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《從人類學看人類自相殘殺史》簡介
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巴爾斯基教授從考古人類學研究成果推論人類史上戰爭起源的時間點然後她從文化人類學觀點分析導致戰爭的各種因素(請見本欄第二篇文章)

巴爾斯基教授提出一些可以幫助我們了解文化」和「(人類)行為的概念與方向(請參見第二篇貼文的索引」部分)列舉她大作的重點如下

1)  討論(物質)文化」的演進;
2)  
討論(精神)文化」和「認同意識」的演進 
3) 
討論「經濟行為」與衝突/戰爭的關係
4) 
討論避免/消除「戰爭」的方法

在以上各段落中頗多值得細讀和思索的論述。

巴爾斯基教授將「戰爭」起源定位在大約12,000年前此文結論相容。此外她這篇分析強調「資源」在人們「衝突」行為扮演著關鍵性角色(尤其是以上第3)和4)兩部分)。這和我的看法非常接近。

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舉國總動員為勝利 -- Nathan A Jennings
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下文以拿破崙橫掃歐陸以及抹國南北戰爭為例說明:在全民國家形成(前者)與普遍深入的工業化(後者)之後,舊式「局部戰爭型態」發展為近代「全民戰爭型態」的過程。

索引

Austria
:在此指奧匈帝國(哈布斯堡王朝)非指奧地利
confluence:合流,共同影響下
Eastern Theater:東部戰區Theater非指劇院
emulated模仿,有樣學樣
levee en masse全民動員(中文《維基百科》闡釋有誤)
nation-states:民族國家,此文中多數場合指「全民(一體)國家」,以別於(大革命前) 法國的三階層制社會結構
national:民族的全民的(參考上一條目)
Old Regime大革命前法國王朝時代的政府/社會制度
total war全面戰爭總體戰爭全民戰爭此概念不同於克勞塞維茲的絕對戰爭


Mobilizing for Victory: The Rise of Nationalistic-Industrial Warfare, 1789-1865

LTC Nathan A Jennings, 03/20/24

Transitions in political and social paradigms have influenced how nation-states have fought wars since the dawn of modernity. Evolving from the smaller, dynastic armies like those of Louis the XIV and Frederick the Great, the explosion of broader and more passionate citizen involvement in the affairs of state in the 18th and 19th centuries transformed the fundamental character of Western conflict. Beginning with the stunning outbreak of French nationalism and culminating in the unprecedented carnage of the First and Second World Wars, the fusion of mass participation with industrial means to prosecute larger conflicts can be analyzed in two seminal periods that changed military affairs indefinitely: the Napoleonic wars in Europe from 1789 to 1815, and the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

In each of these events the unprecedented mobilization resulted in a dramatic realignment of how societies and their militaries collaborated to win wars of expanded scale, cost, and duration. As a result, competing nations have unleashed a long march of destructive wars across the 20th and 21st centuries where social and economic dynamics melded to enable the deployment of larger armies for longer durations with operating capacities across greater distances. If the Second World War represented the apex of this destructive phenomenon, conflicts that followed in places in Southeast Asia and the Middle East revealed continued relevance. More recently, the outbreak of attritional combat across the Caucasus and Ukrainian steppes have demonstrated that nationalistic warfare remains fundamental to how nations mobilize, arm, and project military power to achieve strategic aims. 

Nationalistic Mobilization

The French Revolution from 1789 to 1799 catalyzed among the first instances of wide-spread, nationalistic participation in nation-state warfare by a passionate and available mass of newly interested citizens. The resulting march of Napoleonic campaigns across the European continent, which culminated in the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, ushered in a new era of European competition as each state mobilized armies with size, depth, endurance, and mobility not seen on the continent since the Roman era. According to historian MacGregor Knox, the sudden onset of “the era of mass politics” utterly destroyed “all theoretical limits on the aims and methods of warfare” while forever abolishing “the limits on warfare embodied in the character of the Old Regime’s armies.”[1]

The full military potential of the French social-political revolution came to fruition under Napoleon’s generalship. Leading a national effort that produced a levee en masse of over 750,000 men under arms—in contrast with earlier dynastic armies that never enjoyed such strength—the emperor employed new operational concepts centered on attacking with independent, combined arms corps in dispersed columns while placing increased reliance on expeditionary foraging. These innovations were, in large part, made possible by the abolition of old social orders and recruitment of citizen-soldiers willing to endure increased hardship and privation.[2] As stated by the famed Prussian war theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, who was also a contemporary observer, “the colossal weight of the whole French people, unhinged by political fanaticism, came crashing down” upon the kingdoms of Europe.[3]

