Definitions RE: "war"

carter pate (CPATE@UTCVM.BITNET)
Wed, 29 Jun 1994 11:46:58 EDT

A few thoughts on Scott Holmes' thoughts: l) without a capacity to produce,
store, and move large amounts of supplies, armies do not form, or melt away.
2) Is "an inherent capacity (propensity?) for violence" the same as "an
inherent capacity to swim, or walk upright, or sing a tune on a 12 half-tome
scale"? (Then, so what?)
It strikes me that there are several obvious "conditions" conducive to the
invention of large-scale warfare: appropriate weapons, social density which
is moderate or high, capacity to accumulate,store and transport food and
other supplies, and sociocultural "ratification" of this activity.
(Reader add the qualifier of degree) desire for something which is per-
ceived as lacking and acquireable by warfare--the list below is a beginning.
Invention? it's probably been invented in any number of times and places
where various combinations of these conditions have occurred. But is there
a formula to predict when it must inevitably follow? I doubt it.
Pastoral nomadism? Certainly contributed to the enhancement of warfare in the
Old World. But as Carneiro and others point out, there was warfare in the New
World (and probably elsewhere) without pastoral nomads. Certainly, when
certain tribes in America got the horse and moved out on the plains, their
activity and effectiveness as warriors increased! But the Lapps were
pastoral nomads, too, and did they take up warfare as extensively? Maybe
the variable is pastoral nomads with ANIMALS SUCH AS HORSES AND CAMELS?

Wouldn't this suggest that explanations for questions like this should look
for multi-variable "causation," which may not be strictly determinative?
(I suggest the categories of CONDITIONS (which may be necessary, but seldom
sufficient),ENHANCERS (such as pastoralism with animals provided rapid
mobility), and INSTIGATORS (among which invention may play a role, but I
suspect a minor one; instigators might vary widely with cultural and
ecological contexts.
----------------------------fragments from Scott Holmes' message------------

- War as a large scale conflict,

- War requires armies, military leaders and strategists.

I've also received mention of the role of resources:

- loss through natural disasters that must be made up for;

- anticipation of loss from impending natural disasters (cyclical events);

- and, of course, procurring women.

the phrase "inherent capacity for violence"

the implements of open plains hunting and pastoralism
lend themselves readily to warfare

----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------