Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 6-Dec-2010
6-Dec-10 News -- Mongol invasion of China in 1206 has impact today

Web Log - December, 2010

6-Dec-10 News -- Mongol invasion of China in 1206 has impact today

North Korea makes hysterical war threat

Mongol invasion of China in the 1200s has impact today

A couple of my BigPeace readers have asked for further details about the Generational Dynamics methodology for analyzing history, and relating historical events to today's world.

To illustrate the methodology, I selected the Mongol invasion of China in the 1200s. This analysis shows that China in the 2000s is similar in many ways to China in 1200s.

Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan

A complete generational analysis of the Mongol empire would require researching many sources, including original Mongolian texts written in the 1200s. However, for this simple illustration we'll analyze an article from just one source, Peter N. Stearns' The Encyclopedia of World History, 6th edition (2001). We'll only quote excerpts here. You can read the entire article in the Generational Dynamics forum, where you'll also find other source documents.

The Mongol Empire lasted approximately 150 years, defined by three generational crisis wars.

According to Stearns, in the 1190s, "The Mongols in central Asia formed a new empire under Temujin (1167-1227), who rapidly expanded the empire by use of strategy and his military machine, employing discipline, extraordinary mobility (especially on horseback), espionage, terror, and superior siege material. [In 1206,] Temujin was proclaimed [Genghis Khan] ('ruler of the world') at the Mongolian capital of Karakorum."

From the point of view of generational theory, the Mongol invasion was a crisis war that climaxed in 1206, a date that is imprinted on Chinese memory. There are some people who claim that obscure wars that occurred centuries ago are irrelevant today, and yet today's American politics is peppered with references to 1776 and the Revolutionary War.

The date 1206 represents a cataclysmic victory of the Mongols over the Han Chinese. However, it took a second crisis war, decades later, to complete the achievement.

Stearns says that in 1273, "After four and a half years of desperate and brilliant fighting, the last two strongholds of the Song against the Mongols, Xiangyang and Fanchengboth walled cities in modern Hubei Province fell. Explosives were used by both sides as weaponry in the fighting, perhaps for the first time in history. Hangzhou was captured in 1276, Guangzhou the following year. The Song fleet carrying the last pretender to the throne was destroyed in 1279."

The Mongols' destruction of the last vestiges of the Song Dynasty in this second crisis war completed the Mongol humiliation of the Han Chinese.

Between those two wars, how well did the Mongols govern the Han? Stearns' article provides enough information for a useful generational analysis of how the country was governed by the Mongols in that roughly 70 year period.

The period following a crisis war is a Recovery era whose purpose is to guarantee that there won't be another war. According to Stearns, the Mongols set up an agricultural tax system and, "[In military affairs,] there was a four-tiered system for bureaucratic preference: Mongols came first, followed by non-Chinese ethnicities, northern Chinese, and finally southern Chinese. The same quotas applied to examination candidates, and since some 75 percent of the population was southern Chinese, the Chinese were greatly disfavored." (Paragraph corrected - 7-Dec)

This four-tier system is an example of the kind of austere institutions that the survivors of any crisis war set up to guarantee that the war is over. After the Communist Revolution, Mao Zedong set up the Great Leap Forward in 1958 to make communism permanent.

When Mao set up his Recovery era institutions in the 1950s, he may have looked back to what the Mongols did.

According to Stearns, "The population of China was hit hard by the Mongol invasions and wars. The depopulation of the north and migrations to the south were so great that during the Yuan, at least 75 percent of the Chinese population lived in the south."

When something like this appears in a historical account, it's likely that the Malthus effect (the fact that population grows faster than the food supply) has been playing a large part.

Here's a graph of the population of China that I picked up from work by Prof. Peter Turchin of Univ. of Connecticut:

Population of China
Population of China

You can see from this graph that China has suffered a number of extremely dramatic population collapses over the centuries, including the one that we're talking about here in the 1200s.

Stearns says, "Agriculture remained central to the national economy during the Yuan. The introduction of sorghum helped revitalize and repopulate northern China. The Mongols seized land for their own use such as in support of their armed forces and often forced Chinese peasants into servitude on that land. Imperial inspectors annually examined crops and the food supply with a view to purchasing when stocks were ample, for storage against famine."

These are the kinds of things that Mao also did in the 1950s. However, he apparently didn't do it as well as the Mongols did, since the Great Leap Forward killed tens of millions of Chinese through starvation and execution, and ended up discrediting communism.

The threat of famine and starvation has been constant through centuries of Chinese history. One of the great thinkers on this subject was Hong Liang-ji (1746-1809), a Chinese Malthus, who noticed that China's population doubled every thirty years:

"As peace has existed for a long time, the population has increased five times from thirty years ago, ten times from sixty years ago. If compared with a hundred years ago or more, it has increased more than twenty times.

