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Incan Socialism: some initial thoughts

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vive la insurrection Posted: Wed, Apr 17 2013 11:41 AM

 Let it be known right away, my knowledge of the history of this area or people is very limited. 

Most of this info comes from me glancing at this book that was radomly laying around at some dudes house:

http://www.amazon.com/Socialist-Empire-Incas-Peru/dp/1614271534

Some interesting tidbits on the Incas I picked up:

A) That during one of the initial reports on the Inca State to The Acadmy of Paris, a student asked if it was possile this had an influence on Thomas Moore's Utopia (that is some socialist world in perfect equilibrium) - but that would have been impossible because Moore's book was written 15 yrs before the Incan empire was discovered. 

Kind of interesting how all this "Rousseau" styled thinking and Platonic formalism seem to be very intuitive to many minds in may cultures (there could probably be an endless list of bad literature, religious sects, cultures, laws, and most abhorrently: intellectual classes placed here in both practice and theory).  This is something I always think about, but this seems to be one of those "perfect examples" of an actual historical implimentation of State Socialism observed inmore modern times: Moore, Fourier, etc all have similar themes.

B) That supposedly people (Western Intellectuals mostly, but others as well) would point to this Empire having laws against "mine" and "thine" as some type of desired ideal.

C) What I find most interesting were observations that occured through the book by the Spaniards such as:

- some judge who served in Peru in the sixteenth century, made mention that with the removal of a complete regimentation of life (i.e: the destruction of the Inca Empire),  the Peruvians were unable to take on any activity on there own, they were, in a way, "reactive" to external stimuli only. People, according to the Spaniards, acted with aimlessness, complete indifference, and lack of inititive, kind of like hipsters. 

Note: THis is not "South Americans" in general, but Incas in particular.

- Due to the massive stadardization anything seen as slightly different was considerd "hostile": even things as silly as unusually shaped rocks, or the birth of twins:

I think it is fairly safe to say it wasn't merely the technology of the 200 Spanish guns that overthrew this empire with such ease: this did not happen so easily with Zulu's or most Native American cultures. 

I wonder if the case was (at least in part), an utter lack of initiave and the absolute inertness that was conditioned in these people by a massive bureaucratic state:

One can get similar impressions from other points in history (such as some instances of Persian regimes vs more free peoples, most famously the Hellenes).  This may be an interesting thing to think about, and may lead to some odd paths, particularly when thinking about more modernized "mechanized warfare", but all that aside - it is an interesting individual and circumstantial event.

 

 

 

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The main reason for European success in conquering the Americas was disease like small pox. I'm pretty certain more died from disease than by bullets after all these empires had millions of people

 

"I think it is fairly safe to say it wasn't merely the technology of the 200 Spanish guns that overthrew this empire with such ease: this did not happen so easily with Zulu's or most Native American cultures."

 

Indian nations like the Sioux would have developed more immunity in the 19th century so they could resist small pox. The Inca had a population in the millions while the Sioux had merely a couple tens of thousands I don't know how many.

 

I would say the Inca in the absense of disease would be a more formidable fighting force than the Sioux

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Jargon replied on Wed, Apr 17 2013 2:29 PM

gravyten577:

I would say the Inca in the absense of disease would be a more formidable fighting force than the Sioux

Highly dubious statement considering that Incans had not domesticated horses and the Sioux had.

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vive la insurrection:
Most of this info comes from me glancing at this book that was radomly laying around at some dudes house:

http://www.amazon.com/Socialist-Empire-Incas-Peru/dp/1614271534


I finished an EPUB of this book in June 2012.  I just took a look at it again and did some quick touchups:

https://mega.co.nz/#!6tAXQLxR!DqCXTHUGyTeEvBmC0p04jGjm5NtfA6Ed1PoGAONQjkU

vive la insurrection:
Let it be known right away, my knowledge of the history of this area or people is very limited.

 
Same.  You don't really get taught about the Incas in your typical "Ancient Civilizations" class, they mostly just focus on Western Civilizations.  You MAYBE spend a day on the Incan Empire, but mostly focus on how great Ancient Egypt/Greece/Rome were.

This book was fascinating while I was working on the EPUB (sadly, I did not read it too in depth, but the few paragraphs I did decide to actually read were quite interesting).  Such as the Incas incredible courier, highway, and bridge/tunnel systems.

Chapter 9:
If we take the average distance between the tambos as five kilometers (slightly over three miles), and assume a highway of which two-thirds or three-fourths was level, we can estimate the speed of a trained runner at eighteen minutes for this stretch. Nurmi, the world champion, covered the same distance in fourteen minutes, thirty seconds; and Guillemot, the champion of France, in fifteen minutes, eight seconds. The road between Quito and Guzco must have measured about fifteen hundred miles, taking account of the fact that it made detours. Using as the basis of our calculations the average speed estimated above, we find that a message could go from one to the other of these cities in six days. If we note, on the one hand, that the road crossed the spurs and knots of the Cordillera, and, on the other, that the runners’ speed must be less at night than during the day, we see that the figure of six days is a minimum and that Ondegardo’s figure of ten days is a likely one.

Definitely a book I will want to go back and read!

My long term project to get every PDF into EPUB: Mises Books

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"Highly dubious statement considering that Incans had not domesticated horses and the Sioux had."

 

The Zulus won battles with spears and had no horses and didn't make use of European technology. Plus I didn't include that 16th century Europeans had much more primative firearms than 19th century and Europeans already had a strong foothold dominating the continent in the 19th century vs. only a small number of Spandiards confronting the Inca

 

In the absense of smallpox the Incans would have still been confused by firearms and horses but they still had enough numericial superiority that the Spanish would not have been able to crush them. The Inca would have gotten use to firearms and horses eventually. The Inca had at least 10 million people.

 

Edit: I've read estimates that as many as 90% of native Americans died by smallpox, these are people that were not even hit by European bullets. Kind of hard coping with 90% of the population dying out. One estimate is that small pox killed 94% of the Inca thanks to the efficient Incan road system. That is massive. After you lost 94% of your people to disease you are probably ready to just give up

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The main reason for European success in conquering the Americas was disease like small pox.

I should have mentioned this from the beginning:

I am aware of this thoery, and I understand how popular it is. I wouldn't doubt, though I still don't know how much I buy it

I tend not to like Jared Diamond.

Even if this were the case, unless someone really cares to correct me on this: I don't think it explains the rapidity of the conquest of the Incas compared to other groups.

To make the point:  If you want to argue along these lines fine, though I really wish to avoid it.  Because I don't feel like getting into this: I will request sources that are not from, and preferably before the time of, books like 1491 and Guns Germs, and Steel.  I'm only requesting this to limit the usual analytical tools people bring into these discussions, not on the merit of them being right or wrong - it's just a way to avoid the same circle of discussion I am used to.

My initial thread was going to show how this operated in a similar fashion with the Jesuit State in Paraguay to avoid this argument: but that would have been too much writing

 

 

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Kakugo replied on Wed, Apr 17 2013 4:18 PM

That's fascinating read, sadly I cannot take it up at the moment as I have a pile of new books in my study freshly arrived from Amazon (including a 700 pages tome).

One thing that's worth noting is the Inca Empire as first seen by the Spaniards was a relatively new construct, only having started from Cuzco in the first half of the XV century. As such it suffered from the same problems as the Aztec Empire: most of the newly conquered people weren't exactly ready to lay down their lives for an unpopular regime trying to force upon them an alien language and social order. Some threw away their weapons and fled, many others simply stood by and did nothing while a few (especially in Mexico) actively joined the conquistadores.

The 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar question is of course why so many Inca subjects simply did nothing while what was little more than an armed gang was running amok. Many answers have been offered and each of them probably holds a kernel of truth. One is that, when the Spaniards arrived, the Empire was locked in heated dynastic succession between Huascar and his half-brother Atahualpa, with each having sizeable military support. Another is the nature of the Inca military, which was pretty much made up of an officer corps of highly privileged Inca noblemen and rank and files filled with conscripts from subjugated people: it's worth noting that, as far as we know, only the officers wore armor while conscripts fought in their everyday clothes, very often even without a simple shield. Yet another is the hold of the Inca over their own empire was nowhere near as solid as usually claimed: the moment the Spaniard arrived, rebellions broke out in many areas, effectively pinning down large numbers of troops (or at least those troops which didn't take the occasion to melt away). Yet another is the Empire, which was founded on continous conquest, had already started to decline after their expansion to the South had been stopped by the Mapuche and their push into the Amazon basin was turned back by the Shuar in 1526 or 1527.

Keep us posted upon your read.

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Highly dubious statement considering that Incans had not domesticated horses and the Sioux had.

Wouldn't favorable terrain tip the scale? The primary reason why we still have indians in South America is due to impregnable terrain. The coasts and open plains have been eradicated. Also didn't the Inca Empire have llamas and better sources of food that is equivalent to rice but more nutritious than oats?

