Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Wed, 12 Oct 1994 16:31:03 CDT
it was not merely in a Procrustean bed, it was in a whole Procrustean motel.
Did the Chinese call the Mongols "primitives"? Certainly not. For that matter,
did the Europeans, in 1241, who were overrun as far west as Silesia and
Hungary by a mere Mongol raiding expedition, call them primitives? Of course
not. The Western/Advanced-Primitive paradigm doesn't work. So we roll the
paradigm again. Two years ago, or so, I said on this list that agrarian state
systems, or "civilization areas," are constituted by their "barbarian" fringes.
It was an understood, accepted possibility that barbarians could have military
superiority. Usually local and transitory; in disastrous cases, general and
decisive. Military superiority was a function of numbers, morale, discipline,
strategy, tactics, and technology, as it always is. In the aggregate, the
Mongols were numerically inferior, but in any given encounter, there were
sufficient Mongols and Allied Peoples - *se-min* - to do the job. The other
problematic area was technology. Here, the Mongols hired Chinese and Arab
engineers to improve upon Chinese technology, the best in the world.
Neither the Chinese nor the Europeans had anthropologists. Both had
"barbarianologists," who for the Europeans were Franciscan friars, also
Venetian and Genoese merchants. The Mongols, for their part, had "civiliza-
tionologists," notably Nestorian Christians. Marco Polo was a double agent.
Needs a totally different perspective.
Daniel A. Foss