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Are West Europeans inherently more violent?

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posted on Feb, 3 2006 @ 02:23 PM
This is a pet theory once formed by me (white) and a co-worker (black) who were ardent history buffs.

The theory is this:

Arab civilization almost overwhelmed Europe in the period from 1200-1600. It swept over Europe from Southern Spain, to Siciliy and Southern Italy, taking Consantople, Greece, and all the Balkans, reaching to the gates of Vienna and Moscow in the East.

This was because Arab material culture was much more "advanced" (specialized) than contemporary European culture:

-Arab culture supported a higher population in Arab lands, meaning that Ottoman and Arab armies were often larger than the entire populations of the European lands they were invading.

-Arab military culture stressed discipline and local commanders improvising strategy in the field. Europeans rarely thought above the tactical level.

-Arab command of mathematics and writing meant that Muslim commanders could provide logistics for a large army in the field, and have rapid technical communications. The European commanders were incapable of either.

-The Ottomon empire, as Machiavelli points out, was highly centralized; the lands they were invading were a welter of city-states that often distrusted their neighbors as much as they did the Islamist conquerors.

So, the question is, "How did Europe remain independent?"

The answer "Paul" and I came up with is this:

The Europeans were outnumbered and out-generalled. The only European leaders who could stem the tides had the following attributes:

-heavy fortresses that could withstand any onslought

-technical innovation that made up for a lack of numbers (heavy cavalry, crossbows).

- "Bloodlust," an sort of dogged refusal to surrender, or even parley with the enemy, and a vicioius revelry in bloodshed.


Think about it. Who are the Arab heroes from the end of the crusades? Men like Saladdin. Humane, learned, Chivalric, and ready to reach a peace accord with the enemy.

Who were the European legends? Men like "Richard the Lion-heart," "Roland," "El Cid Campeador," and "Vlad the impaler."

-Men who were famous for charging full force into vastly superior enemy forces

-Men who refused to parley

-Men who fought on, even when wounded beyond all hope of survival.

-Men who were famous for their technology: We know the names of their castles, their swords, even their horses.

-Men who were famous for their ferocity and bloodthirstiness.

For instance, one of the reasons the Ottomans never captured Vienna long-term was Vlad the Impaler. Though his forces were miniscule, he was in an impregnible fortress. And he would impale every muslim he could catch, regardless of how many of his own were slain. In the end, the ottomans just bypassed his fiefdom. But they couldn't hold vienna with Vlad on the loose, and eventually withdrew.

El Cid and Roland have similar stories.

"Paul" always said that these historical experiences had a deep impact on the European psyche. That the whites who were less violent, who were cerebral and pacifist, were all killed or assimilated by Muslim culture. In other words, the only free Europeans were the ferocious monsters.

According to him, other cultures don't have the same value system, because they lack those experiences. He used Rugby and American football as examples of this militaristic mentality; or Boxing, which is totally different from wrestling as practiced in Arab culture.

"Paul" and I both agree that Western Europeans have an ingrained love of technology for its own sake, to the point where European governments think espionage means "James Bond Gear" and satelites, instead of getting foreigners to help you.

There is another important "European" trait: a certain respect for Losers who fought a hopeless cause.

Whether it's the Alamo, or Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Pearl Harbor, or the Song of Roland, or the Battle of Falkirk, or Bunker Hill, European culture lionizes soldiers who fought against overwhelming enemies in hopeless causes. Even (or especially) when they lost.

Other cultures don't savor their defeats quite the way Western Europeans do.

Doesn't that sound a lot like the crusades ?!?!?!

So, is this bunk? Or do you think there is something to this? Non-European responses might be especially interesting. . . .


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 02:17 AM
What you describe may have been at one time in history but I dont think it applies today.
Western peoples do not want the bloodshed that used to be pretty much standard. I was appalled and shocked to read accounts of the trenchs in WW1 before the Yanks got involved. The loss of life was horrendous.
The Europenans today who can stand bloodshed more than western Europeans would be the slavs ...Russians or Serbians as they have proven over and over in the last century.
I dont believe many Western Europeans have the stomach for it as was in the past. Brits and even many Americans fold when the loss of life gets to high. You wont find the Muslims doing this today. They obviously dont hold life in such high regard. Even the Japanese have folded somewhat compared to what they believed in the 1920 and into WW2.
Just a thought ...Dr Strangecraft.


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 02:35 AM
It must come from a deep inner will to survive. Like 'Bloodlust'.
Even when your knee deep in your mates blood the 'will to survive' will make you fight on until you've got nothing left

The european society is less likely to accept death and always has been. Therefore people are more willing to kill to survive and will fight on in a frenzied struggle for life.

Unlike the arab civilization where soldiers once defeated would accept their death and wait on their knees for a swift honourable end.

So i think your theory is agreeable but not only applicable to each of the races.

[edit on 4-2-2006 by spearhead]

posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 09:13 AM
I was positing it as a cultural phenomenon rather than a "racial tendency" or anything. Since I believe that race is a political more than a biological concept.

A friend of mine taught tactics at an army facility in KS during Vietnam. His views actually contributed to my part of this theory. He said one of their biggest problems was with commmanders who had played (American style) football in High School or college. Their mentality was that it was acceptable for someone to "take a hit for the team." In other words, casualty rates were irrelevant, as long as the objective was achieved.

He said the best students were track and field athletes; the relay team players understood that your whole team loses is someone drops the baton, or takes a fall.

It is interesting how Western Europeans tend to savor their defeats, demanding "justice" for them 200 - 400 years later.

One of you mentioned the slavs. Which would probably fit in with my theory, seeing as how they were sort of the "50 yard line" between the Muslim Empires of the Middle East and the Holy Roman Empire.


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 09:17 AM
perhapsed I am not coming across clearly. IN the west ..not all but most have replaced a strong survival urge with strong ability to be a better consumer and thinking this is survival. What I call life in the fast food lane. If you are not traveling in the fast food lane you are not living. You are dying. In otherwords they are better consumers than fighters or survivors.

Oh the way..people or nations who are excellent they fight for thier consumption levels..or do they get others to do this for them?? What do the history books record on this??? Or is this even a topic line in history books??


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 10:04 AM

The consumerism you speak of is only a recent phenomenon, basically only since WWII.

If their consumerism was removed or rendered obsolete, say, due to war, a lot of older paradigms might suddenly resurface . . .

posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 11:26 AM
Oh I agree with you ..only since WW2. But a whole generation has passed since..raised with different values..not as self sufficient.

yes..if consumerism were reldered oblelete by changes in economies/war...the olde paradigms might well resurface among those savy enough to survive the the initial changes.

and with that I am headed out to my garage to reload about 200 rounds of 5.56mm/.223....for non violent purposes you understand???

Oh..I wont be watching the Super Bowel Game this weekend...not violent and commercialized for me. Not much into spectator sports.


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 11:35 AM
There’s violent and then there’s crazy. Look at north Korea they fall into both categories and you wouldn’t want to mess with those guys. I think the east are more strict with themselves, if you step out of line you will be punished. Because the west is more “freedom of speech” it basically leads to vilonce.

posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 11:46 AM
Im afraid I missed your second post on this thread.

concerning your friend who taught tactics for the army in KS. I just finished a fascinating book about a Air Force officer named John Boyd. It is on tactics and thinking. Originally he applied his theorys to aircraft and fighter tactics but later thought it through to ground forces and even buisness applications.

Concerning casualtys ..they refer to this in his book as "Pee diddle diddle right up the middle" the way things were always done. Huge casualtys to take objectives which were not even worth taking. Boyd's method was to go around them take them from the rear or leave them to heavy and accurate air power/artillery. Maneuver Warefare. Just dont get bogged down and away from your goals.
These theorys seem to have been proven out with the speed of the First Gulf war and again with the speed of the Second Gulf war. Apparently Rumsfield is a student of Boyd and greatly in favor of his theorys in small unit tactics..verses the older way of huge armys in the field.
The only other commander in the field I can think of with very fast armys for his Oliver Cromwell. Even his casualty rate in those days was substantially low compared to the other armys. There may be others but Oliver comes to mind. Hannibal and his famous end run at Cannae comes to mind also...instead of right up the middle.
The book covers alot more than this but the concepts are fascinating to me.


