2016 U.S. Presidential Elections: The Circus Is In Full Swing

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Without getting into the merit since I haven't actually read the post in quesiton and it's really none of my business, I would like to mention that maybe it wouldn't hurt to have moderators only moderate conversations that they are not directly involved in (as in, if any moderator other than Monty had intervened in the discussion between him - or her? I know nothing - and Terco, maybe that wouldn't even have lead to a whole argument about it). Just a thought.
 

Pixel

Archduke
Obviously the Spanish weren't stupid, but these tactics have probably been around as long as there have been fortifications to siege.
Sure. Genocide is probably as old as warfare.

Again, not the best book out there on the specific subject of Mesoamerican history, but an interesting one in that I don't disagree with some of the conclusions he's drawing.
Hey, sure. A broken clock is still right twice a day. For example I don't think most historians necessarily think the point about north-south vs east-west geography to be completely without merit. I guess there is also something to be said for getting millions of people to read and think (if not always critically) about something they otherwise would never have considered. I think though that attempting to construct a global narrative for the evolution of societies is more or less going to be wrapped up in some kind of determinism (in Diamond's case, environmental determinism).

People in similar environments worldwide have made very different choices, often the very opposite: in the Kalahari, the harsh arid environment meant that Khoisan peoples were not so interested in agriculture when the Bantu migration came that far south. In the Sonora, a similar environment with few natural resources encouraged irrigation systems and stratification. The northern half of the lowland Yucatan peninsula doesn't have a single river, yet in the 15th century it was home to a sprawling civilization of millions of people. Point being, humans rarely follow rules. I'm not sure a neat global narrative is possible, or if it is, that it wouldn't be too broad or reductive to be constructive to the field as a whole.

Other books also approach how humans interact with environments better... though granted, they also focus on specific regions. Sanders' The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Development of a Civilization was written 20 years before GG&S and has a much better grasp of how that worked in Central Mexico. The issue I guess is that it's also pretty technical, but it's still cited today alongside Denevan and others. 1491: Revelations of the Americas before Columbus is also generally held by those knowledgeable in high-esteem, although Mann is no anthropologist either (rather a journalist who got in touch with the academics) and makes several points I disagree with or which are 10 years or more dated, we often recommend it to people as an introduction to the ancient history of the hemisphere in lieu of GG&S, as it is very approachable.

Some people also have a lot to criticize about what he has to say about China. China, however, is not my wheelhouse, and I don't know enough about it to fairly assess which of those criticisms have merit and to what degree. Nonetheless, it does appear there is contention about his hypothesis in more places than just Mesoamerica or the Andes.

just smacks of some misplaced moralism.
Certainly I am human and not completely without biases. I consider the Spaniards who participated in the conquest at the time to be the antagonists of the story, I didn't think that would be controversial. Now that being said, unlike some people who are interested in this stuff, I also am fascinated by colonial and modern Latin America (even if the countries are often assholes, with or without US backing of assholes) and the fusion of worlds that was created by colonialism. It is just as interesting and merits study as the Pre-Columbian setting which preceded it. I am anti-colonial, but obviously like every other person alive there are products of colonialism I like. The food I eat, music I listen to, languages I learn. Cross-fertilization between cultures is the coolest thing about history. It is a shame it often happens alongside abuse, violence, and extinction. If American societies survived better, they would have had a lot to teach us - just look at the work being done in pre-contact Amazonia. Their near-annihilation as a result of genocide is a loss for *all* humanity, both in the "less to study" sense and the "what could have been" sense, I don't see what's wrong lamenting that. This is part of the reason genocide is a bad thing: it is a theft from *all of us*. By extension, those who commit it are on the wrong side of history.

While "preventing harm" is maybe some part of my motivation in posting, I just generally like telling people about the Ancient Americas. I would like for the ancient New World to be just as respected and admired as the Old World is - it deserves it - and I am well situated to be a communicator such that breakthroughs don't stay in the ivory tower. No self-loathing here.
 
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Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
@Pixel

I see that this issue has a special sensitivity for you, far beyond any national sentiment (in a good way). As we have already discussed and I have let you know, I fully agree with you that the native peoples suffered the violence of the imperialist expansionism of the Spanish crown; violence that inevitably goes hand in hand with this kind of confrontation (see Persia, Macedonia, Rome, among others). However, as well as a part of the historiography that has studied this particular period which is a matter of debate here, I base my opinion in this regard - Monty, get that ****ing scissors out of my sight - and I think that the direct consequence of that particular word, perhaps misused or not, originated from epidemiological causes and not from organized large-scale mass murders orchestrated by vile minds as a "spanish proto-final solution".

I wish all that human-cultural heritage that was lost because of the direct action of man's violence against man had never been lost, I wish the metropolitan cathedral had not been built on top of the pyramid of the sun dedicated to Tonatiuh, I wish we could know more about the Iberian language, I wish the library of Bagdag was still standing, I wish Isis had never destroyed Assyrian heritage and so on, and so on, we could make endless lists.

Despite all this, those societies are far distant in time from what modern states and societies are shaped by, and despite the controversial history that will always provoke the black legend, rightly or wrongly called; we should always look at history from a distance, contextualizing, not analizing it with XXI morals and never use it for political gain. In Spain, more than 80 years later, we are still suffering the pain of an open wound that has yet to heal. A wound that politicians insist time and again on infecting instead of healing.

Despite all that has been discussed here, I hug you as a distant brother in a sincere way and I hope that as modern societies we can move forward and conserve all the cultural, material, immaterial and natural heritage that in one way or another was bequeathed to us.

giphy.gif
 

Pixel

Archduke
I fully agree with you that the native peoples suffered the violence of the imperialist expansionism of the Spanish crown; violence that inevitably goes hand in hand with this kind of confrontation
You haven't done a good job of letting me know that you think this, as up until now you were saying stuff like 300 years of peace and how Spain granted them human rights and other such things. Guess it took more of a sentimental argument.

There is a black legend: but it exists as deflection, so when someone brings up US or British genocides they can be lightened by "well what about Spain? they had the mountain that eats men!" (you are probably familiar with what that term is referring to). It makes out Spain as uniquely evil, not especially evil. There is also a white legend, which seeks to portray Spain as uniquely civil and enlightened. As we've gotten this far, I'm sure you will agree that neither of these are true. Spain is not the worst, it's just as bad as the others.

You are quick to lay crimes (that is to say, more grave than what is typical for "this kind of confrontation") at the feet of other countries, including the aforementioned 2. It seems to me that the only reason you don't want to admit the same for Spain is because you feel like I or others would hold it against you personally or something.

and I think that the direct consequence of that particular word, perhaps misused or not, originated from epidemiological causes and not from organized large-scale mass murders orchestrated by vile minds as a "spanish proto-final solution".
There were definitely some massacres, but there was also a lot of fatal forced labor, which I've mentioned several times. Genocide isn't just like, shooting people. While you're killing them off you might as well have them work for you, no? Nazis, among many others, evidently had the same idea.

Having said that, I should probably also mention that while the conquest of the Americas was a long ordeal that killed millions, I would hesitate to compare most of it to the industrialized mass murder of the Holocaust, let alone what would have happened had the Nazis emerged victorious. It doesn't have to be a Holocaust to be a genocide, all the same.
 

Vermillion_Hawk

Butthurt Bushmaster
Grandmaster Knight
WF&SWBVC
I consider the Spaniards who participated in the conquest at the time to be the antagonists of the story, I didn't think that would be controversial.

If American societies survived better, they would have had a lot to teach us - just look at the work being done in pre-contact Amazonia.

both in the "less to study" sense and the "what could have been"

And it's this attitude that I really take issue with as well. I understand that Indigenous societies have gotten the short end of the historiographic stick until relatively recently, and I commend you for your efforts in studying them and painting a more complete picture, whatever it is you do. However, moralism, in my opinion, has very little if not no place in the study of history, and I feel there has been too far of a shift lately from "we should acknowledge our personal biases as historians" to setting up black-and-white narratives where we have "bad guys" and "good guys" in these conflicts. What is the value in casting Spain as an "antagonist"? What makes the Indigenous societies of Mesoamerica worthy of being the protagonist (since we're making moralist judgments), beyond your own personal investment?

Saying that we can learn from Indigenous societies? Sure - if we're studying them as an interesting relic, like any other past civilization, the Spanish of the sixteenth century included. But what I've seen lately is this overcorrection which often manifests as the resurrection of a somewhat better-educated version of the "magical Indian" trope, the idea that there is some special knowledge inherent in these societies which makes them valuable as more than an object of study. Hand-in-hand with casting these societies as the protagonists in colonial conflicts (a narrative which fits in nicely with the ongoing obsession with rebellion and resistance, even from positions of power), we get a different kind of whitewashing which is, itself, harmful to the historical narrative as a whole. I think the pursuit of a global history is inherently worthy, and attacking the process of globalism, directly or indirectly, is misguided and out of touch with reality in multiple senses.

And what about "what could have been"? I, for one, am not mourning the loss of such sterling cultural cornerstones as human sacrifice and mourning war, among many others.
 

