[extropy-chat] War Is Easy To Explain - Peace is Not

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Mar 13 20:18:17 UTC 2007

At 02:28 PM 3/13/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>On Tue, 13 Mar 2007 12:27:59 -0400, Thomas <Thomas at thomasoliver.net> wrote:
> > So, are you implying that peace and population are positive correlates?

There is no reason to expect this to have been the case in the stone 
age.  With constant technology to extract resources from the enviroment and 
war one of the ways to drain off population, a rise in population is going 
to result in more wars.

>I don't know if that is Lee's implication, but certainly it is mine.
>However as you probably know correlation does not imply causation.

I make the case that the *key* element in preventing wars in the last 50 
years is rising income per capita--largely due in westernized countries to 
birthrates not much different from replacement.

>The question I think Lee really wants to us to consider relates closely to
>the interesting question of whether humanity's propensity to wage war has
>changed over the course of recorded history. I don't know if humans have
>become more or less war-like, but it seems to me that a steady decrease in
>global war-per-capita is not convincing evidence one way or the other.

>The rate of growth of the human population is a major factor in
>considerations about changes of global war-per-capita, but it's one that
>seems to me to have relatively little bearing on the question of
>humanity's propensity to wage war. Humans are prone to have sex and make
>babies, no matter their opinions of war.
>Also the almost certainly slower rate of growth in the number of
>war-capable nation-states on earth (vs the rate of growth of population)
>is I think largely a function of physical constraints.

War is one kind of human on human predation.  Was what happened in Cambodia 
a war?  How about Rwanda?  Your point is well taken re states that can wage 
high tech war.  A low tech state just can't attack a high tech state in a 
way that would be called war.

And the high tech states, even China, have massively slowed their 
population growth which should reduce their tendency to start wars.

>Given that population growth rates and nation-state growth rates are two
>enormously important factors in calculating rates of change in global
>war-per-capita, it seems to me that the supposed steady decrease global
>war-per-capita is not attributable, necessarily, to peaceful changes in
>human nature.

It is *most* unlikely that human nature, which is to say gene frequencies, 
would change much in such a tiny period of time as 50 years.

Keith Henson

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