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June 12, 2018 61 mins

Have you ever heard of King Leopold II? In Episode 7, Robert is joined by Andrew Ti (Yo, Is This Racist?) and they discuss the King of Belgium, who was the first world leader to be crappy in the true modern sense of the word. His life’s work was the blueprint for being the kind of terrible that we recognize in modern leaders like Dick Cheney or Vladimir Putin. He pioneered screwing over tens of millions of people for petty personal gain. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hello, friends, and welcome back to Behind the Bastards, the
show where we tell you everything you don't know about
the very worst people in history. On this show, we
cover monsters like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Eric, Prince Will Wheaton,
and today's topic, King Leopold. But before we get to
King Leopold, I'd like to introduce my guest for the week,

(00:21):
Andrew T host of YO is this racist in general
man about town? Hello Andrew, what's up? Well? Today we're
talking about a little Belgian dude named Leopold. You've ever
heard of King Leopold of Belgium. Uh? Not particularly King
Leopold the Second, If that makes it. Yeah, I feel
like the closest I'm gonna come is. I feel like

(00:44):
at some point I got a box of fancy chocolates
that might have had a Leopold. Maybe not the bad Leopold.
I assume a good Leopold. This is not a good Leopold. Yeah,
probably not this particularly Leopold. Yeah. Uh. Leopold the Second
was King of Belgium once upon of time, and he was,
in my opinion, the first world leader to be truly
shitty in the modern sense of the word. Like like

(01:06):
like the kind of shitty that like Putin and Trump
right right right, so not right, we're discounting our Genghis
Khans and yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, because Genghis Khan like
did what he did, but he didn't have like a
bunch of newspapers, did he. He was just like I'm
gonna conquer some ship, right right right. This is the
transition from barbarian bastards into media bastards exactly. And I

(01:28):
think Leopold of Belgium is really where it happens in
a modern like obviously other people had toyed with aspects
of this. He really nailed it. Uh So King Leopold
the Seconds dad was obviously King Leopold the First, uh
and he was the first king of Belgium. Not obvious?
Is that? Is it always like a like one piguets
two or is it like a your grandfather was Leopold

(01:49):
the first, I'm Gerald of Belgium, but you're gonna be
Leopold too. I think that's more how it happens most
of the time, not this time. This time, Leopold the
First was like this went so well, yeah, we're gonna
have at the second. Um so Leopold the First was
like the again, the very first king of Belgium at all,
because Belgium had just been made a thing in the

(02:10):
wake from the Napoleonic Wars. So during the whole fighting
between Napoleon and everyone else in Europe, Belgium was generally
the battleground, where like the everyone would sort of duke
it out between the Germans and the French and the
French and everybody else. Yet Waterloo was in Belgium. So
after Napoleon's but gets kicked, the European powers who win
are like, okay, we can't have France and Germany fighting

(02:32):
over Belgium forever. We're gonna make it its own thing.
And since it was going to be a new country,
obviously it needed a king um so they Leopold the
First got the job because he was a German prince
who didn't have a kingdom of his own, okay, so
it was just like split off, right, this is like
we're going to give Megan Marcole Whales or whatever or

(02:54):
part of Wales. Yeah, part of Whales, yeah, yeah, it's
that exactly that sort of thing. They actually tried him
out to be king of Greece first, but he didn't like,
didn't fit for whatever. Yeah, that's an option. We're gonna
find you with something, buddy, don't worry leap. Oh my god,
I'm gonna put you in a kingdom. Greece isn't the
right one. Yeah, of course you try a starter kingdom.

(03:14):
Everyone has a kingdom to start. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, Greece
was his unsold pilot. Yeah. Um. And he was, by
all accounts, a pretty good king of Belgium if you're
into that sort of thing. Yeah. Um, waffles, waffles and
chocolate and pocolate, getting by beer, yeah, great beer, getting

(03:36):
jammed by the Germs, great beer. Great at getting jammed
by the Germans. That's Belgium in a nutshell. Um. But yeah,
he was a good king. While he was king. Midway
through his reign in eighteen forty eight, there was like
this big year of revolutions all across Europe, and all
these European countries had their monarchs overthrown except for Belgium.
So he's the Christian spring we call that, Yes, the
white white Man's springs, that's the lad three hundred years.

(04:02):
What a time, what a time for the whites, given
up for the whites. Yeah um so Leopold the first
solid King. I've got two main sources for today's podcast,
which I shouldn't note now. The first is a biography
called Leopold, the Second King of Belgium. Uh. It's a
pro monarchist book that was written in nineteen ten um.
The article is critical about Leopold sometimes, but he thinks

(04:24):
he was like a great king and he thinks kings
are a good idea. So it's an interesting book because
it gives you an idea of how Leopold himself would
sort of present himself and defend himself and let you
know what the propaganda at the time was well, and
also write just critical enough to be legitimate. Well, no, no,
it's totally I guess for the time it wasn't bad.
What I mean is the you put it in just

(04:46):
the faintest of criticism to give the exactly you know, yeah,
this is a real investigation. Yeah, it's like the monarch's
equivalent of one of those like celebrity biographies out of
Ben Affleck or whatever. Yeah. Yeah, the Heraldo Interview of
books exactly right, exactly. And then the other book is

(05:06):
a book called King Leopold's Ghost by Adam hosh Child,
which takes the stance that Leopold was one of history's
great monsters. Anyway, So these are these are most of
what I come from, a sort of the contrasting views
that these two books. Person, you read two books for
a podcast, Get out of your mind. Come on, there's
a lot to dig into here, and there's not a lot.

(05:28):
You're making me feel real bad. I'm like, usually good
for half a Wikipedia article. Holy sh it, well this
is at least the equivalent of like four Wikipedia articles. Jeez,
go ahead, alright. So Leopold the seconds Mom Louise was
almost a love match is the term the book uses
for his dad, the King Um And it says this

(05:49):
because the king was already in love with her before
they get married. That makes it a love match. He
liked her when she was fourteen, so it's love. Yeah,
there were hell of it, and she had the right land.
She had some nice land. I'm related to the right
enemies she was with I think from the Orleone family,

(06:11):
so she was like she had some solid ass royal pedigree.
You know, you get some German from King Leopold the first,
you get a little bit of French from his wife
and then their baby is sort of a mix. So
maybe Germany and France won't fight over belgimin what a
brave Yeah, didn't war? Yeah. So Leopold the second was
born Leopold Louis Philippe Mary Victor. Uh, and he was

(06:34):
his parents second child. His older brother died eleven months
before he was born. Um, so if you think about
that timeline a lot, it's not very fun. Because Leopold's
older brothers born, he dies eleven months later, they pop
out another son, Yeah, immediately, immediately, not a lot of
morning time, or maybe they just kind of, you know,

(06:55):
fun the pain away. But yeah, yeah, that's probably would happened.
That's the optimistic look. Um. Alright, So at age five,
Leopold's father declared him Duke of Brabant, which is how
he was addressed right up until his coronation. Uh he
said five, age five, Yeah, age five, Yeah you can
you'll have to be a duke at age five. And
he looks he looks like he looks like people in

