People Moving

You take the time to venture into new lands, you cross two or three rivers, maybe a mountain range or two. You travel light, make no noise, you leave no trace. In some ways you would be labeled “a spy”. Within your spirit you called yourself “just a scout”.

The real test is when you find something wonderful, and you make the commitment to move “in strength”. If you don’t, you risk being stopped, defeated, killed, or enslaved. Certain;y this has been true in history, but it could also be true in modern times.

The lone spy in ancient times tried hard to be unseen, and if found out, it may have been difficult to survive. If he had recognizable skill sets, he might have been allowed transition to the new culture. The likelihood is that he would always be suspect, and seen as an outsider. The result would be lack of freedom, low pay, and no future. Parts of this is still true today.

If a scout successfully returns and convinces several families, or even a whole tribe to move to a new area, then the same rules apply. You may be stopped, or permitted to establish a new neighborhood, but the edges will likely have friction, and the more powerful group will determine the solution to troubles. True in the past, still true today.

When the cycle of scouts, spies, the random family unit and whole tribes have moved, then it can be when nations that confront nations. Usually we call this war, with the addition of “invasion”.

Certainly numbers count, and in most cases, the issue is decided by numbers. But there are other factors; cultural advantage’s, technological advantage’s, and perhaps even a “conquering spirit” advantage. Sometimes numbers do not count so much.

This was evident in history and it doesn’t require a lot of proof. It’s harder to find examples of entire nations on the move in present history. There are theories of intentional “replacement” plans, where socio-economic groups are “replaced”. It was definitely true in the past, but they used techniques that if used today would seem draconian. There are some people that study the changes around the world, and see that it might not be entirely accidental.

I want to isolate three examples from history that may clarify three different approaches to the successful movement of people. 1) the juggernaut of the Horde, 2) the Mighty, 3) open borders

In all cases the deciding factor is strength. We have one source that is unusually well documented. It started with one person, Temujin. He may have come from a tribal leadership background, but that is not where he ended.

(1) He was exiled from the surviving members of his tribe. They were absorbed by a more powerful tribe, with some that were killed, some that were enslaved, and some that were allowed to exist at the “edges” of their culture. The result of the powerful subjugating the weak. Temujin was reduced to the loneliest number, just one person, on the outside, living by stealing scraps. He could have stayed there until he died, which might have been until the weather changed.

But Temujin had a plan, if he could find a small group of people, he could challenge the leader in a “do or die” fight, then he might have a rather small tribe, with food, shelter, and a small future. He found the small group, he won, and he immediately searched for another group that was larger, but no too large. That was his secret plan for the rest of his life.

He repeated this over and over, and within a few short years he was renamed “Genghis Khan”, leader of the largest Empire in the history of the world. He never lost a battle that resulted in stopping his movement forward. He might have been delayed a few times, but dozens of empires fell, and the Mongolian people were free to live as nomads anywhere on the Steppes of Asia or Europe, and the world was changed forever.

To be sure there were other factors in play. The courage of their warriors, the structure of their army, the reliance on tough ponies and excellent archery on horseback, their method of leaving local governance in place for a price, and the shear terror of death and destruction for anyone who stood in their way.

Marco Polo traveled the entire width of Asia in complete safety, with the possession of the Khan’s passport.

Genghis used the same strategy in attacking other nations. He targeted nations that were slightly less powerful. When he won, there was no one that the smaller nations could turn to for help. He attacked in winter, because he could easily cross frozen river’s with his horses. He avoided fighting in rainy weather because the water had a damaging effect on the powerful laminated bows.

(2) Another example of movement through strength is the Nordic expansion into the Ukraine during the 700s. These “Pre-Vikings” came from the very cold North. They were fighting farmers and pastoralists, perfect for the steppes of Russia and the Ukraine. They used their well designed longboats to move thousands of men quietly down the river. Near Kyiv, they established a land base, and plowed their fields, and built a walled city.

Technically, they were a small army with no one to fight. They were skilled fighters, so they offered the neighboring towns and villages “protection” from being attacked. This is much like the gangs in the inner city today. Asking for money so that shops aren’t vandalized. (Side note: the Vandals were a people that lived as nomads on the steppes of Russia, then moved into Europe to confront the Romans, then moved to Spain, not satisfied, they became sailors and moved to Ancient Carthage, and became successful pirates in the Mediterranean. No wonder the world accepts the term “vandalism “ from their tribe.)

This “protection” racket kept the gold flowing into the city’s coffers and they became quite wealthy.

Sometimes they had to fight bandits, sometimes they had to fight cities that refused to pay…but if they won, they created a destination for more to com and settle. The tribe that Rurik brought to Kyiv became known as “the Rus”, and some say that is the source for “Russia”.

(3) The last theory is the open border concept. Today it is a political term, but essentially it is a organic term. It is a slow moving process, taking several generations. If there are no walls, or borders then people will fill the empty space in a random fashion, filling the well watered plains, leaving the mountain tops to loners. When the good lands are filled, you move on to the next rich valley. Some call it “the ooze factor”.

But if you were there first, and put up a fence, you might be a bit disturbed. There was once the example of a sleepy California town where a large tract of land was purchased by a group of people called “the Moonies”, they were followers of Rev. Moon. Soon, the town was exploding with new citizens from around the world. It didn’t last long, thirty years later it is back to being even sleepier, but it was very different for a while.

I know of dozens of examples, some based on religion, some based on politics. Some have faded away, some are still slowly growing. It is like being invaded in slow motion. By the time you recognize the change, it is far to late to do anything about it. Because of this it has been embraced as “the natural process”.

The world is such a wonderful place because all three methods are occurring at the same time.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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