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Old July 13th, 2018, 10:28 PM   #1

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Review of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel"


I'll state from the get go that this book is bad history used to justify the genocide of Native Americans and non-Europeans in general. Indeed, this is the reason why this book became so popular and influential, even winning a Pulitzer Prize when it was published over 25 years ago around the 500th anniversary of Columbus's arrival to the Caribbean, where amidst the condemnation of him as the starter of the genocidal European colonial project, there were also forests of apologetic literature telling us why Columbus was so great, Diamond's work being without a doubt the most successful in said apologetic genre to come out of that era.

The backcover and the introduction of this book tells us that it is about why European civilisation - the "West" - triumphed above all others, without relying on "racial" explanations. Some versions even say that the thesis of this book is "humane". In fact, nothing can be further from the truth since Diamond only repeats the same racist colonial cliches regurgitated over and over by the likes of John Lubbock, Rudyard Kipling, William H. Prescott and Bernard Lewis before Diamond even began writing this deplorable book.

This book does give a racial explanation for Europe's success, arguing basically that the Caucasoid European became biologically superior to the Mongoloid and Negroid savages of the American, African and Oceanic continents because the geography of "Eurasia" (how I loathe this grammatically incorrect name) was more benign to the development of civilisation than the geography of the aforementioned continents. Why is it more benign? According to Diamond, this is because Eurasia has the longest terrestrial West to East "X-axis" in the planet, whereas the rest of the continents have far smaller "X-axis" and in the case of Oceania is also limited severely by the surrounding ocean, making it little more than just a chain of islands.

Eurasia's "X-axis" also happens to be climatically more consistent, having a tempered weather unlike the extreme weather variations of America and Africa. This climate together with the massive horizontal landmass of Eurasia permitted technology and disease to not just travel but also form quicker than in the other continents, thus creating the Caucasoid European race that was a walking biological weapon armed with super steel armour, riding the ultra-fast horse and shooting superior cannons and guns, contrary to the "virgin land" savages of the non-Eurasian landmasses that were not only on a technologically inferior stage, lacking all the weapons the Caucasoid master race possessed (in fact, basically being stuck in the "Stone Age"), but also on a biological one as well, having no defences against the walking Caucasoid European bioweapons.

Of course, Diamond gets into the problem that this doesn't explain how these Caucasoid Europeans surpassed their Asian neighbours to the point of colonising them. Didn't the Asians (called "Mongoloid" by Diamond at least once in his book) also get the same benefits as Europeans in these exchanges of technologies and diseases as Diamond tells us during his ramblings about how Europeans were able to colonise the non-Eurasian continents? How does he get out of this one?

It is here that Diamond completely contradicts his geographical determinism and regurgitates the same culturalist arguments spouted by Lubbock, Prescott, Kipling, Lewis, etc. Europe simply was culturally superior, end of story. It was far less despotic, far less bureaucratic, far less xenophobic and instead far more individualistic and freedom-oriented. How did Europe become "culturally" superior, aside from maybe arguing that it's in the genes of Europeans? Diamond doesn't really answer this except with extremely vague allusions to "geographical" and "agricultural" advantages of Europe over Asia, which begins to sound like the same racist arguments referring to the debilitating effects of certain regions of the Earth on the racial characteristics of human beings, such as the "Sotadic Zone" of the 19th century British colonial racialist Richard Burton, or the Congolese environment of Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness".

So much for Diamond's supposed anti-racism/non-racism. The guy in the end is at least almost as racist as 19th century European colonial racialists.

Moreover, it is painfully obvious Diamond doesn't know what he's talking about in many cases and that he is no scholar or expert on many topics. For instance, it is beyond clear - and this is definitely the best example - that Diamond is no scholar of Native American civilisations and instead relies on the outdated works of William H. Prescott written over a century ago to write about the Spanish conquests. He also ignores decades of archaeological work that had mounted even by the 1990s that contradicts his assertions that Native Americans - all Native Americans from north to south - had not reached beyond the so-called Iron Age, as Diamond believes even the Aztecs and Incas were just barely beyond the "hunter-gatherer" stage, let alone the non-Aztecs and non-Incas of the continent. This should force the dedicated historian to admit that it is difficult to maintain the supposed technological superiority of Europeans.

In particular, Diamond ignores all the contradictory evidence to his central claim (maybe his most important one) of vulnerable "virgin land" Native Americans getting decimated by walking European bioweapons. Diamond is of the opinion that the biologically (read: racially) inferior Native Americans would have died even with mere trade with Europeans. It wasn't war or intensive labour that killed them, it was disease, spread ignorantly and unknowingly by Europeans without any evil intention whatsoever. Had the Europeans starting with Columbus decided not to invade and colonise, the natives would have still been decimated all the same and gone almost extinct.