By Robert Coram.


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 01:57 PM
May I suggest an excellent book?

Panzer Battles

This is the book that became popular after Gulf War I, because in an interview, You could see it sitting on General Schwartzkopf's desk. The new edition's dust jacket even mentions that fact.

I think the real force behind this idea was H. Guderian, the German General that crossed the Meuse and arrived in Paris 6 weeks later. His military theories were also responsible for German successes in the drive into Russia.

His theories are still hotly debated; many believe that Germany's lightning drive across Russia prevented them from effectively occupying territory. Of course, Guderian (and U.S.'s General Sherman) would have said that war is not for land, but for victory.

If you read Von Mellenthin's book, remember that the UK has admitted that the "bombe" (enigma) device was already decoding Rommel's Afrika Korps communiques with Berlin, with less than a 12 hour delay. Yet even that intel edge couldn't help the allies route Rommel: the best they could do was sink his supply ships coming from italy.

Since his assaults were improvised at the tactical level, the intel was rarely useful.

I believe he was merely applying Sun Tzu's exhortation to always use two forces. The heavy slow one is the anvil, and the light fast force is the hammer (Sun calls them something like Eagle and Snake, I think). Sun says the real power is to switch between which force will act in which capacity. I think this is Exactly what Guderian and Rommel had developed.

Oops. Now look what you made me do!

"Thread Creep."


posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 02:07 PM
In response to your issues with commercialism, I'm inclined to agree with the good Doktor. If you look at a lot of the Balkans, the 'rabid wolverine' mentality is still there. Small countries like Georgia keep breaking down into smaller pieces. Blood feuds centuries old continue to exist, and one does suspect atrocity is still not an uncommon affair. I suspect that the mentality extends northwards into Russia, even, where rampant commercialism has yet to take a firm hold. People and even criminal organizations still fight atrocity with atrocity.


posted on Feb, 6 2006 @ 11:18 PM
Although it's not a proper war so to speak, I wonder what kind of impact the whole War On Terror will have on the Western intellect?
If things get any messier over this whole cartoon thing (silly if you aske me, as a Christian I get offended frequently by my society but you don't see me burning anything, although that would be fun.) we might be seeign a return of Islamic violence into Europe.
I think the reason that Europe dominated the world for so many centuries was this very bloodlust, the will to fight.
It's just my own pet theorie but the reason why we had French, Spanish, Dutch portugese and British Imperialism was to pre-empt any kind of assaults on Europe by the peoples of the East and Africa. The experience of forcing the Muslims out of Europe and then the fiasco with the Crusades, in my opinion, taught the Europeans the value of dominance, or peace through superior firepower.
Up until Korea, in America wars have always been determined by the side willing to take the most losses.
In the War Between the States the South, although vastly outnumbered, performed magnificently, but was ultimately crushed by a Federal army willing to do anything it took to beat the Rebels. And even some fo the Rebels greatest victories like 2nd Mannassas, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, and even battles that simply stopped Federal offensives like Murfreesboro were won at huge loss of life. At Chancellorsville Lee was outnumbered over two to one (130,000 men under Hooker, 63,000 for Lee)
yet after four days of vicious fighting he convinced Hooker to withdraw and Hooker left behind 17,000 casualties. but Lee's victory cost him 13,000 casualties and the life of his greatest Leiutenant Stonewall Jackson.
it could be said that the Celtic ideals of charge to glory that the Rebel armies personified, although often led to tactical victories, led ultimately to their ruin.
In WWII, on many occasions American forces paid dearly for their victories, simply mashing into German or japanese forces full steam and plowed right through them, often with fearfull losses. (Tarawa, Anzio, Normandy, Hurtgen Forest)
Since most Americans are still of Western European descent (especially those in power) I'm surprised we don't follow the same military mindset of crush your enemy beneath your boot treads.
But I'm not sure that only Westerners are so bloodthirsty, remember we had to learn it from somewhere. And the Muslim armeis of the early Meidevel ages (probably butchered that word) bear a striking resemblance as far as organization and tactical control over the armeis raised by Fredrick and Napoleon later in European history.
had it not been for the Muslim invasions, the West might never have risen to power after the fall of Rome.

posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 01:13 AM

Originally posted by SpecAgentDW

In the War Between the States the South, although vastly outnumbered, performed magnificently, but was ultimately crushed by a Federal army willing to do anything it took to beat the Rebels. . . . it could be said that the Celtic ideals of charge to glory that the Rebel armies personified, . . .

Funny you should mention the "Celtic Ideal."

Ethnically, the Northern Whites, with the exception of several "Irish Regiments," tended to be largely of Anglo-Saxon or German descent.

In contrast, the Southerners tended to be more Scotch-Irish and Welsh.

Certainly, the militaristic, perhaps even jingoistic, culture of southern chivalry initially armed the southern armies with excellent tactical leadership; when South Carolina seceded, many officers began moving to serve the southern cause.

Custer's military career may have owed as much to his Northern loyalty as it did to his strategic gifts, seeing that he graduated last in his class at West Point just befoe the war began.

Even today, a friend who worked for Army intelligence into the 1990's tells about the army's concern that most of the bases being kept open are in the south, due to the support of the local populations. He even read secret studies done by the Army with regard to why so many officers, black, white or hispanic, come from the southern United States.

From Audie Murphy (most decorated WWII soldier) to MacArthur, so many war heroes are southerners or westerners of specifically Celtic origins. The two most prominent exceptions, Eisenhauer and Nimitz, were both native Texans. . . .

I'm sure other nations could tell similar stories of a minority that supplies much of the military leadership.

Have y'all ever heard of Mensur, a form of dueling practiced in elit German college fraternities. Blood is almost always drawn, and members take special pride in their lifelong dueling scars.

I wonder if Islamic culture has similar "cults of blood and bravery. . ."

Maybe it's time for a dueling thread. . . .


posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 02:24 AM
Dr, just thinking off the top of my head here but you draw the distinction between Celtic and Anglo saxon/Germanic styles of warfare and fighting and up to a certain point I would agree with you. There are certain differences between the two cultures which are most evident in their myths and sagas. Personal glory and heroism seems to have been the main motivation in celtic warfare whereas old English poems seem far more concerned with a mans loyalty to his lord and it's application in battle, even to the death. For a saxon heroism was a means to an end to a celt it was a form of self advertisment, which is probably why celtic armies traditionally do not fare well over a sustained peroid, not enough team work or a common goal in sight. Both had certain commonalities though, the celts and anglo saxons revelled in a love of battle, feuding was incessant and a noble defeat was (and I believe still is) even more highly thought of than a victory. Just my two pence worth.

posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 03:03 AM
These are really interesting ideas. That the survivors of the Arab invasions are genetically selected to be more violent thus producing more violent offspring.

However there may be different motivations in the warfare. The Europeans were literally defending their lives, families and land. Of course they would fight harder. They had so much more to lose.

The arabs however may have just been in it for the plunder, and not to willing to die in vain, as they still had families to return to.

These 2 differing motivations would help explain the ferocity of the battles.

In contemprary history, every battle Israel has fought they won, as an Israeli told me, every battle they fight IS their last. They MUST win to survive. The Arabs had less to lose, and could always rebuild and regroup.

posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 08:56 AM

Well, Netchicken I am not ready to posit a genetic predisposition for human behavoir across a whole population.

I am positing a "cultural outlook," where certain cultures are in the habit of lionizing specific behaviors; and dealing with percieved threats in predictable ways.


One of the problems with characterizing Keltic attitudes toward warfare is that we are so dependent upon one source: Julius Caesar's account.

On the other hand, where we have Keltic/Roman battlefields, the evidence always bears Caesar's accounts out.

He describes a warrior caste that may have been the basis for the petty nobility in Medieval society. And as you say, they emphasized individual bravery and virtuosity over all else.

