Chapter Three: Ancient Societies
How deep does this instinct go?
Is it so powerful that no force on earth can control it?
Or, might it be possible that we have it within ourselves to control it?
We have information that can help us show that, in fact, it is totally under our control.
Two kinds of societies have existed in the history of the human race. One of them was highly, aggressively, and violently territorial. The people in these societies formed into a kind teams that organized in a horrific competition against the people on the other team. These societies teach their children that they need to be a part of the team. They teach a kind of territorial identity that panders to and encourages their territoriality. They use various tools to stimulate the emotions of children and adults to make them identify with a territorial entity. Their songs stimulate solemn marching (a key aspect of territorial patrolling behavior in our primate ancestors) and martial conflict noises, which are then associated with the most wonderful and beautify melodies ever composed. Their histories tell of victory over victory, with the side the was evil (always the side that lost) crushed and humiliated. Their icons represent signs of battle, crests, swords, arrows, and blood contrasted against the purity of white linen and blue sky.
These societies nurture, promote, and encourage the territorial instincts. Children grow up accepting that the society not only allows people to give in to these impulses, it actually encourages these behaviors and everything associated with it. It encourages them to actually work with others to help them do the same things, to build weapons, to become part of the border patrols and armies that defend the territories, to become part of the industrial complex that supports the fighters.
We might expect that societies that add these overt encouragements to the territorial instincts to be fanatically territorial.
These aren’t the only kinds of societies that have existed, however. In the book ‘Ancient Societies,’ Lewis Morgan discusses another type:
The experience of mankind has developed but two plans of government, using the word ‘plan’ in its scientific sense. Both were definite and systematic organizations of society.
The first and most ancient was a social organization, founded upon gentes, phratries and tribes.
The second and latest in time was a political organization, founded upon territory and upon property.
Under the first a gentile society was created, in which the government dealt with persons through their relations to a gens and tribe. These relations were purely personal. Under the second a political society was instituted, in which the government dealt with persons through their relations to territory, e. g.—the township, the county, and the state. These relations were purely territorial.
The two plans were fundamentally different.
Humans have been on this earth at least 70,000 years.
The second type of society Morgan discusses, the society ‘founded on territory and property’ is relatively recent. The book Forensic History goes over the data that we have about the human experience and shows that the societies built on ‘territory and property’ (to use Morgan’s term) leave very abundant and obvious artifacts of their territorial way of life. We don’t find these artifacts anywhere that are older than about 6,000 years old, which tells us that they only existed for a tiny fraction of the time human beings lived on the earth.
If people lived differently in the past, this must mean that humans (or at least intelligent beings with physical needs) can live differently. It is possible. The highly territorial possessive societies (societies where people mark off terrtiory and consider it to be their property) are not the only kinds of societies that are possible.
Many people in the past have discussed these ‘other kinds of societies.’ Socrates discusses them at great length in his books Politikas (Πολιτείες ), Timaeus and Critias. Thomas More discusses them in the book ‘Utopia.’
Many scholars during the period of history called the ‘conquest of the Americas’ discuss the societies of people who lived in the Americas for the period before the conquest. William Prescott is one of my favorite in this area. He goes through enormous volumes of evidence from people who were actually there, including written records written by the people themselves, to reconstruct their ways of life in ways that make them very relatable. Rather than showing the pre-conquest Americans as animalistic beings that weren’t really capable of organizing anything (a picture the coquors who wiped them out would prefer people accept) he discusses their way of life, their family structure, their police, courts, and other systems they used to maintain order, their markets, commerce, and their money, and other things that allow the readers to put themselves in the place of these people and understand the world the way they understood it. (You can find two of the books that do this, The Conquest of Mexico and the Conquest of Peru, on the PossibleSocieties.com website and many places on the internet.)
Although the societies of these people did have territorial aspects, they didn’t practice territorial sovereignty: they didn’t accept that the people who ‘conquered’ each part of the world were the owners of that part of the world with absolute rights to do anything they wanted with it. As a result, the specific types of war that pose the most threats to the human race at this time (organized systems where people who claim sovereignty over a part of the planet use the wealth of that part of the planet to gain sovereignty over more land) weren’t really possible. Sovereignty over land is essential to the highly-organized systems where all people born into an area are expected to contribute to the military apparatus and the entire economy is organized so it can provide support for the fighters.
If we want to understand the way the process of ‘war’ works in societies that actively encourage people territoriality and facilitate military organizations, and compare it with the way conflict works in other societies, we need names for these two kinds of societies. The book Anatomy of War, and the other books in the Possible Societies series, use the term ‘territorial sovereignty societies’ to refer to the societies that are built on a kind of absolute and total form of territoriality. It will use the term ‘natural law societies’ to refer to societies built on other principles.
I want to discuss these ‘other kinds of societies’ (natural law societies) here so you can see that there are important differences in the way the people in different societies manifest the territorial instincts that all people seemed to have inherited from our animal ancestors. The basic issue here is pretty simple:
If a society actively encourages territoriality, teaches children it is a basic reality of existence that we all must accept, and teaches them that they have a responsibility to respond to territorial realities of their territory (country), we might expect people to have less control over their territorial instincts, and less ability to use normal human empathy together with logic (we really are better off if we cooperate rather than divide into groups to kill other groups) to mitigate their violent instincts. The people of a society that has less emphasis on territoriality, and doesn’t encourage and promote it, would be expected to have a greater ability to control themselves and work together rather than devote their time, wealth, resources, and skills to organized violence. (This doesn’t mean that they won’t have conflict, only that we would expect them to resist highly organized violent conflict and try harder to solve problems without violence.)
This is a testable theory. If two kinds of societies have existed, one where territoriality was formalized, institutionalized, taught to all children, and highly organized, but another with less of these features, we could compare them. If the one with institutionalized territoriality has larger, more violent, and more destructive wars, we would have to conclude that the organization of societies makes a difference.
Why does this matter?
War now threatens our existence as a race. We now have weapons that can destroy the entire world. If we want to survive as a race, we need to look for tools we can use to change the important variables that lead to war. The other books in this series deal with the big picture and the idea of societal change. We can do this, but it will take time. This book deals with what we can do over the short term. If we live in societies where children are indoctrinated to be irrationally territorial (to be so territorial that they would rather see the human race destroyed than see their territorial group lose its ‘sovereignty’), and we want to reduce the threat of war to give other steps we take time to take effect, we can study the indoctrination techniques. We can learn how to create tools that can allow people to resist these techniques and think rationally.
The information below comes from analysis of the societies that existed before the territorial sovereignty societies that now dominate the entire world conquered the Americas, starting in 1493, and before territorial sovereignty societies conquered Afro-Eurasia starting about 4,004BC.
Much of it comes from analysis in the 1877 book ‘Ancient Societies’ by Lewis Morgan. Although Morgan is the titular author, it includes hundreds of references from other books that deal with the same topic by many other authors from the very earliest human works that still exist to the date of its publication. Morgan tries to balance the perspective, looking at the societies he called ‘gentile societies’ (this book calls ‘natural law societies’) from within these societies, then looking at territorial sovereignty societies from the perspective of people born and raised in natural law societies, then at natural law societies from the perspective of people born and raised in territorial sovereignty societies, then from the perspective of people like himself, who were comfortable in both kinds of societies and spent their lives going from one to the other. He has a unique perspective so, before I go over the information itself, I want to give a little information about his background so you can see his point of view:
Morgan was born of an extremely wealthy family in 1818 in the state of New York. His family had supported the winning side (the ‘continental army’ that became the army of the United States of America) in the war of independence from England (often called the ‘revolutionary war’). The continentals had made promises of vast land grants to attract support for the war effort. After they won, they made good on these promises. They confiscated land of people who had remained loyal to the British and gave this land away to the people who had supported them. Some bands and tribes of the massive ‘Iroquois confederacy’ (dominant from east central Canada to the Carolinas) had supported the losing side and lost their land. The British troops had been protecting their supporters but when they were pulled out in 1784 after the peace treaty, the Americans took over control of these lands. They gave some of this land to their supporters as ‘bounties.’ (All fighters who came from other countries were promised a certain amount of land, with a minimum of 50 for an inexperienced boy to to 50,000 areas for experienced command-level officers).
The Morgan family was given large amounts of this land. The Morgan land was adjacent to the land one of the bands of the Seneca, a member of the Iroquois confederacy, which had supported the continentals in the war. Morgan’s land was intermixed with land that belonged to the Seneca and Lewis Morgan grew up in a mixed community. Both English and the Iroquois language were spoken there and he was fluent in both languages.
When he went to college he moved away from his mixed community to a predominately ‘white’ area. At the time, there was a great movement for ‘removal’ of all people with native heritage (‘Indians’ as the government called them) from all lands east of the Mississippi. The principle of ‘manifest destiny’ was the rallying cry of the people who wanted removal: they claimed that the creator had a destiny in mind for all of the land he had made. He wanted this particular land to belong to the whites. He had made this destiny ‘manifest’ (self-evident) by giving the whites the power to take it. It was, therefore the will of the creator of the world that this land belong to the whites and they had an obligation to their creator to carry out his well and remove the undesirable people.
Morgan had lived with these people. As you will see by the quotes below, he felt that they had a very high level of civilization. In fact, in certain areas, he felt it exceeded the level of civilization of the societies in the final stages of conquest. Many others who lived with the Iroquois felt the same way and believed that the conquering people could gain a great deal by studying the systems these people had built up over the course of thousands of years. Morgan stressed the need to act quickly. The conquerors were aggressively trying to either remove, assimilate, or exterminate these people and wipe out all traces of their culture. They had both oral and written histories that were being actively destroyed. He looked for any information he could find about the way of life of these people. He set up a club that he called a ‘literary group’ to find information about this topic and collect it into a kind of library for the members. They named it the New Iroquois Confederation. (The hope was to be able to restore this once enormous confederation to unity; it had been torn apart into individual pieces by the long series of wars between 1754 and 1815.)
After he graduated from college, Morgan went to law school. His New Iroquois Confederation now had several chapters in various areas. He formed a chapter at his law school with a legal focus. Corporations in the United States had gained great power and authority in the new administration and they were working aggressively to dispossess the American native people of the lands they had been able to retain. The NCI lawyers would look for cases where they might be able to help through the legal system.
In 1844 Morgan traveled to Albany New York to do legal research to help in a case to help the Cayuga people keep at last some of the land they had been granted in treaties. While he was in the archives, he met two Senecas doing research for a case of their own. One of them was Jimmy Johnson, a tribal leader in the Seneca community who didn’t speak any English. The other was Johnson’s 16 year old grandson, Ely Parker, who was there because he could speak and read English and could translate the legal documents for his grandfather. Morgan was drawn in to because Parker didn’t have enough education to understand the complex legal texts of the treaties. Since Morgan was fluent in Iroquois, and understood the legal texts, he agree to help Johnson and Parker with their research.
Their case involved a dispute with a land developmentcompany called the ‘Ogden Land Company.’ The company had been able to swindle the tribe out of large amounts of land using a trick that many corporations had been using to steal land at the time: They talked to various members of the tribe and gave them money or alcohol if they would agree to put an ‘x’ on a piece of paper in the presense of a notary. (The notary verified the ‘x’ as a signature, making it legal.) This piece of paper said they had agreed to ‘sell’ their tribal land. After they got signatures of a large number of members of the tribe, they claimed they had bought the land. At the time in question (the 1830s), state legislatures had jurisdiction over land ownership. The companies could have their lobbyists induce the legislature to certify the results of the ‘sale.’ Then, the companies could take the case to court to get a court order to remove the ‘trespassers’ and ‘squatters’ who lived on ‘their’ land. The United States is built on a rule of law that allows the owners of land to make these petitions and requires the government to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the rights of owners. If the court orders these people removed, the state has to remove them. If the state can’t remove them, because it doesn’t have enough military strength to do so, the state can petition the Federal government to assist and the Federal government has to comply. If the nations army is needed to remove these people, the army must be brought in and take whatever steps are necessary to ‘remove’ the ‘trespassers.’
The Ogden Land Company (OLC) had done this. They had already gotten a court order to remove the Seneca from their land. The state authorities couldn’t enforce this order themselves and where petitioning the Federal government to move in the army. Johnson and Parker had decided to try to fight the case in court. They were in Albany doing research for their case.
Morgan got interested in the case. He wanted to help and wanted his friends in the New Confederation of the Iroquiis (the club he had formed) to help. The NCI included a great many lawyers and some very powerful politicians and businessmen. At the time, there was little real public awareness of the way the American native people were being treated. Even the tribes that had supported the United States in the war, and fought with the continents against the British, were being dispossessed and removed from their land.
Morgan and the other members of the NCI started a media campaign to make the public aware of what was happening. They had great success and got a great many people on their side, including some very high officials in the state and Federal governments. Then they fought the OLC in court. It was a long court battle and lasted many years. (Eventually the case set the first real precedent that granted real rights to American Native people, Fellows v. Blacksmith, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 366 (1857)). The case was extremely difficult: it was the first case of its kind ever tried.
The case was built on the principle that the Iroquois people had a constitution and was a real government that had real requirements for land tenure. (The Iroquis had a constitution, written in their original hyroglyphic language in 1570; it was translated into English in 1820.) He decided his best approach was to work directly with the people who had been raised with this system and had understood it the same way the whites understood the laws and rules of their own system. To do this, he had to move in with them and live with them. Johnson invited him to move in with him and his family on the Seneca land. Morgan became deeply involved with the political structures of the Seneca and their parent confederation, the Iroquois. After some time, he decided that he could understand their system better if he became a part of it. He applied for membership.
The Iroquois cultures are based on affiliations that are similar to the affiliations in the white institutions called ‘extended families.’ (Morgan’s books explain this in detail.) To join, he had to be adopted into one of these extended families. Johnson proposed to adopt him into his own family. Johnson’s extended family affiliation was called the ‘Hawks.’ On October 31, 1847, Morgan became a member of the Hawk clan (extended family), a division of the First Phatry, which was a division of the Seneca nation, which was itself a division of the Iroquois confederacy.
All other members of Johnson’s extended his family became his own family.
His Iroquois name was Tayadaowuhkuh, which means ‘bridging the gap.’ The Iroquois people thought of him as a liaison between themselves and the white culture.
In 1851 Morgan published a book about the way his adopted culture worked, called the ‘League of the Iroquois.’ You can download this book in a PDF from the PossibleSocieties.com website, resources section, books about natural law societies. Morgan explains that, in the Iroquois society, the family structure and family affiliations are the foundation for the government structure. (He opposes this to the societies of the whites, in which the government structures are based on territorial divisions.) His adopted family, the hawks, had their own administration system that dealt with its roughly 350 members. The hawk clan (or ‘gens’ as he calls it) was a division of a larger exttended family group, called the ‘first Phatry.’ It also had its own councils and chiefs to deal with matters dealing with this larger unit, which included about 2,500 members. The First Phatry was one of four Phatries in the even larger extended family, the Seneca people. The Seneca were one of six tribes or ‘nations’ that made up the Six Nations Confederation.
Morgan proposes that the Iroquois system of administration and government was highly advanced, well defined, and functioned smoothly. Its purpose was to provide services that the people needed and to resolve disputes to prevent conflict. He claimed that this system had great advantages over the ‘territory based’ cultural and governmental systems of the whites.
Morgan considered himself to be a scholar and student of life. He continued to do research on the societies of the American native people. He realized that the system of the Iroquois was not unique. Several other massive confederacies existed, at the time of the conquest, that seemed to be built on the same principles. He traveled to the areas where the remnants of these societies still existed at the time. He studied their cultures from the inside, becoming one of them, attending their meetings, and watching, without making any attempt to impose any outside values on them. He just wanted to know how they worked.
He also corresponded with other members of the NCI, his college friends, and researchers doing work in the same field in other parts of the world, including Australia, New Zeeland, and other places that were inhabited for thousands of years before the conquest of these lands began. He wanted to find out how these societies had worked before the conquerors had arrived.
He eventually came to the conclusion that these systems were a kind of stage in the development of humans. The systems in Europe, Asia, and Africa had not always been built on territorial divisions. The societies built on territorial divisions had only existed for about 6,000 years, a tiny fraction of the time humans had lived there. Just as there was a ‘period of conquest’ in America, when the territorial societies were taking over land held by the non-territorial societies, there was a period of conquest in Europe, Africa, and Asia. People had discussed the differences between the previous societies and the new ones in ancient texts.
In 1877, Morgan’s book ‘primitive societies’ was published. This book proposed that there are two archetypes of human societies. One is built on territoriality. The other is built on family affiliations. He claims that territorial societies have military advantages: they can organize for conquest and generally win in wars against people with the other kinds of societies. But the ‘family affiliation societies’ (or ‘gentile societies’ as he calls them) have certain advantages that societies built on territoriality can never have.
The Gentile Society
To understand this kind of society from his unique perspective, we need to understand a few of the terms. He uses the term ‘gentile societies,’ to refer to the societies that humans had before we had societies that divided the world into territories. (In other words, he uses this term to refer to the societies the books in the Possible Societies series call ‘natural law societies.’) The primary unit of these societies was something called a ‘gens.’ Although he mostly uses American societies to illustrate the idea of ‘gentile societies’ (or ‘societies built on the gens’) the word originates from Afro-Eurasian texts. Here he discusses the origin of this term:
Gens, γένος in Greek and ganas in Latin and Sanskrit have alike the primary signification of kin. They contain the same element as γίγνομαι, gigno, and ganamai, in the same languages, signifying to beget; thus implying in each an immediate common descent of the members of a gens.
A gens, therefore, is a body of consanguinei descended from the same common ancestor, distinguished by a gentile name, and bound together by affinities of blood.
The ‘gens,’ he claims, was a primary unit of society before societies built on property and territory took over an area. The idea of the gens was the foundation of the societies of all of the American societies before the conquest, at least as much as he could determine from information available in the 1800s.
Morgan started out studying what he calls the ‘gentile society’ from the perspective of the Iroquois people. (He was not alone in his admiration of the systems of the Iroquois. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and many others discuss their accomplishments, and particularly the way they were able to create domestic tranquility that the people of Europe were unable to create.)
The gentile organization opens to us one of the oldest and most widely prevalent institutions of mankind. It furnished the nearly universal plan of government of ancient society, Asiatic, European, African, American and Australian. It was the instrumentality by means of which society was organized and held together.
Commencing in savagery, and continuing through the three sub-periods of barbarism, it remained until the establishment of political society. The Grecian gens, phratry and tribe, the Roman gens, curia and tribe find their analogues in the gens, phratry and tribe of the American aborigines. In like manner, the Irish sept, the Scottish clan, the phrara of the Albanians, and the Sanskrit ganas, without extending the comparison further, are the same as the American Indian gens, which has usually been called a clan.
As far as our knowledge extends, this organization runs through the entire ancient world upon all the continents, and it was brought down to the historical period by such tribes as attained to civilization.
Morgan’s premise is that there are two entirely different kinds of human societies. One of them, the original system that he claims was the only archetype on earth for most of human history, is the ‘gens.’
Territorial sovereignty societies
The second kind of society, the kind that dominates the world now, is built on wealth and the idea that everything on earth is for sale and can be purchased and then owned.
As soon as parts of planets are available to be purchased, people will find ways to use pressure and violence to convert ownership of them. A common form of conquest involves attacking the inhabitants of an area and subjecting them to the maximum misery possible. After a period of time, the attacker then approaches their leader and offers to stop the violence if the leader will ‘sell’ the land of his people to the attacker. The historical records then show that the land has been sold and the current owner can establish a chain of title that goes back through time to the very first owner, who obtained it by conquest.
We live in a world that is built on this ‘territorial’ and ‘property based’ archetype. This book uses the term ‘territorial sovereignty societies’ to refer to societies built on this archetype. Societies built on territorial sovereignty provide the greatest possible rewards for the most violent and destructive acts within the capabilities of humans. They therefore have the strongest possible incentives that push people to act violently and destructively. We live in these societies and were raised and educated in them. The people who run these societies need the people in them to be wiling to make incredible sacrifices ‘for their countries.’ They will need everyone to contribute wealth for the military machine or they won’t be able to defend their territory. They need taxes that can be so high that more wealth goes to paying for mass murder than any other activity. They need people willing to kill if asked to do this; preferably, they want people to want to kill and be willing to turn into savage animals, if necessary, to wipe out people identified as ‘enemies.’ Since more than half of the population consists of women and children, these people will have to be killed and the children who will be expected to be soldiers have to be educated in ways that make them willing to do this. They will have to fight under miserable conditions, sleeping in wet trenches full of mud, feces, and rats, with their own comrades crying out in agony while they die from their wounds, and be under constant threat of the same injuries themselves.
It is hard to instill this state of mind in children.
Yet the people who run territorial sovereignty societies must do this.
If they can’t, their territorial unit will be conquered.
Decision Making in Natural law societies
Lets consider a few realities of what we may call the ‘government’ of the natural law societies, as described by Morgan. We know that in territorial sovereignty societies, the organization that defends the territory (often called the ‘military’) and the organization that runs the civil administration (builds roads, schools, parks, and makes laws) are united. The organization called a ‘government’ directs the military. In many cases, the military and government are the same thing. (Militaries often take over governments and then control the country.)
