In earlier postings, we suggested that Diamond gets Yali's question wrong. Whereas Diamond understands Yali to be asking about "things" -- about Western "goods" -- Yali was actually asking about social equality. Whereas Diamond thinks Yali envied nifty Western stuff, Yali actually resented the not-so-nifty Western condescension that allowed Europeans to deny PNGuineans fundamental worth. The misunderstanding matters, we think, as more than an issue of factual error. That Diamond does not stretch his imagination to understand Yali's cultural views is consistent with the history he presents. This is a history that he believes happened for reasons that we in the contemporary West already believe in. It is a history that accords with our view of how the world fundamentally works. Because such a history conveys the perspectives of the "haves," it not only hinges on the (seemingly) self-evident, it also sustains the self-interested. Many of you know the 13,000 years of human history that Diamond sets out in response to Yali's question – and so we won’t repeat it here. In telling this history, readers learn that Yali's circumstances did not reflect any lack either in his intelligence or in that of other PNGuineans (and, of course, we agree). Rather, we learn that Yali was poor and relatively powerless in his own domain because his ancestors lacked access to the mineral resources, domesticable animals, and the other advantages that allowed some to conquer others. He was born, in terms of the luck-of-the-environmental draw, on the wrong side of the great geographical divide. Yet neither Yali nor most of the other PNGuineans we have known over our years in PNG would be satisfied with the inexorability of Diamond's luck-of-the-draw sort of answer, with the implications of his "that's-just-the-way things-were (and must-be)" sort of response. Such an answer would strike them as a perverse justification of colonial forms of inequality, part of a story that denied them moral worth in the past, to say nothing of the future. However, it is just this sort of answer, just this sort of invocation of historical inevitability, that tends to satisfy those who are already the haves. In this regard, the ideology inherent in Diamond's reasoning goes well beyond the particulars of the history he presents. This ideology supports the status quo, the interests of the already powerful. For them, the inevitable and the inexorable are readily synonymous with the interests of the haves over the have-nots. More broadly, the ideology inherent in Diamond's reasoning is one we confront as teachers and scholars dealing primarily with the haves. Students tell us that their parents encourage them to read Diamond's book, finding it invigorating. The (former) president of Fred's college urged his faculty to read it. In fact, he sent copies of Guns, Germs, and Steel to members of the faculty as a model of the kind of book he admired. All over the United States, we learned, deans and presidents of other pricey institutions applaud the book. At Cornell, it became assigned reading for all freshmen. Moreover, many institutions pay Diamond generously to summarize his views in person, generally in packed lecture halls. And, of course, there is his National Geogoraphic series. We think such educated haves like the book so well because it resonates so much and so easily with their own concerns -- in effect, because it so readily sustains them. They come away from the book (or lecture, or TV show) feeling pretty good about themselves -- both enlightened and open-minded. They come away seeing the world without racial prejudice and having learned some important new facts and connections. Furthermore, and significantly, they come away comfortably convinced that they have their cargo (unlike Yali and his people) for inevitable and impersonal geographic reasons. No one is to blame for the fact that some people are, and no doubt will continue to be, the haves and that others are, and will continue to be, the have-nots. Thus, Diamond's history is not only the delineation of an inexorable and inevitable trajectory. It is, as well, both retrospective and prospective. His depiction of the past provides a far from disinterested model for understanding the present and for shaping the future. This is to say, he presents the world as one in which the have-nots, whether in PNG or elsewhere, must (seemingly) forever deal with the haves under conditions of fundamental disadvantage. But, what exactly is wrong with the history that Diamond presents? Didn't the events Diamond relates really happen? Must a history necessarily be disqualified because it conveys the perspectives and interests of the victors, of the haves? Isn't Diamond's view simply informed by hard-headed realism about the way the world works? We certainly do not deny that certain forms of power had a significant role in effecting the kinds of historical events that Diamond delineates. Diamond's depiction of the role that guns, germs, and steel played is often plausible. What we do challenge is his conflation of the necessary with the sufficient. This is to say, just because guns, germs, and steel were necessary to make certain historical outcomes possible, including those so upsetting to Yali, we do not have to assume that their possession was sufficient to explain these outcomes. Just because sources of power are available, we cannot conclude that the power will be used for certain ends, or even that it will be used at all. And, simply because European colonists had the power to pursue their interests at the expense of Yali and other PNGuineans, does not fully explain – or justify – the ways in which they chose to use this power. More later…….