All Episodes

June 14, 2018 38 mins

This is Part Two of, 'King Leopold II: The First Modern Bastard.' Robert is joined again by Andrew Ti (Yo, Is This Racist?) and they continue discuss the evil actions of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Learn more about your ad-choices at

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hello friends, I'm Robert Evans, and this is Behind the Bastards,
the show where we tell you everything you don't know
about the very worst people in history. And this is
part two of our episode on Leopold, the second King
of Belgium. In part one we sort of went over
how Leopold conned his way into becoming king of the Congo,
how he tricked the locals into signing over their rights

to their land, and how he conscripted thousands of them
into a slave army. Uh So, now we're going to
get back into all that and the rest of the terrible,
terrible story of the Belgian Congo. So the first five
or so years of the Congo project or great for Leopold.
He's in total control, richer than God, and most of
Europe still believes he's improving a lot of the Congolese people.

But in around eighteen ninety, a black journalist named Colonel
and he's not really a colonel, George Washington Williams saw
the actual Congo. So he didn't like take the tour
where you get led through the nice parts of the
Congo like he He went on foot and he got
in there and he saw the fucking nightmare that Leopold
had built. And he wrote an article called an open
Letter to King Leopold uh and it was the first

expos of Leopold's blood soak rubber regime. UM William's document
is remarkable because he's basically the only person up to
that point who actually sat down with African people and
asked them what was going on in the Congo. He
retraced a lot of Stanley's right along the Congo and
actually talked to some of the people who had signed
treaties giving their land to Leopold. He learned that a
great number of chiefs had been tricked into signing things

with magic tricks. Um. One of the tricks was that,
like Stanley, had bought a bunch of electric batteries in London,
and when quote when attached to the arm under the coat,
communicated with a band of ribbon which passed over the
palm of the white brother's hand, And when he gave
the black brother a cordial grasp of the hand, the
black brother was greatly surprised to find his white brother
was so strong that he nearly knocked him off his feet.

When the native inquired about the disparity of strength between
himself and his white brother. He was told that the
white man could pull up trees and performing the most
prodigious feats of strength. So he did a hand buzzer.
He did a hand buzzer and these like if you
don't know what electricity is. Yeah, he's just some sort
of superman. Let's sign the peace treaty. Yeah yeah, holy ship. Yeah.

Another trick was to use a magnifying glass to light
a cigar and then claim that white people had sun powers. Um,
and he'll burn up your villain, basically like I have
power over the sun and I'll plage on fire. Yeah
ye god, what a bluff. Yeah yeah yeah. So um
Williams writes this open letter. Um. He frames it as

like presuming Leopold doesn't know how terrible things are. He
writes about the taking of hands and like all of
the death and the people who are being like starved
to death as porters, carrying this sort of like modest
proposal style like of course, you know, but it's an
indictment or think there's a little bit of a satirical
bit um And yeah, so Williams publishes this that, but

unfortunately he dies not long after writing the letter, and
Leopold's able to clamp down on any kind of outrage
after for a little while. But seven or eight years later,
another guy who's an amateur journalist named Morrell stumbles upon
the conspiracy. So he was working as a mid level
employee for a shipping line that had the contract to
handle all shipping into the Congo Free State, and so
every so often Morrell would get sent over to Belgium

and he would report on what's going into and out
of the port of Antwerp. And so he realizes that
the only thing coming out of the Congo into Europe
is rubber, just shiploads of rubber, impossible quantities of it,
larger quantities than have been reported in fact. And the
only thing that's going being sent out to the Congo
rather than trade are just guns and money, and a
lot more guns than you'd need for any kind of

philanthropic enterprise. Um Man, Yeah, so exactly, exactly. So he starts,
he never actually goes to the Congo, but he just
starts digging, and he starts talking to other people who
have worked there, and basically, um he starts a newspaper
that is focused entirely on exposing King Leopold's crimes to
the world and starts publishing it all throughout Europe. Um.

