illustrated profile of a man spitting in the same direction that a pistol and three steel bars are pointing

Guns, Germs, and Steel

by Jared Diamond

Start Free Trial

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, does food production lead to complex societies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter 14, Diamond tells us that there is not an either-or answer to the question of which of these things leads to the other.  Complex societies do not lead to food production or vice versa.  Instead, Diamond tells us (on page 285 in the paperback edition) that these two things "stimulate each other."

Of course, food production is needed to get a more complex society.  There is no way to get a large and complex society without it.  Diamond says that very few societies make it to the level of chiefdoms without food production.  However, complex societies also make it easier to have food production.  The existence of an organized government can make it possible for there to be public works like irrigation systems that make food production more possible.

So, the causation goes both ways.  Food production and complex societies lead to one another.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, what impact did food production have on human societies?

Diamond argues that food production is one of the most important factors in human history.  It was food production (among other things) that allowed Eurasian societies to get the "guns, germs, and steel" that allowed them to dominate the world.

The most important impact of food production is that it allows for bigger populations with some people who do not have to get their own food.  This allows some people to become artisans, government officials, and many other things.  A larger population like this makes it possible that some people will start to invent various sorts of technology.

Food production is also important because it helped some populations get the germs that helped them conquer the New World.  Epidemic diseases, for the most part, came about because of close contact between humans and domesticated animals.

In this way, food production led to larger populations, to technology, and to the development of epidemic diseases.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on