This runs contrary to all the evidence. It took decades for European diseases to break out in the American lands they first arrived. Epidemics of smallpox, malaria, etc., only broke in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti - the first Spanish colonies - until 30 years after Columbus first arrived. The rest of the Caribbean natives didn't suffer from epidemics until 150 years later when they were finally invaded and colonised by Holland, England and France, all despite sustained contact with Europeans for that long period. The same with North American natives, who regularly used Europeans as mercenaries and vice versa for at least 200 years between the 17th and 19th century. Why didn't disease just decimate them outright despite a sustained long period of constant wars? Equally damning is how the Norse didn't decimate the population of Greenland despite 500 years of constant trading and occasional skirmishes, and in fact, they got expelled and repulsed completely in the 15th century by invading Inuits, with not a single Norse remaining by the time the Danish returned in the late 18th century.

This is not to say there weren't epidemics, but the epidemics only broke out until after decades inside colonies where Native Americans had been subjugated and were forced into extreme intensive labour by Europeans. These diseases killed Natives as much as the African slaves brought to replace them. It's the reason why Africans were shipped at practically a yearly basis in the first place since the death rate of Africans was no better than that of Natives.

This means that Diamond is completely wrong in his assertion that Native Americans would have been decimated with mere and simple sustained trading with Europe, regardless of colonialism. The European invading colonists brought by Columbus bear the primary guilt of the Native American genocide, not diseases.

Aside from Diamond's ignorance about Native Americans, there's also the fact that he uses fallacious arguments to base his claims. His most fallacious is his claim that Native Americans must have been technologically inferior to Europeans because they're the ones that got conquered and not vice versa. That a people gets conquered by another doesn't mean that it is technologically inferior. Most conquests in history have in fact been done by opponents of equal or even inferior technology. No one says the Romans were technologically superior to the Greeks, the Normans were technologically superior to the English or that the Arabs were technologically superior to the Byzantines, Visigoths and Persians, and I can easily keep going.

Of course, it's true that there's a particularism to European colonial conquests in America, but this is in the mode of production and the kind of labour they imposed, it's not in the military conquests themselves. And yes, Europeans did become technologically superior to everyone else, but this wasn't until the 17th century, some even arguing that it wasn't until the 19th century. There's simply no reason to believe that the Spaniards of the 16th century were technologically superior to the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, etc. simply because they conquered them.

He also assumes Native Americans were inferior because they weren't the ones who arrived to Europe first, it was the other way around. This is as fallacious as saying Europeans were inferior to Mongols because the Mongols invaded Europe first. Also, Polynesians arrived to America first by ocean-going ships, Columbus style, yet Diamond of course doesn't give this any credit.

Finally, Diamond's thesis that Eurasia is the superior landmass or "hemisphere" is contradicted by the mere existence of the United States, the most powerful empire in history that has essentially subjugated Europe, and all of Eurasia for that matter, to its will. Diamond may say that there's Russia and China, but to use Diamond's own logic against him, Russia is the one that lost massive territory when fighting the US in the Cold War, not the other way around, and China is not the one that has invaded the US, it's the other way around (in WWII, also the same happened to Russia during its Civil War, US troops invading there, while no Russian troop has ever landed in US territory except maybe Alaska).

I can already hear Jared Diamond and his fans screaming at me that the United States is not evidence of equality or even superiority of America over Eurasia because the US is ruled by Europeans and was created by Europeans, not by Native Americans, but this is simply pure ignorance. As James Axtell - an actual scholar of Native American civilisations - has shown, the US built its economy through Native American crops like cotton, maize and tobacco and through their methods of extracting and creating petroleum and whale fat; the Thirteen Colonies used Native American allies to fight the British; the US also used Native American culture as its revolutionary ideology; the US were also capable for expanding because the Dutch, the British, the French and Spaniards were incapable of advancing and subjugating the Native American nations of North America.

Simply put, the US is Native American in its essence and only superficially European, and the fact that this Native American country is now the leading superpower of the world and has surpassed Eurasia is evidence against Diamond's assertion of the supposed superiority of the Eurasian landmass not just over America but over the rest of the other continents and landmasses.

In conclusion, Jared Diamond's work should be discarded on the basis of its shoddy pseudo-scholarship, lies about its purported non-racist intent and its fallacious claims. This is not a work of real history, but an apology of colonial genocide and domination.