(07:18):
this pretty little duke. We'll have the pictures up on
our website. He has no chin um and a kind
of a lopsided face. But maybe that's just the painting
looks a little bit like a ghost, like a human ghost.
It looks like the painting of a ghost that you
find in the basement of an old house. And then
like there's a rush of wind and the camera falls over,
and like your friend gets mauled by a spirit. Yeah,

(07:41):
and that's this guy's selfie essentially. Yeah, that's this guy's like,
this is the image we want to put out into
the world. Yeah, this was like hanging in palaces. So
he looks like a creeper from day a little spooky boy,
but he's still a baby. Um. So, the biography notes
that Leopold and his siblings were brought up in quote
the simplest manner and taught to behave as if they

(08:02):
were normal citizens rather than noryalty. That sounds great until
you get to the next part quote. The king further
expressed the wish to develop in the children the sentiment
of duty and not to allow them to have an
opinion of their own with regard to their duties and
their studies. Um. Basically, the king was trying to crush
the individuality of his kids so that they would just
fit the role of king. That's kind of yeah, good

(08:25):
actually is it in that? Well what else are you
gonna do? Because I got to do this dumb job? Well,
I mean you could try to make them be healthy,
fully formed people. Yeah, but why then they got to
be king? Yeah? Well okay, that's fair. I mean you
were taking Leopold the first side. Yeah, well he's the
good one again, I'm probably this chocolate. Um No, but right,

(08:46):
isn't that the he's He's he's just as trapped as
everyone else, you know, Yes, so if he's got to
do this thing, you might as well make it so
he can do this thing. Okay, So you're expressing some
motivation maybe two, why you would do this, why you
would do what he winds up doing, and you don't
even know what he winds up doing do? Yeah? What
did I just defend? We are still? Let me just

(09:08):
say right now, whatever he does, I stand behind it. Well,
he kills about ten to fifteen million people. Yeah, it's fine. Okay,
Well what's it? Um? So when Leopold is fifteen, his
mom dies of some illness or another. It's one of
those things where the writers at the time aren't specific.
They're just like she took ill and was secret and
then she and then she dies, Like, yeah, it's probably

(09:29):
dip theoria or some weird named the flue disease. Yeah,
would be a big deal, I guess. I mean it's
probably as a flu like that killed everybody back then. Um. Yeah.
And King Leopold's ghost, Adam hosh Child, describes Leopold's childhood
as being kind of stark and cold. Quote, if Leopold
wanted to see his father, he had to apply for

(09:50):
an audience. When the father had something to tell the same,
he communicated it through one of his secretaries. I mean, look,
this is not just uh eighteenth century arrested element. Yeah. Yeah, yeah,
that's kind of kind of what's going on. Like, he
definitely has a buster Bluth vibe to him. Um again,
especially once you see this fucking painting, you'll get it audience.

(10:13):
The biography that was written at the time says that
it is worthy of note that the late king never
had any comrades or playmates. His childhood was passed among
his teachers and tutors, and the disciplinarian father made even
more the relationship with his brother and sister a very
formal one, frank childish gaiety and brotherly expansion and confidence
were banished. The princess thoughts thus became concentrated upon himself

(10:34):
and his natural activity and vitality, his exuberant strength were
expended on work and study. Tight yeah about it, No, friends,
does nothing but work. Yeah, he's a duke. Yeah, I
mean he's already achieved a lot. I mean he has
kind of a boss baby. Yeah, just throwing that out there.
So he grows up, He serves in the Belgian military,

(10:56):
he apparently does okay. By his early twenties, Leopold becomes
an fluential figure in Belgian politics. You know, he's the
crown prince. Everyone who's going to wind him being king?
And he kind of looks a little like Adam Driver.
He yeah, he looks here, he looks like a anime
Adam Driver. Yeah. Yeah, that's who you would cast his
anime Adam Drive. Yeah yeah in the movie. So Um.

(11:20):
Like many rich young people, he traveled far and wide
in his early twenties. He went all throughout the Middle East,
North Africa, parts of Asia. But he was not traveling
for his enjoyment. Uh, he was basically traveling. The biography,
he says, it's like a commercial employee. So he was
essentially looking for financial opportunities for Belgium because this is
the period when all of Europe is colonizing the entire world.

(11:42):
Belgian doesn't have a colony. So he's traveling all around
the Middle East and Asia basically being like what can
who's yeah, who's like can we take? Yeah? Yeah, what
can we get? Does this hop ahead to the Congo? Oh? Yes,
oh nice, Yeah, that's where we're headed. Tight, Okay, how
do I know that tiny bit of history. It's one
of those things that drops in every now and then
you'll hear like, oh, yeah, the Belgium's did something bad

(12:04):
in the Congo, but you don't ever get I don't
know any details story. In fact, I probably no more
plot points from Michael Crichton's The Congo than than realities
the Congo. Yes, I mean there's unconfirmed reports that he
he tried to find the lost city of Zinch but
no great movie. Is that what what they were doing there? Yeah? Yeah,

(12:25):
they're trying to find diamonds. That a monkey there's a
monkey city. Yeah, find diamonds and monkeys were evil. Yeah,
that's more what I remember. Solid to bed. There's a laser.
There is a laser. There's definitely a laser in that movie. Man,
what a weird it's a ride, Michael, We're still watching
his bullshit. I can't believe West World. Yeah, um okay,

(12:49):
So Prince Leopold, one of his favorite books as he's
a young man studying trying to find a new colony
for Belgium is a book about the Dutch East Indies
called Java, How to Manage Your Colony. Uh yeah, why
would you? Oh my god, I mean, I guess that's
why you have to tell people your favorite book is.
But yeah, that's well, no, I mean, because so the

(13:12):
book is all about how the Dutch colonized the island
of Java and how they got a shipload of coffee
and sugar and like dies and tobacco and it it
made basically made so much money that they were able
to buy a bunch of railroads and canals back in Holland. Um, so,
like the book is all about that. So so it
outlines sort of how they were able to monetize Java

(13:32):
so well, and like it talks about how the king
basically brought in a bunch of private companies and became
a major shareholder in those companies and it was the
company's job to farm the land and to produce the resources,
and they export them to Belgium. So the king didn't
have to send Dutch government workers over and do anything.
The king just said, I own Java corporations. Come in,

(13:53):
give me a steak in your profits, and do whatever
you want. I think it's just cool to have political
leaders also owned corporates. That has never been a problem
and never will be a problem. No, it seems to
always work out great. Um. It seems to work out
great percent of the time. Um. The book also did
note that the Dutch prophets in Java would have been
impossible without a huge amount of forced labor. Uh. And

(14:15):
young Prince Leopold agreed with this and said that forced
labor was quote the only way to civilize and uplift
these indolent and corrupt peoples of the far East. Yeah, yeah,
he ain't wrong. Go ahead, what else? What else? God thought?
You said this guy was bad? Alright? Uh? So late
in his dukedom, you know, a few years before he
becomes king, Leopold gets in front of Belgium Senate and

(14:36):
he urges them to take up foreign colonies. So they
got a king and a senate. Yeah, that work so basically,
the King of Belgium is kind of a ceremonial figure.
He's got he's got more power than like the Queen
in England has today. It's heading towards, but it's heading
towards that. There's no formal power, lots of soft power,
lots of soft power in a little bit of formal power.

