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Sid Tafler

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Is war inevitable? Is it a natural state of human affairs or an aberration, absent from our distant past and perhaps, our future as well?

Human history is splattered with blood. 160 million people died in dozens of wars in the 20th century alone.
Although armed conflict still dominates the headlines, fewer people are fighting and dying in wars. Apparently, there were fewer war deaths in the last decade than any other in the last 100 years.
Go way back to prehistory, and you see little if any evidence of war. The living sites of Stone Age people are remarkably free of mass graves, fortified sites and depictions of war on cave art. Also missing are images of shields, which always rise as defensive weapons when people are attacked with spears. We can't say for sure there was no warfare 20,000 or 50,000 years ago, just that there is little or no sign that there was.
So can we abolish war, just as we seek to abolish slavery or smallpox? Or will we still keep fighting each other to settle our differences, with ever-more sophisticated weapons and techniques?

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    Apr 10 2012: I highly recommend Steven Pinker's "the better angels of our nature" on the subject. It makes a compelling argument that increasing globalization and interconnectedness has expanded the size of our respective tribe to the extent that we recognize ourselves and our common humanity in the 'other' and therefore increasingly abhor warfare. The fact that little evidence exists to support the existence of organized violence prior to civilization has more to do with the absence of organization than it does the absence of violence, I believe.
    Mankind has never had a greater capacity to destroy itself, but also has never had less large-scale violence in it's history. I profess no expertise in the subject, but let's all hope that it's war itself, and not mankind the bringer of war, that becomes extinct.

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