The sudden onslaught of France’s nationalistic militarism, despite an uneven record of victories and defeats, resulted in a succession of battlefield successes that reflected a shocking degree of decisiveness. Capitalizing on his newfound ability to project power and achieve battlefield decision, Napoleon defeated an ever-shifting array British, Austrian, Russian, Italian, and Prussian coalitions over the next decade as Europe resisted his domination. The establishment of universal conscription, backed by exhorted volunteer enlistment, combined to provide France with the largest military establishment west of Russia. With a nation at arms at his disposal, and in marked contrast with European competitors who often relied on archaic dynastic armies comprised of professional soldiers, mercenaries, and conscript subjects—all owing grudging allegiance to a monarch, the French emperor leveraged the full potential of the French Revolution defeat the most powerful monarchies in the world.[4]

Yet despite Napoleon’s remarkable ability to harness the newfound social-political power of the French people, his military superiority would not, and could not, last forever. After enduring a shattering defeat at the Battle of Jena in 1806, Prussia, out of sheer desperation, innovated its own version of mass participation: universal military service to the state with a professionalized general staff. As again described by Knox, these reforms “remolded the Prussian army-state for the age of mass politics” and “produced Europe’s most perfectly militarized society and most professional mass army.”[5] The revamped power then joined other belligerents such as Austria and Russia, who likewise emulated French innovations by adopting the corps systems, to form massive European coalitions that then defeated Napoleon in a series of battles in 1813 and 1814, and for the final time, in 1815. These changes set the precedent for a new century of ever-expanding societal participation in war by nationalistic citizenries

Military-Industrial Transformation

With social-political dynamics intensifying throughout the 19th century, the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 exploded as an extraordinarily destructive evolution in the phenomenon of mass participation in nation-state conflict. However, in a marked departure from most previous Western conflicts, this sudden and bloody clash combined nationalistic energies with the advancements of the Industrial Revolution that allowed both Union and Confederate governments to unleash, according to some perspectives, humanity’s first truly modern war. While the Crimean War in the previous decade that had featured new technologies, the massive mobilization of dozens of opposing field armies from New Mexico to Georgia combined the passionate politics of the French Revolution with the emerging technologies, corporate practices, and manufacturing capacity of industrial economic systems to create a bloody hellscape of attrition and indecision.[6]

This mutually-reinforcing effect catalyzed, according to military historian Mark Grimsley, an onslaught of “total war” in which “both sides pitted their full destructive energies against each other.”[7] With mobilization efforts by Union and Confederate societies totaling at approximately 2,100,000 and 880,000 soldiers respectively, each side both exhorted and compelled mass enlistment with fully integrated wartime economies that revolutionized pre-war industrial systems to allow an unprecedented scope of sustained mobilization. Seeking to mass forces across a continental expanse, competing generals employed newly fielded technologies such as railroads, steamships, the telegraph, industrial agriculture, and factory production to project and maintain dozens of expeditionary field armies, in addition to substantial defensive fortifications, around political centers like Washington, D.C and Richmond, for the duration of the war.[8]

The final, prolonged clash in the Eastern Theater illustrated emerging, and ominous, implications for the combining of mass participation and industrial capacity. When the 118,000-strong Army of the Potomac, under General Ulysses S. Grant’s direction, relentlessly pursued and pressured a defending Rebel army half that size under General Robert E. Lee in Virginia, the decisive theater of the war devolved into a contest of bloody attrition at places like the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, and Cold Harbor as the Union accepted horrendous casualties to achieve incremental advancements. The North’s largest field army, backed by seemingly limitless manpower reserves and an economic base that boasted an unprecedented scale of manufacturing and agricultural diversity, achieved a belated strategic victory by canalizing the defenders around their short-lived capital until the South’s warfighting capacity was finally eroded beyond recovery.[9]

The result of this campaign, in addition to thousands of other battles and campaigns that scarred the American landscape—exemplified by General William Sherman’s scorched-earth march through Georgia, was over 645,000 soldiers dead across both sides. Hinting at the unprecedented destruction that would pulverize and deform the landscape of Europe in the early and mid 20th century, the conflict multiplied the social-political innovations of the French Revolution by leveraging popular support against newfound industrial advancements to allow a new scope of force projection and expeditionary sustainment.[10] As explained by Grimsley, the resulting carnage occurred because Americans, both North and South, “swallowed conscription and massively increased taxation, whether direct or indirect, in-kind, or in the form of monetary inflation, because enough citizens on both sides believed enough in their respective causes to legitimize those measures.”[11]

Mobilizing for Victory

Given the seminal nature of these upheavals, it is evident that the French Revolution and the American Civil War, separated by an oceanic expanse and three-quarters of a century, pioneered a new and destructive era in the history of nation-state conflict. The rise of mass politics in Western warfare between 1793 and 1865—even as the world experienced the initial tremors of the calamities that would soon destroy the German, Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman empires and cause the deaths of millions of soldiers and civilians across multiple continents—deeply influenced how modern nation-states prepared for and waged war. If France’s social-political revolution taught the world the potency of galvanizing entire populations with the fire of ideological nationalism, the United States’ prodigious level of economic mobilization demonstrated, at horrific cost, the potential for sustaining and waging organized conflict across vast spaces with industrial technologies and financial innovation.

Unfortunately, the advent of mass participation in warfare did not abate or end with the American civil war—it would soon expand and intensify on a global scale. While Prussia’s lopsided victories over Austria in 1866 and France in 1870 built on earlier successes in refining systemic mobilization and precision lethality, the First and Second World Wars unleashed, for a world-wide audience, the full horror of combining nationalistic furies and industrial capacity. As argued by historians Williamson Murray and McGregor Knox, the confluence of military revolutions emerged “uncontrollable, unpredictable, and unforeseeable” even as they caused “systemic changes in politics and society.”[12] These tectonic events, stemming from innovations by France and America in earlier centuries that can now be seen on the battlefields of Ukraine, would ultimately lead to a diffusion of European imperial dominance and the Cold War rise of American and Russian hegemonies.

Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jennings is an Associate Professor at the US Army Command and General Staff College. He served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, previously taught history at the US Military Academy, and has a background in armored warfare and counterinsurgency. Jennings is a graduate of the School of Advanced Military Studies and holds a PhD in History from the University of Kent. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Army or the Department of Defense.

Endnotes

[1] MacGregor Knox, “Mass politics and nationalism as military revolution: The French Revolution and after,” in The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300–2050, eds. MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 64-65.
[2] Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Cambridge History of Warfare (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 196.
[3] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 518.
[4] Russell Weigley, “American Strategy from its Beginnings through the First World War,” Makers of Modern Strategy: from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), 433.
[5] Knox, “Mass politics and nationalism,” 72.
[6] Mark Grimsley, “Surviving military revolution: the U.S. Civil War,” Dynamics of Military Revolution, eds. MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 75.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., 77-78.
[9] Weigley, “American Strategy,” 433.
[10] Parker, Cambridge History of Warfare, 238.
[11] Grimsley, “Surviving military revolution,” 91.
[12] MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, “Thinking about revolutions in warfare” The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300–2050, eds. MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 6-7.

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從人類學看人類自相殘殺史 -- Deborah Barsky
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索引(並請參見本欄開欄文)

adaptive strategy
:「適應策略」,「適應」的「適」在此為「適者生存」的「適」;而非「適應新環境」的「適應」
coevally
同年代的同時期的
hierarchization
:階層化,指社會中逐漸形成「上、下/尊、卑之分」的過程
hybridization:雜交
idiosyncratic
:具特色的,具特殊個性的;指與其他的人、團體、社會、或文化等不同到足以區別的性質
imagined differences
:想像出來的差異(並非實質上的差異)
inbreeding近親交媾同系交配
inter-
:在 … (兩個不同事物)之間
interbreeding
雜交,兩個不同「」生物的交媾
intra-
:在 … (同一個事物)之內
intra-specific
內;specific來自species
morpho-technological
:跟石器技術與石器形狀和/類別有關的,參見石器
morphotypes類工具內不同形態的構造;」內不同形態的生物
structural anomaly器官或組織的體積、形態、部位或結構的異常或缺陷個別生物個體的結構和同類生物的一般性結構不同,如多指(趾)
survival strategy
:存活策略,參見存活技巧
symbiotic process
:共生過程,相輔相成過程
techno-behavioral revolutions
:新技術與新行為所造成的突破或進步;此處蘊含新技術所導致行為的改變
technoselection
:先進技術導致的存活優勢;反之,因技術層級不如競爭者而被淘汰
volumetric plan:整體規劃(此處應為作者借用此術語)


How Long Has Humanity Been At War With Itself? – Analysis

Is large-scale intra-specific warfare Homo sapiens‘ condition or can our species strive to achieve global peace?

