Here’s a thought I had:
I have always speculated that the Mongolian invasions created a tendency for some cultures to develop a brutality that continues to this day. I am no expert on this area and cultures but it sure seems possible. I also think that this tendency reflects a tendency of how some cultures react to a crisis or threat, particularly when it is severe.
The Mongolian invasions swept all across central Asia pushing to the south and west. This caused the cultures in these areas to react to the threat, of which many were unprepared. Many cultures fell to the Mongolian invaders. Some resisted. But its interesting that, if we look at it all from a distance, it is the cultures lying on the borders to the southwest and west of the Mongolian empire that have created a brutal-like culture. This can’t be a coincidence. I’ve grown to speak of this area as the “brutal strip”. This is because these areas are known for brutality, and this brutality has been known for centuries. I first spoke of this “brutal strip” in my article “Was 9-11 overreacted and overplayed?“.
There are two main elements to the “brutal strip”:
- The middle eastern brutal strip. This is the area to the southwest of the Mongolian empire. It extends from Pakistan to Turkey. Here they have strict laws and customs, they are not hesitant to harm or kill, they practice terrorism, and such.
- The Slavic brutal strip. This is basically Eastern Europe. Here they are known for strict laws, totalitarianism, harsh treatment, and such.
Both of these areas have created a unique form of brutality that exists to this day. It also seems very unique in the world. Each area has its specific form and there are even regional differences. In other words, each culture has developed its own particular quality of brutality.
Some of the traits of the cultures in this area include:
- A very authoritative orientation. There is usually a centralized authority that “keeps control”, often very strictly.
- Very tribal. If you’re not a part of their tribe then you’re “nothing” and, in some cases, can be killed.
- A willingness to punish, harm, and kill. This, of course, is sometimes done to the point of horror. In some cases, it is done to their own people with great force.
- A relentless struggle to preserve their ways. This is done at all costs with whatever means available.
- Something to “rally” behind. In the middle eastern strip it is primarily Islam but could also be tribal and authoritative symbols. In the Slavic strip it primarily appears to be leaders or some form of an ideal.
These conditions seem to entail a “scrambling attempt” at maintaining themselves at all costs, regardless of what is required. This hints to the fact that something has instigated this tendency . . . a threat . . . a crisis. In other words, something made them act this way. It seems very like, to me, that this attitude, in these areas, may possibly be a direct response to the conditions created by the Mongolian invasions. This was the threat that caused a crisis.
I’m inclined to think that these invasions caught these cultures off guard and unprepared and was so severe that it required these cultures to react with great force, forcing them to do things that they otherwise would not do and which may of been beyond their original character traits. In so doing, they had to develop a relentless brutality to deal with the situation and repel the invaders. This fact may show that these cultures had traits such as:
- They may of originally been rather peaceful and may of not of been warlike.
- They were unprepared to deal with the situation. This may mean mentally, materially, militarily, etc.
- They were probably not authoritative. Much of their strict authoritarian viewpoints were probably created out of necessity. In this way, it may actually be “out of place” with their original culture.
- They probably had a strong tribal sense. This is what “kept them together” and held them as a whole and made them fight back.
- Though they were unprepared they were not totally helpless. They seemed to have the spirit but not the means to deal with the crisis caused by the invasions.
In many ways, much of their brutality is due to the fact that they had to create it as a defensive measure without any previous experience and as something conflicting with their original culture. In other words, conditions made them have to develop a brutal quality in order to survive. When this happens I speak of it as “enforced brutality”. That is to say, it is a brutality that conditions forced them to do.
A warlike society, on the other hand, would of probably been able to deal with the Mongolian invasions with attitudes already established in their society. As a result, they would of already had experience of how to deal with the situation and would of had the social institutions to manage it. These culture did not seem to have this benefit and as if had to scramble and hurry to create something that worked. This naturally led to the development of a brutality: a brutal reaction against a brutal threat!
