Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id LAA04423 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Mon, 24 Sep 2001 11:45:42 +0100 Message-ID: <2D1C159B783DD211808A006008062D3102A6D01C@inchna.stir.ac.uk> From: Vincent Campbell <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: On the origin of .... war Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 11:12:58 +0100 X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21) Content-Type: text/plain X-Filter-Info: UoS MailScan 0.1 [D 1] Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
<But from the point of view of human survival and propagation
> could hardly be more irrational. As a meme, war exists for its own
> not for ours.>
I can't agree with this, or Ehrenreich's take (thanks for the quote
though, always interesting to see efforts at application of memetics).
War is different to interpersonal or inter-familial conflict only in
terms of scale. I'm not saying there's a cultural element here, but the
attempt to argue that war is entirely cultural smakc of wishful thinking,
the 'if only we could deprogramme ourselves of the war meme, we'd all live
in peace' kind of wish. But it won't happend, as long as there are
resources to fight over.
<War can adapt to virtually any society. For a rational,
> society such as ours, war will certainly involve control over resources.
> But in general war is about honor and glory, not anything remotely
And how does honour and glory pay out for those that receive it?
They are awarded with improved social status, access to more and better
resources etc. etc. Again, from an adaptive point of view this is entirely
<As Lawrence Keeley points out, in War Before Civilization, the
> tribes try to obtain through war usually have no material value, such as
> scalps, skulls, hands, penises, and captives for human sacrifice.>
That is very wrong. All of those things have social value- they are
indicative of the extent of power the winners have over the losers. In
Fiji, the old cannibal tribes all generally believed that in order to go
into the afterlife the body needed to remain intact on death, so in tribal
wars, the winners would eat their captives as a sign of contempt and denying
them their ascent to the afterlife. Now that's a cultural dimension to a
basic biological drive to get rid of one's competitors.
<Lewis Binford puts the origin of hunting at about 70,000 to 90,000
Was Binford aware of hunting behaviour in great apes when he made
<Prior to this we relied on scavenging for our meat. For most of
> history, modern humans did not hunt.>
That's entirely wrong as well. Cave paintings dated to at least
30,000 years ago at places like Chauvet and Alta Mira (spelling) indicate
quite clearly a hunting based culture created those paintings.
> <We were prey animals, not predators. Even when hunting did appear, its
> methods weren't applied to warfare until
> about 15,000 years ago. >
We've been over this point. Large scale conflict was unlikely
before the first large agrarian communities, but into tribal conflict is
more than likely.
<Patriarchy is a recent innovation, arising at the same time as
> Even in the last 15,000 years, women have not been universally
> There are ebbs and flows in patriarchy.>
Doesn't change the point about gender differences being apparent in
human society. Knowing the status of women in pre-recorded history is
<Back when people were catfood, we were a lot more vulnerable to
> We couldn't afford luxuries like war, human sacrifice, religion, class
> division, etc.>
Nor then, could we afford sitting around in big pow-wows conducting
negotiations over how to divvy up the territories fairly between tribes.
Pre-stone age tribes in the Amazon and in Borneo have wars- tribal
conflicts. This must indicate that early human social groups had wars as
well. They also have belief systems and rituals, social hierarchies and so
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