Domination of Land Power: Historical Factors
Development of main trade centers are strictly connected by historical mode of human settlement. Some places in geographical space are more important from the others, because they are located on key communication routes leading to raw material, demographic and manufacturing resources. Therefore, there are areas that people inhabit and grow, individuals move through their territory, which always comes as a result of interpersonal interactions. The convenience of transporting goods being an indicator of prestige and social status for buyers showing their wealth was and is the key. In the past, they were animals, furs, precious stones and agricultural products.
Tribes that had a geographical dividend, such as geographical location on key communication routes, and could guarantee uninterrupted trade along the trade routes they controlled achieved greater profits from trade and imposed their conditions on other trade participants. Initially, the Eurasian steppe tribes were in the most favorable situation and they were the source of innovation, culture and the germ of civilization.
The intensified competition between the tribes was aroused by constant distrust due to the geographical proximity of their borders and their desire to expand their influence zone, to gain better agricultural land and access to urban markets. This caused constant tensions. The escalation of conflicts led to divisions among the tribes and, as a consequence, strengthened their internal unity and strengthened patterns within the tribes. Stabilization was achieved thanks to a strong central authority that streamlined and standardized trade and tax collection. The central authorities carried out their tasks thanks to a strong army, which was and still remains the key to protecting and controlling trade routes and entities trading on them. The above regularities are reflected in contemporary international relations between land based countries aspiring to regional powers and the fear of small and medium-sized states resulting from subordination to their influence.
Merchandise transport by water, as evidenced by historical regularity, has always been faster, cheaper and safer than by land. This was due to the fact that only a boat and a (natural) port were needed to transport goods by surface, so the dangers of a possible attack of hostile peoples or an attack of predators were bypassed. Among other things, for these reasons, people lived in areas close to the river systems or on the continental shore. As a result, the settlements turned into shopping centers, where the exchange of capital, goods and goods was much more dynamic than in land areas.
Natural roads were the main routes on the basis of which communication infrastructure was created and the distribution of main demographic centers in accordance with the course of natural roads. Communication and urban infrastructure entailed that the space of natural roads became more expressive and natural borders more recognizable.
Trade in goods from distant countries (colonies) always were more profitable for buyers in their home country. This motivated the tribes to expand along the rivers into the widest regions possible. Along with the expansion of influence, wars were inevitable, during which tribes were brutally subordinated to their rule or forced to pay tribute (as did land empires). It was through river systems that the tribes of Central and Eastern Europe were Christianized and Orthodoxy arrived in Kievan Rus by sea (Crimea). The multitude of resulting socio-political organisms were historically associated with the conditions of the topography of the terrain, such as natural obstacles that are difficult to cross or conquer (mountains, rivers, swamps, deserts, etc.).
The methods of expanding powers and the process of shaping their borders depended on the geographical location of the country. Napoleon Bonaparte said that „the policy of all powers is determined by their geographical location” and such interdependence definitely existed. States of the „world of the sea” expand in a linear (point) form thanks to the power of the naval fleet by colonizing overseas countries away from the core area by establishing military bases in strategic places (in a point way) thanks to which they could make military intervention to protect sea commercial glassware. Therefore, these countries gain strategic time to rethink the appropriate strategy for conflicts in peripheral areas (colonies or vassals).
On the other hand, land countries expand in a ring-like manner by building buffer zones around the core medium, increasing their safety perimeter. Unstable neighborhood and constant sense of threat in land empires and the appearance of the so called besieged fortress syndrome, which makes the land empire distrustful of its neighbors and seeks to subordinate them. This system is doomed to economic inequalities between the core of the state (power center) and the periphery (buffer zones / land colonies). The land’s peripheral zones are treated primarily in terms of military strategy and this is one of the reasons for the poorly dense communication network. This situation is caused by a defensive approach, so that the potential aggressor cannot use the infrastructure for faster movement of troops and equipment, which means that the supply lines of the potential aggressor will be very stretched and more susceptible to an effective counterattack.
Therefore, the buffer region means that the decision center (core state) gains strategic time to make a decision. Another factor responsible for such treatment of the country’s periphery is the fear of the power center that if the peripheral centers get greater autonomy, this may result in the process of becoming independent from the central power center. To prevent this situation, land countries have a strong tendency to create a highly centralized and hierarchical power over the entire socio-political organism.
Historically, it was the war (territorial expansion) that fueled the state’s prosperity and filled the treasuries (increased spending on war increased taxes and looked for alternative sources of income). Land empires based their power on the agricultural sector and craft products, therefore they strive for continuous expansion towards warm land areas and water reservoirs to maximize profits from growing more land (warm climate is crucial for intensive farming), to then participate in trade, and to provide buffer zones for indigenous areas. The land trading system was based on a barter, which is less efficient, due to the difficulty of relative estimation of the value of goods and it was a very inefficient means of payment. On the other hand, the merchant activity of the maritime powers was characterized by consumerism, thanks to greater dynamics of trade exchange and establishment of standards, and, as a consequence, the evolution of money and the entire financial system.
By using the monetary system, buyers more accurately determined the potential value of a commodity than in the barter exchange system, and coins were increasingly accepted by buyers. The single currency unified the market, which influenced the size of profits, the production of common cultural patterns (geoculture), which consequently has a positive effect on the unification of the political system of the dominant state in the given area, which often had the character of military conquest and top-down imposition of the system.
The foundation of the Roman Empire was its military strength based on the bond between soldiers and honor towards the Empire (country). They controlled vast territories through relatively small, well-equipped troops placed in fortress camps. By controlling the territories closest to the core area, the Romans began their expansion into the Mediterranean, embarking on a hegemonic rivalry with Carthage, which they won and this made the Mediterranean Sea their indoor pool. Distant island territories open to full oceans such as today’s Great Britain were completely irrelevant in the land’s power game.
Military strength alone is not enough to build an empire – it is always accompanied by well thought-out diplomacy. The Roman Empire willingly gave its allies a protectorate (security guarantees) against potential enemies. One of the reasons for the fall of Rome was to allow „illegal migration”. In 376, he began the process of internal collapse of the empire through the military involvement of immigrants. The second reason was excessive fiscal charges, a phenomenon known as imperial overstretch.These ancient regularities are still valid. A different reason for the fall of Rome was the adoption of the Christian faith, which „tempered” the violent tendencies of the Romans and did not allow the use of force, which was the basic tool for efficient management of the Empire.
With the collapse of Pax Romanica, commerce disappeared and the sophisticated banking system collapsed. Europe has plunged into the „ages of darkness”. Christian monasteries were the only centers of safe development. Christianity also influenced banking in Rome, which was based on the fractional reserves scheme. Christianity, as well as Islam, suppressed usury practices by charging interest on customer deposits. The gap of lenders (lenders) was filled by Jews, who carried out ruthless usury practices and since then their huge fortunes began to grow. It was the result of extraordinary cunning, an excellent system of knowledge transfer and education of the elites, as well as the unity of the Jewish community. In the Middle Ages, Jews were the main bankers and financiers in the Christian world.