He's active all over the world and basically becomes like
the Congo equivalent of Wiki leaks. So all the guys
who had worked in Leopold's Congo and felt bad kind
to him and be like, I saw this, this is
what happened. Here's some documents I managed to smug. Well,
it's also like you're like, yeah, this is what wikilliks
was supposed to be, Like, this is what it could be.
And this is also why people like that have legitimacy,

because and why conspiracies have legitimacy because guess what there
have been Yeah, big complex conspiracy gigantic conspiracies. So Morrel
starts this newspaper and he winds up creating was probably
the first modern human rights organization, the Congo Reform Association,
which is dedicated to stopping this fi nightmare in the Congo. UM.

King Leopold responded by inventing the first modern international pr campaign.
He bought a shipload of journalists of his own, and
he had them all right puff pieces about how great
the Congo actually was. He would pay for journalists to
go on lavish, carefully controlled trips through the Congo. He'd
give them exclusive interviews when they got back, and he'd
use his network of agents to help them place their
articles in newspapers. He got journalists in the New York

Times to write quotes like I have witnessed more atrocities
in London streets than I have ever seen in the Congo.
He would pay for journalists to give public speeches, and
he would lobby politicians. Leopold's regime was heavily criticized for
its widespread use of something called the jacote, which is
a hippo hyde whip which was used to punish laborers.
Prisoners were often lashed to death by it, and it's

possible that like literally several million people were killed with
his whip. Um So Leopold starts catching flak for this,
and he decides to distract attention from his whipping millions
of people to death by sending journalists to British colonies
and having them write lurished expose of abuses in British colonies.
So his pet reporters would write stories about like how
the British were using whips on prisoners in South Africa

or something terrible they've done to people in India. And
then exactly what about Hillary style? That's exactly it. Like
I said, he invented the modern art of being shitty,
like he's he's doing what about is um on a
massive scale? Did he did he have like an anti
sdent for like the media, like playing the media or
did he just make all of I think he invented

this playbook because other people had. Obviously, every the media's
existed for a while. Other people have used the media
one degree or another. But he is the first person
that I've ever run across who's using it in the
same way politicians use it today, in the same way
world leaders use it today, Like this is a very
modern pr campaign. Um he buys he uses his Congo

earnings to buy the editors of a bunch of newspapers,
including the London Times. So he's spending like thousands of
dollars on just owning editors. UM, so that number one,
they'll kill stories that are negative to with the Congo
free state, and so that he can place his positive
stories once he gets like positive journalists to go, you know,
have a tour of the Congo and then come and
write about it. Um. And this is all basically a

delaying action. Leopold knows eventually the truth is going to
get out, but he's playing for time. He's got twenty
years before rubber stops being his problem. He doesn't need
to do this forever. He just needs to do it
for a little while. He just wants to as much
money as he can out of the situation. Um. And
eventually the sheer weight of facts did change public opinion
against him, but it took like twenty years. At one point,

Leopold has said to have seen a cartoon of himself
in a German newspaper. UM. And in the cartoon, he's
cutting the hands off of Africans and he reportedly laughed
at that and said, cut off hands. That's idiotic. I'd
cut off all the rest of them, but not the hands.
That's the thing I need in the congo. So he's
a real piece of work. Um. Now in Leopold had

started dating a sixteen year old prostitute named Caroline um.
This is when the congo is at the height of
its rubber production. UM. So he'd been hooked up to
her via a pimp named Duro, who was a former
officer in the French army. We know now that Caroline's
whole relationship with Leopold was likely a con game, an
incredibly successful scheme to snatch his inheritance. But at the time, Uh,

King Leopold, blood drenched, absolute ruler of the Congo, was
smitten with this teenage prostitute. Adam hoss Child writes that
quote to the extent that someone like Leopold was capable
of love, this teenage prostitute proved to be the love
of his life. Um so he's really got it for
this girl hard. He names her the barrenness of Vaughan. Uh.

And the unseemliness of their relationship isn't really acknowledged in
the nineteen ten biography. It just calls her one of
the king's quote favorites. Uh, and it dances around the
fact that they got together while the Queen was still alive. Um.
In general, it refers to the King's constant parade of
mistresses as distractions. Um so yeah. Caroline went on to
write a bit about their life together, and she gives

this additional insight into the kind of man Leopold was. Quote.
Every evening a steam launch took the King to appear
leading to my villa through a subterranean passage. Speaking about this,
I can't help remarking on the extraordinary taste of the
king for everything which had a secret and mysterious character.
Anyone who could sell him any house, so long as
it was built on the side of an abandoned quarry,

or if it had a secret staircase. So basically, he's
gone from being too cheap to like rinse his like
a handkerchief. He's like a cartoon villain. Yeah, to like
a cartoon villed with like layers built into mountain sides
and hidden boat like grottos and stuff. Yeah. But Caroline
seems to have his number. Um. So she's both got

him on madly in love with her. But she also
like she takes advantage of his hypochondriasm or whatever you
call that, Like whenever she wanted him to leave her alone,
she'd pretend to have a cough and then he'd hide
for days, um because he was scared of So she's
she's my favorite person in this story. She's lockdown. Um.
So the king is sort of the nineteen hundreds come around,

is in his late sixties, um, and he takes to
visiting his teenage mistress in a large tricycle. Um, because again, yeah,
he's getting more and more Yeah for the genocidal murderer.
Yeah righting a big tricycle to hang out with his
teenage girlfriend. Um, just as bad everyone who every white

guy riding a tricycle with the big old mustache, you
are all as bad as king. Yeah. So he's writing
a big tricycle. He drinks nothing but hot water. Uh.
And he starts referring to himself in the third person
at this point in time. Um, so yeah, he's a weirdo. Um,
he's not entirely past his old ways at this point.
There's like a story of the time his mistress bought

a new hat for him, um, and gives it to him,
and he like flies into a rage. Uh. And he
only calms down when she explains him that she got
it for a bargain and it was like a deal
that she bought it a quarter of its value. So
like he's still he's just he's just a weirdo. He's
a weird guy. He's like a weird old rich letcher
who's just knows what's going on in the congo but

doesn't like I mean Look, here's the other part. The
other way to look at that, I suppose is maybe
not in such a direct degree, but as Americans, we
all have similar types of blood on our hands that
we are electing to not think about. Yeah, but we're
not we're not driving it in the same way. But
we absolutely like we all have these phones that we

know are made by people who hate the work that
they're doing. And they're like including minerals that are mined
from like conflict written nations and often use slave labor
in one. And we know that, like the fabric in
our clothes is often their slave labor. At some point
in the production line. Leopold knows that because he's signing
the orders and saying cut off more hands, cut off
more hands, and he's just it's just amazing to me

that he's able to do that all day every day
and then write a tricycle to his teenage girlfriend's house. Um,
but that's it's amazing what you're saying. But to me,
I'm like, it's a little bit just degrees. I mean, look,
we're all able to it is degrees. We're all able
to compartmentalize the misery that's necessary for our comfort. Um,

but this guy, this guy. Uh. One of the things
that was interesting to me reading that pro Leopold biography
is that, well, it does talk about nineteen ten, the
air after he died spoiler. Um. So this biography of him,
it's very positive. It talks about how there's atrocities, but
it always kind of doesn't talk about the detail. It
just said he definitely committed atrocities. But look at this

or look at how, look at how and everyone did
is like everyone did, and we'll get to that in
a little. Um. What is interesting to me is that
this biography does condemn his mistress for capitalizing on the congo.
It notes that she was called the Queen of the
Congo by the people of Belgium for she was to

benefit largely by the atrocities committed in the Free State.
We're sweating and bleeding natives labored so as to accumulate
millions for the royal favorite. So like he again, he
doesn't really attack Leopold ever, like he's like, yeah, he
did some bad stuff, But this biographer goes off on
her mistress for like taking money from him. That's that's
blood money, which it is blood money, but like she's

the least objectionable person situation. Um so, yeah, yeah, she
has a little Melannia asked, I suppose she is, and
she maybe knew more what she was getting into at
the top. Yeah, she probably knew less about them because,
like I doubt, just a rich guy. Yeah, she just
wanted to marry a rich guy, Like I doubt. He

doesn't seem like the kind of guy who have talked
to his mistress about the hands or that they were
murdering people with. And it's at the time especially quite
easy to ignore you forget about. You don't share a
lot of that stuff with you, Yeah, especially not your
teenage child bride. And as a teenage child bride to
just feel like, I don't read those books. Yeah, I
don't read that article. Yeah yeah. Um So. In the

early nineteen hundreds, more and more stories of abuse in
the Congo hit the world press. People actually started to
take notice and care. They read about things like an
entire towns worth of boys being giving fifty lashes each,
which is a fatal sentence for laughing in the presence
of a white man. Uh. In nineteen o four, one
of the rubber companies in the Congo put one of
its own men on trial, mostly to show that they
were trying to do something about all of the horrible crimes.

The guy Charles Couldron was accused of murdering at least
a hundred and twenty two Africans. The case wound up
revealing a bunch of fun up details about like how
all the hostage taking and the hand taking and stuff
actually worked. Um. But Caldrone was released due to quote
extenuating circumstances. The court said that he'd had to contend
with quote great difficulties under which could Drone found himself

accomplishing his mission in the midst of a population absolutely
resistant to any idea of work, and which respects no
other law than force, and knows no other means of
persuasion than terror. Um. So yeah, they were asking for
it defense. They were asking for it works it that
also still works today kind it does, but it was

it was stopping. This is at the point where it
was working less and less in the congo um and
in the early nineteen hundreds, Leopold starts dealing with more
and more resistance to his ideas um, both in the
congo end at home. So this is also kind of
the point of where socialism is starting to rise, and
socialists obviously are a big fans of kings. Um. Leopold
declared himself a mortal enemy of socialism. He fought against

the universal right to vote for all Belgians. Still in
the playbook, both of those things. In nine two, the
Belgian Labor Party called a general strike and Leopold called
for it to be brutally stopped. The strikers were fired
upon by city guards and eight people were killed. The
massacre was a calculated message to the socialists, don't funk
with the money trained. Leopold was willing to kill a
hell of a lot more than eight people to keep

the money coming. In has Child's book relates one six
week campaign in the Congo that killed quote over nine
hundred natives, men, women, and children in order to add
twenty tons of rubber a month to one region's productivity.
They gives you an idea of the kind of calculus
he's making. Yeah, Yeah, that's how I mean. Right, it's
just lives for rubber. Yeah, it's just lives for rubber
has a commodity price. Yeah. Um. I have to point

out that none of the revelations brutality did much to
hurt Leopold's popularity at home in Belgium. He was growing
less popular and even hated in a lot of Europe.
But even today are Belgian museums that proudly talk about
his anti slavery campaigns that ignore the whole genocide thing.
The crimes against humanity didn't hurt Leopold's legacy. The only
thing Belgium couldn't forgive him for was being a shitty

dad and having a mistress. In nineteen o four, Leopold's
daughter Stephanie sued her father, the king, for keeping her
chunk of her mother's inheritance. Leopold fought in court for
the right to deny his children their inheritance, and in
fact denied them any wealth or property even after his death.
Around this time, a Belgian cabinet minister noted that quote,
the king has but two dreams, to die a billionaire

and to disinherit his daughters. I mean, what father doesn't
want that? A lot of ways kind of cool, A
lot always kind of cool. Uh So in nineteen o six,
King Leopold finally marries the Baroness. They have two sons.
His second son was born with a malformed arm, that
just sort of ended in a stump with no hand. Obviously,

some people suggested this might be a judgment from God
for all the millions of hands that Leopold ordered severed,
which is almost more fucked up if you think about
the morality behind, Like this guy cut off millions of
people's hands, let's funk off his innocent baby's hand. Yeah,
that's not how you do that, if you got first
of all, that is definitely how God do that. God

is punchy on the messages. Yeah, God, God ain't great
with making sure these people get their just desserts. Yeah, yeah,
because right, because it's so funny. It's like all these
like just so kind of stories where God is just
a little like tricky metaphor man, like, Oh, you didn't
expect this, didn't You didn't think God would do that?

Just God, get it right, man? Yeah, Hey, speaking of hands,
why don't you use both of them to order the
products that we are about to advertise. Here they go
and we're back. So the general and seemliness of the

king's young bride and the disinheritance of his daughters meant
the public sort of deserted Leopold. Once the Human rights
campaign against his atrocities really took off. In nineteen o eight,
King Leopold was forced to bequeath his control of the
Congo to the Belgian government. In exchange, they paid for
the colonies hundred and ten million francs worth of debt,
most of which had been accrued because Leopold used the
Free State as a bank to buy gifts for his mistresses.

