There is No Instinct for War
IV. History of Warfare Page 5

Title Page

I. Introduction
Page 1

II. Motivational Systems
Page 2

III. An Example of Warfare
Pages 3 - 4

IV. History of Warfare
Pages 5

V. Warfare and Marriage
Page 6

VI. Conclusion
Page 7

Page 8

We turn now to the dynamic historical analysis of warfare which uses the methods of cross-cultural anthropology. This is similar to the way that the methods of comparative anatomy are used by biologists to reconstruct the history of evolution. We know from anthropology that there has been a historical sequence of human economic systems beginning with hunter-gatherers, then horticultural and agricultural systems, and finally industrial systems. Therefore, we can reconstruct the history of war by seeing how it differs in various cultures with different economic systems that still exist today. Also, we know that there has been an historical trend from early stateless societies to more recent societies with state structure, so we can compare war in these two types of cultures. Finally, we know that there is a close relationship between the type of warfare and the type of marriage residency system in each culture. From this relationship it is possible to understand why it is men and not women that have come to carry out most warfare.

Warfare is practiced by cultures with all types of economic systems, which indicates that warfare began in the dawn of human evolution. Although there is some evidence that hunter-gatherers are less warlike than horticultural and agricultural peoples, there is no doubt that there is at least some warfare among most hunter-gatherer cultures (Ember, 1978). Even cultures that are famous for having no warfare at the present time did have some warfare in previous eras (for the Kung Bushmen, see Lee, 1979, pages 382-383, and for the Mbuti pygmies, see Turnbull, 1961, page 275). Even the most primitive peoples ever studied, the Tasmanian aborigines, had extensive primitive warfare (Jones, 1974).

The fact that warfare has occurred in most cultures and throughout the course of human history is not evidence that it is instinctive. We know of many cultural traditions that are practically universal yet are not "instinctive," e.g. language, clothing, pottery-making, etc. On the other hand, the opposite argument cannot be made either. The absence of warfare from a few cultures cannot be used to argue that warfare is not instinctive because, as we have noted, warfare has occurred in most cultures and throughout history.

Warfare is common in both state and stateless societies. In reconstructing the origins of warfare, it is best to use data from stateless societies where war is not complicated by the existence of state structure with a warrior class and other classes.

(End of chapter)

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