Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Amazing facts no.493
Last night's BBC1 drama-documentary about Genghis Khan promised a revisionist history, a programme that would prove this global conqueror wasn't so bad after all.
In the event, we learned that slaughtering a million people was all in a day's work for Genghis Khan. Admittedly, all of his adversaries in that era were just as brutal and the only moral difference was his ability to operate on a larger scale.
Genghis Khan came from a modest background and built an enormous empire from scratch. Although this empire lasted barely 100 years after his death, it did leave one unexpected legacy.
One of his main motivations for conquering other people was to "enjoy their women". Only at the end of the programme, however, did we learn this amazing fact: an estimated 1 in 200 of the world's population today is descended from Genghis Khan. The phrase "putting it about" takes on a new dimension.
This confirms my view that the main motivation for acquiring political power is not financial and certainly not altruistic. It is sexual. It is the basic urge of macho men to be "king of the castle" and dominate everyone else, driven by an elemental need to spread one's genes at the expense of other men.
I explored this topic in more depth in my most recent Liberator article. Behaviour that suited the 13th century Mongols is something we can well do without today.