Before he hands over control of the colony, he'd ruled
with an iron fist for more than twenty years. Leopold
has all of the Congo state records burned. I will
give them my Congo, he said. But they have no
right to know what I did there. Oh what fun
such a piece of ship. So the thing that I
say all the time or think about, it's like, yes,

of course there have been massive conspiracies in history, and
I'm sure today, but like oftentimes, like there isn't like
the basic human competency to pull off some of the
more far fetched, you know, like a pizza gate style thing.
You're like, how could everyone cover this up? And then
it's like just hearing a story of nineteenth century to

twentieth century like attention to detail. Because he's a genius
like he really is like a genius in the sense
that like if you saw a character execute a plan
like this in a movie, it would be like, that's
a little far fext that he get away with it,
But he did, and he's he is an evil genius. Yeah,

And I guess you know what, and it's I guess
it was from a time when little people were less
empowered to speak up, yes, because that's the real thing.
It's like it would be hard to pull off a
pizza Gate because it's not like the top conspirators would
go to jail, but it's like there's gonna be a
janitor who's like, what the fund is this? What is
going on? Kids in this basement? Yeah, and that's like

less likely to happen. That was more controllable back in
the day, clearly. Yeah. And and even when that it
started coming out, Um, there's a lot less of a
media landscape. You only get the news from your newspapers.
You read every newspaper. Most people don't read much of
one newspaper. So if you're a guy like Leopold, you've
got the money to make the press do what you want.

And if I if I understand my history correctly, which
I probably don't. That was a time when the public
had more of an expectation that media was biased. It
was just the right. Well, yeah, this is like a
lot of this is right around the time when America
gets involved in a war with Spain. That's essentially pushed
by two different newspaper magnets wanting to sell more papers.

So like, yeah, the press, he doesn't have a great
reputation now, yeah, but even it still didn't have a
great reputation then. Um, so yeah, it's like a perfect storm,
but it also is it was a legitimately brilliant scheme,
and he did his best to cover his tracks. Uh.
And he died in December of nineteen nine at the
age of eighty four. Uh super rich. Uh did you

make that billion? Well we'll get to that in a minute. Um.
The biography published the next year said that quote, were
it not for his private life, his domestic affairs, and
his avarice, he would have retained his popularity to the
very last. Belgium as a nation, with the exception of
the socialists, would have forgiven him the Congo atrocities. Indeed,

she has forgiven him, for after all, she is destined
to benefit by them, and she will not grudge her
king the Royal commission he pocketed on the enterprise. And
this is where again I want to point out that
in some total there's no percent agreed upon death toll
for Leopold's regime in the Congo, but the likely numbers
are between ten and thirteen million, possibly as high as

fifteen million people um. And the Congo was definitely the
bloodiest of any of the colonists in Africa by a
substantial margin. But they all killed a lot of people,
and a lot of them killed a lot of people
making rubber. And one of the things that was found
out after Leopold's death is that in the bloody French
and German colonies that were producing rubber, Leopold owned a

majority of several of the large rubber making corporations and
those colonies too, so he was also the first like
pan multinational. Right, the corporations can be the conduits for
the scumbags, because the corporations are the scumbags, of course.
But Jesus Christ, yeah, so he's he's he's a real monster.
The late king achieved his ambition of disinheriting his daughters.

He left them only fifteen million francs, the exact amount
he'd inherited from his father. His entire fortune went to
Baroness Devon, the prostitute courts On that he fell in
love with and married. After his death, she immediately married drou,
her pimp, and spent the rest of her life living
lavishly off the gold made by the blood of Congolese labor.
Which she doesn't come out as good as I don't know.

I kind of like that his inheritance got stolen by
a scheming prostitute and her pimp friend. Yeah, that's better
than I can us. If she had murdered him, that
would have if she'd strangled him with his own beard
job al Yeah, or poison him. Maybe she did poison him.
Maybe she had poisoned him. I can't hope, so I

certainly don't know. Um oh what a grim mass tail. Fuck. Yeah.
His biography, the nineteen ten biography, summed up Leopold's life
this way Leopold the second New Belgium, New Europe and
new humanity. And like a strong man, he had a
deep contempt for everything and everybody. He loved his country

and his own interests for all. Love is after all selfish.
It's the Victorian Age is a bleak gas period. There's
also you know, speaking of although it's not exactly the
same players, but it's the same types of institutions every
one of y'all who whenever this comes out, you'll have
just enjoyed the royal wedding. Yeah, that ship has built

off the back of ship, like exactly like this, well,
less artful than this a lot not even good was
because this is if you can like the it's it's
up there with the Holocaust in terms of like the
greatest crimes in human history. But as a scheme, his
planned is it's like almost artwork. It's like watching The

