Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mongols of the Serengeti

Mongols of the Serengeti
Andre Willers
27 March 2008

An Alternate History .

In our timeline:
Mongke , the last Mongol kha-khan died in 1259 . Hulagu , his brother and grandson of Chingis Khan had just conquered Baghdad and Damascus . A large portion of Hulagu’s army was withdrawn for the succession fighting . Nevertheless , Hulagu pressed on . His much reduced force was stopped ( a draw) at Ayn Jalut (Goliath’s Spring ) , near Nazareth . Names redolent with myth .

This was without a doubt one of the critical battles of recent history .

Consider what would have happened if Hulagu had won at Ayn Julat .

Alternate timeline:
The Mongols conquer Egypt .
Christians and Shi’ite muslims are not exterminated in the near-east .
Crusaders are invited in as surrogate troops .
The Ottoman Empire never arises .
Constantinople does not fall (well , not to the Muslims , but nearly certainly to the Mongols .)
Mongol exploration sorties discover the plains of Africa . A Mongol paradise . Endless grasslands , teeming with game . The only opposition has no horses or compound bows .
The Khanate of Serengeti would soon stretch from the highlands of Kenya to the Karoo of South Africa . (The central plains of Southern Africa are almost identical to the Mongolian steppes .)
Raw materials such as gold (known since biblical days ) , iron (even earlier) and diamonds were available in abundance .
And game , game , game , such as no Mongolian lord could dream of . All the adventurous young men of the Mongol Empire would flock to Africa to make their fortune .
The Mongols had no use for unskilled slave-labour and no qualms about genocide . Replacement of local blacks by eastern and middle-eastern slave labour seems unavoidable (it nearly happened under the British in our time-line)
The Khanate of Serengeti would have evolved into the Sultanate of Serengeti , as the various regions of the mongol empire degenerated (as happened)
The religion would have been Muslim . All previous Mongol dominated areas eventually became Muslim in our timeline , and there is no reason to think it would be any different in this timeline . The major difference would be that it would be more tolerant , as the majority muslims would be Shi’ites , some Christians and Mongols being the overlords .
What about Europe ? The Knights-and-Castles defence would have seen off the northern Mongols (like it did the Ottomans in our timeline) . But a Sultanate with Africa’s resources and Chinese know-how is a different proposition .
But consolidating in Africa would have taken time . Events there would have little effect on events in China except weaken them , as their best emigrates . By 1620 AD , Admiral Hu’s fleet would still be on its way . But now it will not stop , but launch an invasion of the Sultanate of Serengeti .
Western European states by this time would be hard-pressed by aggressive pressure from North-Africa . Constantinople would probably have fallen to the Serengeti Sultanate . The Mongols were much better at adopting technology than the arabs were .
Most of the East would be Chinese , as the Middle Kingdom expands the middle . Lines of warfare would be the coastal regions of the Med basin .
The Americas . Many more Amerindians would survive . Infectious diseases were the main depopulation agents in the Americas . Sad to say , while Western states might not have actively abetted this , they definitely did not do their best and only counter , even today , namely quarantine . But this would be old hat to Mongols . After all , bubonic plague originated with the eastern asian marmosets . Cortez and Pizarro would have been in competition with Mongols at the courts of the local rulers . The Americas would have been a quadrangular theatre of conflict : The Chinese from the West , the Western Europeans and Serengeti Caliphate from the East and the Amerindians in the center .
It is delicious to think that in this timeline the EU and Chinese are contesting the Serengeti Sultanate for the Texas oil-fields .
Would science be as advanced by 2008 AD ? Yes , probably even more so in technology . As long as the Western European states had some autonomy , the wellsprings of innovation would flow . Sadly , in our timeline this has nearly dried up due to the demise of the independence of universities . When they did away with tenure , they killed the goose that laid the golden eggs .
Draka’s : would the Serengeti Sultanate be analogue drakas? No , the population is too diverse , the territory too large and there are too few Mongols . The only known example where this has been attempted with some success( Japan) , ended in tears as the system could not compete with freedom-systems .
Any central command system cannot compete with local autonomy . This has been proven over and over again in history . But still humans do not learn . The moan is always : but what mix ? What portion local control , what central ? Yet this answer has always been known . The maximum you can risk are your reserves . And this is about a third . See previous arguments about “Infinite Probes” . The killer is that humans do not re-evaluate the third after a big success . They try to keep the gains , and wonder why it all crumbles . It is because they are then risking more than a third of the new dispensation .
Would this timeline be better than our own ? Yes . The continual conflict would have necessitated greater efficiency . Maximization of efficiency is not achieved by size (except in special cases like steel production , etc) . Food production is a good example . The most efficient food production was in the 18th century in Europe and Asia . Efficiency being measured by the ratio of energy in to energy out . Factors of about 30 were achieved , compared to present day factors of about 2 to 3)
In our timeline , population growth without check (ie exponential) was driven by two factors: Cheap food from the plains of Americas and Europe , driven by subsidised cheap energy (oil) and medical advice and techniques to more primitive peoples that did not include contraception . It is like giving unlimited sweets to children . And now it is stomach-ache time .
The Serengeti Sultanate timeline might have fought a number of nuclear conflicts , but at least they would have a large presence in space . The population would have been much lower and social mobility better .
Social mobility outside the upper middle classes in the west is just about nil in our timeline . And it is about to get much worse as the implications of globalization works its way through the system . The middle class is being squeezed out of existence . The present mortgage crisis in the US is but a symptom . Analogous to the Roman peasants being forced off their land while they were off fighting .
It is my considered opinion that (in our timeline) the US system is approaching a paroxysm equivalent to the French or Russian revolutions .
History does not repeat itself , but it rhymes . The concentration of capital , a legal system that allows a minor entity to be sued into oblivion and legislature that is dominated by lobby-groups has made everybody either very rich (a tiny minority) , or working for somebody else . The middle class has been destroyed , even though most people in the US will describe themselves thus . Yet , they are one or two paychecks away from being homeless . It is these homeless that will lead the revolution . Like the Romans never called any Caesar “Rex” , they will not call it Communist . But it will be . One of those ironies of history . That Russia becomes capitalist , and America Communist . If not this , then the Union will fragment into three . Sic transit Gloria .
Without the Pax Americana , small states will have to resort to nuclear weapons for survival . Then bio . It is doubtful any humans will survive . This timeline will pinch out .
Oh well .


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