They also struggled with population surpluses. Even in Caesar's commentaries, we see tribes warring on their neighbors because they lacked the land to feed all their members.

Other Groups, like the later Anglo-Saxons and even later Vikings, may have been driven initially by a population boom; on the other hand, they were minority rulers of a resentful population. I imagine that a reputation for terrorism and bloodthirstiness would keep the subject population in line. Certainly, the oppressors might raise their kids with those values . . .


posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 12:39 PM

There are a few accounts of celtic attitudes to warfare in the Roman and classical world such as Tacitus and Agricola and they all seem to tally closely, with regards to the Celts, there also seems to be very little difference in accounts of Germanic warriors either which is interesting. I'm personally wary of travelling down the road that seems very popular at the moment which plays up some alleged inherant totalitarian streak in the anglo saxon/English/Germanic character that ultimately enabled them to become empire builders, it smacks too much of the 'Braveheart' mentality and celtic propaganda. All ruling elites imposed their will on the population, whether they shared a common heritage or not, it’s not even strictly clear whether the invading Germanic tribes assimilated or slaughtered existing populations when they reached Britain, their seems evidence for both.

While I can certainly point to such things as the ancient Irish Brehon laws being proof that in many respects Celtic (Irish) society was enlightened for it's time, this was also a society that saw armies from monastic towns and settlements slaughtering or enslaving the inhabitants of their rivals. We can only speculate about the kind of atrocities a pan celtic empire would've enacted had it existed. We just don’t know because, as with most celtic societies inter tribal conflict prevented any lasting unity, whereas, at some point Anglo saxon England was forced to jettison old rivalries and tribal thinking because of the threat of overwhelming Danish invasion and the emergence of capable, charismatic leaders such as Aelfred and his son Aethelstan which eventually brought about a political and nationally unified entity known as England, these conflicts and resolutions were also mirrored on the European mainland with the eventual emergence of a militaristic feudal system emerging from the dark ages, not to mention the later Norman influence and impact this had. I believe the Germanic/Norse attitude to warfare and expansion had a huge influence in Western Europe.

posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 07:25 PM
Good points all, and nothing I can disagree with.

As far as a 'totalitarian streak,' among germans, I must recuse myself . . . but I will say that we cannot really speculate about genetic predispositions, since our cultural prejudices seem to determine so much of our opinions and politics.


posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 07:44 PM
These ARE really interesting ideas, I agree.

You've got to be hardy, and cunning, with a strong survival instinct, to live and breed in hard times, like the sort we're talking about. I was just reading the other day how stress on pregnant women produced more miscarriages, but stronger males in particular. Battlefield selection's gotta be worth something on top of that.

I think your theory has merit, but I'm pretty sure you're not the first to put it forward. I'll have to do some digging, and see if any serious research has been done. (birth/death rates and migration patterns would be nifty, as well as average household size, life expectancy, and so on - some concrete basis would make it possible to start drawing conclusions) It sounds good, logical and plausible anyway.

But what do you do when you've a world full of warriors with no enemy left in sight? Do we fall on each other or fall on our swords?

[edit on 7-2-2006 by WyrdeOne]

posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 10:04 PM
I think there will always be an enemy especially if you define an enemy as someone who disagrees with your viewpoint to the point of beign willing to inact violence to win the argument.
After WWII we were assured of victory and a near global peace, then the SU started to take over the world.
After the SU fell, there wasn't anybody left...then Red China begin to dominate foreign policy and she proved rather recalcitrant to move on our commands...then the whole Islamic Fundamentalism movement and the new terrorist crisis.
True you can argue that both of those MAY have been fabricated in order to shore up a dying wartime economy, but I'm not sure I beleive that.
History always runs in cycles.
After the defeat of Gaul and the end of the first Roman civil war, the Romans effectively ruled the world. Then "barbarians" in Syria, Germany, Hungary and Scotland begin to fight back.
No great Empire lives in absolute peace, we are no exception.
Every Empire falls, and another replaces it, the cycle starts again...rather depressing after a while.

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