(14:56):
But um, you can't do things as the king like
us make colonies. M you can't do things as the
king likes in the army places. Um. And so Leopold's
dad seems to be okay with that. But Leopold the
second is growing up chopping at the bent to do
ship and doesn't want to become a monarch who just
waves at the crowd. Um, why not. So he gets

(15:18):
up in front of the Senate and he says, quote,
I am profoundly convinced of our vast resources, and I
passionately wish that my beautiful country would show the necessary
pluck to derive all the benefit which, in my opinion,
it can derive. I think that the moment for our
expansion abroad has arrived. We must not lose time. Otherwise,
the best positions in markets which are becoming more rare.
Every day will be occupied by nations more enterprising than ourselves.

(15:43):
And when he talks about positions in markets, he's talking
about whole countries and stuff. I mean, millions of people.
It's more chilling in the original Flemmish. Yeah yeah, yeah, nailed.
But although he probably would have been speaking just French
for alright, so well you can say, you can say

(16:05):
Walloon if you want. I'm getting what is that. That's
the other group of people. There's Belgium is made up
of Flemish people and Walloons. Yeah, the wall Unatics, of course,
band aid on their face. We got it. It's a
rough name to grow into the world stage taking on.
Uh well, you know, you gotta get you get enough rifles,
get enough cutlasses, everything starts to make sense. I don't

(16:28):
feel like it does. I feel like Germany was so
fierce in part because German is like, that's like an name,
like the Germans are coming. Imagine if if the name
got switched and the Belgians were called the Germans, and
like the Nazis had tried to invade and everyone was like, oh,
the Walloons are invading. Yeah, that's not gonna go. Yeah, yeah,
Well listen let's boot up a risk game. We'll figure

(16:51):
it out, all right. Um so, yeah, Leopold, the first Leopold,
the seconds Dad died in December of eighteen sixty five,
the same year the American Civil War ended. Leopold is
now with the king and thirty years old. Uh. This
appears to be the point when he decided to grow
a gigantic mountain man beard tight, which he would maintain

(17:12):
for the rest of his Yeah. Well, there's a lot
of pictures of Leopold with a beard. Will post him
on the site. Some of them look uncomfortably like me.
Some of them are clear missteps in the beard growing process,
where he's got like gigantic mutton chops and it's he
looks like a fucking hair octopus style of the time. Yeah,
he he went through some rough patches in his sartorial history,

(17:35):
for sure. That's pretty that's get any easy kind of
we're looking at Yeah, that's a rough picture and almost
he's almost wearing bell bottoms in that picture. Hey, it's
the sixties. It is the eighteen sixties. Boom alright. Uh so, yeah,
Leopold the King of Belgium. He's super frustrated because the
King doesn't have that much in the way of power. Uh.

(17:58):
Leopold takes two sort of bocking the restrained role that
he has in Belgian politics. There's a story of like
this guy who came to visit him, uh, because like,
you know, the King's got a visit with like his
donors and benefactors and whatnot. And this guy complains about
the poor state of the roads around his property, and
Leopold interrupts him and says, I have no authority to
change the roads. You ought to address yourself to the press,

(18:19):
especially to the small papers. The municipality and the government
will do anything they ask. So he was like, he
was like making that point. I'm frustrated that, like I
can't do anything, so I'm just kinda like to take
it to the press. King is not allowed to do anything. Um.
He sort of set to work making himself into kind
of an image for the Belgian people. He was the

(18:40):
aristocratic equivalent of an alpha male. Uh. He spent a
lot of time doing science work and and and you know,
supporting the arts and sciences. Nineteenth century science is just
like beakers of lead and ship He's he's pouring colored
water into bakers. He's got goggles on, you know, you
know how that goes. Yeah, there's a quote from his
biography that says he used to sleep in a camp

(19:02):
bed so like a military cot, and had a general
horror of everything that could innervate or render him a feminate.
So he's kind of like he's a proud boy. Yeah,
that's what they call people who aren't racist soy boys.
Is that right? Yeah, because eating soy feminizes you again, Yeah,
that's what the that's all right thing? Yeah, um, hey,

(19:26):
well at least we know that they have a nice
historical antisy. Leopold would have been all about that stuff.
So he's he's growing a giant, weird beard, he's sleeping
in a palace in a military cot. He's scared of girls. Uh,
he hates spending money. His biography says, quote his pocket
handkerchief was only renewed on Sunday mornings when going to Mass,

(19:46):
and on no account would he take another in the interval.
If his valet's changed his towels more than once a week,
they were sure to receive a good scolding from his majesty.
What So he's like a gross miser, Yeah, don't clean
those tells which one of those wasn't one of the
all right guys living in their mom's basement. I think
most of them are definitely Yeah, yeah that guy. Yeah,

(20:09):
rouche Vie, the pickup artist guy that was found living
in his mom's basement. Literally, that's what this guy was.
Leopold was missing. Yeah, yeah, I guess the Beard. The
Beard experiment clearly on that factor. His mom died young,
so he became a king. Yeah yeah, instead, okay, called
peacocking everyone. How you interact women the kingdom? Yeah, I

(20:33):
mean having a castle is pretty solid peacocking Yeah, undeniable. Yeah.
Leopold the Second was noted in his biography, is the
first king to treat his kingship as a corporate endeavor.
His primary concern was making money, not for Belgium, but
for himself. It was all about the bottom line. Um.
So there's um Like when you talk about dictators and

(20:56):
warlords and terrorists, there's like a tendency to call them
side paths and sociopaths. Sociopath is like an actual medical diagnosis.
And I don't think guys like Hitler or Stalin really
fit it, um because they all had histories of like
warm family life and like people who cared about them
and people that they like sacrificed for. At times, Leopold

(21:16):
might have been a straight up like yeah, because that's
that's that's what they say, right, is like so many
CEOs and fortune fid uh whatever. Then there corporately like
psychopathic traits. Yeah. Even his positive biography says that while
he was charming, he was quote devoid of enthusiasm and

(21:37):
set himself and was quite incapable of arousing any and others.
So he just can't unctually touch people's heart. He can't
motivate people. Um, so, yeah, we're gonna get more into
the soulless Leopold the second, his scheme to find a
colony and the colony that he eventually found. But for

(22:00):
we've got some ads. Of course, we all realized it's
a pro corporate podcast, so let's keep it real. Here's
some buying advice, and we're back. Uh, we're back. We're
talking about King Leopold, who is searching for a little

(22:24):
colony somewhere in the world to fill that whole of course. Yeah,
Leopold the Deuce, Leopold to Electric Boogaloo whenever you want
to call him. We were just talking about what a soulless,
sociopathic creepy is. Yeah, allegedly. Well here's another quote again,
this is from like a positive pro Leopold biography that
he probably paid for. He disliked music, hunting, tobacco, and

(22:45):
had no taste for physical exercises except walking. Although a
frequent visitor at Austin, which is like one of his palaces,
he never learned to swim. He was seen yawning and
a gala performance of Faust. So he doesn't like plays.
He doesn't like art, he doesn't. He hates music like
it's a thing. Any book you read about him, anyone
who knew him. He hated music like not like he

(23:05):
hated popular music. Music itself was offensive to him. So
that's fascinating. Well that's cutting into the American psycho narrative. Yeah, unfortunately,
yeah a little bit. Yeah, he's he's a weird guy.
He's very vain um. But his main vanity was quite odd.
He thought he had the most beautiful hands in all
of Europe, type his biography. What his biography notes. Another

(23:32):
of Leopold's hobbies was his dislike for gloves, and although
he often wore uniform he has never reported to have
put on gloves. It may have been a hatred of restraint,
but more probably it was a pardonable vanity on the
part of the late king, for he possessed the shapely
and beautiful hand of the Orleans family that rules so hard.

