[extropy-chat] Back to Causes of War

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Apr 27 16:40:54 UTC 2007

At 11:40 PM 4/26/2007 -0700, Lee wrote:


>How is the point made that modern European nations any time in the 20th
>century faced economic deprivation?

It's not absolute deprivation but *relative* that trips the 
detectors.  This is characteristic of animals in general.  In _Influence: 
the new psychology of modern persuasion_ Dr. Cialdini discusses this in the 
classic example were a bucket of warm water feels cold to one hand and hot 
to the other when left and right hands have been presoaked in cold and hot 

Even more significant (or so I think) is *anticipation* of bleak 
conditions.  My case for this is the logic of gene selection.  It would pay 
genes for the warriors to kill neighbors *before* they were gaunt and weak 
from hunger.

>In what ways did resource scarcity
>contribute to WWI, WWII, the Korean War, or Vietnam?  Things were
>booming in Germany before both WWI and WWII, and no one else was
>much pinched either.

"At the time of Hitler's release [from jail], the political situation in 
Germany had calmed and the economy had improved, which hampered Hitler's 
opportunities for agitation."


"The political turning point for Hitler came when the Great Depression hit 
Germany in 1930."


"Brüning's measure of budget consolidation and financial austerity brought 
little economic improvement and was extremely unpopular. Under these 
circumstances, Hitler appealed to the bulk of German farmers, war veterans 
and the middle-class who had been hard-hit by both the inflation of the 
1920s and the unemployment of the Depression."

 From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler

>(Yes, I suppose that a case can be made about the
>*Japanese* government motives for WWII aggression, but what about
>Europe, where most of the big wars occurred?
> >> Of course, your quote below applies far more readily to the EEA than
> >> to now.
> >
> > I don't think so.
>Eh?  Why not?  The circumstances described in most of your post (e.g.
>Australia) as well as the points below are *not* characteristic of modern
>societies. Rather, they resemble the scarcity of the EEA, (and of some
>subsequent medieval history).
> >> > 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
> >> > there.
> >> >
> >> > "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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