Deborah Barsky, 02/08/24

The famous American astronomer 
Carl Sagan once said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.” But can we ever know the history of human origins well enough to understand why humans wage large-scale acts of appalling cruelty on other members of our own species? In January 2024, the Geneva Academy was monitoring no less than 110 armed conflicts globally. While not all of these reach mainstream media outlets, each is equally horrific in terms of the physical violence and mental cruelty we inflict on each other.

Chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, are known to partake in violent intra-specific skirmishes, typically to preserve privileged access to resources in response to breaches in territorial boundaries. But only humans engage so extensively in large-scale warfare.

Do massive acts of intra- or interpopulational violence conform with 
Darwinian precepts of natural selection, or is this something we do as a competitive response to the stresses of living in such large populations? Looking back in time can help us find answers to such questions. Evidence preserved in the archeological record can tell us about when and under what conditions the preludes to warlike behaviors emerged in the past. Scientific reasoning can then transform this information into viable hypotheses that we can use to understand ourselves in today’s world.

As archeologists continue to unearth new fossil evidence at an increasing rate, so too are they piecing together the human story as one of complex interactions played out by (a growing number of) 
different species of the genus Homo that lived during the tens of thousands of years preceding the emergence—and eventual global dominance—of our own species: Homo sapiens. In fact, scientists have recognized more than a dozen (now extinct) species of Homo that thrived over the millennia, sometimes sharing the same landscapes and occasionally even interbreeding with one another. Millions of years of hybridization is written into the genomes of modern human populations.

Although we know very little about what these paleo-encounters might have been like, progress in science and technology is helping archeologists to find ways to piece together the puzzle of interspecific human relationships that occurred so long ago and that contributed to making us who we are today. In spite of these advances, the fossil record remains very fragmentary, especially concerning the older phases of human evolution.

First consider Homo, or 
H. habilis, so-named because a significant increase in stone tool-making is recognized following its emergence some 2.8 million years ago in East Africa. The evidence for the beginnings of this transformational event that would set off the spiraling evolutionary history of human technological prowess is relatively sparse. But such ancient (Oldowan) toolkits do become more abundant from this time forward, at first in Africa, and then into the confines of Eurasia by around 1.8 million years ago. Throughout this period, different kinds of hominins adopted and innovated stone tool making, socializing it into normalized behavior by teaching it to their young and transforming it into a cutting-edge survival strategy. We clearly observe the positive repercussions of this major advancement in our evolutionary history from the expanding increases in both the number of archeological sites and their geographical spread. Unevenly through time, occurrences of Oldowan sites throughout the Old World begin to yield more numerous artifacts, attesting to the progressive demographic trends associated with tool-making hominins.

Tool-making was a highly effective adaptive strategy that allowed early Homo species (like 
H. georgicus and H. antecessor) to define their own niches within multiple environmental contexts, successfully competing for resources with large carnivorous animals. Early humans used stone tools to access the protein-rich meat, viscera, and bone marrow from large herbivore carcasses, nourishing their energy-expensive brains. The latter show significant increases in volume and organizational complexity throughout this time period.

But were these early humans also competing with one another? So far (and keeping in mind the scarcity of skeletal remains dating to this period) the paleoanthropological record has not revealed signs of intraspecific violence suffered by Oldowan peoples. Their core-and-flake technologies and simple pounding tools do not include items that could be defined as functional armaments. While a lack of evidence does not constitute proof, we might consider recent estimates in 
paleodemography, backed by innovative digitized modelization methods and an increasing pool of genetic data that indicates relatively low population densities during the Oldowan.

Isolated groups consisted of few individuals, organized perhaps into clan-like social entities, widely spread over vast, resource-rich territories. These hominins 
invested in developing technological and social skills, cooperating with one another to adapt to new challenges posed by the changing environmental conditions that characterized the onset of the Quaternary period some 2.5 million years ago. Complex socialization processes evolved to perfect and share the capacity for technological competence, abilities that had important repercussions on the configuration of the brain that would eventually set humanity apart from other kinds of primates. Technology became inexorably linked to cognitive and social advances, fueling a symbiotic process now firmly established between anatomical and technological evolution.

