Wednesday, July 22

Keeping Out the Joneses

Christian and Abrams posit that the development of cities--fortified, walled--was a matter of keeping out the Joneses. "[T]the first settlements – before bronze age, before iron age, even probably before the stone age – didn’t happen because folks liked each other’s company. As the old saying goes: there really is safety in numbers … and fortifications."

The city state was established as a common defense against invaders. When people stayed together in a permanent location, they brought their valuables with them--heads of cattle, goat, a barn of farmed grains. They needed to band together against marauders even if they weren't exactly fans of each other.

Or it can be the other way around. They loved each other so much that they didn't want to let anyone else in. Perhaps the Chinese had this idea first: They didn't set out and conquer the way the Europeans did. Maybe they were thinking, "Why pollute our fabulous gene pool with barbaric Mongol blood? Let's build the Great Wall!"

Meanwhile, in old Castilian Manila, the Chinese were being kept out of Intramuros. They stayed in their own Parian, prosperous though much discriminated against. Here's another point of development in urban areas: "But it wasn’t long before these separate city/states looked out from their battlements and discovered that instead of keeping themselves safe they were keeping their good neighbors out." Soon, Manila wouldn't just be Intramuros, it would expand and take in other neighborhoods, and on to the Metro Manila as we know it now. But back then, when one said Manila, it meant Intramuros. Just nuns and priests and Spanish dons. The Chinese stay in Parian.


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