Last edited by Maoistic; July 13th, 2018 at 10:35 PM.
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Old July 13th, 2018, 11:32 PM   #2

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I read this book and came away with a totally different view. Far from being an apologist for white civlisation, Diamond's entire premise was that white people are stupid and undeserving and somehow got lucky due to geographical accident, whereas the intelligent and noble black people were shortchanged by nature when it came to the exploitable resources of civilisation.
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Old July 13th, 2018, 11:38 PM   #3
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Fair critics should be welcome, and Diamond has probably his faults. That said I donīt at all accept what is stated above, and thinks it has little to do with Diamonds book. But, ok, perhaps since it is almost 20 years since I read it I may have forgotten something?
And the very idea that land masses are "superior" or "inferior" per se, or that they are somewhat identified with "race" I find unfounded. So, all in all what is written above I think of as m"boomeranging".
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Old July 14th, 2018, 12:18 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Belgarion View Post
I read this book and came away with a totally different view. Far from being an apologist for white civlisation, Diamond's entire premise was that white people are stupid and undeserving and somehow got lucky due to geographical accident, whereas the intelligent and noble black people were shortchanged by nature when it came to the exploitable resources of civilisation.
I honestly don't get where you get this when he says things like "How Africa became Black" (why doesn't he ask "How Europe became White"?), refers to non-Europeans as "hunter-gatherers", organising in "tribes" and living in "villages", says that all Southeast Asians are actually Chinese (because all Asians with slanted eyes must be Chinese, am I right or am I right?), continues to insultingly refer to Native Americans as "Indians" even after acknowledging they aren't, in fact, Indians, treats Incas like idiot children who easily fall for traps, repeatedly misrepresents non-European cultures and civilisations as far more primitive than they actually were, and even shows fears of Russian and Chinese becoming dominant languages ("the impending disappearance of most of the modern world's 6,000 surviving languages, becoming replaced by English, Chinese, Russian"). I can keep going.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 01:13 AM   #5
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I have listened book, so I might have missed a lot, but I also didn't get that author was very pro European. I have to agree on his germ theory, in a lot of territories Native Americans died before serious attempts at colonizing. Colonization was successful because a lot of natives died and could not resist newcomers. They got infected by early traders and whale hunters.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 01:34 AM   #6
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Interesting post. Geographic determinism (which I am not a complete advocate of - it certainly does not explain everything and there are sometimes serious counterarguments to some of the claims found in geographic determinist arguments) was actually put forward as an explanation for actual or perceived differences in advancement between groups in different and distant parts of the world at least as early as the 14th century, in a book by Ibn Khaldun. So this sort of attempt to "explain the world" is nothing new and is not necessarily a European racialist agenda. Ibn Khaldun did argue that the environmentally "temperate" or mild parts of Eurasia and North Africa were home to people that were behaviorally and culturally superior to people from less "temperate" (more harsh or environmentally challenging) outlying regions of Eurasia and Africa. But his argument also had some holes that he had to patch up with certain workarounds or omissions. He couldn't get pure geographic determinism to explain everything either.

I read Guns, Germs and Steel many years ago and to be honest I hardly remember most of the arguments so I am not going to attempt to debate specific claims that you objected to. I do not find it at all surprising that there would be certain holes in some of his explanations or claims given the nature of the work. However I will say that I do not think he was really intending to minimize the destructiveness of European colonization on the Native Americans just because he had a geographically deterministic explanation for the overall outcome. I do not think the intent was really there even if the finished product may have such an appearance (as an excuse for or rationalization of the effects of European colonization) in your view.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 05:04 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Maoistic View Post
That a people gets conquered by another doesn't mean that it is technologically inferior. Most conquests in history have in fact been done by opponents of equal or even inferior technology. No one says the Romans were technologically superior to the Greeks, the Normans were technologically superior to the English or that the Arabs were technologically superior to the Byzantines, Visigoths and Persians, and I can easily keep going.
True, but in the case of Native Americans, beginning in the 16th century Europeans clearly had an edge in armament like firearms, metal armor etc.


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And yes, Europeans did become technologically superior to everyone else, but this wasn't until the 17th century, some even arguing that it wasn't until the 19th century. There's simply no reason to believe that the Spaniards of the 16th century were technologically superior to the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, etc. simply because they conquered them.
But they had guns and armor lacking among the Aztecs and Mayans.

