Re: Is Humanity Inherently Violent?

Gerold Firl (
16 May 1994 12:48:47 -0700

In article <> ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Greg Erwin) writes:

>In a previous article, (Camilla Cracchiolo) says:

>>A more useful question would be: what conditions foster cooperation
>>and peacemaking among humans, and which conditions foster competition,
>>particularly violent competition and warfare? Also, which
>>conditions foster high degrees of hierarchy and which low degrees?

>Anyway, does it not seem that, where there exists an abundance of
>resources, people find reasons to cooperate in order to exploit these
>resources better, and where resources become scarce, people fight to make
>sure that they, and their group, get theirs first?

Right - the simplest (and usually best) analysis examines the question of
fight/cooperate by comparing the risk/reward ratio for the two options. As
you point out, when resources are abundant, but human population is low,
cooperation tends to give the highest returns on investment. When
population approaches or exceeds the maximum carrying capacity, then
competitive strategies start to look more attractive. Under conditions of
severe overcrowding, the death of any individual person improves the
situation of everyone else; these are conditions where violence will be
widespread. Textbook examples are currently availible in a country near
you; I believe that Rwanda has the highest population density of any
country in africa, and El Salvador is the most crowded country in central

The amount of heirarchy is determined by the total size of the population
under the control of a single authority and the efficiency of the
communication systems used to transmit information. Large populations
acting as a single political unit, and limited-range communications, lead
to a large number of heirarchical levels.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf