[extropy-chat] Defenestration

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 12:22:29 UTC 2007

On 3/16/07, Keith Henson wrote:
> At 06:42 PM 3/15/2007 +0000, Billk wrote:
> >Alexander didn't march across Europe because his local population
> >wanted more food.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great
> He didn't march that direction at all, though he might have had he lived
> long enough.
> Up to the days of railroad transportation, food was mostly a local
> problem.  You could only improve the food supply per person by having fewer
> "persons."   Thus wars that "threw away" a chunk of the population improved
> the food supply per person for those left.

Yes.  Replace Europe with 'the known world'.   :)
"Before his death, Alexander had already made plans to also turn west
and conquer Europe. He also wanted to continue his march eastwards in
order to find the end of the world, since his boyhood tutor Aristotle
told him tales about where the land ends and the Great Outer Sea

I don't see how you can claim reasonably that Alexander's wars of
conquest were due to population pressure. Where an absolute ruler with
a strong army and police force exists, the opinion of the mass of the
population doesn't much matter. Certainly it is easier if the great
leader can manipulate public opinion to worship him and follow his
orders without argument. But if necessary harsher measures can enforce
his control. Opposition leaders can be killed. Large populations can
be exterminated (Stalin). If the great leader says join the army and
conquer the world, that's what they will do. It's not EP pressure
making them do it.

Hunter-gather tribes and democratic groups or countries may vote
whether or not to go to war, and population pressure will be one of
the factors that will affect their decision. The large oil reserves in
the next country (or the gold mines) will also be a factor to be
considered (as well as many other factors).

But for most of human history, the absolute ruler decided and the
population did as they were told.

I think the problem is that you are looking for an absolute that
doesn't exist in human affairs.

*All* wars don't start because of population pressure. Some do.
Wars are not even always called wars.
Dictators are not always called dictators.

There are multiple reasons for everything, including wars. Population
pressure is always a factor. In some circumstances it will be the
overwhelming factor that outweighs everything else, but not always.


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