Sunday, February 18, 2007

Napoleon Emperor of

Napoleon , Emperor of India

Andre Willers
18 Feb 2007

Synopsis :

A small tweak in history would have resulted in a totally different world , where India and possibly China were Napoleonic and the world Wars never happened .

(See Appendix A below for criteria .)

The threads:

It is may 15th  , 1768 at Versailles .
Corsica , nominally a Genoese territory , but de facto independent under General Paoli , is signed over to France for settlement of various debts .

The French , smarting under the losses to England incurred in North America , India and especially Quiberon Bay in 1759 , is determined to have a stepping stone in the Mediterranean . They send a large force under Comte de Vaux .

Opposing them is Paoli and a ragtag of guerilla fighters . Among them is Carlo Buonaparte and his 19 year-old wife , Letizia (nee Ramolino ) , both minor nobility of Italian descent .

Carlo Buonaparte is a charming , spendthrift , intelligent man of large enthusiasms , but little application . Letizia has a will of steel and iron teeth for everybody except her husband .

The main French force crush the resistance in 1769 . Letizia , 6 months pregnant with Napoleon , has joined her husband from the beginning .

The French achieve a political settlement with Paoli , whereby he would go into voluntary exile to England , together with his intransigent lieutenants . ( He had good contacts via the author Boswell )

Large pensions are promised . It is cheaper to pay troublemakers to go away than to have a prolonged vendetta action .

The crux-point :

Carlo Buonaparte wanted to go with Paoli to England . He had studied (and dropped out) of universities in Italy , and liked the city life .

Something changed his mind . The results of his staying is well known . We will now examine what would have happened if he and his family had gone to England .

Letizia would have gone with him , regardless that she was 6 months pregnant . Napoleon would have been born an English citizen , not French .

He would never have been offered an active officer’s commission because of his dubious political background .

He would almost certainly have ended up in India in the British East India Company . This is where young men  at the time went to make their fortunes .

( Letizia said to Napoleon , urging him to forget Corsica (which he had nearly wrested into independence when he was twentythree) :
“Now France is ablaze – it is a noble bonfire , my son , and worth the risk of being burnt.” )

Napoleon and Wellington would have been colleagues , being the same age and united against the old fogeys of corruption and incompetence .

What a combination !

They would have set the east ablaze !

After conquering India and all desirable neighbouring parts , Napoleon’s ambitions would have pushed him to at least vice-royalty , then Emperor of India .

It is doubtful whether Wellington would have followed him in this . His Anglo-Irish roots were too deep .

But there would have been very little that England could have done about it . England already had the experience of losing valued colonies in North America . As long as Napoleon just kept Europe stirred up (divide and conquer) and kept his main energies confined to the East , they would let him be .

Would he have invaded China (a la Grande armee 1812) ?
Probably . But the outcome would have been different . China has no killer winters and areas can be held piecemeal .

In Europe nationalism would not have taken such deep root . The Germanies would not unify . Social unease would be intense because of stratification . But overthrowing the state by armed revolution in this world would not be possible . France would be deeply divided , something like Germany after 1945 in our timeline .

There would be large-scale emigration from France to the US . The US civil war would probably not happen . I have no hard proof of this , just the feeling millions of starving French peasants (ie those that would have been killed in the wars of our timeline) flooding into Louisiana , Quebec and the American south would have changed their perceptions of the problems facing them .

The powerblocs would be Britain , Russia , Napoleonic East and US .
The industrialization of China and Japan would occur much earlier than in our timeline . The presence of the Napoleonic powerbloc (ie not western ) would force a ally-development , instead of exploitation .

Especially , if , as is likely , Napoleon appreciated the importance of mass-produced spectacles . It is the sort of thing that he would notice . The importance of this point cannot be overstressed . No eastern state or political system has survived the introduction of glasses for all . Literacy means little if you cannot make out the ideograms after age 35 . Fine machining likewise .

Essentially , a technological civilization is impossible for humans unless they have glasses . So there .

Would a WWI be possible in this timeline?

In our timeline , French capital fueling Russian industrialization  circa 1890-1914 threatened Germany and Britain  . Especially sensitive were certain very high-return British investments by politicians in China (ie Opium) being threatened by cheaper capital from Russia . There was also great concern in the upper classes about over-population . The British (Lord Grey) formulated the expansion of the old “divide and conquer” strategy  whereby Germany would be forced into war . A lukewarm support of France (like the initial retreat of British Expeditionary Forces in 1914 ) allowed the European adversaries to bleed themselves to death . Kitcheners volunteer army was not foreseen . They torpedoed him after Somme . It worked , but t’was  a Pyrrhic victory .

In the other timeline , French capital would have been replaced by British capital in Russia . The  US capital growth ( by now heavily Franco-German) would have suffered accordingly .

The special understandings would be Anglo-Russian , US-French . Napoleonic East would play them off against each other .

A meat-grinder war like WWI would be impossible , since both Anglo-
Russian and US-French eastern flanks would be vulnerable to Napoleonic East .(The Ottoman Empire would long been subsumed) . The Austro-Hungarian Empire would (as usual) been the hotbed of espionage , goings-on and other humans having a glorious time .


Appendix A
Criteria for estimating crux-points in alternate histories.

