Pienso y Existo

octubre 13, 2012

Plagues and development

Filed under: Pensamientos — Wilmar Perez @ 1:31 pm
Tags: , , ,

The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were specially challenging for the social orders in Afro-Eurasia. By then, a series of commercial paths among them had been created, facilitating the interchange of goods and cultural ideas across the known territories. With the Mongol invasions and the subsequent spread of the series of plagues that spanned for more than a century, societies were faced to enemies that, in the case of the plagues, have never been seen before, for that enemy was “invisible” and, thereafter, mainly in Europe, was attributed to a divine character .

Even though China, the Islamic World and Christendom all had different particular ways of dealing with the reconstruction after the plagues, they all followed some common patterns. They all established Dynasties that could guarantee, to the ones in power, a clear inheritance of power either from one father to his sons, as it was mainly the case in Europe and China or a designated person, not necessarily family, as it was the case in the Islamic World.

After two centuries of failed societies, people were naturally untrusting of their rulers. Thereafter, those seeking to control a territory needed to claim a mandate bigger and more powerful than theirs: that is, that of god or the gods themselves. Ming dynasty in China claimed the “mandate of heaven” and European monarchs claimed to rule by “divine right”. In every case they claimed that ruling family were closer to divinity than the rest of the population.

Once dynasties were established, they needed a way to keep the same family or group in power. They established a set of rules that needed to be followed to pass the control over generations. Standards were attempted in the case of Europe were the norm was to try to seize the control to the eldest son. As a sort of contrast, even though in the Islamic world successor could be directed designated, they, sometimes, could also be elected by the community.

Regardless of the method to establish legitimacy, the power was soon consolidated by the use of force in the form or armies and coercive laws led by administrative structures that relied on a central power and representatives in distances provinces.

It can be seen by the general pattern of seizing of power in different parts of Afro-Eurasia, that the key to the conquest was to take the opportunity provided by the void of power cause by the derogation of the antique empires, brought to their needs by a force beyond their own limits – that of nature, and quickly establish an organization capable of providing some sort of certainty to people.

People were untrusting of the known institutions because, at their eyes, they had failed to protect them. When an alternative was brought up to them, they were ready to follow a strong leadership in the hope of counting with protection. Of course, it was not always a clean decision and it was “facilitated” by the force inflicted by the armies of those wanting to take control over.

It can also be seen in the comparison of the confluent patterns shown above, how, even if the control was taking by force, another key of the success in building new social organizations was the capability of creating a solid network of institutions that could cope with the day to day routines: commerce, taxation, infrastructure, settling of disputes; for daily life is not established by battles, they are, in comparison, only a brief moment in time. To regular people that were not looking for glory, what was needed was a trustworthy government they could rely on to start also rebuilding their lives.

After successfully rebuilding some sort of govern, those in control needed to guarantee the stability of the new created institutions and rules. That would have led to confidence in investment and the creation of a healthy structure of commerce, either internally or external. Understandably, societies were afraid of opening their gates to the outside world after the tragedies that were brought upon them. This situation was capitalized by the established governs, now becoming dynasties, to utilize the religious views of their people and ground their control attaching it to the will of their respective god or gods. That way the royal family or legacy could freely pass control from one generation to the other without, in theory, a big deal of quarrel among the nobles and families looking for taking over the power.

This global reorganization set the foundations for the later paths of development that each society chose to follow. Every plague has the most unexpected affects…

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