Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots

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* Ian Morris. War! What is it Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots. Farrar, Straus & Giroux,



Peter Turchin:

"In his book Morris argues that “the main function of war in cultural evolution across the past 15,000 years—and particularly across the past 500 years—has been to integrate societies, increasing material wellbeing.” It was war, strangely enough, that made our societies larger, wealthier, and safer. It must be understood that the argument here is “over the long run.” It goes without saying that wars created, and continue to create an enormous amount of human misery. But warfare creates an environment in which only societies that are strongly cooperative manage to persist and expand at the expense of less cooperative ones. Without war (or more broadly, without competition between societies) cooperation would unravel and disappear. Thus, wars have not only a destructive side, but also a creative one.

I am in complete agreement with Ian that this general insight is very valid." (