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the US were also capable for expanding because the Dutch, the British, the French and Spaniards were incapable of advancing and subjugating the Native American nations of North America.
I think the problem was that, unlike more lucrative targets, what was to become US territory wasn't worth conquering, at least not to the same degree.

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Simply put, the US is Native American in its essence and only superficially European, and the fact that this Native American country...
Gimmee a break. I'm no fan of Diamond and don't buy his thesis. But this is quite a stretch....The US is overwhelmingly non-native American ethnically and culturally.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 05:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Maoistic View Post
I'll state from the get go that this book is bad history used to justify the genocide of Native Americans and non-Europeans in general. Indeed, this is the reason why this book became so popular and influential, even winning a Pulitzer Prize when it was published over 25 years ago around the 500th anniversary of Columbus's arrival to the Caribbean, where amidst the condemnation of him as the starter of the genocidal European colonial project, there were also forests of apologetic literature telling us why Columbus was so great, Diamond's work being without a doubt the most successful in said apologetic genre to come out of that era.

The backcover and the introduction of this book tells us that it is about why European civilisation - the "West" - triumphed above all others, without relying on "racial" explanations. Some versions even say that the thesis of this book is "humane". In fact, nothing can be further from the truth since Diamond only repeats the same racist colonial cliches regurgitated over and over by the likes of John Lubbock, Rudyard Kipling, William H. Prescott and Bernard Lewis before Diamond even began writing this deplorable book. 

This book does give a racial explanation for Europe's success, arguing basically that the Caucasoid European became biologically superior to the Mongoloid and Negroid savages of the American, African and Oceanic continents because the geography of "Eurasia" (how I loathe this grammatically incorrect name) was more benign to the development of civilisation than the geography of the aforementioned continents. Why is it more benign? According to Diamond, this is because Eurasia has the longest terrestrial West to East "X-axis" in the planet, whereas the rest of the continents have far smaller "X-axis" and in the case of Oceania is also limited severely by the surrounding ocean, making it little more than just a chain of islands. 
I don't see the racism you claim in his work. I think Diamond's work has a lot of flaws, but not the one you complain of.

The amount of sunlight you get per year, which influences growing seaon, is dictated by latitude, the "X" axis. Because of the long x axis, i.e. same latitude. crops that grow well in one region should grow well in another part of a region, since tne length days will be tne same. If you try to grow tne same crop at different latitudes, there is more work involved in adapting the, and so it gave people in the Eurasian continent an edge in devloping civilization. He points out that tne largely north-south axis of the American meant you had different lengths of growing seasons because of the difference in latitude, meaning more work had to be done to develop tne crops to grow in tne different regions. Nothing racist there.

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Eurasia's "X-axis" also happens to be climatically more consistent, having a tempered weather unlike the extreme weather variations of America and Africa. This climate together with the massive horizontal landmass of Eurasia permitted technology and disease to not just travel but also form quicker than in the other continents, thus creating the Caucasoid European race that was a walking biological weapon armed with super steel armour, riding the ultra-fast horse and shooting superior cannons and guns, contrary to the "virgin land" savages of the non-Eurasian landmasses that were not only on a technologically inferior stage, lacking all the weapons the Caucasoid master race possessed (in fact, basically being stuck in the "Stone Age"), but also on a biological one as well, having no defences against the walking Caucasoid European bioweapons. 
Diamond was talking about Old world versus New world, and his comments would have been applicable to the Chinese as well, if they had sailed to the New Worlds. Animal herdig exposed people of the Old World to more diseases, such as measles which arose from cattle rearing. The peoples of the New World largely did not raise hear animals, the Inca's llama's are the only exception, and so they didn't get exposed to diseases as they were in the Old World, nothing racist there. Just pointing out circumstances, which is why Old world diseases were so devasting to the New World, a statement of fact, and he did not claim the Caucasians were a master race. I fail to see the racism in that. Just history - it is a fact that diseases that were a problem for Europeans proved far deadlier to the natives, a reality, not racism. It wasn't superiority of Europeans that made them and Africans more resistant, just history. The Europeans got exposed to tne same diseases a lot earlier, making them more resistant. It is like saying that I am superior because I didn't get measles because I got vaccinated while an African who didn't get vaccinated got measles. That is utter nonsense, My not getting measles doesn't make me superior, only more fortunate.

