The Situationist

The Situation of Inequality – Guns, Germs, and Steel

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 27, 2008

Guns Germs Steel - NG CoverFrom Youtube: Jared Diamond’s journey of discovery began on the island of Papua New Guinea. There, in 1974, a local named Yali asked Diamond a deceptively simple question:

“Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”

Diamond realized that Yali’s question penetrated the heart of a great mystery of human history — the roots of global inequality.

Why were Europeans the ones with all the cargo? Why had they taken over so much of the world, instead of the native people of New Guinea? How did Europeans end up with what Diamond terms the agents of conquest: guns, germs and steel? It was these agents of conquest that allowed 168 Spanish conquistadors to defeat an Imperial Inca army of 80,000 in 1532, and set a pattern of European conquest which would continue right up to the present day.

Diamond knew that the answer had little to do with ingenuity or individual skill. From his own experience in the jungles of New Guinea, he had observed that native hunter-gatherers were just as intelligent as people of European descent — and far more resourceful. Their lives were tough, and it seemed a terrible paradox of history that these extraordinary people should be the conquered, and not the conquerors.

To examine the reasons for European success, Jared realized he had to peel back the layers of history and begin his search at a time of equality — a time when all the peoples of the world lived in exactly the same way.

Guns, Germs and Steel Part 1 of 18 (8:03)

Guns, Germs and Steel Part 2 of 18 (9:42)

Guns, Germs and Steel Part 3 of 18

* * *

More to come.

About these ads

2 Responses to “The Situation of Inequality – Guns, Germs, and Steel”

  1. Ben R said

    Diamond does not give his readers the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In fact, he gives them much less. Inexcusably for an evolutionary biologist, Diamond fails to inform his readers that it is different environments that cause, via natural selection, biological differences among populations. All of the Eurasian developments he described created positive feedback loops selecting for increased intelligence and various personality traits (e.g., altruism, rule-following, etc.).

    What seems to be true (from preliminary studies) is that the gene variants that were under strong selection (reached fixation) over the last 10k years are different in different clusters. That is, the way that modern people in each cluster differ, due to natural selection, from their own ancestors 10k years ago is not the same in each cluster — we have been, at least at the genetic level, experiencing divergent evolution.

    In fact, recent research suggests that 7% or more of all our genes are mutant versions that replaced earlier variants through natural selection over the last tens of thousands of years. There was little gene flow between continental clusters (“races”) during that period, so there is circumstantial evidence for group differences beyond the already established ones (superficial appearance, disease resistance).

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2008/01/no-scientific-basis-for-race.html

  2. [...] For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Robin Hood Motives,” “Martha Fineman on the Situation of Gender and Equality,” “The Blame Frame – Abstract,” “The Motivated Situation of Inequality and Discrimination,” and “The Situation of Inequality – Guns, Germs, and Steel.” [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 832 other followers

%d bloggers like this: