[ExI] States

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Dec 15 01:12:47 UTC 2018

"In short: the psychological traits that lead to wars evolved in
the long course of human evolution. War was a prime factor in
keeping human populations in demographic balance with the
ability of the ecosystem to feed them. Typically, populations
built up, competed, and were periodically reduced by wars."

The last stages to the current political situation are tribes,
chieftains, city-states, and our current states.  The functions of a
State are to reduce the violence internally and to defend its borders
or to attack beyond them.  Competition for scarce resources didn't
stop when states emerged.

But this makes me wonder. The leaders of tribes to nations may have a
wired in need--perhaps even responsibility--to keep their populations
ready to fight.  We have not had states long enough for evolution to
have had a lot of effect on human psychological traits, so if it
exists at all, it must have come from previous social organizations,
tribes and such.

*IF* war is largely a bottom-up process that starts with a recognition
of a bleak future, then the wide discussion of a resource crisis and
of future bad weather may be setting the world up for a coming war.  A
bad economic downturn would make a bad situation worse.

I think there is a remarkably simple way to model wars, clear back to
the stone age.  For a constant environment, the human population can't
exceed the capacity of the environment to feed it.  William Calvin in
_The Ascent of Mind:_ goes into the problem using bears as an example
of an animal (like humans) with few predators.  Unlike bears, humans
have figured out how to increase the productivity of the environment.
Like bears, they expand to the limit anyway.

There is lots of material, for example, "Climate Change and War
Frequency in Eastern China over the Last Millennium"


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