Even before our primate ancestors began to walk upright, there were wars —times when whole human communities or groups within a community tried to kill each other. Scholars have reached this conclusion partly on the basis of Jane Goodall’s discovery that our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, engages in war and partly on the basis of archaeological evidence. One site of skeletons was found in Kenya dating back 9,500 to 10,500 years showing that a group of 27 people had been massacred together. Indeed, there is strong evidence that levels of violence were higher in prehistoric times than today. One example is a cemetery about 14,000 years old where about 45 percent of the skeletons showed signs of violent death. An estimated 15 percent of deaths in primitive societies were caused by warfare.
But life did not consistently become friendlier as our species spread and developed. By one estimate, there were 14,500 wars between 3500 BC and the late twentieth century. These took around 3.5 billion lives.Can we conclude, then, that war is simply an intrinsic part of “human nature,” so that one cannot reasonably hope to overcome it?
No, for there is more variation in the frequency and extent of warfare than can be attributed to genetic differences. In some societies, war is completely absent. Douglas Fry, checking the ethnographic records, identified 74 societies that have clearly been non-warring; some even lacked a word for “war.” The Semai of Malaysia and the Mardu of Australia are examples. Continue reading…
2 Platform for Survival items
1. All states owning or hosting nuclear weapons shall immediately de-alert them and commit to no-first-use.
2. All states, including those in NATO, shall sign, ratify, and within 10 years comply with the TPNW.1Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
3. All states shall reduce their militaries and not plan war for “national security.”
4. All states shall develop a UN Emergency Peace Service to protect civilians and respond to crises.
5. All states shall ratify and fully implement the Arms Trade Treaty.
6. UN Convention on CCW and all states shall prohibit developing or deploying lethal autonomous weapons.2The “Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons” is the body that can negotiate rules banning “killer robots.”
Each of the proposals above has its own page on the Project Save the World wiki. Our intention is that people will volunteer to use the wiki for an essay on how the proposal can be put into action, what changes may need to be introduced, and so on.
If you are interested in being a contributor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Papers and articles
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