“Enforced brutality” sparked the creation of a “brutal culture”. The development of the “brutal culture” means that “enforced brutality” has become ingrained in the culture over time. That is to say, it is not a reaction to a single event but a long-standing crisis. In other words, the “brutal culture” is an “enforced brutality” that has existed for some time in a culture as a reaction to a long-standing crisis. This shows some aspects of the crisis that instigated it:
- It is something that lasted a long time.
- It required a great social mobilization.
- It required great social organization.
- It required great social change.
In this way, the crisis tends to change the culture over time. One could say that the culture has “transformed” according to the dictates of the crisis.
In addition, the brutality of the “brutal culture” can become so excessive and severe that it, in itself, can become an intrusion into the culture. In this way, it can, in some cases, be comparable to a take over or an invasion. In other words, the creation of the “brutal culture” can be just as drastic, and damaging, as the crisis that instigated it. In other words, “the cure is worse than the sickness”.
The creation of the “brutal culture” can become self-destructive for a society and undermine it. In fact, it seems that this often is what destroys the “brutal culture”. It can create a culture that may manifest traits such as:
- Very authoritative. In some cases, the authority must be followed or you can lose our life.
- Very harsh punishment. This can even be for very minor things.
- A strong paranoia. They see threats and enemies in common everyday things.
- Seeing their own people as the “enemy”. There are cases where the mentality starts making it so that they see the “enemy” in their own people. In this way, they will end up treating their own people as the enemy and, accordingly, waging a “war on their own people”.
These, if particularly strong, can become self-destructive and undermining to a society. In some sense, it can practically strangle itself to death. I have often felt that millions of people have been killed by effects, such as these, which are caused by the “brutal culture”. In other words, the “brutal culture”, though created to deal with an external threat, can turn itself inward and start to eat away at the culture. One can perhaps speak of this as the “introjected brutal culture”. In other words, its brutality has begun to be turned inwards.
With the development of the “brutal culture” there is a tendency for the society to become divided into two main groups:
- The people who have the “power” in the “brutal culture”.
- Everyone else.
This means that the “brutal culture” mentality generally does not affect the whole population but only the people who are directly involved with the crisis. These are often the leaders, the authority figures, politicians, soldiers, etc. For them it can become “real”, to the point of paranoid delusion. With everyone else (farmers, common people, etc.) this is generally not the case. But the people who have the “power” will enforce it or somehow affect the people who do not have the “power”. As a result, with this group, the “brutal culture” is something forced upon them. In that way, it creates two threats for the “everyone else” group:
- External – the initial threat that caused it
- Internal – from the effects of their own cultures “brutal culture”
So we see that a long-standing threat to a culture may cause a reaction that ends up eating away at the society. In this sense, one could compare it, say, to a “social neurosis”. In fact, I sometimes think that the “brutal culture” is really a form of ‘social battle trauma’. That is to say, its a battle trauma on a social scale. If this lasts for a long period of time this battle trauma can even become a part of the cultural character. When this happens it becomes something like a “learned trauma”. In other words, all the descendants learn the trauma and as if react to a crisis or threat that isn’t even there anymore. This, then, creates something like a “social neurosis”. Perhaps it is this ongoing “social neurosis” that keeps the “brutal culture” alive in a society? Its difficult to say.
And so we see these phases to a long-standing threat in some societies:
- The coming of the initial threat.
- The coming of “enforced brutality”.
- The creation of the “brutal culture”.
- The reaction and effects of the “brutal culture”.
Most certainly, not all societies go through all the phases. They may even only remain in a specific phase for a short period of time.
I feel that “enforced brutality” is far more common than what it may seem. Many societies probably go through it, at least to some extent, in any war or violent situation. I seem to think that the creation of a “brutal culture” is more rare though. It seems that situations have to be “just right” for that to appear and, especially, become ingrained in a culture and persist generation after generation.
Of course, this is all speculation and I do not know for sure. I am currently researching the details.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen