Tyranny Or Ideal Society

Many arguments have occurred over the centuries since the Spanish marched into the Andean highlands and took over the Incan empire, over whether the Incan’s were part of an ideal human society, or just a group of tyrannical rulers. While the Incan society had created a stable political, economic, and social system in the Andean world it was far from being an ideal society. On the same note, the Incan’s were not tyrannical rulers, did not exploit their subjects or take away their land for no reason. The reading entitled Was Inca Rule Tyrannical? discusses this argument about the Incan empire, tries to classify the form of government the Incan’s lived under, and searches for the truth about what the Incan empire was really like. The truth about the Incan empire lies somewhere between the romanticized views, and the views meant to justify the Spanish conquest, while it is impossible to classify in modern terms the form of government the Incan’s had.
The reading, after giving a brief introduction to the ideas behind the separate articles, is split into three different sections. The first of these sections is the section meant to idealize the Incan empire and cast doubt onto the appropriateness of the Spanish conquest of the Incas. The first two articles were written by conquistadores, Pedro de Cieza de León, and Mancio Sierra de Leguízamo. They both offer a romanticized view of the Incan culture. Cieza de León tries to paint a picture of the Incas as a ideal culture that tried to avoid war at any cost, while Sierra de Leguízamo paints a picture of a trusting uncorrupted society of Indians. These views are obviously slightly skewed, because it is hard to believe that anyone who was there at the time of the conquest would have believed that the Incas were an anti-war society. This is only because the Incan empire was in the middle of a brutal civil war at the time of the conquest. The brothers Atahualpa and Huascar had been fighting over who was the legitimate ruler of the Incas and because of this the Spanish had an easy time taking over the empire. This horribly brutal war witnessed by the conquistadores sheds doubt on the idealness of the Incan society that Cieza de León and Sierra de Leguízamo try to portray in their descriptions of the Incas.
The third article of the first section was written by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who was half Incan, and half Spanish. His account of the manner in which the Incas planted and harvested their crops gives a more moderate and believable view of what the Incan empire was really like. His heritage and knowledge of the Incan past gives his writing validity, and because it does not over romanticize the greatness of the Incas, it is a more believable telling of the way the Incan empire worked.
The second section of the reading is dedicated to disproving the writing of Las Casas, and to prove that the Spanish conquest of the Incan empire actually saved the Indians from the tyrannical rule of the Incas. Francisco de Toledo was set upon the task of proving that the Incas were tyrannical rulers. The way in which he proved that the Incas were tyrannical rulers, itself, disproved his theory that the Incas were tyrannical. His manner of asking complex yes or no questions, to Indians, through bad translators would not prove without a reasonable doubt that the Incas were tyrannical. This method of investigation does not produce enough empirical data to lead to any kind of conclusion. In addition to that, the fact that Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa wrote an entire history of the Incas from this data and expected people to accept this history as truth is outrageous. The information that was collected during these Informaciones and the history of the Incas by Sarmiento de Gamboa, do not come close to justifying the conquest of the Incan empire, due to a lack of any kind of evidence to support their claims of tyranny.
The third and final section of the reading was written in the response to trying to classify the Incan type of government using modern governmental and economical terms. Louis Baudin in the first reading tries to prove that the Incan government was socialistic in nature. Though he argues his point and shows how the Incan empire was in essence socialist in nature it is, as Alfred Métraux says in the final article of the reading, unjust to assign any kind of modern European label to a society that evolved separately from the Europeans. Just because it resembles socialism, an ideology that was created in 19th century Europe, does not mean that it can be labeled. The government of the Incas was created through natural evolution, and it cannot be labeled by something that was created in the mind of some European that lived 200 years after the empire was destroyed.
This reading was an excellent collection of articles, because it presented seven different views of the Incan empire. It does a good job of trying to idealize the Incas, justify their conquest by the Spanish, and label their government using modern terms. In retrospect, it is easy for us to look back at history and study it, but it is always a necessity to learn from what we study. If there is one thing to learn from the European conquest of the America’s, it is that destroying a race of beings and their culture is an injustice to the conquered, and the conquerors.
Word Count: 929

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *