Date:         Tue, 1 Feb 2000 15:20:37 -0600
Sender:       Anthro-L <>
From:         Mike Salovesh <t20mxs1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU>
Organization: SocCult Associates
Subject:      Re: La ballade de la grosse vérolle
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

Matt Joanis wrote: > > At 6:08 AM -0600 2/1/00, Mike Salovesh wrote: > > >After all this, along comes some guy called Tim Kuchta to declare that > >the Europeans won out in what he implies was a fair fight between them > >and the Mesoamericans. Defending his view, he says that he > ======== > > Mike, > > I don't disagree with you, but then again the "conquest" was still a war > campaign of sorts and ultimately making determinations about "fair" in war > can get pretty tricky-ambiguity reigns above all in the morality department > (that is, I believe if one is honest and consistent in one's thinking).


OK, I probably should have phrased that another way. What I thought I was pointing to was the implication that victory in the Conquest necessarily implies something about the relative rationality or practicality or whatever of the two cultures involved. That just ain't so.

The point is that a major factor in tipping the balance to the Spanish, and against the indigenous populations, was an unplanned accident. Spanish plans for achieving their goal of Conquest didn't include taking conscious advantage of the effects of smallpox, even though disease turned out to be their most potent weapon. They didn't plan on having 90% of their opponents up and die during the campaign. They didn't work out a plan of battle based on the social disintegration that was the direct result of sudden wipeouts of 90% of the people in the societies the Spanish set out to conquer, either.

IF -- and, as you can see, that's a BIG if -- all other things had been equal, the fact that the Iberians won and the Mesoamericans lost might be considered evidence in favor of concluding that something about Spanish culture worked better than its counterpart in the culture of the losers. The complications that arose out of the huge dieoff from imported diseases simply make it impossible to say that.

Talking about "fairness" (well, give me a point for eschewing the King of the cliches: "a level playing field"!) was my shorthand for saying that in this specific case, the outcome was decided by factors that are outside the realm of comparing two cultures. That fact alone invalidates any statement about relative cultural capacities if the basic evidence is who won and who lost.

-- mike salovesh <> PEACE !!!