November 4, 2008 2 Comments
I tend to think of integration as a political issue unique to the mid 20th century and after. I think of the deliberate promotion of ethnic and racial harmony as a very modern agenda, and I think of coercive relocation policies as something that have historically pursued the opposite agenda: ethnic cleansing; disintegration.
If you think of “forced busing” as a coercive relocation policy with the specific intent of promoting more racial or ethnic mixing — an attempt at social engineering in the name of greater tolerance — then it would seem to be a rather recent innovation, right? A creature of the 20th century, for sure.
Well, according to the lecture series I’ve been listening to, I was off by about 2,300 years.
It seems Alexander the Great was unhappy with the animosity his Greek and Persian subjects had toward each other. That part I knew.
He had all his Greek soldiers marry their Persian mistresses and make legitimate their mixed-blood offspring — and he made sure the sons of these unions inherited their fathers’ property. That part I also knew.
What I didn’t know was that Alexander planned a forced relocation of entire village populations — planned to have Persian and Macedonian villages swap places, in effect — in an attempt to promote a single integrated subject population throughout his empire. That part I certainly didn’t know.
He died young and never put these plans into practice.