If a man marry and make three children, and those children also marry, the family will be eight. If each child marries and makes three grandsons, and they also marry, the family will be more than twenty, although some of them will pass away. Thus the family will be more than fifty or sixty persons including the next generations. ..."

On the other hand, the increase of social wealth such as cultivated land and houses is very slow. So population increase exceeds by a great degree that of land and houses. "Therefore land and houses are always inadequate, households and population are always surplus."

China is facing this issue today, as it desperately tries to increase food production and imports to feed a growing population and to stave off rebellion. It's a contest they can't win.

About 20 years after the climax of the Mongol invasion, the first generation of post-war kids came of age and made their opinions heard. This is the generational Awakening era, the time of a political "generation gap," when the kids rebel against the austere measures set up by the war survivors. Throughout history, great ideas, especially religious movements, are launched during Awakening eras, and become either established or extinguished by later crisis wars.

Stearns' article hints at a blossoming of religion and the arts, but the most interesting part says that in the 1250s, the Mongol leaders "opened a series of debates at court between Buddhists and Daoists, with Confucians in attendance. In the end, Daoism lost out, and it even suffered some repression."

This is absolutely fascinating, and something I'd want to know a great deal more about, because this is occurring during the generational Unravelling era, where new fault lines would be developing, leading to the next crisis war. I would expect to see the complex four-tier system start to unravel during this period. It wouldn't surprise me at all if further research revealed that the religious debates were triggered by an incident around 1250 similar to the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre, which led to Beijing's violent repression of the Falun Gong in modern China.

At this point I have to repeat that this illustration is a bare-bones skeletal generational analysis, based on only a single brief source. A full-scale generational analysis would require many additional sources, particularly including the original Mongol script documents written at the time.

The generational history provides a lot of information that an "ordinary" history does not. Many historical accounts are little more than lists of dates and tribes and kings and battles. Generational Dynamics respects all that information, but provides a context that tells you much more -- the "soul" of a civilization, an idea of what's really going on, and how the past relates to the present.

I've done hundreds of these kinds of analyses, but I've barely scratched the surface. There are easily tens of thousands more of them to be done. It will take an army of graduate students to do them over the next 20 years. Anyone interested in doing original historical research is invited to contact me. Also contact me if you're interested in funding a project to create a "Generational Dynamics World Model," with powerful predictive capabilities for commercial and government applications.

As previously described, there was a new crisis war in 1273, destroying the rest of the Song Dynasty in the south. The Mongols governed the Han for decades to come, until the next crisis war, according to Stearns:

"The MING DYNASTY was founded by ZHU YUANZHANG (b. 1328, r. 1368-98), who reigned as Taizu, the second time a peasant had risen all the way to emperor. Owing to poverty, Taizu had become a Buddhist monk, but later he turned to rebellion against the Mongols, leading a huge band of followers in south China to conquer the north, the first time the country was reunited through conquest from the south (the only other time was by the Chinese Communists)."

Zhu conquered Nanjing in 1356. The Han-led Ming Dynasty ruled until 1644, when it was replaced by the Qing Dynasty, governed by Manchus. The Manchus governed until 1912, when the Republic of China was created, and that lasted until the People's Republic of China was formed in 1949.

The xenophobia between Mongol and Han Chinese is still a powerful force today. This has become apparent with the popularity of a 2004 book called "Wolf Totem" by Han Chinese author Lu Jiamin that has become extremely popular and has polarized Han-Mongol relations, according to an analysis by La Trobe professor James Leibold.

The argument is that the Han race is docile, insular and sheep-like, while Chinese civilization has been propelled forward over the last 5000 years by the "regular, re-invigorating 'blood infusions' from the dynamic, martial, and democratic wolf spirit" of the Mongols, Manchus and other ethnic minorities. Han commentators call these concepts racist and fascist, and they've sparked nationalist Han anger towards an "enemy within."

So the Mongol invasion may have occurred 800 years ago but the same issues -- religion, famine and xenophobia -- are just as important today as they were then.

North Korea makes hysterical war threat

War threats from North Korea are becoming increasingly shrill. Sunday's threat, as reported by Yonhap, was as follows:

"The political situation on the Korean Peninsula is reaching an uncontrollable level due to provocative, frantic moves by the puppet group. Should a full-scale war break out between the North and the South, this will have grave influence on peace and security on the peninsula and elsewhere in the region. ...

Nobody can predict how the situation will deteriorate in the future. The U.S. and South Korean puppets should not act rashly, mindful of possible consequences of their military provocations."

The North was specifically objecting to the joint military exercises that the South is conducting with the United States.

In separate news, a survey shows that South Koreans' xenophobia towards the North is increasing dramatically, according to JoongAng.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-10 News -- Mongol invasion of China in 1206 has impact today thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2010) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.