Europeans As Mongols of the Sea? No.

Anti-European propaganda in the USA never rests. Fox News (basically) proclaimed Paris the Most Dangerous City in the Universe. Obama himself helped. Hugely erroneous ideas and theories about historical facts are necessary to feed hugely criminal systems of thought. Paul Krugman, per the general American anti-European mood, not to be overtaken by Fox or Obama, suggested that Europeans were “Mongols of the Sea”. I will show why this is, mostly (yet not completely,) wrong. The mood, though, is as wrong as wrong can be.

Geography is destiny. Does that mean superior geography is superior destiny? What about… human geography? History is culture, intelligence. Does that mean that a richer history is a richer culture, intelligence? Why did the Mongols invade all over the place, from Palestine, to Poland, to India, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia? Geography is destiny: they were at ease in the central Eurasian steppe, the world’s greatest grasslands.

Eurasian Steppe in Pink. Notice How Green & Full of Coastlines Europe Is.

Eurasian Steppe in Pink. Notice How Green & Full of Coastlines Europe Is.

[Mongolia is the land south of Baikal Lake, the long and lonely lake in the middle of Asia, just north of the steppe. Ulan Baatar, the Mongol capital city, is the world’s coldest.]

In his book “Gun Germs and Steel”, Jared Diamond suggested that Europeans had lots of everything because Europe has had lots of everything to start with. Diamond had a chicken and egg problem. He was both chicken, and egg. Both scared, PC, and embryonic, not even.

The idea that geography is history is very old. It’s not just found in Braudel’s concept of Hydraulic Dictatorships, but also in the ancient Greek observation that Greeks were around the Mediterranean Sea as frogs around a pond (Herodotus).

Diamond observed that Europeans had plenty of domesticated animals and plants. So European material superiority was just happenstance (and not caused by their superior race, or culture).

That was, however, silly. Domesticated animals were evolved by man. Husbandry of animals was the robotics of the past. As the Franks learned to manage (what they called) Europe without slavery, they replaced slaves with animals and mechanical advantage. A new mood was born.

So doing, the Franks fabricated a mood of Freedom and Creativity. Harsh, massive, satirical critique of the Catholic Church, started in the Twelfth Century. The Pope reacted by killing millions (the Cathars, and then Valdese) and inventing the Inquisition.

The philosopher Alain Badiou, a far left anti-racist rather Marxist fanatic, yet one of the top professors in France, admitted recently that “only Europeans think”. As a French government campaign of the 1960s crowed: ”In France, on n’a pas de petrole, mais on a des idees” (or, more exactly, used to have ideas…).

Paul Krugman suggests that Europeans were the “Mongols Of the Sea”. Says Krugman:

“…Western Europe, because of its geography and lifestyle, had a disproportionately large number of skilled open-sea sailors. Very few of these sailors would have been engaged in warfare in normal times… can’t we argue that they provided a base of skills that gave the Atlantic fringe a big military advantage at sea?”

Of course, we can argue that, and it’s true to some extent, but not to another.

When Caesar got to the Atlantic coast of Gaul, he was astounded by the multitude of high, large, ocean going Celtic sail ships. (Early Roman galleys defeats against those ships turned into victory after Caesar forces invented a particular device, the crow.) By the Sixteenth Century, and probably earlier, the Basque fished massively cod off Cape Cod.

Isaac Asimov, by the way, did not invent psychohistory. He just invented the label. Psychohistory is in full evidence in Herodotus.

A question is why the Mongols were Mongols. Well, the world’s largest steppe extends from Manchuria to Hungary. The place where it had the largest extent, after South Russia switched from savagery, nomadism, hunting, gathering and trapping to agriculture, was, precisely Mongolia (not suited to agriculture).

Nomads are war like, they naturally attack and exploit peasants (see Arabs and Islam for a similar situation). After the Amazons and the Scythian empire got replaced by peasants, the Mongols were free to pay visits, with their nomadic war style, from one end of Eurasia to the other.

It’s actually the Huns who got the ball rolling. They tried to conquer Western Europe, but were defeated drastically in Gaul. First the natives in Orleans apparently surrendered their city, just to ambush them. Retreating, Attila’s giant army was then shadowed and harassed by the Frankish army. Finally, cornered, the Huns were near-annihilated in Champagne by a Franco-Roman and Gothic coalition (Aetius, the Roman commander, who had been raised among the Huns, saved them, in a weird turncoat maneuver).

