Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Atahuallpa and Pizarro- when Old World collides with New World

Atahuallpa and Pizarro- when Old World collides with New World

The fate of the 2 men in the pixs below helped to shape the world as we know it today

Pix 1- Atahuallpa (20 March 1497–29 August 1533) - he was the last sovereign Emperor of the the Inca Empire before the Spanish conquest.

He became emperor when he defeated and executed his older half-brother Huáscar in a civil war sparked by the death of their father, Inca Huayna Capac, from an infectious disease (possibly smallpox).

Scholars estimate that the population of the Inca Empire probably numbered over 16,000,000

The empire spanned the whole of Peru, large parts of modern Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, north and central Chile, and a small part of southern Colombia. Pix 3

Thus Atahuallpa was leader of the largest and most advanced state in the New World, the Inca Empire.

Pix 2 -Francisco Pizarro (1476 – 26 June 1541) Spanish Conquistador who represented the Holy Roman Emperor,King Charles I of Spain, monarch of the most powerful state in Europe at the time

Atahuallpa had an army of 80000

Francisco Pizarro, had only 168 soldiers

Battleground- Peruvian highland town of Cajamarca on November 16, 1532.

You'd think that this was a mismatch.

You'd be right in your mismatch thinking but you'd be wrong in the prediction of the outcome.

Atahuallpa and his men walked into an ambush.

Pizarro captured him alive.

Casualties- on the Spanish side 0-5 men

Casualties on the Inca side- several thousands

Check out this YouTube clip describing events on the day-

Immediate reasons for Pizarro's success included:

1. military technology based on guns, steel weapons, and horses ( the Incas had never seen any of these things before)

2. infectious diseases endemic in Europe, which the Europeans were already immune to, but which decimated the Incans when introduced by the former to the latter's continent. In 1519, Small pox had been introduced to the continent by another Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortes, who defeated the Aztecs of Mexico

The disease killed Atahuallpa's father and set off a war of succession among his sons. Atahuallpa won but you'd think there would be some disunity among his people as a result of this. This might have weakened their defences

3. The Incans also had a highly centralised chain of command, which meant that Atahuallpa was viewed as an 'invincible' god. He was revered by his men. So, once he was captured, it effectively paralysed their forces.

Other factors included:

European maritime technology; the centralized political organization of European states ( King Charles I of Spain sanctioned Pizarro's voyage to the New World and probably arranged the finance ) and writing ( the significance of this last point cannot be underestimated. It is crucial to understanding precedence and it's role in development)

Atahuallpa was hanged after a period of captivity ( he also naively gave the Spanish enormous Gold and silver as ransom. He thought this was a temporary occupation. He didn't know that the Europeans had colonisation in mind)

Despite some resistance by the Incans, the Spanish pillaged the land- taking their gold, silver, their women and colonised South America.

The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

It set the precedence for European colonisation of the United States of America, farther North, later on

Tupac Amaru was actually the the last Inca emperor, he was captured and executed in 1572 by Spanish Conquistadors. His Inca stronghold was the last to fall.

The late Rapper, Tupac Shakur got his name from this Emperor



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Of Governments, Priests, Kleptocrats & Religious Fanatics

Of Governments, Priests, Kleptocrats & Religious Fanatics

Why is centralised authority ( Government) necessary?

This is how typical interviews of primitive people by a cultural anthropologist went: "..woman after woman, when asked to name her husband, named several sequential husbands who had died violent deaths. A typical answer went like this: "My first husband was killed by raiders. My second husband was killed by a man who wanted me, and who became my third husband. That husband was killed by the brother of my second husband, seeking to avenge his murder."

So, the primary function of centralised authority ( Governments with Kings or Presidents as the head ) was to ensure law and order

(This institute of orderliness originated from Chiefdoms, first described around 7500 BC -where people who weren't related had to coexist without killing themselves.

The chief was a permanent centralized authority, made all significant decisions, and had a monopoly on critical information (such as what a neighboring chief was privately threatening, or what harvest the gods had supposedly promised).

The commoners brought their goods to him and he redistributes them ( thus the farmer got animal products from the Hunter and the Hunter got farm produce from the farmer in this way )

When a large portion of the goods received from commoners was not redistributed to them but was retained and consumed by the chiefly lineages and craftspeople, the redistribution became tribute, a precursor of taxes that made its first appearance in these chiefdoms. )

Unfortunately, these Governments can also function unabashedly as kleptocracies, transferring net wealth from commoners to upper classes- in the process, there is a jettisoning of all the egalitarian ( all men are equal) principles

(Kleptocracy-is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretense of honest service.)

For any ranked society, whether a chiefdom or a state, one thus has to ask: why do the commoners tolerate the transfer of the fruits of their hard labor to kleptocrats?

