Parts of tumblr have become so ideological that it has become actively anti-intellectual, I’m not even surprised anymore. I mean, there’s no need to make things up- real human history is extremely interesting and diverse.
- Europeans managed to take over the world due to the advantages of inventing modern guns, then the Industrial Revolution and then modern medicine, let’s be clear. Diseases of all sorts have stalked mankind since antiquity: and before the germ theory, there is little people knew about it though certain diseases have been known since ancient times, like rabies. The Romans, Egyptians, Sumerians and Chinese wrote about it. But you’ll see we all understood shit about it beyond vaguely connecting that rabid animals spread it- considering all the treatments Europeans and non-Europeans prescribed for it were mostly useless. If I recall correctly…one treatment called for rubbing the dead dog’s fluids on your wound (a surefire no-no today!)
- Sure, civilisations like the Chinese may have been cleaner than Europeans at certain points in history but we still had people dying from the Bubonic Plague anyway. Europe was indeed filthy at certain points but that’s hardly the sole reason behind European dominance (plus if they were that disease-ridden, it hardly makes them in a good state to pillage and conquer. You should see the life expectancy in those days). During the American Revolutionary War, the poor hygiene led to thousands of soldiers being plagued with bloody diarrhea due to dysentery and cholera, for example.
In the Americas, yes, smallpox helped to kill huge numbers of indigenous Americans. But that was not all. Europeans also played off the various Mesoamerican city-states against one another. And in fact, Europeans literally died like flies in Africa because they had zero immunity to things like malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, which pretty much didn’t faze Africans who had built up strong immunity to these diseases over thousands and thousands of years. Many people of African ancestry today continue to have a mutation in their red blood cells that effectively makes them immune to the malaria parasite, whereas my sister and her friends were all religiously popping anti-malarial pills while in Uganda.
- Also, I’ve got to point out that immunity-wise, Africans in general were (are) much tougher, considering the continent has had contact with Europe for thousands of years so they did have immunity for most diseases Europeans had + immunity to the various African diseases that thrive in warm climates. Europeans were completely unsuited for the climate too, without modern sunscreen, hydration pills and whatnot. Why do you think Europeans had to buy slaves from other Africans at the ports in the 1600s? They could not have trekked in to seize people- they’d have been dead long before that. Why did they even want African slaves in the first place? Because Europeans ended up bringing malaria to the Americas, and it thrived in the warmer regions. And they noticed that for some reason, many Africans withstood this disease (due to the genetic mutation) whereas Europeans and Native Americans succumbed to it. Oversimplifying things therefore wipes out a crucial part of the history behind African slavery itself.
The discovery of the anti-malarial properties of quinine and subsequent manufacture of anti-malarial drugs was EXACTLY what allowed Europeans to seize for themselves African colonies. That’s why there wasn’t much successful European colonisation of Africa (beyond North Africa) before the 1800s onwards- African diseases like malaria mowed them down ruthlessly. Ergo, technological advantages- like guns, like defeating diseases (and not spreading it) was far more crucial to allow empire to spread. Disease has played a big role in imperialism, but it’s hardly as simple.