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Of course, Diamond gets into the problem that this doesn't explain how these Caucasoid Europeans surpassed their Asian neighbours to the point of colonising them. Didn't the Asians (called "Mongoloid" by Diamond at least once in his book) also get the same benefits as Europeans in these exchanges of technologies and diseases as Diamond tells us during his ramblings about how Europeans were able to colonise the non-Eurasian continents? How does he get out of this one? 
Yes their Asian neighbors did get the same benefit, which is why the Asians were not conquered and colonized to the same degree. His main point was Old World versus New World, and explain on "guns, germs, and steel" played their role in tne conquest of the Americas. He goes on to explain why the people of the Old World (Europeans) had guns, gerns, and steel, and why the natives of tne Americas did not. It wasn't because the Europeans were genetically superior, but because they had more favorable geography - more favorable for the spread of crops, more favorable for the spread of ideas. In the Americas, the leading centers of civilizations, the Incas and Aztecs, were isolated from each other and had little contact. In tne Old World, even in ancient times tne Romans had trade with the Chinese at the other end of the world. Why? Were the peoples of the Old World smarter, more bold, etc,? No, it was geography, that broad X axis he talks about. So the peoples of the Old World could share ideas easier, leading to faster advancement.

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It is here that Diamond completely contradicts his geographical determinism and regurgitates the same culturalist arguments spouted by Lubbock, Prescott, Kipling, Lewis, etc. Europe simply was culturally superior, end of story. It was far less despotic, far less bureaucratic, far less xenophobic and instead far more individualistic and freedom-oriented. How did Europe become "culturally" superior, aside from maybe arguing that it's in the genes of Europeans? Diamond doesn't really answer this except with extremely vague allusions to "geographical" and "agricultural" advantages of Europe over Asia, which begins to sound like the same racist arguments referring to the debilitating effects of certain regions of the Earth on the racial characteristics of human beings, such as the "Sotadic Zone" of the 19th century British colonial racialist Richard Burton, or the Congolese environment of Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness". 
That Europe in the modern era (1500's) did produce a more technologically advance civilization is just a matter of fact. They were the ones that sailed around the world for centuries and explored seas, while the peoples of India and China never ventured outside known waters i those same centuries. It was tne Europeans that created new instruments like the telescope and microscope to explore new uncharted realms in the sky, and here on earth, while the peoples of Asia ignored those same inventions for centuries, and did not explore those new realms. In a span of a century, the Europeans invented 3 forms of printing, while the Chinese in a thousand years only invented one kind of printing. For centuries, Europeans were investigating electricity, until they could put it to practical commercial use, and in the same time the Asian didn't do anything, It wasn't lack of money, Asians could have done experiments like Franklin, but they didn't. Diamond may speculate as to the reason why, but he didn't create the reality.

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So much for Diamond's supposed anti-racism/non-racism. The guy in the end is at least almost as racist as 19th century European colonial racialists. 
Why? Because he talks about a history reality? Sorry, it wasn't just luck that had Europeans sailing around the world discovering new lands while others stuck only to known lands. it wasn't luck that Europeans invented telescope and used it make a host of new discoveries and others did not. (Europe introduced tne telescope to China, India, etc., it was just mostly ignored in these other lands)

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Moreover, it is painfully obvious Diamond doesn't know what he's talking about in many cases and that he is no scholar or expert on many topics. For instance, it is beyond clear - and this is definitely the best example - that Diamond is no scholar of Native American civilisations and instead relies on the outdated works of William H. Prescott written over a century ago to write about the Spanish conquests. He also ignores decades of archaeological work that had mounted even by the 1990s that contradicts his assertions that Native Americans - all Native Americans from north to south - had not reached beyond the so-called Iron Age, as Diamond believes even the Aztecs and Incas were just barely beyond the "hunter-gatherer" stage, let alone the non-Aztecs and non-Incas of the continent. This should force the dedicated historian to admit that it is difficult to maintain the supposed technological superiority of Europeans.
The natives of the Americas had not reached the Iron Age, the smelting of iron was unknown to them, and if you are reading scholars who say otherwise, they are allowihg political correctness ideology to triumph over actual facts.

The facts, however they may wound your ego, is that the level of civilizations of even themist advanced civilizations of the Americans just were not on the same level as that of the Old World civilizations of the time. Here are some of many, many inventions tne native Americans lacked:

1. The Americans lacked the ability to make iron, hence they were not in the Iron Age.
2. The native Americans lacked printing and tne ability to mass produce written material
3. The native Americans had yet master the production of glass, or to make lenses for eyeglasses and other devices.
4. The native Americans lacked complex machinery, like windmills, watermills, mechanical clocks. They also did not have lifting cranes, or the principle of the screw
5. The native Americans lacked guns, nor did they have powerful crossbows, nor did they have mechanical assist to cock crossbows or bows.
6. The native Americans did not have large multi-mast ships, nor did they have stern post rudders, nor hourglasses for measuirng time to calculate ships speed, nor magnetic compasses, nor cross staffs for measuing latitude, nor astrolabes, nor Portlan charts. In a single word, the native Americans marine technology was thousands of years behind the Old World.

