Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian novelist who wrote many books and articles. This week, I had the opportunity of reading one of his articles called “Questions of Conquest.” In the article Mario Vargas Llosa answered the question of why the Incas fell to a small group of “Spaniard adventurers.” In this essay, I am going to talk about what I think the central point of his article was.
Llosa started the article by asking his question. He then said that while you can blame the fall of Incas on the technology the Spaniards owned (guns, armor, horses), this was not the main reason of their demise. There were only 180 Spaniards and thousands of Incas, yet they still fell. Why?
The way of the Inca Empire was completely different from the world we are used to today. In Inca society, individualism was nonexistent. People were raised with the mindset of pleasing and serving the king. Any achievement made was a collective and anonymous work. The idea of being an individual, thinking on your own, or acting without the guidance of the king was unheard of. Their civilization worked as one collective of people, like a swarm of bees.
When the Spaniards came and captured their king, there was no one left to give orders. For people who had never needed to make their own decisions or act independently, this was an overwhelming situation. Besides the natural panic caused when seeing the invaders, there was also the panic of not knowing what to do. Incas died at the hands of Spaniards simply because they allowed themselves to be killed since they did not know what to do.
As you can see, the Incas outnumbered the Spaniards, but they did not know what to do with that number after their king was taken. Maybe if the Inca Empire allowed the people to be more independent from the king they could have survived the Spaniards, even with their guns and armor.
Thanks for reading!