Joker and The Good Christinal and Batman. Yeah, but also
that one too, where you're like it has similar moments
of like I feel like some of these lives are
just to do the lie. Yeah, it's not even about
achieving the aid need to do this yeah yeah, yeah,
there's a lot of like the funk you do that
for well, it's crazy and so one of the more

I mean, there's so many fund up things about this.
I really recommend reading King Leopold's Ghost by Adam host Child.
It's a great book. And it really delves into the
human misery caused by this regime. But you know, you're
you're talking ten to fifteen million people killed, millions more
left without hands, left maimed, starved, like whose villages were

destroyed the go Today, it's still probably the least stable
state in Africa, or at least one of them, because
all social order was destroyed. He swats the party like that.
It continues to this day. Leopold's profits, Yeah, roughly a
billion dollars in modern currency. That's bonkers, that's I feel like,

that's fucking nothing for what he did in terms of right.
Not a billion dollars in nineteen o nine money. Billion
dollars in today's money is what he got for killing
ten to fifteen million people and destroying Central Africa. That's Jesus. Yeah,
he's not even extracting enough wealth, like you could do

that just by closing up bookshops. Yeah, And I think
a lot of that is because he had to spend
so much money on an army, on policing the state
of fighting, because there were a bunch of rebellions, people
who thought back. He had to he had to suppress
those rebellions, and he had to pay all these journalists
and like, yeah, there you go, fucking capitalists, and he's
like and profitable to be the worst person. Although I

guess that was the second lesson that everyone turned is like, oh,
the real prophets in pr and making people think they
want to do this now. I want to ask you
a question that occurred to me when I finished researching this,
and I wonder about this, like is Leopold a worse
person than Hitler? Because I can't not think about that
line in The Big Lebowski where what's his name Walter's like,

say what you will about national socialism. At least it's
an ethos. Hitler committed crimes on a on a similar,
if not much greater scale if you include all of
the war dead, but he had like an ideology behind it,
as opposed to Leopold, who this was never anything but money.
There was no hatred, there was no goal, there was

no view of the world. It was purely if I
can make money, and killing these people is the fastest
way to get it. I don't care what happens to
them because I want money. And it was also like separate.
I mean, obviously, I guess it's just different things. They
are very different things. Although, like when you look at

the Holocaust, and this is something that's often glossed over
when people talk about the Holocaust is how much of
it was a money making endeavor from the German state
because they were literally mining people to death in terms
of like taking their hair, taking the gold fillings out
of them, taking their businesses beforehand, and taking their property.
So I mean you have with most of like and
with really with every great genocide, because like if you

look at the Rwandan genocide, there was a lot of
financial motivation. There are people wanting each other's farms and one, yeah,
I I have to imagine like those are the things
that allow I mean, like all look but like all
conflict to It's like like especially anything sectarian or religious,
like the Crusades. You know, you can make an economic
case for the Crusades or or or colonialism or at large,

like all that is sort of possible. I think the
thing with Leopold's evil is as as we've discussed already.
It's like, though not in the same degree, anyone listening
to this on a podcast thing and on exactly is
complicit in something along Leopold's vector whereas it's fewer of

us listening to this podcast are complicit in some type
of thing that Hitler has involved in. So I think
it behooves us to say Hitler is more evil because
we don't want to be part you know. Yeah, the
banality that I mean, look, not banality, but the you know,
the it's in the direction of banality. I think you're

onto something that's great there. And I think that's why
the idea of the banality of evil is so important
is because Hitler is it's so easy to see the
evil and Hitler because he was he was showy with
like he's the most showy villain in all of history.
Leopold was a weird old man who had a stupid
beard and sat in his office and never shot anybody
in RhoD of tricycle to his mistress and was just

this weird old dude who was happy to orchestrate one
of like the great crimes in human history just for
some cash in his pocket. And that's scarier. Yeah, and
you can imagine that he doesn't come up with the
hands for bullets scheme. No, he's just doesn't need to.
We can't let them have bullets. We have to make
sure that, like we're accounting for all the bullets, that

they're not saving them up for a rebellion. What can
we do, Oh, well, we just make sure they prove
to us they're using the bullets for good reason when
they fire them. How about we have them bringing a hand. Great,
and that's probably the end of the cons and then
the first person people lose hands, like, then a crime
on an unspeakable scale happens. And he's just like sitting
at home being like, boy, I wonder why productions down

this week. But he can also be like, I'm not
the one that came up with the hands thing. It's
a shame. He can even be like all the hand
things are real shame. Yeah, that's a real shame. One
of my new guys, you know these you know the walloons. Yeah,
you put them in charge of something and they mess
it up. I hate that we have to do this,
but of course we do need that rubber. Yeah, that's
that's the thing that you know. And look, that's a
version of every one of us calls ourselves every fucking day. Yeah.

So that's why I think most people would say Hitler
is a worse, more evil person because we don't want
to be complicit in our own evil. Hey, everybody, this
is Robert Evans from the future. I realized that this
podcast was a teeny bit incomplete. There was some more
information I want to give out, so I gained access
to a time machine and went back in time to

to record it. It was either fixed the podcast or
stop nine eleven. Hopefully I made the right decision. But UM,
I wanted to say a little bit more about the Chakote,
which we we talked about a little bit in this podcast.
That's the hippo hyde whip that was the primary disciplinary
tool in the Congo Free State. UM. The book King
Leopold's Ghost makes a big deal out of the Chakote,

and it's probably true that the Belgians under Leopold whipped
more people to death than any other regime in history. UM.
But that book also points out that whipping people to
death or nearly to death was basically the bedrock that
colonialism was founded upon. UM. It relates the story of
a guy named Roger Casement. We didn't get to talk
to you in this podcast, but he's a very interesting dude.
He's one of the men who investigated atrocities in the Congo.
He also wound up investigating a lot of atrocities in

the Amazon at a place called Puta Mayo, where the
Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company had been caught basically enslaving and
murdering people to produce even more rubber. UM. And this
was for I think the British. It was mostly a
British owned company, although it was like a corporation with
a lot of different sort of stockholders behind it. UM
and the Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company dealt out punishments with

a whip of their own that was actually a two
peer hide whip UM, but it was similar to the
jacote and its effect. Roughly thirty thousand indigenous people in
the Amazon died mining rubber for that company. UM whips.
It turns out we're basically the glue that made colonialism
UM possible. I found one book on slavery in the
British West Indies published in eighteen twenty four, that admits
that whips were quote the main spring of the agricultural

system in that region of the Empire. Whips were also
critical to the French colonies as far back as the
seventeen hundreds, when a visitor to the French Antilles noticed
that the use of whips was quote always excessive and barbarous,
with the potential of maiming the victim by assaulting his
private parts or even killing him, if not instantly, as
has already been the case, in due course, as is
often the case. So whipping and slavery go hand in hand. Obviously.

I don't think most people are surprised by that, but
I think a lot of people would be surprised to
know that Europeans didn't stop whipping subject people once slavery
was over. The Congo and the Amazon are proof of that, um,
but the atomic bomb is actually even more proof. After
Leopold died, the Belgians continued to control the Congo region,
and they moved on from rubber farming to mining. In
the first six months of nineteen twenty, a single gold

mine is recorded as issuing over twenty six thousand lashes
to his workers, more than eight lashes for every single
African quote employed there. I say, you know, employed in
quotation marks. Because the Belgians kept right on using forced labor,
as did the British and Kenya up and into the
modern era. By World War Two, Belgium required a hundred
and twenty days per year of labor for each adult

male inhabitant of the Congo reach. And it turns out
that of the uranium mind to make the bombs dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from Congolese minds that used
forced labor, which means we can thank the Jacote for
the first atom bombs. The British are also famous for
flogging their colonial subjects well into the middle of the
twentieth century. By the nineteen twenties, Kenya was the colony

where the British used the most corporal punishment, or as
they called it, rough justice UH. Flogging was seen to
be necessary in order to deal with the quote raw
native Africans, who were perhaps so raw because the British
regularly whipped them bloody uh. There were attempts in the
nineteen thirties to alter British penal laws in the colony
to be less brutal, but they didn't exactly stop the
problem of white colonists treating black natives like shit. Brutality

and the Kenyan colony eventually led to the Mau Mau Uprising,
which started in nineteen fifty two when a bunch of rebels,
calling themselves the Mau Mau killed thirty two white people.
This made England go batch it crazy. Uh. The English
forces rounded up a hundred and fifty thousand Kenyans and
through them into concentration camps, where they were starved and
beaten regularly. One survivor recalled, we were forced to do
work carrying bricks to build a school. We were beating

if we moved too slowly. It was very hard work.
They would just flog everyone. At times, four or five
guards with whips would come into the cell. So at
least twelve thousand people were killed during the Mamou uprising,
although it's hard to say how many of them died
from being whipped. The brutalizing effect of whipping people certainly
had an impact on the British men who did it.
A Kenyan judge who investigated whipping, torture and murder at
one British interrogation center compared it to a Nazi labor

camp and said, quote from the brutalizing of flogging, it
is only a step to taking a life without qualm.
So uh, I just thought this is a good information
to know. People talk about colonialism a lot and it
gets you know, a lot of well deserved harsh criticism
these days. But I think that the people who rightly
view it as a as a horrible historical crime also

tend to kind of push it further back in history
and sort of assume that most of the worst stuff
was done and you know, the seventeen and eighteen hundreds.
The reality is that colonialism was still exporting wealth from
African nations, you know, into Europe well into the twentieth century,
and that the European nations were using brutal and in
a lot of ways medieval justice measures in order to

keep the colonies compliant. So, uh, there's your happy little
reminder that not only was colonialism and nightmare, but it
is a nightmare that happened recently enough that a lot
of people are still alive to remember it today. Uh
So just keep that in mind, I guess. And now
I'm going to use my magical time powers to go
back to you know, when Andrew and I were sitting

in the room. Yeah, and we don't wanna We also
don't want to acknowledge like when you go to Belgium,
which I love Belgium, on there a couple of times
beautiful country, best beer I've ever had in the world,
gorgeous giant buildings, many in like the cities and stuff
like ain't really old, beautiful museums and stuff, many of
which are built on congo money um, and so you

don't and in like we're shooting on Belgium here, but
that's like all of Europe you go to, you go
to uh, American South and they're American North. Yeah, like
that's everything was built on the backs of that ship.
So and you know there's there were good people at
all times being like that sucks, this is really messed up.

But yeah, but that's the same every you pick up
an iPhone, you're like, it sucks that someone had a
south from that. I do need it though, well, and
there are and this is again the thing that Leopold's
Ghost is a good job of going into. There are
the heroes in this story. There's the guy like Colonel Washington,
who I was there and right, there's guys like Morrell
who are who like who don't even see it firsthand,
but put it together like this can't stand. I have

to do something and I hope that like like that's
the we got to focus on Leopold in this both
because his story is the blueprint of every terrible person
who came after him. He really is the first modern
monster world like head of State, the first one to
use pr in a really modern way. But it's important.
It's just as important to think about the guys like Morrell,
who are probably more relevant to our own lives because

they pointed like, well, you can do something. Yeah, and
you don't have to just say this it's a shame,
yeah exactly, and it might take fifteen years, but you can. Yeah, Like,
these guys will still win to some extent, but you
can know where the margins by which they win you
can put into their profits. Well, right, it's a it's
just a battle. All you can do is make it

less profitable. The Capitalist Revolution. That is our podcast for
the week. Uh, Andrew, you want to plug your plugables?
Oh yeah, well just just please listen to you know,
is this racist? Uh? I used to think it was
the most depressing podcast on the internet, but not anymore.
And I'm Robert Evans. You can find me on Twitter

at at I right, okay, you can find this podcast
on the internet at Behind the Bastards dot com. You
can find us on social media at at Bastard's Pod.
I've got a book you can find on Amazon, Brief
History of Vice. Um, so yeah, check my stuff out,
check us out. We will be back every single Tuesday
from now until the heat death of the Universe with
a new Bastard. So check that us next. Yes, I

can't wait. Yep. Okay, m h m

Behind the Bastards News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On


Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links


Popular Podcasts

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.