From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 15 Apr 2003 - 02:32:24 GMT
I have been looking at the Hutu/Tutsi conflict recently to see what might
be done to model it and reading about the conflicts of the North American
natives both between tribes and with the settlers.
Memetics, interesting as it is, does not bring in enough elements to the
problem of conflict avoidance, particularly ethnic conflict, to model and
Evolutionary psychology and biology provide some of the background,
explaining (in my estimation) the extremely deep roots of human conflict.
Studies in these areas indicate that economics, the economics of
prehistorical tribes, may lie at the root of conflicts.
Prior to industrial culture, humans and pre humans--like all other
animals--always reproduced to the limit the environment could support. Of
course the productivity of the environment is not constant, so when natural
productivity fluctuates down, population had to go down with it. In the
tribal era, warfare seems to have been the method when disease didn't keep
the population in check.
There were *plenty* of violent fluctuations over the past two million years
in how many people a given area could support due to the ice ages coming
and going. (See William Calvin's recent books for details.)
So the argument runs that bad economic times (i.e., declining wealth per
capita) turns on an *evolved human psychological susceptibility* to social
movements that lead to mass killings. Making it easy to work the tribe
into a frenzy, killing the neighboring tribe and taking their resources in
hard times was almost certainly a powerful, selected survival trait. The
ones who were killed or starved (before reproducing) are *not* among our
I don't know if I am the first to make these connections, probably not, but
I have not found an article on it yet. It is a remarkably pessimistic view
of our origins, much worse than Calvin's thesis that places baseball
pitchers at the pinnacle of human evolution. :-)
If this analysis has a basis in fact, it makes more urgent the widespread
concern about reducing population growth. Such a model would provide a
rationale for why curbing population (*and* increasing resources faster
than population) is so important.
If readers of this list know where others have similar thoughts, I would
appreciate your posting or emailing me.
CC William Calvin
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue 15 Apr 2003 - 02:40:37 GMT