History of the Americas
The Beginnings of Empire
• War as a tool for migration and the primary force behind the dispersion of
peoples and cultures.
• The war machine and the creation of military force that is ideological and
creates self-sacrificing soldiers and the creation of the “greater good”.
• The Greek creation of the concepts of “civilized” and “barbaric” and how
these concepts affected Alexander and early conquerors.
• Unifying Empire- the idea that mankind is one race and one people that
just need to be “brought” together and governed as one people. This idea
was behind Alexander’s goal to bridge the East to West division and
create a world under one rule.
• The “inheritance” of Empire and the Roman claim to Alexander’s legacy
and Greek knowledge and civilization.
The Wars of Riches and Commerce
• The Treaty of Westphalia- ended a period of violent social change in Europe
and marks the beginning of the European Nations and the first sense of
• New concepts of Empire among the protestant nations concerning trade
and the control of the oceans leads to a new form of guiding Imperialism.
– New goals to help indigenous people “overcome paganism, and primitive modes of
production, and, of course, the tyranny of other Europeans” (Pagden 89). Not conquest.
• Lesson of colonization from the “American” experiment: Part 1, conquest
and settlement lead to completely dependent colonies, like parasites. Part 2,
stable and profitable colonies become unique peoples and require self
• The control of the oceans leads to control of trade and the world’s resources.
This leads to the first technological race to maintain supremacy in commerce
The State of Empires
• The rise of nationalism and the idea of cultural individuality and
pride in the accomplishments of ones nation.
• European Empires forced the grouping of indigenous peoples into
arbitrary political and geographical boundaries.
• The conflict between nationalism and Empire marks the end of the
large 19th and 20th century European Empires and the rise of
• “Internal decolonization” and the emergence of “Globalization”
have created a new avenue for political division where the social
units (like nation, state, province, etc.) get smaller but continue to
combine to create more and more massive confederations (like the
EU now and hypothetically the “Western Union”, the EU and North
Flora and Fauna
• In Guns, Germs and Steel one of the main arguments for the
success of Eurasian cultures and their dominance over the rest of
the world resides in those cultures access to easily domesticated
animals and highly nutritious crops that evolved in that region.
• 13 out of the 14 easily domesticated animals on the planet are
native to Eurasia and were domesticated early on to provide labor,
food, and many useful duties/items.
• Eurasian cultures also had access to wheat and other grain staples
which are easy to grow in massive amounts, provide a high nutrient
and caloric source of food, and stays well in storage.
East to West Fortune
• Another of the books claims is that the easy terrain and width of the
continent (compared to it’s length) made it easy to migrate people,
animals, and plants laterally across similar climates and that this lead to
many of the early successes of the Eurasian peoples.
• These similarities in climate and easy migration routes also lead to the
quick exchange and dispersion of new ideas, technology, and disease as
well as causing confrontations between different people more frequently
then in other parts of the more isolated world.
Guns, Germs and Steel
• This early access to such useful resources gave the Eurasian cultures
the ability to produce a surplus of food and allow for the creation of
specialization in crafts and professions.
• This specialization allowed for advances in technology that allowed
for more rapid communication and transportation.
• It also gave the early cultures a strong immune system and a
knowledge of working with disease due to their early access to
many biologically diverse situations including their close proximity
to domesticated animals and their frequent interactions with new
• This ability to specialized also lead to the first professional military
class, advanced military arms and the “war machine” that allowed
for conquest, subjugation and, later, colonization.
• In the ancient world slaves were of all colors and
ethic groups. Any conquered peoples were viable
• Slavery served as a form of integration into a
conquering people as a workforce.
• The flow of white slave into Europe became
closed by Turkish Muslim forces and Christian
nations began to stop enslaving other Christian
• This lead to the need to find a new source of
Modern Racist Slavery
• Reputation of Africans for being
subhuman people and being of
limited intelligence and best served
for hard manual labor originated with
• The devastating impact of European
disease on the indigenous peoples of
the Americas created a population
vacuum in the Americas that needed to
be filled for the development of the new colonial societies.
• Black slave labor from Africa became the main source of labor for
the New World and created a system of slavery and oppression
based entirely on color and the inherited notion of black inferiority.
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