War: Inevitable or Not? Essay

2696 WordsApr 22, 201311 Pages
Is War Inevitable? This is a complicated question and merits a reasonably complicated answer, but hang on, I shall try to make it as simple as I can, and if I'm lucky I may even be able to make it fairly clear. As far as we know, war has always been part of our human history, and it probably occurred from time to time, in one form or another, even throughout our prehistory, that is, for as far back as humans existed. And even farther, since we now know that chimpanzees also wage a war of sorts, between bands, and they are our closest relatives. (We have good reason to believe that five million years ago our own ancestors looked a lot like modern chimps, and presumably behaved like them. If neither this nor the proposition that chimps go on the warpath seems plausible to you, check out the book, Demonic Males, by Wrangham and Peterson.) I shall structure my argument around a threeway division of human history and prehistory: (1) from the dawn of humanity up to the Neolithic; (2) from the development of agriculture and the beginning of complex societies (ie the dawn of the Neolithic) until the 20th century; and (3) from roughly the present time on into the future. The first period was when human nature was forged. Our ancestors had always been social, banding together in small groups, like our chimp cousins. As we developed speech and a capacity to make tools, these small bands gradually grew larger, more complex, and more efficient. They were competing with each other, and from time to time such competition would become violent. Bigger tribes usually prevailed over smaller ones, and the ones with greater internal cohesion had the edge over less disciplined groups. So there was a gradual evolution in a social or cultural sense toward larger groups with greater internal cohesion. But this evolution proceeded very slowly during the Paleolithic. There was very

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