(23:52):
Here's the only picture I could find hands. He's holding
the gloves in his hand, so his hand is not
even stra younger actually like reminding people you could be
wearing gloves. I'm the master of the his I mean,
in fairness to him, his hands are beautiful in this picture.
I mean they just just look at the bone definition.
They are shapely. They're good ass hands. Yeah, they're good

(24:13):
ass hands. Oh man, So that means that he made
some painter or do multiple drafts on those hands. That's like,
this is like, isn't it wait, rest of development where
the guy has a fake hands, always, always always sunny,
always fake hands. Yeah, then there's some things to be
said about our president in hands. It's weird. It's it's

(24:35):
weird that you would even like I never think about
my hands like how they look. Like when I'm thinking
about someone taking a picture of me, like zero percent
of the time, I'm like, oh, my god, my hands
do they look shapely? Do you know what's crazy is
I had to send a picture of a piece of
equipment for this job I'm on to a technical person

(24:58):
and I just took a picture of my phone and
into to them. And I realized as I was sending
the email, was like, my hands like funked up in this.
I'm having a real low hand self esteem day. Oh,
I think you have the shapely hands of the Orleanslan family.
I know you're being really nice right now, but it's
actually a little hilarious that the one day possibly in

(25:19):
my life, that I've noticed my hands, I was like,
what the fund is up with my hands? Only these
were feet. Yeah. I've been an arm model before. My
friend was doing some not like you know, elbows down
I was doing. I was doing some stock photography and
was like, I want to take pictures of your arms,
and I was like, you're wilding out. So you know what,
I'm good. I'm good risk to elbow to elbow, Yeah,

(25:41):
I got I got far arm. My fearms are I'm
about it? Well, Leopold was a handman. Yeah, so we've
got this frustrated, greedy, gorgeous handed king on the throne
of Belgium. He keeps trying to get his country and
to jump on board the having a colony train that
the people of Belgium expresses zero interest in this. Oh okay, wait,
why what do you mean? All right? Because obviously all

(26:04):
European colonialism is pretty much the root of almost everything
that's wrong in the world right now. But there is.
But I don't understand why they. I mean, they certainly didn't.
I'm gonna, I guess not want to do it. For
the reasons why I don't think they should have done it.
I think the Belgians, for one thing, So the Belgiums
of this era, anyone who's like a mature adult, lived

(26:25):
through what was at that point he equipment in World
War two, the Napoleonic Wars, like we just don't want
any trouble, Like we just want to stay in Belgium
and eat chocolate and drink beer. We don't really want
to go to Africa or Asia. And let's see the
first of die not the first can I say, can
continue an incredibly less long list of ignorant as sh
I'm about to say, you do you is Belgium landlocked? No? No, no, no,

(26:50):
it has an Antwerp Antwerp, that's right, okay, number of Yeah, yeah,
it's it's a wee little country. You can drive across
it in a couple of hours. Yeah, okay. I was
just like, okay, yeah, I was just like, it's funny
to imagine a landlock country own and stuff. But of
course they can who gives a ship. But they're not landlocked,
so fuck me. Yeah, no, they're not. Um they didn't

(27:11):
have a colony at this point, and they seem to
have zero interest in having one now. At this same time,
from eighteen seventy eighteen seventy seven, when Leopolds like a
decade or so into his kinghood, there's this explorer named
Henry Morton Stanley. Uh and yeah, from seventy four to
seventy seven, he completes seven thousand mile expedition across Central Africa.

(27:31):
Much of his travel centered upon the still undiscovered by
like white people, Congo. No one had like mapped the
extent of the Congo River. We didn't know where it
originated from at this point. Um so, and at this
time in European history, like different explorers mapping Africa are
kind of like the Marvel movie franchise of the day,
Like each of these guys is world famous and like

(27:52):
newspapers breathlessly cover every expedition, and whenever they finished an expedition,
they write a book and millions of people by it
so automatically. For the ball exactly, this is like the
thing people care about at this point in time. It's
like what these explorers are doing in Africa and all
over the world. Like that just means if I were
alive then and a white person, two big guests, I

(28:14):
would be like struggling to get on one of the
good expeditions. Yeah you really, you really like fingers crossed.
It's not one of the ones where people eat each other.
Yeah yeah, yeah, statistically a lot of them are. Yeah.
Um So Stanley maps like a huge chunk of the Congo,
more than anyone had ever done before, and it's like
big news. He gets back to Europe from Africa and

(28:35):
he goes on tour. He's doing like speaking engagements. He's
a big celebrity. I feel like there's a lot of
like skulls and calipers in a talk like this, Yeah,
and probably buckets of racism, like like totally unexamined racism.
I look. If you don't look, it's not there. Yeah,
that's the racist motto. Um. So he's touring around and

(28:57):
King Leopold winds up meeting with him. Um. Stanley had
been bullish on the idea that the Congo would be
a great place for a colony, and he wanted the
British to set up a colony there. You want to
go to the best colonizing studio first, Yeah, exactly, that's
like the paramount good. Probably not. I don't know anything
about Warner Brothers. We all live in the Disney, isn't

(29:20):
that's the Disney. Yeah, Britain's the Disney of colonizing. Yeah.
And and instead he goes to I don't who's who's
making DC's garbage movies. Warner Brothers, Warner Brothers. Okay, so
Leopold's Warner Brothers. No, they're not even in it. Leopold
is like he's gotten very confusing. Leopold is like, uh,
snapchat making stuff, Like technically they got the our YouTube

(29:43):
like it's a YouTube show. Yeah, you know, it's like
they got some money. Let's actually call it no history
for it, but who knows. I feel like we actually
hit upon the right thing to compare him to, which
is Amazon. Yes. Yeah. So Stanley tries to sell his
Congo idea to Disney Slash Britain and it fails, and
King Leopold a k A. Amazon's like, well, we might

(30:05):
be interested in this plan. Yeah, we'll fund this. Why
don't you, Why don't you give me your elevator pitch
colony and the Congo Huh? I like it. I like
this idea. Yeah. So Leopold uh contracts Stanley to work
for him, and he sends him back to Africa with
a new mission. So Leopold's master plan here, I'm gonna
appeal back for a minute, and we're going to zoom

(30:25):
into the different pieces because it's a complicated as plant.
His master plan is to create the Congo Free State,
which is a supposedly independent African nation that just happened
to also be ruled by King Leopold the Second UM.
So he went about doing this in a few ways. Uh.
In eighteen seventy six, he hosted the Brussels Geographic Conference,

