“Why is it that you white people developed much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?” (Diamond, page 3)
This is the question that Jared Diamond attempts to answer in his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. Diamond’s answer is this: It is geography, not race or genetic superiority, that allows for certain peoples to develop better and more powerful guns, germs, and steel that enable them to gain access to greater wealth and power.
To back up this claim, Diamond uses various pieces of evidence throughout his book. Firstly, he discusses the issue of the Polynesian societies of the Maori and the Moriori. Although both civilizations were from similar areas and were of the same ethnical background, the slight difference in geography enabled the Maori to gain an advantage over the Moriori, in terms of technological advancement and their warring tendencies. Despite being relatively similar, that difference in geographical location allowed the Maori to take over the Moriori.
Another example Diamond uses to support his claim is the Spanish defeat of the Incas. Pizarro, the leader of these Spaniards that invaded the Americas, had access to greater and more advanced guns, germs, and steel. Their advanced maritime technology allowed them to sail to the Americas in the first place, writing and well-developed means of communication allowed them to have more information about these Incas before they got there, diseases that Native Americans had no immunities to could wipe out much of the population, advanced weaponry like guns that Americans had never seen before, and Spanish centralized political organization also gave them great advantages. Diamond argues that Pizarro’s advanced technology came from his geographical location and not his ethnicity. In the Americas, people did not have access to large domesticated animals, whereas the Europeans did, foods available to Native Americans were more limited than those available to the Europeans, and ecological barriers and the north-south axis of the Americas hindered their ability to exchange goods and ideas with distant peoples.
Food production and the development of farming are also examples that Diamond uses to endorse his thesis. He claims that good food production comes from a favorable climate and from the availability of diverse plant species and animals, which brings population density, food surpluses, transport, and diseases (and immunities). Diamond insists that certain areas that have favorable climates, like the Fertile Crescent, are more likely to become more developed than an areas like...