Primitive Warfare

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Thu, 20 Oct 1994 13:07:46 -0700

components have emerged: Motivation (control of resources, vengence,
etc.); Necessary Elements (manipulation of morale, discipline, strategy,
tactics and a requisite level of technology); and Process (ratification
of the violence). What needs to be done, in order to establish literacy
as necessary to warfare, is establish a level and/or degree for these

If we agree that a "State" is required and that "States" are constituted
by writing then the demonstration will have been successful. But, are we
agreed that there was no such thing as a nonliterate city-state? Are there
no other mechanisms for establishing self-governing social groups? If this
is indeed the case, I'm left without a term to discuss pre-literate instances
of "ratified social violence. My use of the word comes from Webster's
New World Dictionary, "to approve or confirm; especially, to give formal
sanction to". Formal sanction can be supplied my a mere word from the
recognized leader and/or ritual. I don't think anyone has argued that there
was no such thing as pre-literate social violence only that there is no such
thing as "primitive warfare".

Warren Sproule argues that maps must exist before control of territory
as a rationale for warfare can occur. I think there are at least two points
that need discussion here. Maps may indeed be required before formal
definition of territories occurs, but the concept of the territory must
exist before a map is created. The concept may or not be a fantasy. Also,
maps are a pre-literate invention in that nonliterate peoples often
employ ethnocentric diagrams to define themselves within a cosmic schema.
See Yi-Fu Tuan's _Topophilia_ for an interesting discussion of factors
contributing to the development of these diagrams.

Commemoration of war dead ("ghosts") does not require writing. Commemoration
has been cited in this thread for supporting vengence as a motivation for war.
We should not forget the importance of oral traditions and just how effective
they were in maintaining cultural identities. As for the possibly necessary
components of warfare, none cited require writing but they do require a history.
In order to intentionally manipulate the morale of combatants a corpus of
techniques must exist. The same holds for intentionally enforcing discipline,
developing strategy and choosing tactics. As for technology, much development
occurred amongst pre/non-literate peoples. Where did this history come from?

I think that where this leaves us is with a need to establish a necessary
level of the discussed components for warfare to exist. Must a requisite
number of combatants be involved? Do we need to recognize deliberate use
of strategm and/or tactics? Does a particular level of technology need to
be employed (and is there an accepted scale of this technology)? If we
can establish the necessary criteria and demonstrate that writing is
required to meet this criteria, then we will have established that, indeed,
writing is necessary for warfare to occur. If these criteria are meet, then
how do we refer to the violence that occurred previous to this point?

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