(30:46):
where he invited a bunch of European experts to form
the so called International African Association, which of course had
no Africans as members. UM the association was a supposedly
philanthropic organization. I'm going to read you a selection from
Leopold's speech at the conference where he sort of lays
out what he wants to do. The subject that calls
us together today is one that demands the first place
in the attention of friends of humanity to open up

(31:08):
to civilization. The only part of our globe where she
has not yet penetrated, to pierce the darkness that envelops
entire populations is I may venture to say a crusade
worthy of this century of progress, and I am glad
to observe how very favorable public feeling is to its accomplishment.
The current is with us. So he gets this association
together and he says, this is an international group and

(31:29):
we're trying to civilize Africa and improve lives of people
who were there. I didn't realize that back then. The
rhetoric was already like the kind of like always is
this is to help them double speak. I actually just
assumed they were like, yeah, I'm gonna take this ship
from black people. No, they they are. And these guys

(31:49):
the people he invites to the Geographic Conference and forms
the International African association with these guys are a lot
of people who legitimately want to make things better for Africans,
who aren't even thinking about making these are the well
meaning liberal white people, yeah, exactly, and like missionaries who
are like and like well meaning liberal white people. Because
there's an Arab slave trade in Africa, like traders moving

(32:11):
through the Congo, and the abolition movement is very big
at this point in time, and so these people are
being like, we've got to stop the slave trade in Africa,
sold we can do that. And there's a bunch of
people who are like, we've got to christianize the Africans
and Leopolds, like we can do that and like that.
So that's that's what he's claiming this association. Okay, so
this is right, This is like definitely like colonialism two

(32:32):
point o or three point oh. He steps ahead of everyone.
He's not even framing this as colonialism. He's framing this
as a charitable endeavor to exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So he
suggests that Belgium would be a great place for this
new international body to meet because it's a neutral country
and it's centrally located in Europe. And then he suggests
that he might be a good person to run the
association just for its first year. Hit yourself, you know

(32:55):
you've got to conference first year. Uh. And he assures
them all that he's doing this from the goodness of
his heart. Uh. He says, Belgium is small, she is
happy and satisfied with her lot. I have no other
ambition than to serve her well. And it was true
that Belgians were pretty happy with their lot. But Leopold
did have some ambitions. So he gets elected head of
the International African Association the first year, and then he

(33:19):
gets elected the head of it the second year too,
even though that was supposed to be illegal, back to back.
And then the association kind of stops existing, and Leopold
replaces it with the Committee for Studies of the Upper Congo,
and then he replaces that with the International Association for
the Congo. On paper, these are all different international philanthropic groups.
Their names were deliberately forgettable and similar, so the public

(33:41):
would assume they were all the same thing. Uh. In
King Leopold's Ghost, Adam hos Child writes that Leopold directly
told his aids quote, care must be taken, not to
let it be obvious that the Association of the Congo
and the African Association are two different things. The public
doesn't grasp that. So in reality, all of these lanthropic
groups are shadow fronts for Leopold's plan to conquer the Congo.

(34:04):
So they're all charity organizations that he gets international aid
money getting sent into, and he's able to pour Belgian
government funds into ass and donations, just like Hillary Clinton,
not exactly like Hillary Clinton. Yes, you've watched the documentary
Clinton Cash by Niche Deza. Yes. Um. The thing that's

(34:24):
amazing about this is it's so complicated a plan that
doesn't feel like I mean, I you know, I'm a
super smart person. Of course I'm not finding a place
where you could improvise your way into this. You just
gotta wait, because we're not even halfway through the plan
like this, like he's he is a legitimate Like okay,

(34:46):
so the villain that Marvel keeps trying to write and
like failing to write in my opinion, where it's like
the low key character whether here he's got all these
plans within plans step ahead. Leopold actually was that guy
to the whole world, but in sort of the same
villain as way, You're like, this is insane. There's so
many things that could go wrong in this. So he's
now created three different philanthropic associations just because like the

(35:08):
backers will start realizing that the association's fake and they'll
pull their money, but he'll keep the organization alive or
whole roll its assets into a new organization. And nobody
who got caught, who realized that this was some weird
show company wants to admit that they got caught, so
they just don't say anything. And the public just here's like, oh,
it's the new thing. Is how the International African Association,

(35:30):
it's that group of people trying to make life better
in Africa, right, Um, So he all these groups are
basically funneling money into the work of Henry Morton Stanley,
that explorer who Leopold sent back to Africa. So Leopold
sent him back in eighteen seventy nine, and his job
was to start building, using the association money, a series
of stations along the Congo River to act as like

(35:52):
way points for steamboat traffic. Uh. He also met with
hundreds of local treats all throughout the Congo, all the
different people who had chunks of land throughout the Congo,
the different villages and chiefs, hundreds and hundreds of them.
He meets with these guys and he gets them to
sign treaties giving up their rights to the land. Uh.
Here's a quote from host Child's book. The very word
treaty is a euphemism. For many chiefs had no idea

(36:13):
what they were signing. I few had ever seen the
written word before, and they were being asked to mark
their excess to documents in a foreign language and in
legal ease. These guys weren't ignorant of the concept of diplomacy.
They knew wouldmitt to write treaties of friendship with neighboring
tribes or villages. They understood the idea of a non
aggression pact, and that's what they thought these were. The
reality was somewhat different. Quote. In return for one piece

(36:34):
of cloth per month to each of the undersigned chiefs,
besides present of cloth in hand, they promised, too freely
of their own accord for themselves and their heirs and successors,
forever give up to set association the sovereignty and all
sovereign and governing rights to all their territories. So Basically
he gives them cloth. They think that they're getting some

(36:55):
sick ass clothes, just assion pacts. This is a thing.
Here's our everyone. You give us shirts. We promise we
won't shoot you. We don't want to shoot you anyway.
That sounds great. In reality, these are all statements saying
that they give up other rights to the International African Association,
and the Association will have the right to collect taxes

(37:16):
on the people who gave up their rights to their land,
and those taxes, because there's no currency in most of
the Congo, those taxes can be paid in labor. So
Leopold gets hundreds of chiefs from Stanley to sign these agreements. Um, yeah,
Jesus so Europe. Thanks. Stanley's over there doing valuable philanthropic

(37:38):
work fighting with the slave traders and trying to open
the Congo up to free trade. That's the big buzzword
everyone's using. It's like, we're gonna open the Congo to
free trade and it will benefit the Africans, it will
benefit Europe. Everyone will benefit if there's free trade in
the Congo. Uh. Meanwhile, what he's actually doing is getting
pieces of paper that give Leopold the rights to the
Congo that make it look like all these chiefs have

(37:59):
come together and said, we want this guy to be
our king, and we want to be a country. So
I feel like I should break for just a second
and talk a little bit more about Henry Morton Stanley.
Who's the guy who's actually doing all this leg work.
He was one of the greatest explorers in history. And
he was also a human garbage fire, sort of a
Darth Vader. Definitely a Darth Vader too. He was terrified
by the thought of being touched by a woman, just

(38:21):
like Darth Vader. He once cut off his own dog's tail,
cooked it, and fed it to the dog for no
real reason. Um. And he basically, when I say he
was an explorer, he shot his way through Africa. Here's
a quote from a description of one of Stanley's expeditions
in King's Leopold's Ghost. To those unfortunate enough to live

(38:41):
in its path, the expedition felt like an invading army,
for it sometimes held women in children hostage until local
chief supplied food. UM. So yeah, he's shooting his way
through these tribes, taking their food, taking their ship, um,
burning down villages if there's any resistance um. One of
his men described just hunting people like the predator, like
laying in wait and just shooting random strangers. UM like

(39:06):
less ethical than the predator, who should played out has
a certain code. Yeah yeah, way less ethical than the predators.
So these guys are predatoring their way through through Africa,
but they're not particularly worse than any other explorer at
the time. I would he's one of the worst. They vary.
So Henry Morton Stanley, you know, the Dr Livingston, I
presume that he's that guy. And Dr Livingstone was apparently

(39:30):
a pretty nice guy. He was also an explorer and
actually would like get to know people and like and
plcate himself in the local culture. So some of these
guys are legitimately just in it for the sake of exploration,
and they're scientists and they're good to the people they encounter.
And some of them, like Stanley, just want to make
a shipload of money and they're creepy. Stanley is one

(39:51):
of the kills thousands of people while he's exploring. God,
I got it. I just want to I guess when
I met not as a mitigating thing of like everyone
was doing it, but like, if not the only standard practice.
It was not what you're describing is not not he's
a standard he's it's definitely common practice on a lot
of these guys. But he's not near to the only one.

(40:11):
But he's one of the worst for sure. Um So yeah.
While Stanley's expedition is going on, Leopold also hires a
bunch of other expeditions to explore their parts of Africa.
These were deliberately showy expeditions meant to distract public attention.
One of them involved the team of four Indian elephants
being sent to Africa to see if they could bread
with African elephants. All of the elephants died horribly, but

(40:34):
the news covered the story the whole time. So nobody's
reading about what Stanley is doing because they think it's
a boring philanthropical mission and there's this crazy story about elephants.
Let's read about that, so fucking dark. So he's clearly
understands the media well enough that he's not just thinking
about how to accomplish his plan, but how to distract

(40:54):
public attention. And while he does it, when Morton Stanley
gets back from his expedition and he writes a book
it's an instant bestseller. King Leopold edits it himself. That's
one of the things he had insisted on is that
Stanley could write a book about this, but King Leopold
would get to edit it. And most of what he
did was correct the times when Stanley mixed up the
different associations and committees that he was supposedly working for,

(41:16):
because nobody could keep it straight, but Leopold. That's such
an attention to detail, that's unbelievable. Like I said, he's
the first modern, truly modern past um. So this book
is sort of framed as like Henry Morton, Stanley is
helping the Congo Free State be born and helping these
these Africans like take their stab at nation hood and

(41:38):
joining the international community and whatnot. So that's how that
all this is being played on the outside world. The
reality and the Congo is very different. Uh. And what
happens next is uh not what anyone but Leopold had expected.
And we're going to get into that in a minute.
But right now, Uh, Andrew, do you have too much money? Oh?
Hell yeah. Well one of the great things to do

(42:00):
with too much money is spend it on products. Products
like the ones that I'm going to talk about. Now
here's ads. So we're back. Uh and King Leopold has
sent an explorer off to the Congo to trick a
bunch of tribes people into signing away their rights to
the land, while he has distracted the rest of Europe

(42:22):
with a bunch of showy expeditions. Uh So it's just
like it used to be, just like cannons and soldiers swords,
I guess, and now it's pr and fake treaties and stuff. Yeah,
it's really modern in a lot of ways. Um. So
Leopold has this new bestselling book that's talking about the

(42:43):
great stuff he's trying to do in the Congo that
gets the public jazz, and he's able to sort of
further push the legitimacy of his project by getting the
US President Chester A. Arthur to recognize the Congo Free State.
Leopold had charmed the former U S Minister to Belgium,
a guy who called himself General Sanford, even though he
was an ACTU le a general. Um. But he was
a rich guy who had a lot of money and

(43:05):
like an orange plantation. And because he was a rich guy,
he was able to get the President's ear Uh. General
Sandford appealed to President Arthur's justlike of Arabs, because again
there were all these Arab slave traders. Um, yes, nothing's changed,
nothing's new. Yeah, so chess Sterry Arthur was. He also
pointed out that that the Congo had been discovered by

(43:27):
an American because Henry Morton Stanley called himself an American.
He wasn't he was actually British, but the light his
whole life and said he was American. Everyone lies about
everything in the no Internet, because yeah, nothing like you.
You run into thousand colonels when you're reading anything in
this period, and none of them are colonels. Sure, none
of them were ever in the military, just like they
just I'm going to be a colonels, fried chicken colonels.

(43:49):
It's fine. And in this case of General anyway, Chess
Terry Arthur was like, sounds great, Uh, Congo free street,
sounds like a great idea. You're gonna fight some Arabs party, hooray.
So he included this next bit in his State of
the Union speech, recognizing the Congo free speech quote from
Chester A. Arthur. The rich and populous valley of the

(44:09):
Congo spelled with a k in. This is being opened
by a society called the International African Association, of which
the King of the Belgians is the president. Large tracts
of territory have been ceded to the Association by native chiefs.
Roads have been opened, steamboats have been placed on the river,
and the Nuclei of states established under one flag, which
offers freedom to commerce and prohibits the slave trade. Oh

(44:31):
my god, So that's how Chester A. Arthur pictures it.
So he got paid placement for his propaganda in the
State of the Union. Yeah, in the State of the Union. Uh.
So far the people of Belgium and the other European
states are fooled pretty well. But France and some other
folks and like the British government whatnot are starting to
catch on the Leopold's plan and realize that he's making

(44:53):
a power grab. This helped to spark a general what's
known as the Scramble for Africa, where all these European
powers are like, oh my god, we're running out of
Africa to take over. Uh. So they start shooting out
expeditions to claim the last pieces of the continent before
it fills up. Uh. This all culminates in the Berlin
Conference of eighteen eighty four to eighty five, and a
bunch of stuff is decided there. But Leopold's main goal

(45:15):
is to get recognition for what he starts calling the
Congo Free State. He's basically like, I've got all these treaties.
Like he gets up in front of Europe and he's like,
I got all these treaties. Look, the people of the
Congo want to be their own state. They want me
to be their king. They've given this this state the
rights to their land. Uh. And if you all back
me and establishing the state, it will be a free
trade zone, so all everyone will be able to trade

(45:36):
freely and buy and sell freely in there. It will
make a bunch of money for everybody. So that's Leopold's pitch,
and Europe buys it. In eighteen eighty five, the Congo
Free State is established. Leopold had to go in front
of Belgium Senate to ask if he could be two
kings at once. Uh. He promised that the Congo would
be its own independent nation and that it would pay

(45:56):
its own way in the world. He told Belgium he
thought it was his duty to quote help the nations
of second rank become useful members of the great family
of nations. Then he asked for money, a little alone
to help the fledgling new nation. And he asked his
fellow Belgians to volunteer to help in this bold project
quote more than any other. A manufacturing and commercial people
like ourselves ought to strive to obtain a market for