The Mongols of Genghis Khan were direct descendants of the Huns of Attila. They remembered all too well what had happened between the Franks and the Huns: here is psychology again. Actually the Mongols made precise considerations on military effectiveness: composite bows go soft in the wet forests of Europe, and little Mongol horses were nothing relative to giant Frankish war horses. After a costly victory in Hungary, they decided to stop. Some of their vanguards had reached the Adriatic sea in Croatia.

Instead the Mongols allied themselves with the Franks to conquer Baghdad and Damascus… The alliance was nipped in the bud by the racist Saint Louis, Pope, and a difficult Mongol empress. In the end, the Mongols became Muslims (as the Pope apparently hated Nestorian Christianism more than he hated Islam).

True, the Europeans beat the Mongols at their own game. The famous Mongol tactic of retreating in disarray to create an ambush, was actually most drastically used by Duke Odo (Eudes) at the Battle of Toulouse in 721 CE (five centuries before Genghis Khan). The Franks originally fled, then enveloped the pursuing, and overconfident Islamists. (This gigantic battle is mostly ignored nowadays; Islamist historians claimed the Frankish army was 300,000 strong, and that the Muslims suffered 375,000 “Martyrs”. It was the first severe land defeat of the Muslims in one century of Islam.)

The Mongols did not have an industrial basis. What they did have, as Huns, or, four centuries later, Avars, and still another four centuries after that, Genghis Khan’s tumens, was super military training (as did Muhammad’s Arabs, for the same reason… Or the North African Saharan Berbers they allied themselves with to annihilate Christian North Africa)).

Europe, by contrast, had a superlative technical and industrial basis: the Celts provided the Roman Republican army with swords (Spain) or thin light metallic helmets (Gallia). The Celts, as I said above, gad ocean going ships that none of the Mediterranean people, not even the Greeks, had. It’s the conceptual descendants of these ships which allowed to send large armies across the Atlantic in the Fifteenth Century.

The outlawing of slavery in the Seventh Century forced Europe into high science and high technology. The construction of cathedrals is the proof of this: although superior Roman concrete had been forgotten, the cathedrals used iron in a crucial way. Said iron structures were too strong to be manipulated by hand, so hydraulic hammers had to be invented, and they were.

After Augustus lost three crack legions and their supporting troops in Northern Germany, Rome stagnated militarily. That led to an ecological collapse, a military collapse, and then a demographic collapse. The Franks inverted the avalanche of collapses by conquering Germany, and finding enough silver in Eastern Europe to reconstituting a hard currency (routinely boiling counterfeiters helped).

The Mongols had superior military organization, still they knew they were no match for the Franks (the conversation between the top Mongol generals about this are in the Secret History of the Mongols). The Europeans, though, set-up superior organizations in roughly all domains.

This is what the plutocrats are hell-bent to destroy presently. Do not forget that Greek plutocrats (the friends and “Executors” of Aristotle) and Roman plutocrats, did not hesitate to destroy the civilizations which had produced them. Our plutocrats are not any different.

Comparing Europeans to raiders of the steppe can only help.

But did the English Colonists who invaded North America succeed to do what the Mongols failed to do, and the Nazis also failed to do, namely to exterminate most of the Natives? Certainly so. Thus Americans became, de facto, what the worst Mongols dreamed to be: not just ruthless conquerors, but thorough terminators.

This ruthlessly terminating, not to say exterminating, mood, is, no doubt, still with us. That’s why Bush went to kill 500,000 , or more, in Iraq: just because he could.

Patrice Ayme’





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16 Responses to “Europeans As Mongols of the Sea? No.”

  1. gmax Says:

    Yes, funny obama gives unbearable lessons to the French and British about not being rough with Muslims, when the USA just killed at least one million Muslims in the last 25 years. Most of them children and women. These are serious numbers found in medical journals. See The Lancet..

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The USA political system is a play organized by plutocrats. There are no differences between the two parties. I am watching the state of the Union, and it’s as made up as the worst on FOX News…
      Obama is just an actor. But a good one. All American politicians are actors.

