Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

How were the mongols able to defeat the chinese?

Rate this topic


iamtheking
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just don't see it. China at the time was the most developed country in terms of technology and riches. Beaten by a nomadic tribe?

I'm sure there are a lot of reasons. Among them, the Mongols had an extremely mobile army, compared to China or anyone else at the time. The Mongols had good generals and tactics. The Chinese were probably comparable to the Persians that the Greeks defeated, in spite of always being outnumbered. Often the most civilized nations are also the softest, militarily. The Chinese population may also have been indifferent to their rulers, and not minded a new dynasty. In other words, there may have been internal dissension in China.

Perhaps Genghis Khan sat on his horse, in China, and said: "Sun Tzu, you glorious bastard, I read your book!" So to speak.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Genghis Kahn was a strategic genius, the Chinese states were divided, and Chinese culture was rotting. It was the same reason he was able to crush the Persians.

A good demenstration of the power of philosophy is that although the horde was an extremely effective military unit, since all of the mongols were illiterate they won militarily but lost culturally. In the middle east, the comparatively invidualist beliefs of the mongols were quickly abandoned in favor of Islam. The combination of Mongol military tradition and Islam resulted in one of the worst villians in ancient history: Timur (a man who stacked his enemies skulls into piles and constructed walls out of his living captives and mortar.)

I'd also disagree that civilization makes for "soft" armies. Imagine trying to argue that with George Patton and the 5th Army.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd also disagree that civilization makes for "soft" armies. Imagine trying to argue that with George Patton and the 5th Army.

I said often, not always. When the Mongol conquered China, which side was more civilized? When the barbarians conquered Rome, which side was more civilized? When the Macedonians conquered Greece, which side was more civilized? As for America, how are we doing against the pathetic, rag tag Moslem bands attacking us? Civilization does not have to make a people soft, but historically, it usually does.

The cure for it, obviously, is a rational philosophy. If we were an Objectivist society, we wouldn't be getting soft and afraid to fight to win.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
The cure for it, obviously, is a rational philosophy. If we were an Objectivist society, we wouldn't be getting soft and afraid to fight to win.

It should be said, though, that war inherently challenges civilizational- particularly Western- premises of individuality and individualism. When we go to war, we accept that we might die for a cause that will ultimately outlive us but which may require the cessation of our existence to complete. It is a difficult, though obviously necessary, problem of civilized philosophy to justify a war in which men will die in order to prevent the subsumation of the civilization beneath barbarity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It should be said, though, that war inherently challenges civilizational- particularly Western- premises of individuality and individualism. When we go to war, we accept that we might die for a cause that will ultimately outlive us but which may require the cessation of our existence to complete.

If an individual makes the choice to join in a war effort, how does that challenge individuality? The cause may not outlive him. America successfully defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan all in the timespan of 5 years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If an individual makes the choice to join in a war effort, how does that challenge individuality? The cause may not outlive him. America successfully defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan all in the timespan of 5 years.

Well, the Soviet Union did more to defeat Nazi Germany than the United States did, but that's an aside; two socialist empires that America ultimately overcame. But my point was that, for all of the soldiers who died fighting for the States- well, that's just it, isn't it: they were fighting for their nation and the state, not themselves. If you end up killed, it probably wasn't in your self-interest to be doing it.

It's an interesting question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually it is not so much that people volitionally die for their country, they risk dying for their country (with the exception of suicide missions popular in certain areas of the world). They believe it's worth the risk to help wipe out the opponent.

(Unless of course they are *drafted* in which case the dynamic is quite different.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Genghis Kahn was a strategic genius, the Chinese states were divided, and Chinese culture was rotting.

Chinggis Khan died in 1227, before war with the Southern Song dynasty even started (in 1234); moreover, there were only two Chinese states (in the sense of states based in historically Chinese lands with predominantly Chinese populations), and in fact under the Southern Song Chinese culture, science, technology, and printing flourished, and indeed the Chinese economy not only expanded extensively (population growth without a decrease in per capita production) but intensively (an increase in per capita production). In fact, the Song saw one of the few pre-modern industrial revolutions (fueled by advances in metallurgy, paper production, and so on, with literati reinvesting their earnings in trade and industry rather than rent-seeking). See Eric Jones' Growth Recurring: Economic Change in World History. More than that, the Song did not neglect their military; they established the first standing Chinese navy in the 1130s, for example, and by the end of the dynasty (1279) had a million men in arms. The problem is that the other "Chinese" state in northern China, the Jin (founded by the Jurchens, ancestors of the Manchus who founded the Qing dynasty in 1644), fell to the Mongols in 1234, after which the Mongols were able to use their armies and military technology. Even so, it still took 45 years after war started (when the Jin finally fell, the Southern Song seized some of the historic Chinese capitals in the North China Plain against their agreement with the Mongols, which was taken as an act of war) for the Mongols to conquer the Southern Song; the Southern Song was hardly a rotten shell just waiting for a sharp kick to knock it over. And it was a shame the Southern Song did fall, because it was their fall that doomed the Song policies of reduced government regulation, military prowess, and their vibrant cultural accompaniments in the eyes of later Neo-Confucian scholars and rulers.

Edited by Adrian Hester
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I must say, i've seen both sides of this but in the end, it comes down to a few factors.

the mongols had a very large army and Genghis Khan was a fierce war leader :)

He had already first accumulated many of the nomadic tribe in his home region.

Later, he was hired to protect part of the great Wall. When he decided to turn his thoughts

upon china, the chinese trusted him. Also, in the end, the great wall is not really a great wall.

It would not have been very hard for Genghis Khan to scale over the walls and attack the capitol.

the Capitol didn't have the majority of China's troops at the time as well. When he attacked the empire,

he attacked it directly. Mongols also had a different way of fighting. Each mongol would start

with 3 horses each and work their way up to 5. They could ride the horses and would not need

to let the horses rest at any time. The capitol of China in fact did not have any chance of

survival.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...