From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 15 Apr 2003 - 21:50:18 GMT
At 05:29 PM 15/04/03 +1000, Jeremy wrote:
>As always Keith, V busy. Just a few quick thoughts on your research, excuse
>Indigenous peoples used rivers as territorial boundaries but colonisers
>used them for highways. The colonisers would always claim both sides of the
>river as their territory, usually encompassing the lands of more than one
>indigenous nation. As the rule of colonial power is to divide and rule,
>this often meant the elevation of one people over the other thereby causing
>intergenerational resentment. It has often happened that, after the demise
>of the colonial power, the people thus effected start to fight.
>Maybe you would like to comment on that?
This is starting to topic drift already.
What was the big difference between colonizing North America and Africa?
The end result was that the native people in Africa are the vast majority
and the native people in North America are very much a minority. Both
places were at the ecological limit (for their technology) when Europeans
with relatively advanced technology showed up. Part of the answer is that
North America with its recent glaciations grinding up rock had much richer
soils than Africa. While the native Americans grew crops, relatively
advanced agricultural technology (steel plows, horse collars) was a major
advantage for the Europeans. It allowed them to support at least ten time
the population per area the native's technology could support.
But disease was a major factor. Europeans may have given Africans some
diseases, but Africa is loaded with co-evolved diseases and parasites the
Europeans had largely left behind when they left Africa 50,000 years ago.
Except at the southern tip, Europeans didn't thrive in Africa.
The situation in North America was reversed. The urban diseases such as
measles, TB, cholera, and smallpox that were endemic in European populations
caused massive die offs among the natives. The huge mound builder
populations of the Mississippi Valley had mostly vanished, killed off by
disease, long before settlers entered the area from the east.
Alcohol was another factor. The memes for how to make alcohol go *way*
back, to the start of agriculture and possibly before. I have seen
speculation that the desire for alcohol might have been a major motivation
for planting crops that could be turned into beer.
Europeans, exposed to alcohol for least 5,000 years, have made genetic
adjustments, "natural selection" bringing those who drink to the point of
damaging their reproductive potential down to about 10%. Among alcohol
naive peoples the number goes as high as 95% (Greenland natives for
My comment re rivers as boundaries and such would be that if Africa had been
divided up into states on tribal boundary lines, you would have wars between
these states for "Lebensraum" instead of civil wars for the same reason.
The problem is not population so much as it is resources per capita.
And to bring it back to memes, when things get tight from population growth
a latent human psychological trait emerges, which supports the spread of
memes that dehumanize those your tribe is about to kill.
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