believe that during the great plague the scientists of the day thought that the plague was carried by cats, so as a precautionary measure they went about killing all the cats. Of course, we now know that it was carried by the rats, so this was actually exactly the wrong thing to do!

    It’d be very interesting to come back again in 100 years, with the benefit of the then knowledge, and laugh at the sort of things that we’re doing now!!

    1. Maybe a Millenarian event once took place in the Orkneys!
      Wikipaedia: Ness of Brodgar
      Structure 10 was used until around 2,400-2,200 BCE. At this time it appears to have been “closed” in an extraordinary and unique episode of demolition involving the slaughter of several hundred cattle. Bones of approximately 400 cattle—tibias (shin bones) comprise the vast majority of bones found—were laid around structure 10 and an upturned cow skull was placed within it. The tibias appear to have been cracked to extract the marrow, suggesting that this slaughter was accompanied by a feast. All the killing seems to have taken place in a single event.

  5. John, The CAGW/warmist movement has always reminded me of the historical individuals (generally men) walking around with signs or sandwich boards saying “Repent ye sinners: the End is Nigh!” Thanks for the education.

    1. Yes. We live in an age when the guys with the sandwich boards are main stream and those who don’t agree with them are regarded as some sort of lunatic fringe.

  6. I like what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve added you guys to blogroll.

  7. Yes, this Xhosa cattle story illumines what I have been urging all along, that the AGW heat is essentially a sociopathy, and when dispassion returns to the actual Climate scenario, it is going to be the human behaviour behind it that interests historians of the future. As our group has heard me say, my comparison was often with the witchcraft and dancing manias of former epochs. This story of Xhosa craziness I had not known before.
    The phenomenon may occur frequently in the life of peoples. I recall years ago reading Josephine Flood’s excellent book ‘Archaelogy Of The Dreamtime’ about the Aboriginal past. She reports how, inspecting the midden heaps of Tasmanian Aborigines, you would find that a certain kind of shellfish would form a part of their diet for hundreds of years, then abruptly and puzzlingly stop. Of course the actual reason was hidden from her and us, but she speculates that a taboo, sparked by some misfortune unconnected with the shellfish, came into place, more powerful than the need to maintain the sustenance afforded by the foodstuff.

    1. Thanks, Alan. I suspect these destructive shibboleths build up in societies over time. Ultimately they are swept away by revolution and war from which the Tasmanians were exempt because of their small isolated population.

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