 

To the OP

What would be the definition of State Socialism? From what I remember, the Inca Empire ran on a system that resembles a caste system with an admixture of slavery with different tribes. Since the Inca Empire was in a perpetual state of war with hundreds of different tribes [1] [similar to China. There's also allegations of genocide. There was a group of people who had a different blood phenotype (new to what we currently have) in Patagonia that were wiped out brutally before the arrival of spaniards].[2]  Also the [descriptions in amazon] is an oversimplification of how the tribes work since they were also regional [I haven't read the book]. What we do know in history is how the indigenous reacted in the Secession Wars in South America [Confederation, yes as in Confederacy not Spanish Independence] how they rallied against Unionist [Federals] probably because they belived that each tribe should rule how they seem fit.[3]

 

[1] 3 Volume nonprinted Bolivian Book from their own Archives 1930ish-50ish

[2] Looking for old Archaeologist link

[3] Federal War, Argentinian Civil War, War of Confederation...19 Century

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Good points Kakugo, anda lot of interesting factors to think about - and much in the spirit of what I am kind of hooked on at the moment:

1) There are plethrra of factors involved in these things and an "Austrian" outlook ought to be in a stark contrast to bilogical / historical determinism (something I am not so sure Jared Diamond would agree with - not to harp on that specific issue) - theses are all very subjective actions - and any atmenpt to find "laws of history" is bound to end up poorly if people take it seriously

2) When one does this massive form of "social conditiong" be it "piece meal" and open, as Karl Popper suggests -or more classic socialistic doctrines - the consequences are not pretty.  That's kind of why I should have brought in the Jesuits at Paraguay to hammer a point home.  Unfortunatey I wont have access to the book for awhile - but one can compare this phenomenon with massive slave states in the past and see if anything can be shown to show the despair of the masses (such as the centralized times of ancient mesopotamia, or maybe china)

 

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Kakugo replied on Thu, Apr 18 2013 1:38 AM

There's a problem about how to define a "proto-Socialist" or "proto-Absolutist" State. One example is Persia. Here we are more or less at the mercy of traditional mainstream historiography, which is usually based what the Greeks wrote down, and we know the Greeks were far from the most unbiased writers. Already in the late XIX century Professor Hans Delbruck started to dismantle (backing his conclusions with for what at the time was a revolutionary inter-disciplinary approach) the idea the Persians were nothing more than a vast army of slaves fighting under a tyrannical king against the plucky free Greeks. Delbruck was the first to openly denounce how historiography had for centuries been based on what today we would call cheap propaganda by the Greeks. Xerxes' immense hordes descending upon Greece? Barbarians been pushed against Leonidas' Spartans with whips and spears? A myth. Delbruck carefully calculated (grounding this in solid studies) Xerxes led an army 20000-30000 strong, including herders, craftsmen and servants, whose fighting element was made up of highly trained professional soldiers. In the '60s there was an attempt to reinflate those numbers to classical figures, mostly because Delbruck was seen as a "revisionist" (and a "bourgeoise" to boot) but in the past two decades historians have grudgingly accepted Delbruck's figures as close to the truth (they were probably slightly higher, but not by much), though a few still hold the impossible belief of hundreds of thousand armed slaves descending upon Greece. Sorry for the excursus.

Historian Paul Magdalino wrote that ancient civilizations "had neither the resources nor the sophisticated ideological apparatus of modern Social-Democracies" to impose their rulers' each and every whim. Thinking about it, that's pretty scary. The Inca (as many other) had a simple ideological apparatus: the ruler is divinely appointed, he's the strongest and rules because he's favored by the Gods. Right now the ideological apparatus is much, much more sophisticated and is mostly (but not exclusively) based around the repellent idea of a "Santa Claus" ruling class redistributing wealth to achieve "social justice". Why I say it's much more sophisticated? If the Inca, upon embarking on a military campaign, proclaimed he had the Gods' favor and then was beaten, he saw his power and prestige diminished. Confucian philosophers developed the Mandate of Heaven theory which pretty much authorized rebellion against a ruler who didn't uphold its core tenets (among which was safeguarding his subjects' property and avoid taxing them excessively). The Gods work in mysterious and unpredictable fashion. Right now rulers can get away with almost everything (including not fulfilling their "Santa Claus" part of the bargain, see Greece) without seeing their power diminished. In fact the system is self-feeding: I failed because I haven't got enough power/resources: give me more.

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@Curius:

I don't know exactly what is meant by "caste system": however what matters is the relationship to private property: the only Incan to have ownership was the autocrat himself - after that followed a massively organized bureaucracy (I think) - the hierarchical lines could have been very inflexible, but this is going to be inherent in socialism as well.  The level of control on people affected all walks of life from one source.  I don't think (?) the traditional caste systems have that much absolute control over the entire citzenry, nor would they function in a way the incan empire did. 