Pixel

Archduke
What is the value in casting Spain as an "antagonist"? What makes the Indigenous societies of Mesoamerica worthy of being the protagonist (since we're making moralist judgments), beyond your own personal investment?
Diego de Landa - by his own admission mind you - burned thousands or tens of thousands of Maya books. He had little good to say about those people, decrying them and their works as savage, heretical, and inferior - yet Diego de Landa remains, for better or worse, an extremely valuable resource for studying the Maya. In fact, without his documentation, decipherment of the Maya written script would probably have been utterly impossible. He is cited as a primary source frequently.

Granted, we are not exactly spoiled for choice of non-supremacist assholes for the period and region, and had Diego de Landa just not burnt the books at all, a greater corpus of text would have survived which would likely have facilitated faster decipherment. I just happened to have a Mesoamerica-related example come to mind, I doubt you have to look far for others in other places. His opinion and judgement of the ethnicity he documented by no means diminished the historical value of the documenting. If I had phrased that paragraph about writing to have said effectively the same thing but with more neutrality, would that have added value to what I said? Would you have reacted the same way? I hope I don't come off as facetious, I really don't mean to. I disagree with de Landa's opinions - the substance of his facts, however, is obvious enough. I think others are capable of this kind of source criticism as well.

Sure, stating the facts in a way that connotes my opinion may not *add* value per se (although it may be informative to future historians what biases the author has to keep in mind while referencing them. And since we all have those biases...) yet asking where value comes from is a philosophical question. But whatever value means to you or means to me, I don't think any is necessarily lost in this case. It seems to have no effect in the long run.

Sure - if we're studying them as an interesting relic, like any other past civilization, the Spanish of the sixteenth century included. But what I've seen lately is this overcorrection which often manifests as the resurrection of a somewhat better-educated version of the "magical Indian" trope, the idea that there is some special knowledge inherent in these societies which makes them valuable as more than an object of study.
When I say there is something to learn, I actually meant "practical" things (although obviously there is also the kind of things you're talking about too). When settlers came, they did things Old World style - that much is exemplary in Paradox of Plows and Productivity which I suggested reading in an earlier post. Things that work great in the Old World, don't always pan out here. Just as indigenous land management (and they by no means left the land pristine as the myth goes) and exploitation is ill-suited to the Old World - it's not "special" or "magical" or "superior" (inherently) knowledge it is just different knowledge that is shaped to the specific circumstances of the place they have lived for thousands of years and which we are relative newcomers to. No more special than medieval European knowledge.

I already presented one example demonstrating that learning and applying practical knowledge from indigenous societies has literally already happened, but there are others that have yet to be implemented (and may never be due to political reasons), not to mention lots of people in the US that apply native agricultural methods which are understood in part because we were lucky enough to observe them in practice. In the same earlier post I also suggested a treatise on public health in Aztec society, in which 24 herbal treatments recommended by Mesoamerican physicians were tested. Of those, 17 were newly found to be effective in the manner described. I previously mentioned Amazonia (in which the techniques were not yet understood, because no one was alive to tell us) because this is probably the most obvious example, although there are implications for water management here in the American Southwest also. I don't know where you live, it may be that this stuff is very well irrelevant to you, but there are millions of people in the Americas for which this stuff potentially could have an effect on policy if the right people ever listened.

EDIT: this is not to say this "practical" stuff is the only reason to study any ancient culture, hell it is probably not even the best reason to
 
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Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
It is of a massive hypocrisy; mine are good, the others are bad. I wonder at what number of dead is considered genocide...the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, their capital, in 1487, 80,400 victims were sacrificed during 4 days. Ritual or mass murder? Food of the gods or genocide?
 
It is of a massive hypocrisy; mine are good, the others are bad. I wonder at what number of dead is considered genocide...the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, their capital, in 1487, 80,400 victims were sacrificed during 4 days. Ritual or mass murder? Food of the gods or genocide?

Why is it your posts are usually very reasonable but the moment someone mentions Spain the nuance generator in your brain shuts down?
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
Don't I look like a catholic ultranationalist? Well, believe me when I tell you that I am a left-wing voter and agnostic.

It must be a sparking wire, everyone has one. 😁
 
It is 2021, but a circus in full swing of a thread about 2016 U.S. elections continues. Let it die; I am tired of seeing it at the top of newly-commented topics.
 
You can't do this, you'll need to split it into several threads, like:
- Genocide, pros and cons
- WWE: The Evil Spaniard against all comers
- The life and times of Donald Trump

As a huge Anglosphere culture consumer, I can testify to the Black Legend about the Spanish there. They are historically stereotyped as bloodthirsty fanatics or overbearing military bullies. So I simpathize with Terco on that point.
There's a similar black legend about the Byzantines that allegedly started with Gibbon dismissing their rulers as villainous and unworthy of study, unlike the Romans which became a role model for the British. Therefore the distinct lack of British academic interest in the Byzantines despite their historical importance.
 
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