Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top Five Cultural Colonizers (Part 2)

Part One with Greco-Roman, English, and Arab culture

Chinese

The Chinese have one of the best cultures by almost any definition. Chinese culture has evolved yet retained much of its originality. The cultural system of the Han allowed for massive populations throughout history, generally strong government, and strong economy because of encouraging hard work and entrepreneurship (despite a brief historical oddity known as Maoism). Chinese culture was adopted and modified by Koreans, Japanese, and even the conquering Mongols of the Yuan Dynasty (when a political conqueror adopts the culture of the defeated like barbarians after the fall of Western Rome that says much about the strength of the culture).

The Chinese Empire and culture collapsed due to Ming and Qing dynasties fear of foreigners combined with a superiority complex. Outsiders were viewed like infectious disease to be avoided. Chinese culture finally regained a global outlook just in the past decade or two. In the meantime, Chinese emigrants brought a hard work ethic with them to southeast Asia and the United States. Chinese emigrants and their descendants in these new lands have been successful and members of the elite. Their culture has greatly aided these new homelands.

Uniqueness: The Chinese invited gunpowder and paper. They had a massive scientific edge on Europe. Finally, a navy that included an Atlantic fleet. All before Europeans managed to colonize the Western Hampshire. Chinese culture could have dominated the world. Instead they withdrew and became shadows of what they once were.

German

In many people's minds the stereotypical German is the ultimate antagonist: physically fit, hard working, never gives up, efficient, killing machine/evil. Obviously the last World War war much to do with this stereotype but so does the last two thousand years or so of Germanic culture. Fighting off the Romans, defeating Rome, conquering much of central Europe, successfully winning the Northern Crusades all by themselves, and then trying to take over the world. But the Germans were not always aggressive in their cultural efforts. Many countries like Romania and other Eastern European powers asked for German settlers to defend the frontier lands and run the markets. The Russians too desired German help in settling the Volga River valley. The hardworking, family-oriented Germans were successful in "holding down the fort" for many rulers.

The German legacy from the Asian border and Eastern Europe was a victim though of Germany itself. After the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II a vast program of ethnic cleansing cleared most Germans not in Germany or the other Germanic states of Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

While the German cultural influence is no more in much of the world outside Germany its impact is still strong in the United Kingdom in the United States. The United Kingdom is still ruled by the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The educational, collegiate, and bureaucratic systems of these two English countries is was made and formed by German culture. Today it is estimated that a quarter of all Americans have German heritage in them. The Germans failed to expand Germany but Germaness impacted two global players.

Honorable Mentions

Rus: Rus culture is the founding culture of both Russian and Ukrainian culture. Russian culture has impacted its neighbors and those Russia has conquered in its Eurasian land empire.

Ameroindian in Spanish colonized lands: American Indians lost to the Spanish where ever they fought. Spanish also Christianized most American Indians as well. However, mestizo culture is more Indian than Spanish and the national identity of many Hispano cultures in mainland America is more Indian than Spaniard as well.

4 comments:

Adrian said...

Not the US!?!?

Catholicgauze said...

Adrian,
I thought long and hard about that point. In the end I decided much of American culture is still English-base. Plus, if Greco-Roman counted as one I would be hard pressed to claim the English/American divide was bigger.

Adrian said...

Good point

Dan tdaxp said...

It would be interesting to try to find the "German element" in formerly settled territories. A combination of war and cultural commingling has made the Germans of, say, Prussia and Ukraine much harder to find than the Chinese influence in Vietnam, or Burma.