[extropy-chat] Gandhi and EP was Bushido
hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Apr 25 22:44:38 UTC 2007
At 01:14 PM 4/25/2007 -0400, Robert wrote:
>On 4/25/07, Keith Henson <<mailto:hkhenson at rogers.com>hkhenson at rogers.com>
>>The trick to keeping humans out large scale violence is to keep their
>>"bleak future" detectors off. The modern equivalent of game and berries is
>>income per capita. Steady or rising income per capita keeps a population
>>out of "war mode" unless they are attacked.
>Keith, you keep harping on this topic of population growth as driving war.
You miss the point of the model. Population could be growing fast and
there would be no drift into war provided income was growing as fast or
faster. (Or something else was keeping the "bleak future" detectors
off.) Population could even be shrinking, but if the economy was shrinking
faster that would bias a population toward war.
>I feel it is an incomplete theory. Perhaps a much better approach to
>"going to war" is simply to "migrate". Find a place where the resources
>are more abundant than they are in the current location and simply move
"The benefits of fighting must also be matched against possible
alternatives (other than starvation). One of them was to break contact and
move elsewhere. This, of course, often happened, especially if one's enemy
was much stronger, but this strategy had clear limitations.
"As we have already noted, by and large, there were no "empty spaces" for
people to move to. In the first place, space is not even, and the best,
most productive habitats were normally already taken.
"One could be forced out to less hospitable environments, which may also
had been earlier populated by other less fortunate people. Indeed, finding
empty niches required exploration, which again might involve violent
encounters with other human groups.
"Furthermore, a move meant leaving the group's own habitat, with whose
resources and dangers the group's members were intimately familiar, and
travelling into uncharted environments. Such a change could involve heavy
"Moreover, giving in to pressure from outside might establish a pattern of
victimization. Encouraged by their success, the alien group might repeat
and even increase its pressure.
"A strategy of conflict, therefore, concerns not only the object presently
in dispute but also the whole pattern of future relations. Standing for
one's own might in fact mean lessening the occurrence of conflict in the
future. No less so, and perhaps more, than actual fighting, conflict is
about deterrence." http://cniss.wustl.edu/workshoppapers/gatpres1.pdf
(This is one of the most influential papers I have read in my life.)
>Lord knows that we mastered taking down a mammoth long before we mastered
>taking down a walled city. And one could argue that if one is clever
>about it fewer people lost their lives in the process.
>And though I realize this will raise the censor awareness level -- *why*
>precisely did we go to war in (a) Korea; (b) Vietnam; (c) Iraq? You have
>to stretch very very far to argue that we were up against population
>constraints and or decreasing income per capita.
The modern world is *so* far from the hunter-gatherer bands in which war
originated that you have to be very careful. But first you need to see who
started the war (attacked). Was it the people with rising incomes and a
bright future? Do you have figures on the per capita change in North Korea
in the years leading up to the war? (Since they were the ones who started
that war.) In both Korea and Vietnam the US going to war was because an
attack on allies was taken as an attack on the US.
Iraq. The first one was like Korea, they attacked and overran a county we
had an interest in protecting, i.e., for oil. Why did Iraq start the
war? For that matter why did they start the one with Iran? As a guess
both had the stone age goal of burning off excess population, the one
against Kuwait was clearly about taking resources.
The US attack on Iraq was supported by the US population because they had
been outright misled into thinking that the 9/11 attack was supported by
Iraq and had been loaded with fear about Iraq's "weapons of mass
destruction." Stupid I know, but part of the model is that people in war
mode lose a lot of their ability to think rationally.
>I would also cite an interesting example involving the Mongols attacking
>Iran where it had little to do with population pressure and a lot to do
>with the Iranian's slaughtering Mongol ambassadors.
Actually, that's not the case if you consider what drove the Mongol
expansion in the first place. Smaller Mongol groups had been happily
killing each other off far back in history and honing the skills of horse
warfare against each other. Just before they broke out of that part of the
world, the smaller polities were combined. This suppressed the previous
warfare between the groups and the population took off. In a static
economy whatever number of children the average woman has in excess of
those who die off from other reasons has to be burned off in wars.
And if you suppress wars between little groups, the only alternative is
wars with outside bigger groups.
You might note that Mongolia is still a sparsely populated country. "At
1,564,116 square kilometres, Mongolia is the nineteenth largest country in
the world, but also the least densely populated. The country contains very
little arable land as much of its area is covered by arid and unproductive
steppes with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the
south. Approximately thirty percent of the country's 2.8 million people are
nomadic or semi-nomadic."
>Or consider for example the "Trojan wars" -- they were fought over a girl
>as stories go. Or the wars of Roman conquest?
If the human population doubles every generation (which is about the case
if the women are reasonably well fed) then unless you get a plague a number
equal to half population has to die in wars every generation. For static
food production that is. There were times, ancient Greece, Easter Island
where farming practices wrecked the agricultural productivity of the
land. Other times, Mayans, American Southwest where climate change got
them, either directly or through causing wars.
>IMO, there is a lot of ego and lust for power involved in the theory of war.
Without a doubt. There is ego and lust for power (or status) in just about
anything people do--even posting to mailing lists. :-) But wars are a way
to get you and your genes wiped out. Genes for going to war when it was
wasn't the best survival option for you (and more important, your genes)
would be simply weeded out over time.
>You need to document on a case by case basis the wars since the beginning
>of recorded history and how population pressure or declining economic
>fortunes drove them before I'll grant the argument.
>(I'd suggest this be a non-list based effort, so people can easily review
>and consider it.)
That's a lifetime effort. Besides recorded history is not anything like
the EEA where these psychological traits were shaped. For one thing, high
techs can exterminate low techs with relatively little danger. They might
do it just for profit. How about finding a counter example? Can you think
of any group that started a war with a group on the same technological
level where the side that started the war was *not* looking at a bleak
future? If you want to use the US civil war as an example, the South was
(correctly) looking at a bleak economic future without slaves, and they
started the war.
"Fighting commenced on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a
United States (federal) military installation at Fort Sumter in South
Carolina, located in the Confederate States of America."
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