Re: Civilization and Warfare

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Thu, 15 Dec 1994 18:20:53 -0800

our earlier discussion of "Primitive War". Her question in regards to war
and the emergence of cities arose from a comment by Ruby Rohrlich:
"as the city emerged so also did class stratification, warfare and
male supremacy in feedback". This statement bothers me on a number of
levels. I'll get back to that. But first, our earlier thread
established that "warfare" represents a distinct type of intergroup
violence characterized by a certain level of sophistication in
technology, tactics and strategy. We also established that a particular
set of motives are involved. I don't think we ever agreed on exactly
what levels are required, though. The discussion ended with the observation
that "War", today, is a legalistic term that effectively eliminates many
instances of intergroup violence that we (at least some of us) might
intuitively recognize as warfare.

Thus, a level of civilization must exist before "war" can exist. Ruby
Rohrlich posits that the "City" represents the requisite level of
civilization. This is really no different than Warren Sproule's hypothesis
that literacy is the benchmark. As Bob Graber remarked: "...aggression
does not so much increase or decrease with `civilization' as change
direction". I might add that civilization may also function as an
amplifier or as a mute filter because of it's technology (more effective
means of destruction) and social mechanisms (diplomatic corps). Yet, the
aggression remains. "We" are still the same biological organisms that
emerged from the Pleistocene. We have created "civilizations" to facilitate
our existence. These "civilizations" do not represent "evolutionary

Back to Ruby's post: It seems to me she has the cart before the horse.
First, the process of social stratification must have started before cities
developed, if only to create a leader (or council of leaders) to direct
the creation of the city. Second, I have not been convinced that neolithic
man was incapable of waging wars. (I use the word "man" because I am a
curmudgeon who refuses to become PC for the sake of being PC). Thirdly,
I don't think there is any real connection between "male supremacy" and
cities. I am much impressed with the work of Marija Gimbutas (hopeful
this will nip in the bud any arguments that I'm a "sexist" caused by my
curmudgeonly attitude). It seems to me that the "civilizations" she
described could very well have been "gylany[s]" (a word she uses to
denote equality of the sexes). I remain dubious about a lack of violence,
however. Her butterflies look too much like axes. The civilization(s)
Gimbutas described included both cities and social stratification but
reportedly lacked "male supremacy". And, she maintained they lacked warfare.
An interesting note here is that Gimbutas believed that violence was
introduced to her European Civilizations by a patriarchal group that
were without cities. (It's assumed they were patriarchal, anyway).

..."She turned me into a Newt." "A Newt?" "I got better."...

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