Because such Kleptocrats run the risk of being overthrown if they lost public support ( via elections, coups, revolutions), they had to devise means to prevent this. These included:

1. Use of the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence.

2. construction of an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy.

People have supernatural beliefs which originally did not: justify central authority, justify transfer of wealth, or maintain peace between unrelated individuals.

Kleptocrats made such beliefs to gain this function

When such supernatural beliefs gained those functions and became institutionalized, they were thereby transformed into what we term a religion.

From time immemorial, Chiefs ( Kings, Presidents ) have supported a separate group of kleptocrats (that is, priests) whose function is to provide ideological justification for the Chiefs.( Cue visits of Presidents to religious leaders in recent times )

That is why chiefdoms devote so much collected tribute to constructing temples and other public works, which serve as centres of the official religion and visible signs of the Chief's power.

Pix 1: is the dreaded Christian Crusader. The first Crusade was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who originally wanted to repel invading Turks.

Pix 2 is that of the late Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire - who built a highly centralized state and amassed a large personal fortune ( $4-15 billion) through economic exploitation and corruption

Pix 4: is Bishop David Oyedepo - who is currently barred from entering the UK

and under scrutiny by the UK authority. In 2012, he had a fleet of private jets and a £93 million fortune

Besides justifying the transfer of wealth to kleptocrats, institutionalized religion brings two other important benefits to centralized societies:

1. shared ideology or religion helps solve the problem of how unrelated individuals are to live together without killing each other—by providing them with a bond not based on kinship or family

2. it gives people a motive, other than genetic self-interest, for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others. ( this is the origin of the religious zealot- the Fanatic)

Thus, at the cost of a few society members who die in battle as soldiers, the whole society becomes much more effective at conquering other societies or resisting attacks.

Naturally, what makes patriotic and religious fanatics such dangerous opponents is not the deaths of the fanatics themselves, but their willingness to accept the deaths of a fraction of their number in order to annihilate or crush their infidel enemy.

Pix 3 is Shakir Wahiyib, the fierce enforcer ( read: cold-blooded murderer) of ISIS ( Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) .

It is said that his face is the last thing his victims see before they lose their heads!

(Inspiration from the book: Guns, Germs & Steel)



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams, Depression & The Irony of it all

Robin Williams, Depression & The Irony of it all

Robin Williams, dead. Apparent suicide caused by depression

My little contribution:

Twitter ( all of Social Media, to be honest) has been in overdrive since the death of this great actor yesterday

One common theme runs through all the comments I've read: "Depression sucks. Robin William helped me with mine and I just wish someone could have helped him with his"

Hear what he had to say in this clip:

"If you're that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution, to a temporary problem." -Robin Williams

How ironic!!

The man impacted lives, from that of the President to that of your next door neighbour

President Obama's statement on the Passing of Robin Williams:

"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."

These are the kind of comments you'll read about the guy:

"..I've always heard people talking about how a certain celebrity death really hurt them, and I couldn't honestly understand it. I had never really looked up to or had been effected by someone I never even met before. Now I know. This death hit me like a ton of bricks. I am at a loss of words truly. All I can say is I truly will miss this man and everything he has done..."

I couldn't agree more!

If you're a film lover, I dare you to watch these films and come out of the experience not feeling happier- irrespective of how down, rotten or 'depressed' you felt before watching them:

Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Hook, Aladdin, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Bird Cage

Someone said:

"If an icon of happiness can die of sadness, then what hope do we have? "

Another replied:

"To be happy because of the mark they left on the world. Because even though they've left, the happiness they brought can't be erased."

Spielberg is said to have contacted Robin Williams, on a daily basis, to cheer the cast and crew of Schindler's List up during filming -as the film was too depressing

Christopher Reeves got his first laugh after his life-altering accident ( which left him paralysed) when Robin Williams pretended to be a doctor, badged into his room and offered to perform an enema on him!

This says it all about Robin Williams death:

Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor...I am Pagliacci."

Depression is real, get help before it is too late, y'all

Thankfully, for all the ills of Religion, giving hope and succour to the low in spirit is a big positive. This probably explains why suicide from such conditions are uncommon among Africans.

Check out Robin Williams' famous Speech about the meaning and power of true love in 'Good Will Hunting':

(He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance )

"So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right?

But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that.

If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.

You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right: "Once more into the breach, dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, and watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.

I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you.

Who could rescue you from the depths of Hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sittin' up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you.

You don't know about real loss, 'cause that only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much.

I look at you. I don't see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you.

But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine. You ripped my f*ckin' life apart. You're an orphan, right? Do you think I'd know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, 'cause I read Oliver Twist?

Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don't give a sh*t about all that, because you know what, I can't learn anything from you I can't read in some f*ckin' book.

Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't wanna do that, do you, sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, Chief."

Read words don't do enough justice to that speech! Watch the scene here: