Curt Doolittle shared a post.

(FB 1551887794 Timestamp)


(CurtD: Rousseau was not only wrong but suicidal, Locke was wrong but proposed a solution, and Hobbes was right but had the wrong solution.)

by Steven Pinker (Via @[100024818064292:2048:Rosenborg Predmetsky])

“From Rousseau to the Thanksgiving editorialist of Chapter 1, many intellectuals have embraced the image of peaceable, egalitarian, and ecology-loving natives. But in the past two decades anthropologists have gathered data on life and death in pre-state societies rather than accepting the warm and fuzzy stereotypes. What did they find? In a nutshell: Hobbes was right, Rousseau was wrong.
To begin with, the stories of tribes out there somewhere who have never heard of violence turn out to be urban legends. Margaret Mead’s descriptions of peace-loving New Guineans and sexually nonchalant Samoans were based on perfunctory research and turned out to be almost perversely wrong.

As the anthropologist Derek Freeman later documented, Samoans may beat or kill their daughters if they are not virgins on their wedding night, a young man who cannot woo a virgin may rape one to extort her into eloping, and the family of a cuckolded husband may attack and kill the adulterer.68 The !Kung San of the Kalahari Desert had been described by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas as â??the harmless peopleâ? in a book with that title. But as soon as anthropologists camped out long enough to accumulate data, they discovered that the !Kung San have a murder rate higher than that of American inner cities. They learned as well that a group of the San had recently avenged a murder by sneaking into the killer’s group and executing every man, woman, and child as they slept.

But at least the !Kung San exist. In the early 1970s the New York Times Magazine reported the discovery of the â??gentle Tasadayâ? of the Philippine rainforest, a people with no words for conflict, violence, or weapons. The Tasaday turned out to be local farmers dressed in leaves for a photo opportunity so that cronies of Ferdinand Marcos could set aside their â??homelandâ? as a preserve and enjoy exclusive mineral and logging rights

The first eight bars, which range from almost 10 percent to almost 60 percent, come from indigenous peoples in South America and New Guinea. The nearly invisible bar at the bottom represents the United States and Europe in the twentieth century and includes the statistics from two world wars. Moreover, Keeley and others have noted that
native peoples are dead serious when they carry out warfare. Many of them make weapons as damaging as their technology permits, exterminate their enemies when they can get away with it, and enhance the experience by torturing captives, cutting off trophies, and feasting on enemy flesh.

Counting societies instead of bodies leads to equally grim figures. In 1978 the anthropologist Carol Ember calculated that 90 percent of hunter-gatherer societies are known to engage in warfare, and 64 percent wage war at least once every two years.

Even the 90 percent figure may be an underestimate, because anthropologists often cannot study a tribe long enough to measure outbreaks that occur every decade or so (imagine an anthropologist studying the peaceful Europeans between 1918 and 1938). In 1972 another anthropologist, W. T. Divale, investigated 99 groups
of hunter-gatherers from 37 cultures, and found that 68 were at war at the time, 20 had been at war five to twenty-five years before, and all the others reported warfare in the more distant past.

Based on these and other ethnographic surveys, Donald Brown includes conflict, rape, revenge, jealousy, dominance, and male coalitional violence as human universals.

It is, of course, understandable that people are squeamish about acknowledging the violence of pre-state societies.
For centuries the stereotype of the {58} savage savage was used as a pretext to wipe out indigenous peoples and steal their lands. But surely it is unnecessary to paint a false picture of a people as peaceable and ecologically conscientious in order to condemn the great crimes against them, as if genocide were wrong only when the victims are nice guys.

The prevalence of violence in the kinds of environments in which we evolved does not mean that our species has a death wish, an innate thirst for blood, or a territorial imperative. There are good evolutionary reasons for the members of an intelligent species to try to live in peace. Many computer simulations and mathematical models have shown that cooperation pays off in evolutionary terms as long as the cooperators have brains with the right combination of cognitive and emotional faculties.76 Thus while conflict is a human universal, so is conflict resolution. “

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