Sherwin P. Hicks (V935CF54@TEMPLEVM.BITNET)
Mon, 19 Dec 1994 13:28:52 EST
The thread on warfare and civilation is playing itself out in the most
interesting manner. I've learned much through reading the posts regarding this
issue and would like to thank everyone who has/is participating in the
discussion. It seems the main topics of conversation are centered on
war as a biological necessity, economic expedient, cultural product, or ritual
imperative. These issues are discussed at length in a book written by Eric
Carlton entitled "WAR AND IDEOLOGY".....I suspect most of you are familiar
with the text or at least the subject matter. In addition to the above Mr.
Carlton also provides an analysis of the Egyptian New Kingdom, the Spartans,
the Carthaginians, Romans, early Israelites, Crusader Knights, Mongols, Aztecs,
Zulu, Athenians, Maoists, and "Excursus on Race, Massacre, and Genocide: the
enemy as racial inferiors."
Regarding class relationships Mr. Carlton states,
The classic Marxist hypothesis is that a highly conjectural
primitive communism gave way to increased complexities of the
division of labour and the subsuquent development of private
property. This, in turn, led to the formation of class divisions
with their consequent evils and injustices. War, therefore,
manifestation of aggression, and aggression is a reflection of
the economic inequalities and uncertainties in society. War
will presumably cease when these have been remedied and the utopian
classless society has been established. Only then will conflict
become a thing of the past because aggressive acts will no longer
This view envisages war not so much as a product of man's nature
as a product of social evolution; the problem rooted in history
rather than the human psyche. Social relations are not a product
of human consciousness, but rather the determinants of that
consciousness. Primarily, it is not man that makes society, but
society that makes man. The 'answer' to war, therefore, is seen
- somewhat simplistically - in terms of social change which would
mean the outlawing of classes and the more equal distribution of goods
I agree with the view that class struggle has a direct impact on the potential
for war, but the "utopian society".........what model is there of this nature ?
I am sure there must be an aboriginal society which has come close to being
without warfare....isn't there? Carlton, mentioning the Dani, states that
they have 'pretend wars'. "Their simsimulated violence which amounts to little
more than the exchange of abuse reduces injury to a minimum". Also, "The
implications being that we in developed nations might also share in these
intrinsic virtues if only we had not allowed ouselves to become corrupted by
a whole series of extinsic factors" (Carlton 1990).
I would like to know if there is a society which does not promote aggresion....
....not even in a 'pretend' form. The "suppression of aggression" would be an
interesting area of anthropological study......any leads?
Sherwin P. Hicks