Anti-European propaganda in the USA never rests. Fox News (basically) proclaimed Paris the Most Dangerous City in the Universe. Obama himself helped. Hugely erroneous ideas and theories about historical facts are necessary to feed hugely criminal systems of thought. Paul Krugman, per the general American anti-European mood, not to be overtaken by Fox or Obama, suggested that Europeans were “Mongols of the Sea”. I will show why this is, mostly (yet not completely,) wrong. The mood, though, is as wrong as wrong can be.
Geography is destiny. Does that mean superior geography is superior destiny? What about… human geography? History is culture, intelligence. Does that mean that a richer history is a richer culture, intelligence? Why did the Mongols invade all over the place, from Palestine, to Poland, to India, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia? Geography is destiny: they were at ease in the central Eurasian steppe, the world’s greatest grasslands.
[Mongolia is the land south of Baikal Lake, the long and lonely lake in the middle of Asia, just north of the steppe. Ulan Baatar, the Mongol capital city, is the world’s coldest.]
In his book “Gun Germs and Steel”, Jared Diamond suggested that Europeans had lots of everything because Europe has had lots of everything to start with. Diamond had a chicken and egg problem. He was both chicken, and egg. Both scared, PC, and embryonic, not even.
The idea that geography is history is very old. It’s not just found in Braudel’s concept of Hydraulic Dictatorships, but also in the ancient Greek observation that Greeks were around the Mediterranean Sea as frogs around a pond (Herodotus).
Diamond observed that Europeans had plenty of domesticated animals and plants. So European material superiority was just happenstance (and not caused by their superior race, or culture).
That was, however, silly. Domesticated animals were evolved by man. Husbandry of animals was the robotics of the past. As the Franks learned to manage (what they called) Europe without slavery, they replaced slaves with animals and mechanical advantage. A new mood was born.
So doing, the Franks fabricated a mood of Freedom and Creativity. Harsh, massive, satirical critique of the Catholic Church, started in the Twelfth Century. The Pope reacted by killing millions (the Cathars, and then Valdese) and inventing the Inquisition.
The philosopher Alain Badiou, a far left anti-racist rather Marxist fanatic, yet one of the top professors in France, admitted recently that “only Europeans think”. As a French government campaign of the 1960s crowed: ”In France, on n’a pas de petrole, mais on a des idees” (or, more exactly, used to have ideas…).
Paul Krugman suggests that Europeans were the “Mongols Of the Sea”. Says Krugman:
“…Western Europe, because of its geography and lifestyle, had a disproportionately large number of skilled open-sea sailors. Very few of these sailors would have been engaged in warfare in normal times… can’t we argue that they provided a base of skills that gave the Atlantic fringe a big military advantage at sea?”
Of course, we can argue that, and it’s true to some extent, but not to another.
When Caesar got to the Atlantic coast of Gaul, he was astounded by the multitude of high, large, ocean going Celtic sail ships. (Early Roman galleys defeats against those ships turned into victory after Caesar forces invented a particular device, the crow.) By the Sixteenth Century, and probably earlier, the Basque fished massively cod off Cape Cod.
Isaac Asimov, by the way, did not invent psychohistory. He just invented the label. Psychohistory is in full evidence in Herodotus.
A question is why the Mongols were Mongols. Well, the world’s largest steppe extends from Manchuria to Hungary. The place where it had the largest extent, after South Russia switched from savagery, nomadism, hunting, gathering and trapping to agriculture, was, precisely Mongolia (not suited to agriculture).
Nomads are war like, they naturally attack and exploit peasants (see Arabs and Islam for a similar situation). After the Amazons and the Scythian empire got replaced by peasants, the Mongols were free to pay visits, with their nomadic war style, from one end of Eurasia to the other.
It’s actually the Huns who got the ball rolling. They tried to conquer Western Europe, but were defeated drastically in Gaul. First the natives in Orleans apparently surrendered their city, just to ambush them. Retreating, Attila’s giant army was then shadowed and harassed by the Frankish army. Finally, cornered, the Huns were near-annihilated in Champagne by a Franco-Roman and Gothic coalition (Aetius, the Roman commander, who had been raised among the Huns, saved them, in a weird turncoat maneuver).
The Mongols of Genghis Khan were direct descendants of the Huns of Attila. They remembered all too well what had happened between the Franks and the Huns: here is psychology again. Actually the Mongols made precise considerations on military effectiveness: composite bows go soft in the wet forests of Europe, and little Mongol horses were nothing relative to giant Frankish war horses. After a costly victory in Hungary, they decided to stop. Some of their vanguards had reached the Adriatic sea in Croatia.
Instead the Mongols allied themselves with the Franks to conquer Baghdad and Damascus… The alliance was nipped in the bud by the racist Saint Louis, Pope, and a difficult Mongol empress. In the end, the Mongols became Muslims (as the Pope apparently hated Nestorian Christianism more than he hated Islam).
True, the Europeans beat the Mongols at their own game. The famous Mongol tactic of retreating in disarray to create an ambush, was actually most drastically used by Duke Odo (Eudes) at the Battle of Toulouse in 721 CE (five centuries before Genghis Khan). The Franks originally fled, then enveloped the pursuing, and overconfident Islamists. (This gigantic battle is mostly ignored nowadays; Islamist historians claimed the Frankish army was 300,000 strong, and that the Muslims suffered 375,000 “Martyrs”. It was the first severe land defeat of the Muslims in one century of Islam.)
The Mongols did not have an industrial basis. What they did have, as Huns, or, four centuries later, Avars, and still another four centuries after that, Genghis Khan’s tumens, was super military training (as did Muhammad’s Arabs, for the same reason… Or the North African Saharan Berbers they allied themselves with to annihilate Christian North Africa)).
Europe, by contrast, had a superlative technical and industrial basis: the Celts provided the Roman Republican army with swords (Spain) or thin light metallic helmets (Gallia). The Celts, as I said above, gad ocean going ships that none of the Mediterranean people, not even the Greeks, had. It’s the conceptual descendants of these ships which allowed to send large armies across the Atlantic in the Fifteenth Century.
The outlawing of slavery in the Seventh Century forced Europe into high science and high technology. The construction of cathedrals is the proof of this: although superior Roman concrete had been forgotten, the cathedrals used iron in a crucial way. Said iron structures were too strong to be manipulated by hand, so hydraulic hammers had to be invented, and they were.
After Augustus lost three crack legions and their supporting troops in Northern Germany, Rome stagnated militarily. That led to an ecological collapse, a military collapse, and then a demographic collapse. The Franks inverted the avalanche of collapses by conquering Germany, and finding enough silver in Eastern Europe to reconstituting a hard currency (routinely boiling counterfeiters helped).
The Mongols had superior military organization, still they knew they were no match for the Franks (the conversation between the top Mongol generals about this are in the Secret History of the Mongols). The Europeans, though, set-up superior organizations in roughly all domains.
This is what the plutocrats are hell-bent to destroy presently. Do not forget that Greek plutocrats (the friends and “Executors” of Aristotle) and Roman plutocrats, did not hesitate to destroy the civilizations which had produced them. Our plutocrats are not any different.
Comparing Europeans to raiders of the steppe can only help.
But did the English Colonists who invaded North America succeed to do what the Mongols failed to do, and the Nazis also failed to do, namely to exterminate most of the Natives? Certainly so. Thus Americans became, de facto, what the worst Mongols dreamed to be: not just ruthless conquerors, but thorough terminators.
This ruthlessly terminating, not to say exterminating, mood, is, no doubt, still with us. That’s why Bush went to kill 500,000 , or more, in Iraq: just because he could.