Hunter gatherer violence

June 2024 Forums General discussion Hunter gatherer violence

  • This topic has 307 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 3 years ago by ZJW.
Viewing 15 posts - 121 through 135 (of 308 total)
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  • #109662
    Hud955
    Participant

    Hi YMS.We go in ignorance into the future, whether that future is a capitalist or socialist one, and though scientific knowledge can provide us with pointers to assess the possibilities or likelihoods we face, nothing can be known  for sure, certainly nothing in detail.   Having identified what does not meet our interests within capitalism, the first thing we have to do is get rid of it. Once we have done that, then we can concern ourselves with building a new society and consider what forms we want it to take.  In the meantime, though, we have to get there.  And that means – at least in part – winning the battle of ideology.  So while I agree with your general approach to this issue at a theoretical level, it provides no answer to our ideological opponents who claim that warfare and social conflict are innate in human beings and that capitalism is therefore a perfect expression of our human nature.  If that is so, then why go to the trouble and effort to get rid of it? The answer you seem to be giving is to obtain economic freedom.  But if, as these writers argue, socialism and the end of economic necessity will not free us from some of the worst kind of destructive social behaviour, then why bother.  It weakens our case, and we need an answer to it.  Hunter gatherer studies provide us with one approach to countering these arguments, and I think we should pursue them.  Unfortunately, I don't have £60 to spend on a hardback so I'm unlikely to read the book you refer to. If the authors' main conclusion is that mobile (band or 'immediate'return') hunter gatherers are least violent, that sedentary, delayed return groups (horticulturalists, pastoralists, drovers) are more violent, and that complex hunter gatherers (who control unusually abundant resources) are most violent, then they don't seem to be saying anything that isn't already very well known.  From what I can discover, though, from reviews, postive and negative, the two authors have concentrated their research on groups that are well known as outliers in their social behaviour.  (Their data selection process seems to mirror that of Pinker – it's a well worn trail.)  Not having read the book, though, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about this.  I'll also do some asking around among the hunter-gatherer ethnographers I come into contact with.  On a very general point, American antrhopology in both its theory and practice is very closely attuned to the home nation's imperial project – just as British anthropology used to be, so there is always a prima facie cause for scepticism.

    #109665
    pgb
    Participant

    Robbo says:  I thought we socialists argued that war in the modern world is all  about the commercial rivalries in capitalism and, as self respecting hardline materialists,  we look askance at suggestions that  wars are fought over such ethereal things as religious or political beliefs.  These later are supposed to serve merely as a kind of ideological smokescreen  to hide the real economic motives for war.I think you will have a hard task explaining the present war between ISIS and its opponents in Syria and Iraq as arising from "commercial rivalries in capitalism" and to regard ISIS and other militant Islamists' religious beliefs as merely "ethereal".  ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram etc. have disagreements amongst themselves and as often fight against each other as they do against "the West" or against "US imperialism", but what drives them all is not material interest but religious faith. Of course they are not the only religious zealots around. Messianic Zionists of the settler movement in the West Bank, Buddhist monks in Myanmar, Hindu nationalists are pretty much the same, it's just that Islamic zealots at the present time are the worst of them, in terms of the level of violence. The closest comparison in Christendom would be with the mediaeval Crusaders, who were every bit as barbaric as ISIS. Leftists of all stripes, including SPGB socialists, have trouble explaining this upsurge in religious zealotry in the world today, partly because we have all been brought up to believe that religion was an opiate of the masses which must fade with the advance of science and secularism, so it's hard to accept that religious faith can be a driving force of political movements in the modern world. And then there's the firm belief, for Marxists, that religion, along with ideology in general, is part of the "superstructure" and so can only be explained by reference to the "base" (economic activity). This is an ancient belief, but unfortunately, it doesn’t come within cooee of explaining Islamist and other forms of violent conflict fostered by religious zealotry.

    #109666
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    What about a show of hands – who believes that religion and ideology will continue into socialism/communism. lol

    #109667
    Hud955
    Participant

    I don't think the SPGB has any trouble at all in explaining this upsurge in religious zealotry pgb.  Nor  can a movement like ISIS which is behaving in direct contradiction to the dogmas of all known versions of Islam be explained in terms of religion.  The antagonism that ISIS has generated from almost all sections of the Muslim world does not provide any evidence that it has emerged as a popular movement, even though it is now attracting some individual support.  Warfare is an expensive business and has to be funded.  It is much more easily explained by following the money.  Disentangling the complexities of the situation at present is not easy and there is not enough information to form a really coherent analysis yet, but some, at least, of its support seems to be coming from the Saudis who have had their eyes on the lands to the north of them for some time.   Just to be clear, the SPGB position is that military conflict cannot be understood without reference to the material interests of capitalism.  It does not claim that all military action can be explained as an immidiate and direct response to commercial interests. The interactions between ideology and material need are often complex, and each case has to be analysed in its own terms.  The base and superstructure idea is a tool of analysis founded in an understanding of the material necessities of human existence.   It is not the kind of crude analysis you suppose.      

    #109668
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    pgb wrote:
    I think you will have a hard task explaining the present war between ISIS and its opponents in Syria and Iraq as arising from "commercial rivalries in capitalism" 

    I think we can and we do! It is the massive capitalist propaganda machine that is responsible for religious moronic idiocy in the 21st Century. Its perpetuation serves some economic interest. It could be wiped out almost immediately given the right circumstances.Rival sections of the capitalist class use ignorance created by their propaganda machine to stir us into war.Our battle against religion is as important as our battle against capitalism: We cannot abolish one without the other. Therefore, there cannot be conflicts based on religion in a socialist society. 

    #109669

    In terms of ISIS (and Boko Haram) and some of the similar armies that have blighted the world, we can point to distinct material bases.1) Acces to a raw material/resource which can be sold for ready cash (oil, diamonds, minerals, etc.)2) Access to a local population to kidnap/recruit killers from.3) A unifying idea which can be used for coalition building (language, culture, religion)4) Sex (and rape, sadly) are often used to bond these armies.5) Geopolitical interference (in the case of ISIS Gulf leaders and a few wealthy Saudis are clearly lending support).The horrific point of these roving militias is they don't need labour, they only need fighters: they appropriate surplus directly (so they cannot really be called capitalist).The role of ideology is that it provides a line of communication, and helps bind together a force made possible by the appropriation of surplus/material product.I was only half joking about sports colours, as the Nika riots demonstrate:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots(but, even there, there were lines of patronage and political power at stake as well).Religion can play and important, and desive role in events, but must *ultimately* come back to the material conditions (for example one of these roving murder gangs could be taken over by a leader with a different set of ideas, who would exploit the same economic resources).

    #109670
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    I'm with PGB. How do you know it's not the other way round? Ie, that religous fanaticism is primary, and that, once you've got that, those oil resources etc would come in mighty handy?

    #109671

    There's no reason it can't start with the religious impulses, but if these murder gangs don't get some money, they disintegrate, in the final analysis the econonomics wins (that was kind of the point I was making in the last paragraph).  None of this contradicts basic matyerialism, since to have the idea takes time and human behaviour; but all ideas come back to the real world and human action within it.

    #109672
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    I suppose the argument is inherited from the economists – that no matter appearances, what we really want all boils down to profit for utility maximising individuals. I find it at least as likely that what we want, what we really really want, is meaning. We won't find it in fanatical religions or ideologies. But it's a lasting delusion.

    #109673

    Well, it's not about what we want, it's about what we need.  Ultimately, without pencils and papers religious obscurantists can't produce their tracts, still less without food.  In terms of military competition, the warlord who forsakes material gains will be outcompeted by the one who has bought the bigger and better guns.

    #109674
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Will have to bow out as I'm away on holiday – an experience that I hope will answer both my material and spiritual needs!See you all soon

    #109675
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Just been listening to Norman Finkelstein on the claims of the rise of anti-semitism…He makes the interesting point that if a state claims to be a Jewish state…and that the head of that nation's government claims to speak on behalf of the world's Jewish population and that also the vast preponderance of world Jewish organisations is supportive of that state …then it is fully understandable that the enemies of that state will class all Jewish targets as legitimate targets. It is not an irrational conclusion to reach….He then as an aside shows the integration …the assimilation of the American Jewish population into marriage with the elite ruling class of America…a sign not of growing anti-semitism but growing acceptance …I think the little known history of Hamas showed that its origins as a university religious society which was then fostered by Mossad financing into becoming an alternative to the Marxist anti-national liberation movements, a tool for divide and rule…to undermine the likes of the secular George Habash of the Populatr Front and others…Yes…the Frankenstein monster that is created does sometimes escape and goes out of control. ISIS according to Gen Westmoreland was funded by America's allies and friends as weapon against Hezbullahhttp://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2015/02/american-general-our-friends-and-allies.htmlPerhaps part of the Arab V Persian "racial" rivalry conducted often under the cloak of Sunni V Sh'ite…proxy wars..and before then ..islam versus zorastrianism…which was never given the privilege of being a "religion of The Book" and singled out for increased persecution. Yes it can get complicated…ideas do take on a life of their own…ISIS slipped the leash..But our materialist explanations are generalisations…not rules to define every specific historic event…there shall be exceptions….and other that comply with our interpretation …….Who can imagine the growth and longevity of the Lords Resistance Army if it was not for the material conditions …the poverty and the political corruption of the region…Who really discusses the theological basis of the LRA?…Does it get called a Christian terrorist group by the media?…or even classed Christian fundamentalism?…No, the religious undertones of the LRA are ignored as being irrelevant to its existence, which is probably the correct interpretation…at best its religious foundation is treated as a leadership cult…I cannot see why this is not applied to certain muslim extremismBut i have found this an interesting thread but not sure if i know where it leads although now i have contributed to it going off-topic. First warning: 1. The general topic of each forum is given by the posted forum description. Do not start a thread in a forum unless it matches the given topic, and do not derail existing threads with off-topic posts.

    #109677
    Dave B
    Participant

    The Norman Finkelstein  thing is on  a RT news Youtube about 7;30 in     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51UseTj-nR8  and on informationclearinghouse recently was this;   “The godfather of neoconservatism, Leo Strauss, espoused a dogma of deception, stipulating that in order to corral society behind the wishes of an elite vanguard an ‘external enemy’ must be fashioned. This ‘enemy’ could be real, but enemies usually exist in the eye of the beholder and in the minds of those seeking opposition. Strauss made it clear that if this societal ‘enemy’ did not exist or was not formidable enough to generate an adequate amount of fear required to paralyze and manipulate the masses, then one should be invented or inflated and then advertised to the populace as a real, pressing danger. For the neocons, this phantom nemesis forms the crux of their strategy of subjugation. Without it, the public would never consent to their lunatic foreign policies, nor would anyone feel threatened enough to willingly relinquish their freedoms in the name of security. This is what ISISis all about.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41093.htmFirst warning: 1. The general topic of each forum is given by the posted forum description. Do not start a thread in a forum unless it matches the given topic, and do not derail existing threads with off-topic posts.

    #109678
    Dave B
    Participant

    "you see, money doesn't exist in th 24th century and star trek communist ideology? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilY4hRgfC2Q Second warning: 1. The general topic of each forum is given by the posted forum description. Do not start a thread in a forum unless it matches the given topic, and do not derail existing threads with off-topic posts.

    #109680
    Dave B
    Participant

    Primitive human society 'not driven by war' http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23340252

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