cargo cult: the manna is comin’

Ghost dances and cargo cults. In times of stress turn to the prophets who always appear at precisely those moments. And there has been no shortage over the course of men, women and children suffering and in dire need of an earthly paradise. Handsome Lake, Mohammed, Lenin and many Teachers of Righteousness. America seems primed for its own millennial cult. …

As global public opinion sours towards the United States, Americans weary of the relentless negativity can take heart from an exotic corner of the South Pacific.
… but a bizarre cargo cult in the Vanuatu island nation holds America in god-like esteem.
The Jon Frum movement celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding yesterday with a lavish feast in which village men dressed up as US soldiers and marched in front of a giant Stars and Stripes flag on a bamboo pole.
Miniature American flags festooned trees lining the black sand parade ground which forms the focus of Lamakara village, the headquarters of the cult, on the jungle island of Tanna.—Read More:

…It was perfectly understandable that the natives should think a secret was involved- for it appeared to them that the cargo arrived as the result of some white ceremonial. The natives had no conception of the manufacturing and distribution process that lay behind the sudden arrival of ships and airplanes., which unloaded their cargoes at local wharves and airports. The only possible explanation for the natives was that the cargo was a gist of a deity. And why must it be a gift? Because the natives clearly saw that the whites did no “work.” Instead, they shuffled mysterious papers in offices and obtained their shares of the cargo just by presenting chits at stores. Finally, it must have looked like a ritual of thanksgiving when the whites celebrated the arrival of a ship or airplane: all the whites gathered at the local club, poured each other cocktails, and gossiped with the crews of the ships and airplanes.

—Guns, airplanes, and similar cargo often fascinated the natives, because of the fact that it seemed like the tech the West had gave the visitors godlike powers. Westerners had the power to fly through the air, and shoot them with a stick. They soon began to view Western visitors as gods, and began to covet the cargo as treasures from another world.
Believers tried evoke the magic of cargo in various ways. Sometimes, they would try to make their own electronics out of materials such as wood, coconuts, straw, and grass. They would use these wooden electronics in staged activities that mimicked Western activities. Villages constructed mock aircraft and landing strips all in a effort to call down the power of cargo.
The phenomenon of Cargo Cults largely died out by the 1960s, but there are still some remnants that remain to this day.
The phenomenon of Cargo Cults is central to the Ancient Astronaut question. It shows how primitive societies can interpret technology and its users as gods wielding magic. —Read More:

So the cargo cults sought to undo the conspiracy,to unlock the mystery. The natives had converted to the Christian religion, but that still did not bring them the secret. So they tried imitating white behavior. One of their number might play the part of a district commissioner sitting in his office closely studying official papers-which of course, he could not read. The natives lined up on dress parade in the manner of the white police on plantations; they obtained bits and pieces of European machinery, which they had tried to use in the ways they had seen whites use them. Even in the 1960’s, there was cases in the New Guinea highlands, where people, still cultivating gardens with neolithic tools, would organize themselves to erect “wireless towers” like the white man’s so that they could communicate with the supernaturals who send the coveted cargo.


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