(46:18):
all its workers, for thinkers, capitalists and workmen. So the
Congo Free State is on paper a country with Leopold
the Second as its absolute ruler. So he's gone from
the King of Belgium, but he doesn't really have any
power to yeah of of a country like twenties times
the size of Belgium. Jesus Christ. Uh. So the Congo

(46:39):
Free State is to all intends and purposes of state.
It has its own army, the Force Publique, which is
made up of African soldiers led by Belgian officers. It's
illegal for black men to be officers in the Army
of the Congo. That sounds about yeah, um. So man
Leopold is a wired himself an African empire. Unfortunately, he

(47:03):
didn't want an empire. He had no desire to actually
rule another just wanted money. He just wanted money. So
the Congo Free State is entirely a money making scheme
and it's all based around rubber. So the late eighteen
hundreds is when rubber really started to take off. That's
like in the mid eighteen hundreds or so is when

(47:25):
they figure out how to vulcanized rubber, which is what
makes it like nice and shiny and stable and it
doesn't smell weird and fall apart. Um. It's so the
Macintosh coat becomes popular around this time. People like in
Europe are just like covered headed tone rubber, like it's
it's it's everywhere. It's like the fashion of the times.
People are just flipping out over rubber. Um fetishes are

(47:45):
born tons exactly, hot air balloons. It's like this one.
It's a wonder material. It's like the first time people
they don't have to use glass for everything. Um. So
everyone's in love with rubber. But there's only two ways
to make rubber at that time, vines and trees. Now
rubber vines grew wild all around the Congo. The two

(48:08):
ways are vines and trees. There's rubber vines and there rubbers. Yeah,
I thought it was going to be vegetation and chemistry. No,
they hadn't. They didn't. They do now we can make
but they hadn't figured that ship out. Um So, actually
harvesting all of the rubber from vines like the ones
who grew in the Congo required thousands and thousands of
people climbing trees in the jungle. There's the risk of

(48:28):
snake bite and monster attacks, and it's just it's just
a nightmare harvesting, Yeah, at large scale in the Congo.
Harvesting rubber from trees, on the other hand, is really easy,
and some enterprising people had already started planting groves of
rubber trees in South America, but those trees took about
twenty years or so to really get going. So Leopold
standing here in charge of the Congo knows that he

(48:51):
has about twenty years to be the world's leading producer
of rubber. The Congo Free State wasn't basically just a
giant rubber factory. That was his whole vision for this
land filled with millions of people. This is like the
actual story of Willie Wonka. Yeah, he's the real Willie Wonka.
Jesus Christ. So, I remember when I said that Leopold

(49:16):
had the right to collect taxes in the form of labor. Well,
he used these taxes to make Congolese people go harvest
rubber for him. In theory, I think he was allowed
to only demand like forty hours a month from them
or something. But what happened is that he would have
his soldiers go from village to village and take hostages.
These hostages would be put in concentration camps where they'd
be starved and beaten until the village met its rubber quota.

(49:37):
So if you didn't get all the rubber that you
were supposed to get soon enough, your family would just
starve to get Uh. Leopold's government did have a problem
because obviously it needs soldiers to enforce these nightmarish rules.
But white people die like crazy in the Congo um,
Like a more than a third of the Belgians who
went there died there. And since again it's illegal for

(49:58):
Africans to be officers and force publique, uh, there would
wind up being like four or five Belgian guys commanding
hundreds and hundreds of African soldiers. So that's like, obviously
you're treating these guys terribly. You're making the massacre of
their own people, and there's five of you for every
five hundred of them. That's like a recipe for a revolution,
or it would be if the soldiers had free access

(50:20):
to bullets. One of the ways the Belgians controlled their
army was by heavily restricting when anybody would get bullets,
and by policing their AMMO so they couldn't hide any away.
So each soldier would only be issued a certain amount
of AMMO when they go out to get rubber, and
if they fired any rounds, they had to account for them.
The general policy and the congo became that if you
fired around, you had to provide a right hand from

(50:42):
a corpse for every round that you shot. This was
meant to stop people from stockpiling AMMO, and it was
meant to stop them from like hunting for animals when
they should have been, you know, shooting people. Um what
this actually meant? Yeah, exactly so, but that creates a
market for right hands. Exactly possibly go wrong. Yeah, For
one thing, these soldiers aren't fed enough, so they're starving

(51:04):
and they start hunting, and then once they fired a
couple of rounds to hunt an animal, they need to
pick up. Okay, we we we fired three rounds getting
that that whatever it is. Now we need three hands.
So we need to go into a village. We need
to take some people's hands. And in addition to that,
like it becomes common if if a village refuses to
provide rubber, like people like we're not going to work

(51:24):
to you, We're not going to give up our relatives
as hostages. The Force Publique would just burned down the
whole village. Sometimes they just kill everybody in the entire village. Um.
And this this is happening on basically an industrial scale.
In nineteen o three, a single rubber collecting post was
sent more than forty replacement rounds of ammunition to every
round that they're being sent. They've got a hand. Um. Yeah.

(51:48):
So like the military units in the Force Publique even
would have a keeper of the hands whose job was
to smoke all of the severed hands so that they preserve,
so that you could go back to the authority. We
need twenty more bullets. Here's twenty thou human hands, Jesus Christ. Yeah.
So in five, when this whole operation is just getting
off the ground, King Leopold is named in British Court

(52:09):
as a client of what the British called a disorderly house.
Can you guess what a disorderly house was? Uh? Probably
not enough. It's the Hottish a go for it. Yeah,
it's it's a brothel. So while this is all starting off,
King sorry to a horhouse in England, I thought, I
thought you disorderly house meant like his dukedom didn't have

(52:32):
like x or y like paperwork filed. No, no no.
While he's freshly the king of the Belgian Congo, he's
named in British court as a client of a whorehouse. Uh.
And they say that he had been paying eight hundred
pounds a month for a steady supply of young women,
some of whom were ten to fifteen years old. That's so,
I mean, that's what Leopold's doing in between administering the Congo. Yeah. Um.

(52:55):
And while he's doing that, his men in the Congo
are building a system of Rhodes railways, post and steamboats
that are meant to allow the rubber making operation to prosper.
Leopold doesn't want to pay for all this himself, so
he claimed the infrastructure is necessary so that the Free
States Army can fight those dastardly Arab slavers. Um got
the US to pay for it, or just generally he
got everyone wants to pay for it. So he gotten

(53:18):
Europe on board with this by saying the Congo was
going to be a free trade zone. But then he's like,
we need to build all this infrastructure in order to
fight the slavers, so we're gonna have to collect import taxes.
Now he's just he like the one that you can
trust Leopold to do is he will funck over every
single person. Ye. So now even these countries who had

(53:39):
like gotten on board because they thought this was a
free trade zone, they're getting screwed. And of course the
millions of people whose hands he's having severed and unscrewed.
I guess the key is just never stopped lying. Yeah,
whenever you read about any of these guys. That is
the most important thing. He's never ever stopped lying. If
you're going to be a monster, you have to lie,
consist only for decades about everything. All right, Yeah, I'm in.