By around one million years ago, Oldowan-producing peoples had been replaced by the technologically more advanced 
Acheulian hominins, globally attributed to H. erectus sensu lato. This phase of human evolution lasted nearly one and a half million years (globally from 1.75 million to around 350,000 years ago) and is marked by highly significant techno-behavioral revolutions whose inception is traced back to Africa. Groundbreaking technologies like fire-making emerged during the Acheulian, as did elaborate stone production methods requiring complex volumetric planning and advanced technical skills. Tools became standardized into specifically designed models, signaling cultural diversity that varied geographically, creating the first land-linked morpho-technological traditions. Ever-greater social investment was required to learn and share the techniques needed to manipulate these technologies, as tools were converted into culture and technical aptitude into innovation.

In spite of marked increases in site frequencies and artifact densities throughout the Middle Pleistocene
incidences of interspecific violence are rarely documented and no large-scale violent events have been recognized so far. Were some Acheulian tools suitable for waging inter-populational conflicts? In the later phases of the Acheulian, pointed stone tools with signs of hafting and even wooden spears appear in some sites. But were these sophisticated tool kits limited to hunting? Or might they also have served for other purposes?

Culture evolves through a process I like to refer to as “technoselection” that in many ways can be likened to biological natural selection. In prehistory, technological systems are characterized by sets of morphotypes that reflect a specific stage of cognitive competence. Within these broad defining categories, however, we can recognize some anomalies or idiosyncratic techno-forms that can be defined as potential latent within a given system. As with natural selection, potential is recognized as structural anomalies that may be selected for under specific circumstances and then developed into new or even revolutionary technologies, converted through inventiveness. Should they prove advantageous to deal with the challenges at hand, these innovative technologies are adopted and developed further, expanding upon the existing foundational know-how and creating increasingly larger sets of material culture. Foundational material culture therefore exists in a state of exponential growth, as each phase is built upon the preceding one in a cumulative process perceived as acceleration.

I have already suggested elsewhere that the advanced degree of cultural complexity attained by the Late Acheulian, together with the capacity to produce fire, empowered hominins to adapt their nomadic lifestyles within more constrained territorial ranges. Thick depositional sequences containing evidence of successive living floors recorded in the caves of Eurasia show that hominins were returning cyclically to the same areas, most likely in pace with seasonal climate change and the migrational pathways of the animals they preyed upon. As a result, humans established strong links with the specific regions within which they roamed. More restrictive ranging caused idiosyncrasies to appear within the material and behavioral cultural repertoires of each group: specific ways of making and doing. As they lived and died in lands that were becoming their own, so too did they construct territorial identities that were in contrast with those of groups living in neighboring areas. As cultural productions multiplied, so did these imagined cultural “differences” sharpen, engendering the distinguishing notions of “us” and “them.”

Even more significant perhaps was the emergence and consolidation of symbolic thought processes visible, for example, in cultural manifestations whose careful manufacture took tool-making into a whole new realm of aesthetic concerns rarely observed in earlier toolkits. By around 400,000 years ago in Eurasia, 
Pre-Neandertals and then Neandertal peoples were conferring special treatment to their dead, sometimes even depositing them with other objects suggestive of nascent spiritual practices. These would eventually develop into highly diverse social practices, like ritual and taboo. Cultural diversity was the keystone for new systems of belief that reinforced imagined differences separating territorially distinct groups.

Anatomically modern humans (H. sapiens) appeared on the scene some 300,000 years ago in Africa and spread subsequently into lands already occupied by other culturally and spiritually advanced species of Homo. While maintaining a nomadic existence, these hominins were undergoing transformational demographic trends that resulted in more frequent interpopulation encounters. This factor, combined with the growing array of material and behavioral manifestations of culture (reflected by artifact multiplicity) provided a repository from which hominin groups stood in contrast with one another. At the same time, the mounting importance of symbolic behaviors in regulating hominin lifestyles contributed to reinforcing both real (anatomic) and imagined (cultural) variances. Intergroup encounters favored cultural exchange, inspiring innovation and driving spiraling techno-social complexity. In addition, they provided opportunities for sexual exchanges necessary for broadening gene pool diversity and avoiding inbreeding. At the same time, a higher number of individuals within each group would have prompted social hierarchization as a strategy to ensure the survival of each unit.

