warfare and Amerind soldier societies

Cyril Robinson (GA2872@SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU)
Thu, 10 Nov 1994 19:35:16 CST

You seem to be off warfare but for those who are still interested in
this subject, consider the following. Ricard Scaglion, an anthropologist
at the University of Pittsburgh and myself, published earlier this year
a book, ``Police in Contradiction, the Evolution of the Police Function
in Society" (Greenwood Press). While we did not directly deal with
warfare, it should be evident that the development of the police
function in a society substantially affects how that society uses force
to attain its ends--specifically the division of its resources among its
population. After examining numerous pre-and post-state societies, where
there was a police function, we concluded that in pre-state (and
therefore pre-class) societies, where there was a police function, that
institution was used to see that its resources were equally divided. A
good example is found in the Plains Native American tribe where, during
buffalo hunts, there might be an occasional brave who would not wait for
his brother braves to hunt in a grtoup but would go after the herd
himself. (Such actions actually represented contradictions within the
tribal culture between pressures on the individual young brave to show
his daring and those for cooperative conformity.) The result of such
individual audacity for the tribe could be disastrous--causing a
stampede of the herd through the village or loss of the meat needed by
the tribe for the winter.
Such an act would often be punished by members of the tribe organized as
soldier societies--usually a temporary police function only during the
hunt. Once the state evolved, the function of the police function was to
provide the force to maintain an elite in power to that it might
maintain an unequal division of and access to the resources. We suggest
in the book the incremental changes leading from one kind of police
function to the other--from a kin-based society to one that is
class-based. We would appreciate any comments from anyone who might look
at our study.
For those interested in the Bell Curve debate, there is an excellent
review of the book and related works in The New York Review, November
17, at p.7.
Cyril D. Robinson (GA2872 at SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU).
Crime Study Center
Southern Illinois University