Humans are critically disputatious, opportunistic and aggressively
territorial. Human groups fight at regular intervals, often because of planned
and strategic attacks on neighboring groups. The tendency and the skills
required for fighting are innate. Fighting is one of the four prime movers of
human behavior, sometimes referred to as the “four F’s. In the primordial animal
world, you have four options when you met another animal. You could feed by
eating the stranger; you could fight with the stranger or you could flee. If
certain prerequisites were met, you could have sex with the stranger. The four
F’s interact in interesting ways.
The motives and movements involved in fighting emerge in children’s play and
continue in speech gestures even among the most pacific people. Fighting often
begins with vocalizations, and continues with gestures, shouts and threats. The
idea of the fight display is to avoid physical injury by reaching a settlement
or by fleeing.
Nice people who live relatively peaceful lives will avoid fighting but retain
the tendency. Fights among family members are inevitable and, in the best case,
are limited to shouting, grabbing, pushing, shaking, punching and kicking. It is
natural for humans to pick up objects and use them to hit at close range or to
throw them to injure at a distance.
The tendency to fight merges with tool making. Human ancestors become more
formidable fighters when they deliberately selected objects such as sticks and
stones to fight with. Fighting on an interpersonal or tribal scale involved
deliberately fashioning and carrying tools that were used primarily as weapons.
Early weapons combined sharpened stones, attached to wood handles and shafts
with leather thongs. Warriors are humans who have well developed fighting
skills. Their goal is to kill other humans. Good hunters tend to make good
warriors, but not always. Both hunting and fighting were required for the
success of human groups and warriors have always been regarded with high esteem.
A natural warrior had to be brave and strong, cunning, determined and
tolerant of deprivation and adversity. Warriors fought each other, face to face,
with hand-held weapons, strategy and skill. To specialize in fighting, warriors
have to be physically fit and trained daily in the skills of combat. Without
advanced training, even an unusually large and fierce warrior could be defeated
by a smaller, weaker foe with well-practiced skills and superior weapons.
As local groups grew, nation states emerged and warriors were replaced by
anonymous soldiers who participated in anonymous combat that involved large
numbers of combatants, with hand held weapons and machines designed to destroy
property and kill other humans.
If you combine hierarchy, territorial competition with weapon manufacture,
you create war. The human fascination with weapons and the strategies of
fighting have created a complex of militaristic activities and preparations for
fighting that are incentives to fight and have provided reasons to fight. You
could argue that human history is the history of war with brief interludes of
peace. Wars have a few instigators and many victims.
Humans now fill the air with high velocity metal projectiles and use
explosive devices to annihilate other humans and their property. Victors deploy
larger numbers of more lethal weapon-machines than the losers. Soldiers and
civilians perish when their weapon-machines are inferior.
The Second World War was a festival of atrocities, murder and mayhem,
dominated by increasing horrors inflicted by large numbers of more elaborate
machines designed and deployed to kill humans on an enlarging scale. The
distinction between civilians and soldiers diminished and often disappeared. The
industrial basis for war continued to develop in many countries after the Second
World War. The 21st century began with local wars erupting in many parts of the
The United States dominated the world by having well-funded industries
dedicated to making weapon-machines.; Electronic devices evolved rapidly leading
to “smart weapons” that could find targets using satellite-based guidance
systems. The US and Russia competed to build the most formidable stockpiles of nuclear
weapons and delivery systems on alert, ready to destroy any and all nations on
War planning for the 21st century imagines combat with smart machines and
aircraft operated by remote control. The few soldiers left on the ground are
transformed into robots by adding camouflage clothing, bullet proofing, makeup,
body armor, electronic sensors, computers, communication equipment, 3 days of
food and water, to their fragile bodies. The idea is that technologically
superior victors can demolish property and kill others from a distance in
relative safety. In addition to good guys and bad guys, some humans are hawks
who advocate and enjoy the idea of war and others are doves who abhor war and
make conspicuous efforts to promote peaceful solutions for disagreements.
Some readers might link the hawks with the bad guys. Without a doubt, doves
are challenged by belligerent neighbors and friends and need to arrive at more
effective ways of expressing their point of view, not as pacifists but as
activists who seek to restrain their belligerent neighbors with tools such as
persuasion, vaccination, social policy, and the pragmatic enforcement of laws.
Perhaps the planet could be divided into two halves with the doves enjoying a
peaceful existence on their half and the hawks enjoying battle on their side.
The trick would be to invent an impermeable membrane that could keep the groups