Guns, Germs, and Steel

Professor Diamond

Between busy season at work, college, and the Winter Olympics, I haven’t really had time to keep up with watching country documentaries, but we did have to watch a good docu called Guns, Germs, and Steel in my international mgmt class.  Produced by National Geographic and based on a book by Prof. Jared Diamond, the movie follows Diamond on his quest to discover the root of inequality in the world.  Basically, he wants to know why white people are the ones who conquered almost every other civilization they encountered.

His theory, one which I shared even before I watched this, is that it all comes down to geography.  The crops (wheat and barley) and animals (goats, cows, horses, pigs, sheep, etc) which were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East took root and flourished in Europe when said Fertile Crescent became drier, harsher, and not quite so fertile.  The reason they took to Europe so easily is that Europe and the Middle East are on the same lines of latitude, which means they have the roughly the same climate.  These crops and animals could support large populations without requiring that everyone be a farmer, so some people were able to specialize at other things, such as metalworking, writing, inventing, etc.  Other places in the world were not so fortunate.  Their crops were time intensive to plant and harvest, and didn’t grow on such large scales.  Ergo, everyone had to spend all their time farming or hunting and gathering.  No extra time meant no specialization which meant no invention of world-changing technologies.

When Europeans went abroad, they had another advantage which they were unaware of.  Their germs.  Being in close contact with domesticated farm animals had given them a level of immunity over generations to certain diseases such as small pox.  The native people they encountered had no such immunity, and the European diseases ravaged their populations.  The immunity against the diseases they brought also provided them a measure of immunity against the diseases they encountered.

So there you go.  The reason that whites conquered the world was simple geographic luck.  Nothing more, nothing less. So for all you white supremacists out there, get over yourselves.  There’s nothing special about us besides the fact that our ancestors happened to pick the lucky route during their migration out of the Middle East.


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