Ultrasociety: We are the Children of War
A species preying on itself—the key to evolutionary success. As Darwin said, all those beautiful and magnificent marvels of nature (and of human nature) rest on the basis of a struggle for life. Or, to put it with Walter Benjamin, 'every document of civilization is also a document of barbarity'. BTW, the original notion of cultural evolution as a "new science" or Scienza Nuova is copyright Giambattista Vico!
Posted by Narratología evolucionista - Evolutionary Narratology on Sábado, 21 de noviembre de 2015
And here’s the book description (I quote):
Cooperation is powerful.
There aren’t many highly cooperative species–but they nearly cover the planet. Ants alone account for a quarter of all animal matter. Yet the human capacity to work together leaves every other species standing.
We organize ourselves into communities of hundreds of millions of individuals, inhabit every continent, and send people into space. Human beings are nature’s greatest team players. And the truly astounding thing is, we only started our steep climb to the top of the rankings–overtaking wasps, bees, termites and ants–in the last 10,000 years. Genetic evolution can’t explain this anomaly. Something else is going on. How did we become the ultrasocial animal?
In his latest book, the evolutionary scientist Peter Turchin (War and Peace and War) solves the puzzle using some astonishing results in the new science of Cultural Evolution. The story of humanity, from the first scattered bands of Homo sapiens right through to the greatest empires in history, turns out to be driven by a remorseless logic. Our apparently miraculous powers of cooperation were forged in the fires of war. Only conflict, escalating in scale and severity, can explain the extraordinary shifts in human society–and society is the greatest military technology of all.
Seen through the eyes of Cultural Evolution, human history reveals a strange, paradoxical pattern. Early humans were much more egalitarian than other primates, ruthlessly eliminating any upstart who wanted to become alpha male. But if human nature favors equality, how did the blood-soaked god kings of antiquity ever manage to claim their thrones? And how, over the course of thousands of years, did they vanish from the earth, swept away by a reborn spirit of human equality? Why is the story of human justice a chronicle of millennia-long reversals? Once again, the science points to just one explanation: war created the terrible majesty of kingship, and war obliterated it.
Is endless war, then, our fate? Or might society one day evolve beyond it? There’s only one way to answer that question. Follow Turchin on an epic journey through time, and discover something that generations of historians thought impossible: the hidden laws of history itself.
—So, I will rephrase the book's major thesis: Cooperation AGAINST A THIRD PARTY is powerful, and has shaped human cultural evolution. The Play of Power—or the Game of Thrones—the making and unmaking of confrontational alliances, feudal management of men, and the replay of this game of alliances at the level of groups and alliances of states—ALL THIS is a major evolutionary force shaping humanity.