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Old 01-21-2010, 01:56 PM   #46
C. David Henderson
Location: Santa Fe New Mexico
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 606
Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Hi Erick,

That is quite interesting; thanks. It reminds me of the berzeker's alleged use of the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria (fly agaric).

To be clear, however:
1. I don't believe hunting and gathering or horticultural societies are necessarily "primitive," even though these subsistence strategies have been around the longest. Many are highly sophisticated and specialized to their environments (e.g., Amazonian knowledge of the natural world), and some appear to be people who (re-)adopted a particular means of survival relatively recently (e.g., in the Philippines). Some of these are, according to some studies, moreover, tied in to the surrounding cash economy for critical material goods, and are suspect as models of "primitive" human groups to some extent.

2. With due respect to Wikipedia, ritualized warfare may be the norm to which more complex societies revert, for example, under the kinds of conditions you list. (In fact, I hypothesize ritual is a key way to mark off that liminal state in which society sanctions killing, and a key trigger for aggression historically) Still, just as the Norse discovered North America but had no practical use for it, and just as the moon remains outside our grasp, many less complex societies have no need to invade and displace others, yet sufficient reason to raid them. Raiding of course takes place in larger-scale social groupings, too.

3. The Zulu are an interesting example, and I don't know enough about them to offer much in the way of a meaningful opinion. I suspect, however, their military innovations occurred in response to incursions by Boers and the British. Additionally, many groups in Southern Africa are closer in the scale of social organization to chiefdomships like the Hawaiians. There, prior to European contact, the smaller islands had been united under a chief and the Big Island was often ruled by several. Attempts also had been made to conquer other islands. But Kamehameha I succeeded in "unifying" Hawaii where others failed, in significant part because he exploited advantages introduced by the Europeans including firearms. The point being, for me, that the Zulu may have, like the Hawaiians, been on the cusp of historical developments that were pushing their societies to be more expansive. European interference may simply have catalyzed the reaction, as it were.


Last edited by C. David Henderson : 01-21-2010 at 02:01 PM.

David Henderson
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