And the list goes on, and on. The natives of the New World were capable of impressive achievements, but overall, their technology was WAY BEHIND that of the Old World and the Europeans. Osidian blades are nice, but steel is better. You can shape steel blades and tools to the shape you want, much harder with stone, and it is harder to sharpen a stone blade. Your objections to Diamond seem to be based on the fact that he talked abiut history as it was and not as you wish it were.


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In particular, Diamond ignores all the contradictory evidence to his central claim (maybe his most important one) of vulnerable "virgin land" Native Americans getting decimated by walking European bioweapons. Diamond is of the opinion that the biologically (read: racially) inferior Native Americans would have died even with mere trade with Europeans. It wasn't war or intensive labour that killed them, it was disease, spread ignorantly and unknowingly by Europeans without any evil intention whatsoever. Had the Europeans starting with Columbus decided not to invade and colonise, the natives would have still been decimated all the same and gone almost extinct. 
It is reality, not your fantasy, that Native Americans were decimated by Old World diseases, which made the conquest of the Native Americans much easier and possible. Contrary to you ignorance, these Old World diseases were not uniqur to Europeans as you think nor were they s bioweapon, since the Europeans were mostly ignorant of the causes of these diseases, and were ignorant of the especially adverse impact they would have on tne natives, and on tne Spanish, there was no intent to use these diseases as a weapon.

And yes, in North America, diseases often wiped out Indian populations well ahead of European Settlers. Villages and tribes observed by Coronado and Lewis and Clark were often gone by the time European/Caucasian settlers arrived. Indeed, that is why some have argued the size population of the Native North Americans has been serious underestimated, since the diseases preceeded the European settlers and greatly reduced native populations even before the settlers arrived. For example, there was a plague that seems to nave struck the Incan Empire that led to a civil warshortly before Pizzaro arrived, and many think this plague was one of the European diseases that had spread ahead of the Spanish themselves. The Civil War caused by the disease aided in tne Spanish conquest of the Incas.

And simply because Europeans had a greater immunity, it wasn't because they were superior, it was because they had previously been exposed to these same diseases, and the European suffering and dearhs just occured centuries earlier - luck, not superiority was the reason. Most of these diseases were still deadly to Europeans themselves, just less so. Measles, small pox, were also killers among Europeans, it wasn't as if it were the common cold that wiped out the Indians.

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This runs contrary to all the evidence. It took decades for European diseases to break out in the American lands they first arrived. Epidemics of smallpox, malaria, etc., only broke in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti - the first Spanish colonies - until 30 years after Columbus first arrived. The rest of the Caribbean natives didn't suffer from epidemics until 150 years later when they were finally invaded and colonised by Holland, England and France, all despite sustained contact with Europeans for that long period. 
By 150 years, the native Caribbean populatio was mostly wiped out, and Spanish numbers were small. In 1500, Europeans didn't suffer small pox that much either. Epidemics comes in waves - it can be many years between epidemics. In small pox, there is little evidence of it i England before the 17th century. and it is a matter of scholarly debate whether the disease simply did not exist in England before then, or whether tne disease simply wasn't as deadly

The bubonic plague after its initial introduction to Europe continued to reappear in the following centuries, but sometime you could go 50, 100 years before seeing a major outbreak, and it disappeared after tne mid 18th century for reasons that are debated.

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The same with North American natives, who regularly used Europeans as mercenaries and vice versa for at least 200 years between the 17th and 19th century. Why didn't disease just decimate them outright despite a sustained long period of constant wars? Equally damning is how the Norse didn't decimate the population of Greenland despite 500 years of constant trading and occasional skirmishes, and in fact, they got expelled and repulsed completely in the 15th century by invading Inuits, with not a single Norse remaining by the time the Danish returned in the late 18th century. 
The Norse population was very small in Greenland, and we don't find evidences of diseases such as small pox, measles in Scandinavian populations at that time. Scandinavia was remote at that time, and rather isolated.

And if you bothered to study history rather than your own preconceived ideas, it was changing climate conditions, with the start of the Littl Ice Age, that doomed the Norse colony. Their crops would no longer grow in tne colder climate, and they colonist did not adapt or change their life style. We can trace tne decline in tne nutritional health of the colonist. There is little evidence the colonist were expelled by tne natives.