While much has been written about what Middle Paleolithic inter-specific paleo-encounters might have been like, in particular between the Neandertals and H. sapiens, solid evidence is lacking to support 
genocidal hypotheses or popularized images of the former annihilating the latter by way of violent processes. Today, such theories, fed by suppositions typical of the last century of the relative techno-social superiority of our own species, are falling by the wayside. Indeed, advances in archeology now show not only that we were interbreeding with the Neandertals, but also that Neandertal lifeways and cerebral processes were of comparable sophistication to those practiced by the modern humans they encountered. Presently, apart from sparse documentation for individual violent encounters, there is no evidence that large-scale violence caused the extinction of the Neandertals or of other species of Homo thriving coevally with modern humans. That said, it has been observed that the expansion of H. sapiensinto previously unoccupied lands, like Australia and the Americas, for example, coincides ominously with the extinction of mega-faunal species. Interestingly, this phenomenon is not observed in regions with a long record of coexistence between humans and mega mammals, like Africa or India. It has been hypothesized that the reason for this is that animals that were unfamiliar with modern humans lacked the instinct to flee and hide from them, making them easy targets for mass hunting.

If large-scale human violence is difficult to identify in the Paleolithic record, it is common in later, proto-historic iconography. Evidence for warlike behavior (accumulations of corpses bearing signs of humanly-induced trauma) 
appear towards the end of the Pleistocene and after the onset of the Neolithic Period (nearly 12,000 years ago) in different parts of the world, perhaps in relation to new pressures due to climate change. Arguably, sedentary lifestyles and plant and animal domestication—hallmarks of the Neolithic—reset social and cultural norms of hunter-gatherer societies. Additionally, it may be that the amassing and storing of goods caused new inter-relational paradigms to take form, with individuals fulfilling different roles in relation to their capacities to benefit the group to which they belonged. The capacity to elaborate an abstract, symbolic worldview transformed land and resources into property and goods that “belonged” to one or another social unit, in relation to claims on the lands upon which they lived and from which they reaped the benefits. The written documents of the first literate civilizations, relating mainly to the quantification of goods, are revelatory of the effects of this transformational period of intensified production, hoarding and exchange. Differences inherent to the kinds of resources available in environmentally diverse parts of the world solidified unequal access to the kinds of goods invested with “value” by developing civilizations and dictated the nature of the technologies that would be expanded for their exploitation. Trading networks were established and interconnectedness favored improvements in technologies and nascent communication networks, stimulating competition to obtain more, better, faster.

From this vast overview, we can now more clearly see how the emergence of the notion of “others” that arose in the later phases of the Lower Paleolithic was key for kindling the kinds of behavioral tendencies required for preserving the production-consumption mentality borne after the Neolithic and still in effect in today’s overpopulated capitalist world.

Evolution is not a linear process and culture is a multifaceted phenomenon, but it is the degree to which we have advanced technology that sets us apart from all other living beings on the planet. War is not pre-programmed in our species, nor is it a fatality in our modern, globalized existence. Archeology teaches us that it is a behavior grounded in our own manufactured perception of “difference” between peoples living in distinct areas of the world with unequal access to resources. A social unit will adopt warlike behavior as a response to resource scarcity or other kinds of external challenges (for example, territorial encroachment by an ‘alien’ social unit). Finding solutions to eradicating large-scale warfare thus begins with using our technologies to create equality among all peoples, rather than developing harmful weapons of destruction.

From the emergence of early Homo, natural selection and technoselection have developed in synchronicity through time, transforming discrete structural anomalies into evolutionary strategies in unpredictable and interdependent ways. The big difference between these two processes at play in human evolution is that the former is guided by laws of universal equilibrium established over millions of years, while the latter exists in a state of exponential change that is outside of the stabilizing laws of nature.

Human technologies are transitive in the sense that they can be adapted to serve for different purposes in distinct timeframes or by diverse social entities. Many objects can be transformed into weapons. In the modern world plagued by terrorism, for example, simple home-made explosives, airplanes, drones, or vans can be transformed into formidable weapons, while incredibly advanced technologies can be used to increase our capacity to inflict desensitized and dehumanized destruction on levels never before attained.

Meanwhile, our advanced communication venues serve to share selected global events of warfare numbing the public into passive acceptance. While it is difficult to determine the exact point in time when humans selected large-scale warfare as a viable behavioral trait, co-opting their astounding technological prowess as a strategy to compete with each other in response to unprecedented demographic growth, there may yet be time for us to modify this trajectory toward resiliency, cooperation, and exchange.


About the author: Deborah Barsky is a writing fellow for the 
Human Bridgesproject of the Independent Media Institute, a researcher at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution, and an associate professor at the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain, with the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). She is the author of Human Prehistory: Exploring the Past to Understand the Future (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Source: This article was produced by 
Human Bridges.

Deborah Barsky is a researcher at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution and associate professor at the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain, with the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). She is the author of Human Prehistory: Exploring the Past to Understand the Future (Cambridge University Press, 2022).


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