Skip to comments.Marking Our Territory. Victor Davis Hanson reviews Conquest How Societies Overwhelm Others David Day
Posted on 07/09/2008 5:25:55 AM PDT by Tolik
A review of Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others by David Day. Oxford University Press, 2008.
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While Mr. Day writes well, draws on a great deal of learning, and offers some interesting examples from the Japanese and Chinese colonial experiences, there nevertheless emerges a predictable, and ultimately tiring, repetition of case studies centered inordinately on the British colonization of Australia, the European conquest of the Americas, Hitler's efforts to incorporate the East, and what he describes as the contemporary expansion of Israel onto Arab lands. The result is that Mr. Day's selections are not representative of 7,000 years of civilization, nor are they always fairly presented.
...Fundamental questions remain unaddressed: Can any good come from a "supplanter's" efforts? At what arbitrary chronological point do we define conquest, inasmuch as American and African peoples were killing and enslaving one another well before the arrival of Europeans? Why, ultimately, did the Japanese fail in Korea, the Russians in California, or the Germans in Africa? And why, in contrast, were the British so much more successful than almost all other invaders at turning initial conquests into centuries-long colonies and later outposts of British culture and tradition? North America today is a much different place from South America largely in terms of the widely divergent Spanish and English methods of colonization themselves predicated on distinctions in law, tradition, and religion simply ignored by Mr. Day. One does not have to be a wide-eyed Victorian imperialist to believe that for all its pretensions, British conquest was a world away from what Hitler, Stalin, or Genghis Khan sought and practiced.
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(Excerpt) Read more at victorhanson.com ...
One also need not be a supporter of Israel to sense that Mr. Day's discussion of its history is offered up in an exclusively negative context. From Mr. Day's account, no one would imagine that the Jews had a connection with Palestine in some form or another for some 5,000 years, that early Jewish settlers often bought rather than stole Arab properties, and that Israel fought numerous existential wars against autocratic neighbors that sought to liquidate Israeli democracy and with it all traces of Jews in the Middle East. The one million Arabs who vote and participate in contemporary Israeli politics uniquely so in the otherwise autocratic Arab Middle East surely enjoy a much different status from the Untermenschen who were slaughtered en masse by Hitler's Wehrmacht. There is also something jarring in reading about the plight of the Aborigines, Palestinians, and Native Americans juxtaposed with similarly brief accounts of Hitler's Final Solution. Orders of magnitude, then, are of less importance to Mr. Day; thus the 4,000 lost along the Trail of Tears take their places alongside the million-plus butchered in Rwanda, apparently as proof of similar barbarism on the part of the supplanting society.
Nowhere in Conquest do we receive a nuanced analysis of why some invaders fail and others succeed, whether some are abjectly amoral and others less so, whether the supplanted are sometimes worse folk than the supplanters, or the degree to which some conquerors differ in aims, methods, and attitudes from each other. Surely all cannot quite fall into Mr. Day's universal blueprint of invasion, conquest, and control?
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victorhanson.com had to be excerpted. Original publication: http://www.nysun.com/arts/marking-our-territory-conquest-by-david-day/81090/?print=1264065121
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
I find it troubling that VDH is now using the politically correct B.C.E. rather than B.C. to denote the historical era. This is how the leftists win. A bunch of looney nobodys decide that BC is insensitive to non-Christians” and come-up with BCE to replace it. Rather than fighting to maintain the traditional BC, conservatives go along, insuring a victory for the PC/anti-Chrisitans.
As is generally the case with liberals; they are intellectual and moral bigots while claiming to be just the opposite.
Typical Hansonesque empty rhetoric.
The German’s lost their African colonial holdings because they lost WW1
The Japanese lost Korea because they lost WW2
There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there are plenty of pointless ones in which the answer is already obvious.
The ultimate utility and exercise of force makes conquest possible. That is how much power you can bring to bear against the conquered and how far you are willing to leverage it.
As is generally the case with Hanson, his intellectual bias leads him into the completley wrong direction. People coming and going freely where they please isn’t a historical exception of the West, it has been the historical norm for almost all of human history. Government is what limits migration and restricts individual freedom. The less government there is, the more free you are. I would have thought this would be obvious to conservatives but I guess not.
It has nothing to do with human rights, international courts, or deliberative bodies which are subjects I’m sure most freepers are not quite fond of in the original context of the author. It is a simple matter of control, whether your lord, king, pontiff, legislator, martian overlord, what have you, can dictate where you as an individual can go and what you can and cannot do. With more primitive governments and societies, there was less control ergo more freedom. Funny that Hanson should mention native americans as an anti-thesis of freedom of movement when many of them were nomadic to begin with. Actually, its not funny, it’s just pretty much idiotic.
Funny that Hanson should mention native americans as an anti-thesis of freedom of movement when many of them were nomadic to begin with.
Just because a tribe is nomadic does not mean that they are not territorial. If a nomadic tribe found another tribe on its hunting grounds there would be blood. Make no mistake it is part of the human genome to be territorial.
The North American tribes may not have had a concept of personal ownership of land but they certainly did have a concept of tribal ownership of land.
National governments are simply an expansion of the human tribal concept.
As usual, Hanson is “spot on”.
I agree with you. Native Americans had a clear understanding of what was “their” land. I have just been reading about the Modoc War in California in 1873. The amount of land that the Modoc wanted to remain on was miniscule, but not within the vision of the Americans who wanted to remove them to another area, totally different topographically, to live with another, totally different tribe of Indians.
The less government there is, the more free you are. I would have thought this would be obvious to conservatives but I guess not.
Lack of government is anarchy, not freedom. There is always and everywhere some form of power consolidation. Our Constitution codified more freedom per person than any other government had done in history. But there has to be some amount of government. Even in the Amazon jungle, there are tribal leaders who set the rules for others.
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