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The Origin of War

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The Origin of War
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PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post The Origin of War

I have been re -reading the best book i ever found. ' The Growth Of Civilization' (1924) by W.J.Perry (Anthropologist)

[Anthropology is a fast moving subject- this was written in 1926, so is highly subject to new counter evidence where it exists]

..Simply, Perry proposes that Warfare originated with 'Civilization'. Primitive food gathering society (he terms these savages, it is also known as primitive communism) were relatively peaceful and did not posses war,. However with 'civilization' (food producing society) came class society and the formations of states and with it organised violence and the production of weapons for warfare.

...I wish to urge that warfare, in the sense of organised violent behavior between communities, is not an essential feature of human society. I claim that it grew up along with the class State. in consequence consequence of the development of certain social institutions, particularly the class system.

What do we know about man's violent behavior? It is too commonly assumed that violent behavior is "natural" to men, in that they will infallibly exhibit it, to a greater or less degree, in their ordinary daily intercourse, unless restraining influences are at work. The notion of a community where any sort of violence was practically unknown would sound absurd to most of us. We are apt to think that civilization has tamed the savage, that it has imposed upon restraints on his violent tendencies, without inquiring as to whether this really is the case.

I am convinced that this is one of the most profound mistakes that can be made, and that, until this error is eliminated from current thought, there is little hope for any solution of the greatest problem that confronts us...namely, the elimination of violence from the relations between states and ...from all human relationships.


Early human society -" food gathering society"- is said to be peaceful. Violence was rare in personal relations and communities did not fight. War, did not exist.

It is then deduced that Mankind at some stage became 'warlike' as human culture developed. Weaponry (tools built for the specific function of killing of people were not created. With the exception of " the Solutrean period" which may have produced spear heads but could also be knifes and tools relating to hunting.

He specificaly looks at egypt - The developemnt of warfare first began as sporadic fighting with militias (no standing army) fighting on behalf of the ruler.

...only i later times, when the Kings has to contend with a powerful nobility bent on obtaining independent power, that fighting began seriously, ..the kings started to engage men to fight their battles.


The story of warfare is that of the increasingly violent behavior of ruling groups, doubtless stimulated by a variety of causes once it became organised.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Sun May 06, 2012 3:53 am
nudger1964Posts: 185Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Post Re: The Origin of War

my thought,
Dont Chimpanzee also engage in organised violent behavior between communities?
Sun May 06, 2012 11:12 am
PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The Origin of War

nudger1964 wrote:my thought,
Dont Chimpanzee also engage in organised violent behavior between communities?

According to Watt's research, there is one main reason explaining why the chimpanzees interact in this manner, and, as can be seen in human interaction, it stems from the mystery baffling men for ages -- women.

Females are something the male chimpanzees must defend and find, and this may not always be possible without aggression.
http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2005/apr/04/research-finds-chimp-violence-is-organized/

I don't personally use the term "warfare" with chimps. It's different. Humans are a lot more complicated, and I have to remind myself regularly that the thoughts I'm putting in [a chimp's] mind aren't the ones it's having. But chimp behavior may give us some insight in[to] the evolution of human behavior.
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/deep-jungle-the-beast-within/interview-david-watts-primatologist/3376/

http://onviolence.com/?e=481

As Professor Mark Grimsley noted in his response, human warfare had a starting point in history. Anthropological evidence agrees with him; the vast majority of human history has gone on without tribal, inter-state, organized conflict...or war. Humans have always had a capacity for violence, but we haven't always had war.

John Horgan also debunks the idea that homo-sapiens descended from our ancestors to fight wars. Horgan describes research that shows that in chimpanzee societies coalitionary violence is actually exceptionally rare. And bonobo monkeys, a primate as closely related to humans as chimps, don't have organized violence
- conflicts with previous ideas however
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Sun May 06, 2012 12:54 pm
PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The Origin of War

But when we ask, "Is fighting synonymous with war?" it becomes apparent that we are talking about a special kind of fighting.

War, as we know it, is really an institution--a complex phenomenon that is premeditated and directed by some form of governmental structure, concerned with societal rather than individual issues, featuring the willing (though perhaps not enthusiastic) participation of the combatants, and intended to achieve lasting results. These characteristics point to a requisite level of social evolution and imply that warfare is a mechanism intended to perform certain functions, which have varied in range and intensity. Given such a definition, it becomes possible to differentiate simple blood feuds and extended acts of revenge from what is meant by war in historical terms. This distinction is critical, since it makes it clear that humankind was not born to war but eventually came to it as the result of fundamental shifts in our subsistence patterns.
- http://www.history.com/topics/origins-of-war

An important point i think. There is definitely violence in primitive society. And also evidence of raids and massacres (numbers seem to range from 3 the highest 20 deaths). But this definition of war would clarify the impossibility of chimpanzees conducting war.

Beginning around 5500 b.c., numerous Middle Eastern farming communities began to build walls around their domiciles, probably to defend themselves against raiding nomads. To prevent pursuit, it is likely that these attacks would have been fairly brutal--terrifying enough to result in the gradual concentration of populations in fortified townships. Though sporadic and geographically irregular, these raids would have had economic and even ideological motivation sufficient to mark them as the beginning of something approaching true warfare among humans.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Sun May 06, 2012 1:17 pm
nudger1964Posts: 185Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Post Re: The Origin of War

well i dont have strong views on this, but it seems to me you can define into existence what theory you want.
Of course if you have a modern definition of warfare then you need complex social structures to facilitate it.
What surprises me a little about what you have written is the extent of knowledge that is implied we have of our Homini ancestors.
We dont even really know the level of violence between modern humans and neanderthals.
Sun May 06, 2012 6:21 pm
SandracottusUser avatarPosts: 123Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:44 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The Origin of War

The Rig Veda is mankinds oldest literature (composed much before 3000 BC).In Book 7 of the RV we find reference to the Dasarajna war (Battle of the ten kings) between various Indo European tribes including the Bharatas(Indians) Parsu(Persians), Druhyu (Druids) etc.It was fought on the banks of the Parusni river in NW India.Today the river is called Ravi.

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It is the oldest recorded war in history. Not just that, it was no mere neolithic stick and stone fight .It was the first organized war-- with infantry,archers and elephants .Its date may safely be placed at around 3800 BC..

The evidence is the Head of Vasista discovered in Delhi.A copper item representing a human head styled in the manner described for the Rigvedic Vashista has been dated to around 3700 B.C. in three western universities using among other tests carbon 14 tests, spectrographic analysis, X-ray dispersal analysis and metallography. . The head was not found in an archaeological context, as it was rescued from being melted down in Delhi.

Vasista was the adviser to king Sudas , the Bharatha King who won the war .

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A medieval sculpture of Vasista

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" The mistake is we try to tie the whole world down to our plane of thought and to make our mind the measure of the universe"
Vivekananda


" The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems meaningless"
Steven Weinberg
Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:05 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 2946Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The Origin of War

Greetings,

PAB, if you haven't already done so, I suggest you read Graeber's Debt: The Frist 5,000 Years.

It shows both the relationship of warfare to tribalism - the need for females to ensure the tribe's survival - and food resources, whether hunter-gathering and/or water/fertile land for agriculture.

Warfare essentially pre-dates civilization proper - although it coexisted with early human groups (families), who fought over resources and, in order to increase survivability, inter-bred/married, thus creating clans/tribes leading to civilization.

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:01 pm
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