My thought: there is still probably an "organic" element in the traditional thinking of a caste system, and maybe even a customary "law of land" people subscribe to - not some illegal barbarious seizure of power to equalize society in it's own image - which to me is what all forms of socialism are, in some form or another.  Of course, I can not really comment much on societies which are considerd "caste systems".

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eliotn replied on Fri, Apr 19 2013 11:09 PM

For those who are interested, the book can be read online at mises.org here:

http://mises.org/document/4336/

Interestingly enough, Ludwig Von Mises himself wrote the foreword to this book.

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Anenome replied on Sat, Apr 20 2013 3:04 AM
 
 

eliotn:

For those who are interested, the book can be read online at mises.org here:

http://mises.org/document/4336/

Interestingly enough, Ludwig Von Mises himself wrote the foreword to this book.

Dude! You rock!

 

- some judge who served in Peru in the sixteenth century, made mention that with the removal of a complete regimentation of life (i.e: the destruction of the Inca Empire),  the Peruvians were unable to take on any activity on there own, they were, in a way, "reactive" to external stimuli only. People, according to the Spaniards, acted with aimlessness, complete indifference, and lack of inititive, kind of like hipsters.

This is what Robert LeFevre mentions too in his explanation of the Incan mindset after they lost their rulers.

What I find fascinating about this is that it's likely that living under a regime like this has a severe effect on the way the brain is wired. If initiative and acting on one's own will brings the harshest of punishments, these people would train themselves to only ever follow direction, and the fact is that the brain would adapt to this and reinforce it as a survival and protection mechanism.

At the point of being divested of tyrannical overlords, they couldn't simply snap out of it. It is what they are. They had become true slaves. Maybe there was a remnant that had retained an independent will, but surely there were many whom had been brainwashed by the system irrevocably.

 
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Kakugo replied on Sat, Apr 20 2013 4:39 AM

Thanks Eliot, downloading now as I type. yes

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Wow, that's odd I stumbled across a book that's officially of interest to "Austrian" types.  I had no idea Mises wrote the intro, and the copy of this book was a very old copy.  I thought I came across an obscure goldmine that I wouldnt be able to see again.  Kind of funny this is a Mises Institute book (the person who owned the book, so far as I know, not a libertarian or very political)

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Tex2002ans replied on Sun, Apr 21 2013 10:22 AM

vive la insurrection:
[...]  I thought I came across an obscure goldmine that I wouldnt be able to see again.  Kind of funny this is a Mises Institute book (the person who owned the book, so far as I know, not a libertarian or very political).

And look at how many people you just attracted to this book just from bringing up this topic. :) Now lots of people can learn about the Incan Empire. (Good thing Mises scanned it a while back). Mises PDF + my EPUB = way more readers than before.

There are even many other obscure books like this that are sitting in the "Ward and Massey Libraries" (at the Mises Institute), but aren't in PDF form (yet):

https://mises.org/periodical.aspx?Id=8

We need to start beating the drums for more scans.... so more of these "obscure goldmines" can get out there for everyone to read. (Although sadly, copyrights hold a lot of these back).  To my knowledge, I believe it costs the Institute a few hundred dollars to get the books scanned (most likely variable, depending on how large/small the book is).

My long term project to get every PDF into EPUB: Mises Books

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Wow, so supposedly they were so passive, reactive, and cared so little about anything they had to rely on Jesuits - the fucking Jesuits - to get it (turn on the Philly soul).....sexually.

interesting to think about this when in relation today.  As the the fucking Jesuits are essentially a precursor to any other lefty regime (EU, dems, hell maybe even the entertainment indust) and how they influence sex to passive reactors - even still it's the fucking Jesuits.

I know "righties" have their list of sexual oddities ranging from Maddona-Whore complexes, Hooters restraunts, botox, to being cheerfully Sadistic....but that still seems better to me than the flip side of Thanatos sex drives (marcuse), hipster sex, and indiscriminatory indifferent and "equalizing" sex (Forurier, Moore, etc all said in their Utopias people all essentially looked and dressed the same, interesting stuff).

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

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Anenome replied on Wed, Apr 24 2013 8:15 PM

"Wow, so supposedly they were so passive, reactive, and cared so little about anything they had to rely on Jesuits - the fucking Jesuits - to get it (turn on the Philly soul).....sexually."

Rely on them in what way? To setup matches? Or to do the deeds themselves? >_>

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Supposedly for hooking them up and let them know when to get it on

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Also didn't the Inca Empire have llamas and better sources of food that is equivalent to rice but more nutritious than oats?

I don't know who exactly used it in previous centuries, but I think Amaranth is the most nutritious of all grains.  It is native to the Americas.  People use wheat because they don't know any better, it seems.

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