Guns, Germs, And Steel - Section 3


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This is a powerpoint presentation to go along with the book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It covers the origins of economic stratification by discussing plant and animal domestication, climate, and geographic advantages.

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Guns, Germs, And Steel - Section 3

  1. 1. Social Stratification Guns, Germs, and Steel: Part 3
  2. 2. Lethal Gift of Livestock <ul><li>One result of having domesticated animals is the passing of disease causing microbes from animals to humans </li></ul>Human disease Animal with closest related pathogen Measles Cattle (rinderpest) Tuberculosis Cattle Smallpox Cattle (cowpox) or other livestock with related pox viruses Flu Pigs and ducks Pertussis Pigs, dogs Falciparum malaria Birds (chickens and ducks?)
  3. 3. Lethal Gift of Livestock <ul><li>But there are other criteria for epidemic diseases: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Large, dense populations – rapid spread of disease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small populations have diseases, too, and they have been around longer (usually infect close evolutionary relatives or survive in the soil) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human fertilizer can spread disease as well </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our symptoms of disease are generally ways in which microbes modify our behavior such that we spread the microbe (e.g., runny nose, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>But why do we care about disease causing microbes? Why are “germs” important in the long run? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most Native American populations collapsed between 1492 and the 1600s due to disease – 20 million down to 1 million </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why didn’t Native Americans have diseases of their own to send back across the oceans? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Independent Origins of Writing Sumer 3,000 BCE Mesoamerica 600 BCE China? 1,300 BCE Egypt? 3,000 BCE
  5. 5. Blueprints and Borrowed Letters <ul><li>Why did writing arise in and spread to some societies, but not to many others? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited capabilities – not very clear, not very robust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited uses – for keeping records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ facilitate the enslavement of other human beings”? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited users of early writing systems – not many learned it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Only arose or was adapted by complex societies with centralized political institutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Served the needs of these institutions (records and propaganda) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users were court bureaucrats </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Necessity’s Mother <ul><li>Is “necessity the mother of invention”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Atom bomb </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or is invention usually the result of tinkerers who build upon the work of people who developed similar ideas before them? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Airplane, automobile, electric light bulb, phonograph, transistor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are there genius inventors? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capable people with capable predecessors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invent when society can use the invention </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. The 4 Factors of Invention Acceptance <ul><li>Relative economic advantage compared with existing technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wheeled vehicles in Mesoamerica </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social value and prestige (can override economic benefit) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Designer jeans, Japanese kanji </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compatibility with vested interests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>QWERTY keyboard vs. DVORAK </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ease with which advantages can be observed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>British adoption of cannons in 1340 </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Receptivity to Inventions <ul><li>What about receptivity to inventions? Does this matter? </li></ul><ul><li>4 ideological factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk-taking behavior – more widespread in some societies than others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific outlook is a feature of post-Renaissance Europe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tolerance of diverse views and of heretics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religious regulation of technological innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are these accurate? Are they proximate causes? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Necessity’s Mother <ul><li>The ultimate cause – geography – explains this as well: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographic location regulates diffusion of technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And population size (and density) help increase the odds of inventions occurring (through specialization) and spreading </li></ul></ul>Continent 1990 Population Area (square miles) Eurasia and North Africa 4,120,000,000 24,200,000 (Eurasia) (4,000,000,000) (21,500,000) (North Africa) (120,000,000) (2,700,000) North America and South America 736,000,000 16,400,000 Sub-Saharan Africa 535,000,000 9,100,000 Australia 18,000,000 3,000,000
  10. 10. Types of Societies Keep in mind this is more of a continuum. Band Tribe Chiefdom State Membership Number of people Dozens Hundreds Thousands Over 50,000 Settlement pattern Nomadic Fixed: 1 village Fixed: 1 or more villages Fixed: many villages Basis of relationships Kin Kin-based clans Class and residence Class and residence Ethnicities and languages 1 1 1 1 or more Government Decision making, leadership “ egalitarian” “ egalitarian” or big-man Centralized, hereditary Centralized Bureaucracy None None None, or 1 or 2 levels Many levels Monopoly of force and information No No Yes Yes Conflict resolution Informal Informal Centralized Laws, judges Hierarchy of settlement No No No-paramount village capital
  11. 11. From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy <ul><li>“… chiefdoms introduced the dilemma fundamental to all centrally governed, nonegalitarian societies. At best, they do good by providing expensive services impossible to contract for on an individual basis. At worst, they function unabashedly as kleptocracies, transferring net wealth from commoners to upper classes.” (p. 276) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this true? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Four solutions for kleptocracies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disarm the populace and arm the elite (Japanese samurai) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received, in popular ways (middle class Americans) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence (UK) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy (Saudi Arabia, medieval Europe) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy <ul><li>“ In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.” (p. 266) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is one function of religion the justification of kleptocracies? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which famous sociologist claimed this? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What else does religion contribute to societies? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared ideology solves the problem of killing each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motive for sacrificing one’s life for another </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy <ul><li>Which factors give rise to states? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Population density </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for conflict resolution </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember the “chicken and the egg”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Posing the question in that either-or form misses the point. Intensified food production and societal complexity stimulate each other, by autocatalysis. That is, population growth leads to societal complexity, by mechanisms that we shall discuss, while societal complexity in turn leads to intensified food production and thereby to population growth.” (p. 285) </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy <ul><li>Axiom: smaller groups (i.e., tribes, chiefdoms) give rise to larger states as long as they are able to overcome the problems associated with size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this generally true? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why did the Maori destroy the Moriori rather than take them as slaves? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low population density, losers move away </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moderate population density, slaves cost too much in food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High population density, slaves make sense (either as subjects paying tribute or actual slaves) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Types of Societies Band Tribe Chiefdom State Religion Justifies kleptocracy? No No Yes Yes -> no Economy Food production No no -> yes yes -> intensive Intensive Division of labor No No no -> yes Yes Exchanges Reciprocal Reciprocal Redistributive (tribute) Redistributive (taxes) Control of land Band Clan Chief Various Society Stratified No No Yes, by kin Yes, not by kin Slavery No No Small-scale Large-scale Luxury goods for elite No No Yes Yes Public architecture No No no -> yes Yes Indigenous literacy No No No Often
  16. 16. GGS - Recap <ul><li>At this point we have covered the basic argument of GGS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Differences in geography, climate, and natural resources (i.e., domesticable plants and animals) lead to different rates of societal development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These are the “ultimate” causes of inequality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Differences in ultimate causes lead to differences in proximate causes: guns, germs, steel, writing, societal complexity, technology, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These are the “proximate” causes of inequality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The rest of the book uses the ultimate factors to explain differences in the proximate factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s look at the diagram again… </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Development Diagram Ultimate Factors Proximate Factors East/West Axis Ease of species spreading Many suitable wild species Many domesticated plant and animal species Food surpluses, food storage Large, dense, sedentary, stratified societies technology Epidemic disease Political organization, writing Ocean-going ships Guns, steel swords horses