  2. pshakkottai Says:

    “This ruthlessly terminating, not to say exterminating, mood, is, no doubt, still with us. That’s why Bush went to kill 500,000 , or more, in Iraq: just because he could.” It is also with Islam. In addition, Islam has a closed mind. How will it work out?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, Partha, indeed. The Americans could kill all the “Indians”, oops, Native Americans, because it was all in the Bible.

      Islam is a war religion, and was crucial in an instant karma of the greatest empire that ever was, in less than a century (632 to 711 CE). Islam was nothing in 1950. It’s the USA Dark operators who pushed it, as they did with Nazism, or Stalinism. Stalin, they gave half of Europe. Before, USA plutocrats had developed Caucasian oil for Stalin (bringing capital and tech: the Harrimans, pillars of the Democratic Party…). To the Nazis they gave everything, including weapons and oil. To the Muslim Fundamentalists, they gave the Middle East, as a USA fief.

      Iraq? A disaster, a mess, a vast mayhem… An interrupted oil production in the country with the largest reserves (perhaps). Allowing the USA to develop FRACKING… And reassert control, in the last few decades of fossil fuels…

      • pshakkottai Says:

        It appears to me that in USA, nobody understands history. Am I right?

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Well, Partha, in the USA not too many people want to understand history. Several times, I saw closest “friends”, American “friends”, go completely ballistic about historical questions. Terminally ballistic. There are a number of subjects one cannot talk about. The question of Nazism and the USA is one of them. Although now many are against the Iraq war, but, 11 years ago, one was “anti-American and a Jihadist, if one begged to differ.

          Americans know that they better not understand history. It’s like mission number one. If one meets Americans in a party, all they talk about, in a feverish, frantic, obsessive, sick, deranged manner is sport scores. It’s astounding. Here it is, the rest of the world, believe these people, these masters of the world, are smart, all seeing, deep plotters. And all one sees are people who are absolutely terrified to think, and have interest in nothing, except power and sport scores…

          They all dream of money, wealth…
          So history? Any Muslim janitor in France would be more interested by it…

          • John Rogers Says:

            Good points all. Especially the terrified to think part. You simply cannot get a conversation about ideas at one of these affairs..
            But in my experience, besides the damn sports scores, at parties they also obsess about real estate (probably an aspect of the money thing). My interest in either of those subjects is about the same as my interest in the varieties of sod available for suburban lawns. So I believe I am considered somewhat odd or eccentric.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Thanks, John.
              Right, I forgot real estate. It used to be the end-all, be-all. I remember ladies coming to me with their eyes jutting out of their sockets, and asking me at first sight: “Have you been pre-approved? You have to be pre-approved! That’s the only way to make it.” Now they have calmed down, but in some parts of the Bay Area, prices have doubled in 6 months. All frantic speculation. Wealth and great investing acumen flaunted is a perennial. I don’t amuse them very long.

  3. dominique deux Says:

    Interesting that you should mention the crucial role of animal husbandry.

    That oxen could provide lots of meat and power was widely recognized across the civilized world, including Europe. But Europe never divinized them. It did not put high priests in charge of worshiping Apis or Mithra at great cost. It did not put a taboo on the consumption of divine beef, cluttering its streets. with parasitic sacred cows. Instead it perfected the art of hobbling, castrating, training, selecting and harnessing the beasts, nullifying their natural tendency to gore and stampede. Not to mention, cooking them.

    Now, if you replace “oxen” with “markets”, you make a 5,000 years jump forward well worth pondering…

    • pshakkottai Says:

      Here is a new twist to spread of languages and consequences. It is now shown by natural events (the Toba explosion) that India was populated first after a super volcanic explosion 65k yrs ago which wiped out all populations in Africa leaving about 1000 in India. These hung on for the 5k years of cooling (volcanic ash winter) and the ice age (till about 30 kyrs ago). After this the earth began warming and people and animals grew in numbers. Languages increased in numbers. In India there were two families one based on Sanskrit and the other based on some differences with Sanskrit referred to as Gauda Sanskrit ( north)and Dravida Sanskrit( South). The two are much closer than Sanskrit and Indoeuropean. There were out migrations from India in two waves, one in 30 kyrs ago and one in 10kyrs ago.

