Who did Jared Diamond say were the "haves" and "have-nots" in "Guns, Germs, and Steel"?

2 Answers | Add Yours

teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Chapter Five, Jared Diamond states that the "haves" were civilizations which managed to develop agriculture and food production industries (whether independently or through importation); these industries in turn provided a "head start on the path leading toward guns, germs, and steel." On the other hand, the "have-nots" were civilizations which failed to capitalize on local natural resources or imported resources to develop food production industries. These "have-nots" were thus left behind economically and politically.

Jared Diamond states that some hunter-gatherer societies managed to rely on imported crops to develop their own food production system. For example, in Egypt, local hunter-gatherers relied on Southwest Asian domesticated crops as well as "farming and herding techniques" to begin their own farming enterprises. As food production levels of these imported domesticates increased, the hunter-gatherers gradually phased out their own original diet of wild plants and animals.

On the other hand, some hunter-gatherer societies were conquered by foreign invaders who brought in foreign domesticates to the local culture. For example, Native Americans in the Northwest United States and Aboriginals in Australia were driven out or killed by Europeans who arrived on their shores. These invaders did not domesticate the local, wild foods; instead, they used the domesticates they brought in as seed to begin their own food production industries.

So, some food production industries were begun from the domestication of indigenous (local) crops while some were begun from imported crops. Yet others were begun because local hunter-gatherers decided to capitalize on imported domesticates. Whatever the source, those societies which managed to develop their own food production industries became the "haves," while those who didn't, simply became the "have-nots." This latter group was left far behind when those with hegemonic interests threatened their survival in their own lands.


clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

According to Diamond, the "haves" are those populations who developed food production early and successfully.  The "have-nots" are the populations of people who remained hunters-and-gatherers while the rest of the world was modernizing and stabilizing.

The result was that the "haves" were able to settle down, develop farming techniques, and as a result, move quickly into conquering because the development of farming naturally led to the development of "guns, germs and steel."  Today we know exactly who the "haves" are as compared to the "have-nots" simply by looking at the globe.

Chapter 5, Guns, Germs, and Steel

We’ve answered 317,979 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question