(54:04):
It works, Yeah, No, I mean I'm in. Well, you'll
be a great king of the Congo. Um so uh.
To Leopold's credit, his men did fight Arab slave traders,
but most of the fighting was done by conscripted African
soldiers who were themselves basically slaves. Yeah. Yeah. King Leopold
personally endorsed a system where white agents of the Free

(54:27):
State got a bonus if they were able to find
more recruits for the Force Publique. Many agents wound up
buying them in from various chiefs and effect doing the
same thing as the Arab slavers they bragged about fighting.
State agents also got bonuses for quote reducing recruiting expenses,
so if they outright enslaved people rather than paid them
to join, they got more money in their pocket. As
many as three quarters of all volunteers for the Force

(54:49):
Publique died before they could receive training. Most of those
volunteers were teenagers, right, yeah, so they're just volunteers, quote unquote,
that's fucking incredible. It was like, we have our indentured
servant army is going to fight your slave arm So
basically the Congo at this point is groups of white

(55:10):
guys with soldiers going into the jungle to collect a
bunch of other soldiers and they'll put them in chains
and like march them through the jungle and most of
them will die, and then they'll train those guys up
to fight, and they'll take those guys into the jungle
to tell people to collect rubber from people, and to
kill everyone who doesn't provide enough rubber, and to kill
a lot of the people who do provide enough rubber,
just because these kids are like starving to death, and

(55:32):
maybe they have to shoot an animal, or maybe there's
rebels and they get into a firefight, but they don't,
and then you got to take hands from the So
it just keeps spiraling out of control and becoming like
even more of a nightmare to everybody but Leopold, because
again he's sitting back in Belgium this time. Um. Since
Leopold was the absolute monarch, he got to rule by

(55:53):
royal decree. His first decree was that all quote vacant
land was now property of the state. He didn't explain
in what vacant meant, because obviously farmers don't live on
every inch of their farmland, so basically most of the
land in the Congo was now just his. Uh. He
leased this land to a series of private corporations. And
this gets to the real brilliance of his scheme because
Leopold didn't have to dirty his hands actually running any

(56:15):
of the rubber harvesting. He was able to private right. Yeah,
other people paid for their right to mind rubber and
cut off hands and do all the actual work, and
LEOPOLDLD owned the rights to a huge chunk of their profits.
So basically, these companies would come in and give him
an owning stake in the corporation, licensed the scheme of
incliving people, cutting off their hands, etcetera. Yeah. Adam hash

(56:39):
Child in King Leopold's Ghost compares the Congo Free State
to a venture capital firm. Quote he had essentially found
a way to attract other people's capital to his investment schemes.
While he retained half the proceeds. In the end, what
with various taxes and fees the companies paid the state,
it came to more than half. So in the eighteen nineties,
the Congo Free State really starts putting out rubber, and

(57:00):
suddenly King Leopold is one of the richest guys in
the world. He starts buying gigantic monuments and palaces and
shipped for Belgium, big showy projects, some of which are
still there, and it is to make people like him.
It's to keep him popular at home. He's succeeding beyond
his wildest dreams in the business side of things, but
his personal life is just kind of one series of
train Wrex after the other. Um. Yeah, his son had

(57:22):
died in eighteen sixty four, which led to an understandable
estrangement between Leopold and his wife. It took eight years
before they could stand to be around each other and
try again. This passage from Leopold's biography tells you a
lot about the relationships between the sexes. In the eighteen
sixties quote, Leopold the Second was anxious to have a
male heir, and in eighteen seventy two Queen Marie Henriette

(57:42):
consented to resume conjugal life with her royal spouse, from
whom she had separated some time before. She sacrificed herself,
as one may say, for her country. A child was
born unto them, but alas it was a daughter and
not a son, which was given unto them, So that's
messed up for a lot of reasons. She's one of
which is just that Even in the pro Leopold biography,

(58:03):
it just admits that having sex with Leopold is a sacrifice.
I actually I'm surprised that the amount of agency she has,
like she you know, she is the queen facing pressure,
but it wasn't force that guillotined point or whatever she
kind of was. I guess that's true. I guess that's
between the lines, of course. Yeah, Jesus, it's I mean,

(58:24):
she probably has more agency than the average. But at
the same time, in the way she is less because
it's less important for a commoner to have a son,
because like the king, that's like the whole dynasty things.
You might say she has even less. Um, we probably
should say, yeah, we probably would be. Um. So, yeah,
Leopold did not take having a daughter very well. Uh.

(58:46):
This quote is from King Leopold's ghost. When the last daughter, Clementine,
was born, according to his sister Louise, the king was
furious and thenceforth refused to have anything to do with
his admirable wife from the beginning. She wrote, quote, the
king paid very little attention to me or my sister's.
So he doesn't pay attention to his daughters, and he
mostly seems to care when one of them, like fox

(59:07):
with his garden. Um, here's a recollection from Luis. Large,
juicy peaches grew on the walls of the gardens, and
the king was very proud of them. I had a
passion for peaches, and one day I dared to eat one,
which was hidden away among the leaves. And that year
peaches were plentiful. But the following day the king discovered
the theft. What a dramatic moment. At once suspected, I
confessed my crime and was promptly punished. I did not

(59:28):
realize that the king counted his peaches. So while Leopold
is running a nightmare hand harvesting rubber making scheme in
the Congo, he's got enough time to make sure that
his daughter doesn't steal a peach from himself. Because it's like,
at least Ivanka Trump has the decency to pretend that
she loved her tie with her daddy, even though like

(59:49):
in all those like stories she tells, it's sad and
weird too, but it's like, at least she's like, I
love him. He's my dad, you know, And I believe
in all this sha he couldn't even get his daughters
to be like I love Well, there's gonna be more
about his daughter's coming in. He's he is not a
great dad. Yeah, if you can't sell that already. Um,

(01:00:09):
there's in fact no evidence that Leopold cared about any
of his children as anything more than vehicles for his legacy.
Even that fawning nineteen ten biography can't make it seem
like Leopold had a single funk for his family as
King Leo, I'm gonna be honest, that's so far the
most relatable thing about it, just not liking his family.

(01:00:31):
As King, Leopold grew older and richer, he also became
a full on hypochondriac. He took to wearing a waterproof
bag around his gigantic beard whenever he went outside in
the rain or when he swam. He required his palace
tablecloths to be boiled every day to kill any germs,
which is at least a character evolution from not letting
them wash his sheets. Yeah, napkin, Um yeah for him,

(01:00:54):
So he's changing, He's had his own little heroes journey. Yeah, yeah,
we all get there. Yeah, hypochondria. Um. This wind up
being another really really long one. There was just so
much research, So um, this is gonna be a two
parter podcast and the second part is going to drop
on Thursday. Uh so we'll be getting into the rest
of Leopold's story and the tremendously dark story of the Congo.

(01:01:16):
So so stick around, check back out on Thursday. It's
gonna be great. In the meantime, you can check out
andrew ts podcasts This Racist. You can also check out
every other episode of Behind the Bastards. You can find
us on Twitter at Bastards Pod and Instagram as well.
You can find us on the Internet at behind the
Bastards dot com and you can find me on Twitter
at I Right. Okay, so Andrew and I will be

(01:01:37):
back on Thursday with more Leopold, so check us out then.

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