Are homo sapiens hard-wired to keep engaging in wars? Can we, as a species, ever stop?
An interesting piece by Discover Magazine. Long read, but, I liked it.
Has Science found a way to end all wars?
Given adequate food, fuel, and gender equality, mass conflict just might disappear
De Waal, who met me at the Yerkes center after attending a disarmament workshop in Geneva, agrees that aggression is part of our nature. So too, he adds, are cooperation, conflict resolution, and reconciliation. For decades he has carefully documented how apes and monkeys avoid fights or quickly make up after them by sharing food, grooming each other, or even hugging and kissing.
These traits are especially pronounced in the ape species Pan paniscus. More commonly known as bonobos, they are darker-skinned and more slender than common chimpanzees and have markedly different lifestyles. “No deadly warfare,” de Waal says, “little hunting, no male dominance, and enormous amounts of sex.” Their promiscuity, he speculates, reduces violence both within and between bonobo troops, just as intermarriage does between human tribes. What may start out as a confrontation between two bonobo communities can turn into socializing, with sex between members, grooming, and play.
Observations of lethal fighting among chimpanzees, our close genetic relatives, have persuaded many people that war has deep biological roots. But de Waal says that primates, and especially humans, are “very calculating” and will abandon aggressive strategies that no longer serve their interests. “War is evitable,” de Waal says, “if conditions are such that the costs of making war are higher than the benefits.”