See history as a relief terrain map with length and breadth and height .
The height is the probability of an event . The length and breadth dimensions of the map is necessary to describe the possibilities .

See  why three dimensions like this are necessary and sufficient to describe any number of dimensions which do not have singularities (and even some that do!)

A good approximation is that the individual is part of the weave of the map , but this is difficult for persons  with identifiable viewpoints to understand .

A second approximation is to see the individual as a point (ping-pong ball if you will) moving over the landscape and interacting with it .

Take Napoleon .
The criteria for success here is for a very energetic ball hopping all over the place . If it lands anywhere , it rolls uphill .
This translates in human terms to be certain of yourself , and tell everybody you meet that . Meet a lot of people (be energetic) . Some are certain to be impressed . Peter’s principle means that many people in hierarchical positions are incompetent  and uncertain what to do . This is especially true in periods of rapid change (like revolutions , etc) .

Some seeds will fail , others bear fruit .

Individuals who can do this well and consistently , have high ridges on the probability landscape .

A 20-20 hind vision here helps . A pathway that enables Napoleon to get to India with some legitimacy , is  high ridge . Napoleon thrived on chaos.  Hence I judged the probabilities as a high-ridge fork .


Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Silk Route

The Silk Route.

Roman Empire – Han Period

By Andre Willers
Dated 1 Feb 2007

Silk is a  good example of real-politic usage of end-user monopolies and comparative advantages . Both the Romans and the Chinese ended up with large quantities of silk-armour paid for by indirect taxation on the luxury trade .

End-User Monopoly :
The major end users of silk were the standing , professional armies . While not as good as antibiotics , the ability of silk underarmour patches to cut RELATIVE  mortality rates of puncture wounds is an estimated factor of 30 ( Comments? ) of expensively trained soldiers , not to mention the precious hides of the officers .

The factor of thirty is conservative . It derives from all the possible ways things that can fail , do fail . (To be exact probability = 1/e )

Silk is a force-multiplier for a standing , professional army .

The source of silk was everywhere (wild silk) , though China at the start had a comparative advantage as to long-length silk-fibres (they killed the larvae without damaging the thread , whereas in wild silk the larva eats through the cocoon , cutting the thread) .

Rome had an equivalent technical advantage in weaving and metallurgy .

Both Empires were thoroughly familiar with comparative advantages , as well as the law of unintended consequences .

Furthermore , they were not in competitition with each other and would not be in the foreseeable future .

If they incorporated each other’s advantages through espionage  , the end result would not be more silk armour , but less . The luxury trade would swallow up all silk production , and control measures would be a futile exercise .

If however , a percentage of long-fibre silk was traded from China to Rome , there beneficiated into luxury transparent silk , which was sold at a huge markup to the Roman ladies ( and ironies , back to the Chinese ladies) .  The profits paid for huge wild-silk farms in the middle east . Payment for long-silk fibres was taken partly in wild silk , which was  then exported to China at a lower cost than they could produce it . The same in the West .

In effect , the upper classes paid an unnoticed tax to outfit their armies with silk-underarmour .

It was a nice little scheme that worked well while both Emperors had sufficient authority to prevent a bit of industrial espionage , as well as a sufficiently deep well of surplus wealth in the ruling classes .

Notice how Tiberius ( one of the most morally corrupt military Roman emperors ) used a ban on transparent luxury silks to stimulate demand .

The collapse of the Arrangement in the West is well documented . But what about the East ? Did Weaving and translucent silk production suddenly soar after Chinese long-fibre silk worms were introduced in the West?

The middle east production of wild-silk went to the nomads . The  initial production surge went to the Huns . The timing is about right . The conventional viewpoint is that the birthrate of the west tanked and the more virile steppe dwellers surged in with greater numbers . In actual fact , equivalent percentages on both sides died from the plagues , but in the battles those with silk underarmour recovered quicker .

If all this sounds far-fetched , please consider diamonds in the world-economy 1890 – present .  

Another example of a recent end-user monopoly is oil during the 1920-1972 period .

Silk and the Mongols.

The Mongols during this period ( --- till circa 1750) never had more than 700 000 Mongols on the steppe , with about 2 million on the boundaries of the steppe (making bows , iron , children , old people ) . Manpower attrition was a very big worry . Thus , every Mongol had silk underarmour , which had to be replaced frequently . Silk was much bigger strategic factor for them than their opponents .  Of course , the Chinese and Khwaresms knew this .  Obviously , the Mongols could not expect large-scale silk supplies from China .

But the Middle-east then was still a large producer of wild-silk (Islamic armies used silk armour) .

When the Khwaresms  cut off his ambassadors’ heads , Ghengis Khan knew he faced a war of attrition on two fronts , and that his supply of silk had been equally truncated.  The Khwaresms were the weaker front , and he could defeat them . But they could continue to breed new warriors , and worse , trade silk as a multiplier of force . The only long-term solution was to exterminate the cities , then destroy the capability of the remnants in the countryside to re-establish agriculture . Genghis was loath to do the last , since it would decrease the future value of his holdings . But the crucial factor here was the force-multiplier of silk .  The Mongols could not afford to leave behind infrastructure that could support silk production .

Hence , they destroyed it . The regions have never recovered .