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This is not to say there weren't epidemics, but the epidemics only broke out until after decades inside colonies where Native Americans had been subjugated and were forced into extreme intensive labour by Europeans. These diseases killed Natives as much as the African slaves brought to replace them. It's the reason why Africans were shipped at practically a yearly basis in the first place since the death rate of Africans was no better than that of Natives. 
Poor conditions may have made the natives more vulnerable to the diseases, yes. But even in North American, far beyond European settlements, Native Americans were drastically reduced by outbreaks of European diseases.


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Aside from Diamond's ignorance about Native Americans, there's also the fact that he uses fallacious arguments to base his claims. His most fallacious is his claim that Native Americans must have been technologically inferior to Europeans because they're the ones that got conquered and not vice versa. That a people gets conquered by another doesn't mean that it is technologically inferior. Most conquests in history have in fact been done by opponents of equal or even inferior technology. No one says the Romans were technologically superior to the Greeks, the Normans were technologically superior to the English or that the Arabs were technologically superior to the Byzantines, Visigoths and Persians, and I can easily keep going. 
You should not complain about Diamond's ignorance when you show such ignorance in regard to North American natives.

The Romans were technologically superior to the Britains, and to the Gauls, and to the Germans, and many others they conquered. And you have it all backwards - Diamond didn't say that because the Europeans conquered the Americans they must be technologically superior. He said something quite different - he said tne reason tne Europeans were able to conquer the Americas so easily and completely, was because of their superior technology. The Europeans had guns and steel, the Native Americans did not. The handful of men Pizzaro had could never capture the Incan emperor and the Incan empire without their technological superioirty. Even with Indian allies, there is no way the few thousand Spanish under Cortes could have captured an empire of millions without their technological edge.

I have already shown you the technological superiority of the European was a reality.


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Of course, it's true that there's a particularism to European colonial conquests in America, but this is in the mode of production and the kind of labour they imposed, it's not in the military conquests themselves. And yes, Europeans did become technologically superior to everyone else, but this wasn't until the 17th century, some even arguing that it wasn't until the 19th century. 
Once again, you are wrong. By the 16th century if not earlier, European had become technologically superior. They were using waterpowered sawmills to eliminate tne back breaking labor of sawing wood by had, and their gun technology was superior, everybody was copying the Europeans. Their magnetic mariner compass, being mounted on a pivoting gimbal, was more advanced,than the Chinese and everybody else. and combination of square and fore aft sail rigging was more advance. Europes hourglass allowed for more accurate, more reliable measurement of time for calculating ship speed for navigation. It was European ships that were sailing around the world. European mechanical clocks were more advanced than the rest of the world since the 14th century, and it was Europeans who developed the reading glasses. Europeans had invented not just one, but 3 different printing methods, includig 2 which are still widely used today, while the 1 method the Chinese invented largely has ceased to have major role today.


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There's simply no reason to believe that the Spaniards of the 16th century were technologically superior to the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, etc. simply because they conquered them. 
The reason to believe the Spaniards of the 16th century were technologically superior because they were.
How many printing presses did the Aztec, Mayan, Incas have? None.
How many reading glasses did the Aztec, et al have? None
How many watermills, windmills did the Azetcs, et al have? None
How much iron did they produce? None
How many mechanical clocks? None
How many ships over 100 tons and multiple mast did they havd? None
How many magnetic compasses did they have? None
How many spinning wheels did they have? None
How many cannons did they have? None
How many crossbows did they have? None

So exactly how were the Aztec, Mayans, and Incas not technologically behind?

And if it wasn't technological superiority, how do you account for the European victory? That the Aztec who ripped out the beating heart of their victims were more peace loving/

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He also assumes Native Americans were inferior because they weren't the ones who arrived to Europe first, it was the other way around. This is as fallacious as saying Europeans were inferior to Mongols because the Mongols invaded Europe first. Also, Polynesians arrived to America first by ocean-going ships, Columbus style, yet Diamond of course doesn't give this any credit. 
There is a huge difference between the two cases. It takes no technology to ride a horse from Asia to Europe, just endurance. You can walk from Mongolia to Europe. Despite your belief, you can't just walk across the ocean, it takes techology to build and navigate ships to cross oceans.,

It is a hypothesis, not proven fact that the Polynesians reached South America, and the sweet potato of South America proved genetically different than those/of/Polynesia, reducing one of the arguments. In any case, the Polynesians did not establish permanent trade with the Americas, nor did they establish as much of a presence as the Vikings. Their ship technology would have been incapable of transporting large numbers to conquer the Americas, nor were they advanced enough to carry on meaningful trade with the Americas, ladkig the size to make it commercially viable. European ships, on the other hand, were large enough and advance enough to carry trade and conquest around the world. Polynesian craft were fine ships, but there is no comparison with a 1000 ton galleon in terms of complexity and sophistication, and technology to manufacture them.


