Monday, August 22, 2011

The fate of Neil Diamond

Diamond is guilty. It’s obvious; most of what he talks about in his book, the fall of the Native Americans, the stone tool usage of the Aborigines Australians, China’s decent into technological inferiority, Europe’s rise to technological superiority, etc. he credits to geography.

His reasons as to why the Native Americans were conquered by the Spanish were Guns, Germs, and Steel. He then later claims that the reason the Spanish had all these things and that the Native Americans didn’t was geography. Europe was on an East-West alignment with the Fertile Crescent, which is where crops and animals were domesticated. These animals lead to germs and the animal crop package lead to sedentary lifestyles which produced the guns and the steel. On the contrary the Americas were on a North-South alignment. They did not produce domesticated animals (other than the llama) nor did they domesticate many plants. The llama (because it is not a herd mammal) did not lead to germs and the crops, although they did lead to sedentary lifestyles, did not lead to guns or steel.

Australia, because it was so isolated from the rest of the world never developed past stone tools. China’s technology, because the country was so unified, never went through the autocatalytic process whereas European technology, because it was so divided, did.

He even states that “the continents differ in innumerable environmental features affecting the trajectories of human societies” (406) he then later goes on to explain the four geographical differences that lead to history as we know it, which include differences in plant and animal species on different continents, diffusion and migration within those continents (think East-West vs. North-South), followed by diffusion within continents, and lastly the area and total population size of a continent.

Everything he says throughout his book can somehow be traced back to geography, and for that reason he is a geographical determinist and should be sentenced as such.

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