Sunday, June 7, 2009

I wrote that off the top of my head?

Reply in my local paper...not the greatest piece of writing by a long shot, but I thought pretty decent for a single draft, single stream of conciousness:

>Mason is noted in the history books for slaughtering hundreds of Pequots when he raided their

And your point would be?

Native civilizations, across the Americas, were engaged in slavery, violence, and genocide before European settlement. Mason exploited an existing war between tribes that had been going on before settlement to English advantage.

European exploration and settlement brought three major things.

One, and by far the most deadly and culture changing, was old world communicable diseases. These decimated native civilizations and opened up the temperate parts of the Americas for settlement by Europeans. Without these diseases wiping out the native population, we would look a lot more like Africa or India -- influenced by colonial powers, but without the wholesale replacement of native populations seen in North America to an almost total extent, and Central and South America to a lesser extent.

They brought with them better, more sophisticated systems of governance and the tools to support them -- i.e. the concept of 'state' instead of tribe, combined with technology like writing. Taken as a whole, this heritage of western civilization dating back to the Greek city states through Roman bureaucracy through to international commerce being conducted by contemporary Europe allowed them to out-organize the native populations.

And they brought superior technologies -- such as ocean-crossing ships, metal armor, and firearms.

There's nothing morally superior between the big picture of native civilizations or western civilizations. Both were prone to both individual and organized violence, to cruelty for entertainment, to slavery, to stealing from neighbors and seeking advantage over others. Both had the ability to demonstrate tremendous compassion and humanity. The Europeans simply were better organized, equipped, and unlike other parts of the globe disease cleared the way ahead of the Europeans so they could become the dominant inhabitants instead of just colonial rulers.

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