[extropy-chat] Back to Causes of War (was Gandhi and EP was Bushido)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Apr 26 09:06:36 UTC 2007

Keith writes

> [Robert wrote]
>>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 totally agree that population increase provides the fodder for many
wars without which they wouldn't have occurred, or the severity would
have been greatly diminished.  The late Roman Republic "social wars"
are a good example, and even the Empire's civil wars were often fueled
by too many desperate poor people with no prospects.

But it is *not* a catch-all, the way your posts seem to keep claiming.

You submit the challenge yet again:

> 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? 

There are many.  I have provided many in the past, and it seems to me that
Robert has provided examples. True, when these examples are presented
you tend to retreat to the position that conditions have changed since the
EEA.  But that wrecks your thesis if you intend to have it apply to the 
current situations.

The Third Reich was not facing bleak prospects when it attacked the Soviet
Union. Neither Mexico nor the United States were facing problems in 1846.
The American illegal immigrants were moving into some of Mexico's outlying
provinces, and they were too proud to stand for it. Yes, the American 
expansion into these areas was facilitated by a booming population, but
the overall population density was still pretty low, and the U.S. at the time
had one of the world's very highest standards of living. Population pressure
is a factor, but only in some (many) cases.

Or---considering the dialog directly below---perhaps you do intend to
restrict your thesis to pre-industrial times.


>>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 
> penalties.

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