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Finally, Diamond's thesis that Eurasia is the superior landmass or "hemisphere" is contradicted by the mere existence of the United States, the most powerful empire in history that has essentially subjugated Europe, and all of Eurasia for that matter, to its will. Diamond may say that there's Russia and China, but to use Diamond's own logic against him, Russia is the one that lost massive territory when fighting the US in the Cold War, not the other way around, and China is not the one that has invaded the US, it's the other way around (in WWII, also the same happened to Russia during its Civil War, US troops invading there, while no Russian troop has ever landed in US territory except maybe Alaska). [/quote]

You don't have a clue of what Diamond is trying to say. He didn't say the Eurasian landmass was superior, it was more conducive to development of civilization, which is why it developed there first. That civilization first arose on the Eurasia continent is a historical fact. Diamond merely gives logical reasons why that it was so. It is not radist to explain a historical fact, especially since Diamond does not, as you repeatedly falsely claim, give racial reasons for it.

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Simply put, the US is Native American in its essence and only superficially European, and the fact that this Native American country is now the leading superpower of the world and has surpassed Eurasia is evidence against Diamond's assertion of the supposed superiority of the Eurasian landmass not just over America but over the rest of the other continents and landmasses.

In conclusion, Jared Diamond's work should be discarded on the basis of its shoddy pseudo-scholarship, lies about its purported non-racist intent and its fallacious claims. This is not a work of real history, but an apology of colonial genocide and domination.
You apparently never actually been to the US, or you live in a university and so divorced from reality, or you couldn't make such ridiculous claims. Tne US speaks an European language, its population is largely compromised of people whose ancestors came from Europe, its legal code is derived from European legal codes, many of its cities are named after cities and places in Europe, or after Europeans. What you say about the US is simply nonsense. Native Americans did influence the US, but its cultural origin is from Europe.

Diamond may be overrated, and his scholarship may be flawed, but that does not make him a racist. Diamond is not an apologist for genocide, he explains it, which is something very different.

I do find Diamond's scholarship shoddy at times, and his arguments and analysis simplistic, and his work I do think is overrated. But he has some interresting ideas and makes some valuable observations, but most which can be some in some of this other books, such as the "The 3rd Chimpanzee".

Last edited by Bart Dale; July 14th, 2018 at 05:53 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 06:57 AM   #9

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Originally Posted by starman View Post
True, but in the case of Native Americans, beginning in the 16th century Europeans clearly had an edge in armament like firearms, metal armor etc.




But they had guns and armor lacking among the Aztecs and Mayans.
Firearms that barely worked at that moment and easily broke down. Even Diamond admits this himself ("In the Spanish conquest of the Incas, guns played only a minor role. The guns of those times (so-called harquebuses) were difficult to load and fire, and Pizarro had only a dozen of them"). They really were more of a hindrance that early in the 16th century. And Native Americans didn't use armour because they had alloyed shields that were just as effective while their weapons easily harmed the Spaniards even with their armour, as noticed by Oviedo and even Bernal Diaz.


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Originally Posted by starman View Post
I think the problem was that, unlike more lucrative targets, what was to become US territory wasn't worth conquering, at least not to the same degree.
Or they couldn't conquer Native Americans there.

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Originally Posted by starman View Post
Gimmee a break. I'm no fan of Diamond and don't buy his thesis. But this is quite a stretch....The US is overwhelmingly non-native American ethnically and culturally.
Yes, but I'm talking about in terms of economy and ideology. The Europeans adopted these from Native Americans, which is why I said that the US is only superficially European.

Last edited by Maoistic; July 14th, 2018 at 06:59 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 08:00 AM   #10

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Here is s review of 'Guns, Germs and Steel'

The reviewer does seem to have seen the same things in the book as Maoistic


"......Professor Diamond’s main concern is to reject any simple racial explanation of the apparent differences in material culture between different regions of the planet. In particular, he argues that there is no essential difference in intelligence between races; indeed, those who are able to survive in harsh and dangerous environments, such as New Guinea, are likely to be more intelligent than those living a sheltered and sedentary existence in the United States, since mere survival requires much greater skills in the former than in the latter. ....."

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies | Reviews in History
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