PW - More Musings

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Mon, 31 Oct 1994 21:03:18 -0800

social violence a manifold increase in death and destruction. I suggest
that in order to demonstrate that this represents a change from primitive
forms of violence to "warfare" one would need to prove the increase was
of at least an order of magnitude greater than could be attributed solely
to an increase in the number of combatants and/or enhanced technology.
That is to say warfare would need to be an entirely new "animal" not merely
an extension of previous events.

Consider the difference in scale: A member of village "A" steals a sheep
from a member of village "B". (1) If the use of violence remains at the level
of the individuals involved only a few of the most interested parties may
become involved in a violent confrontation. (2) If village "B" decides that
village "A" is responsible and decides to attack, the level of violence
will potentially increase many times more than had it been left to the
individuals directly involved.

The degree of violence in (2) is indeed greater than what we would find
by multiplying the amount of (1) by the number of combatants in (2).
Assuming of course that a meaningful measure of "amount of violence" can
be decided upon. This is related to that old adage that the whole is greater
than the sum of it's parts. Because of the cooperation and deliberateness
involved in the second scenario the whole of village "A" may be destroyed.
This is not likely if violence is left to individuals (unless they are all
Rambos). As an analogy, the shift from individual hunting stategies to
group hunting is well known and may be an important factor in explaining
Quaternary extinction patterns (an unresolved issue as well).

It is this social ratification of violence that I view as the advent of
warfare. I don't believe we will find such an abrupt increase in violence for
societies changing from non-literate to literate. This is not to say that
an increase will not be found, but that the increase will be directly
related to the increased number of participants and development of
technologies. The only other shift of scale such as that from uncoordinated
individual attacks to socially ratified attacks is the shift from
conventional to nuclear warfare.

I disagree with the notion "primitive warfare" assumes a natural
proclivity for group violence. I would suggest that there are individual
tendencies that allow for it and some that increase it's probability.
Some of these factors would be a tendency to allow others to take
responsibility, a tendency to follow charismatic "leaders", a
tendency to view strangers as "others", and a tendency for people to define
themselves in terms of a group. I'm sure there are a multitude of other
characteristics involved. It is a function of society to channel these
tendencies. We need only look to our own "Race Threads" to see the
effect society has on individuals. If that's not enough take a dip
in the Geography list and check out the flames regarding Macedonia.

What I see as a pay-off to this discussion is that if Mr. Sproule's
point is proven then the issues of causation and the mechanisms for dealing
with warfare will be found in an analysis of the civilizations involved.
If warfare is a more "primitive" phenomena then we must dig into the
nature of societies for solutions. A far more difficult prospect as the
permutations increase (probably exponentially). If the tendency for
warfare is inherent then we will probably have to wait for some sort of
evolutionary change to the human condition (heavy sigh).

I will admit here that Bob Graber's post struck a chord with me as I
am involved here as much for the polemics as anything else. I hope you
can all excuse a former academic trying to cope with seminar withdrawal.
And, I hope I have provided at least a tidbit to those of you involved in
serious research. I certainly hope Mr. Sproule does not decide to
shut up.

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