      Cattle, horses, pigs, elephants were domesticated in India and travelled with the languages and agriculture to Europe. Elephants did not. It is not needed for agriculture. Field mice also went with the people. The European field mouse is related to the Indian mouse. Horsres were bred in Spain also. Cattle of the type in India is also in Europe. (The zebu).the proto Indo European has not been derermined because it pertains to the earlier outmigration 30000yrs ago.
      the early mother goddess Cybele is the mother goddess in India, her symbols being used on wedding talismans showing the earliest religion is also from India. for details, a fascinating talk.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear Partha: Before I say much more, let me confess I don’t believe in “genetic bottlenecks”. I believe they are artefacts of present genetic analysis, which is parsimonious. They test only samples within samples.

        Now I have a problem with Toba. Too. The fact that Homo Floresiensis survived it, although s/he was pretty close (Flores) and DOWNWIND, tells me that India ought to have been OK. Toba may have lowered global temperatures enormously, maybe ten degree Celsius, but transiently. So it would have been more of a problem in Europe than in Kerala (say)…

        Here is Wikipedia:

        Other research has cast doubt on the genetic bottleneck theory. For example, ancient stone tools in southern India were found above and below a thick layer of ash from the Toba eruption and were very similar across these layers, suggesting that the dust clouds from the eruption did not wipe out this local population.[37][38][39] Additional archaeological evidence from southern and northern India also suggests a lack of evidence for effects of the eruption on local populations, leading the authors of the study to conclude, “many forms of life survived the supereruption, contrary to other research which has suggested significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks”.[40] However, evidence from pollen analysis has suggested prolonged deforestation in South Asia, and some researchers have suggested that the Toba eruption may have forced humans to adopt new adaptive strategies, which may have permitted them to replace Neanderthals and “other archaic human species”.[41] This has been challenged by evidence for the presence of Neanderthals in Europe and Homo floresiensis in Southeastern Asia who survived the eruption by 50,000 and 60,000 years, respectively.[42]

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear Partha: The origin of European and Subasian cattle are distinct. Aurochs were exterminated only in the 1600s in Europe, much earlier in Asia. Here is Wikipedia again:

        “The scientific name of zebu cattle was originally Bos indicus, but they are now more commonly classified within the species Bos primigenius, together with taurine cattle (Bos primigenius taurus) and the ancestor of both of them, the extinct aurochs (Bos primigenius). European cattle are descended from the Eurasian subspecies, while zebu are descended from the Indian subspecies…

        Zebu cattle are thought to be derived from Asian aurochs, sometimes regarded as a subspecies, Bos primigenius namadicus[2] Wild Asian aurochs disappeared during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization from its range in the Indus basin and other parts of the South Asia possibly due to inter-breeding with domestic zebu and resultant fragmentation of wild populations due to loss of habitat.[3]…
        There are some 75 known breeds of zebu, split about evenly between African breeds and South Asian ones.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Cybele was all over the place, all the way to Greece. She was a facet of the Great Mother Cult. That’s why the Christians invented Mary (actually borrowed from religions between Cybele and Greco-Roman antiquity). I did not know she made it to India.
        India, of course, was part of the old Middle Earth civilization center, from India to Carthage…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Dominique! Yes. Animal domestication was fundamental to the European project (European progress?) it’s no accident that dogs came from EUROPEAN wolves (not Chinese, Indian, or African wolves; yes there are still African wolves in Ethiopia, a few hundreds).

      It was not just oxen. The Franks in particular developed giant chevaux de labour, and giant war horses. That had a huge effect on agriculture and war. It’s telling Romans did not do this. (Although they developed Catarphacts, in answer to the Persians.)

      No racist theory necessary to explain this: Europe in general, and France in particular was all crossroads, in a rich land, for tens of thousands of years.

      Notice that goats have long been viewed as the devil.

      BTW, when oxen were domesticated exactly is not clear. Some Hungarian prof suggested long ago that this happened more than 20,000 years ago.

  4. Gerald Says:

    Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Gerald, and welcome (your comments ought to go through immediately from now on).
      Warfare is, ultimately, the skeleton of history. Whether we like it, or not. As we will see now that the so-called “Islamist State” controls the 3,000 year old Palmyra…

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