Natural law societies worked differently. All humans seem to have territorial instincts. But the individuals who organize violence to protect their territorial rights are not always in charge of the civil administration. Often, they have no power at all to ‘govern’ anything. Let’s consider Morgan’s words in this area:
Nearly all the American Indian tribes had two grades of chiefs, who may be distinguished as sachems and war-chiefs.
The office of sachem had a natural foundation in the gens [the people themselves] The choice was by free suffrage of both males and females of adult age. All the male members of the gens were equally eligible for this office. To make a choice between them was the function of the elective principle. The right of deposing sachems, which was not less important than that to elect, was reserved by the members of the gens.
Although the office was nominally for life, the tenure was practically during good behavior, in consequence of the power to depose. The installation of a sachem was symbolized as “putting on the horns,” and his deposition as “taking off the horns.”
All the members of each gens were personally free, and they were bound to defend each other’s freedom; they were equal in privileges and in personal rights, the sachem and chiefs claiming no superiority; and they were a brotherhood bound together by the ties of kin. Liberty, equality, and fraternity, though never formulated, were cardinal principles of the gens. These facts are material, because the gens was the unit of a social and governmental system, the foundation upon which Indian society was organized.
A structure composed of such units would of necessity bear the impress of their character, for as the unit so the compound. It serves to explain that sense of independence and personal dignity universally an attribute of Indian character.
He goes on to discuss the role of the other grade of chief, which he calls the ‘war-chief.’ His discussions in this area are complex so I want to summarize them.
Each gens consisted of a very large extended family. (It was built on blood ties along the female line, as he explains. All women were in the same gens as their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and nieces. Since people could not marry in their own gens—this was considered to be incest—the fathers were always of a different gens.) Each gens had a large number of people, generally between 350 and 1,000. All tribes had more than one gens and most had many of them. (This is necessary because marriage inside a gens is incest. They couldn’t remain a cohesive unit if they didn’t have other gens for mates.) Each gens worked a piece of land in common. It didn’t belong to any member of the gens and no individual had any natural right to determine what happened to its wealth. Since the men who lived with the gens were not from that gens (they were always from some other gens), they were a sort of outsiders when it came to deciding what happened to the food and other things that came from the land. There was no formal system that cut them out of the decision making but the natural social realities of such a society would generally make the input of men almost irrelevant: the women were a cohesive unit who had all lived together since birth; their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other female relatives had made decisions about that land’s production when they were children and, when they grew up, they took over these decisions themselves. If men brought in food (say after a hunt) they would give it to the gens of their families. Remember that their wives and children were never of the same gens as the father: this would be incest. So, the men would never really be in a position to determine who got food or anything the land produced, even if they got it themselves in a hunt.
If you read books written by people who lived in territorial sovereignty societies, you will see that most of the territorial disputes they did involved claimed rights to hunting grounds. Each tribe claimed a certain hunting ground. Other hunters wouldn’t always respect these claims. From time to time, the men would go out and patrol their hunting grounds. The second class of chiefs in these societies consisted of the people Morgan called the ‘war-chiefs.’ Here, Morgan explains the general idea:
Military operations were usually left to the action of the voluntary principle. Any person was at liberty to organize a war-party and conduct an expedition wherever he pleased. He announced his project by giving a war-dance and inviting volunteers. This method furnished a practical test of the popularity of the undertaking. If he succeeded in forming a company, which would consist of such persons as joined him in the dance, they departed immediately, while enthusiasm was at its height.
When a tribe was menaced with an attack, war-parties were formed to meet it in much the same manner. Indian tribes, and even confederacies, were weak organizations for military operations. War-parties were constantly forming and making expeditions into distant regions. Their supply of food consisted of parched corn reduced to flour, carried in a pouch attached to the belt of each warrior, with such fish and game as the route supplied. The sanction of the council for these expeditions was not sought, neither was it necessary.
Note the similarity between the descriptions in this society and in the descriptions of the war parties of the chimpanzees. Note that there were civilian authorities consisting of councils but, Morgan notes: The sanction of the council for these expeditions was not sought, neither was it necessary. In fact, Morgan makes it clear that members of the civilian administration could not go to war at all: they had to resign their civilian position to do this:
The duties of a sachem were confined to the affairs of peace. He could not go out to war as a sachem.
There was a clear difference between the civilian authorities and the military leaders. The military leaders were not even official leaders: they were volunteers. They didn’t present logical arguments for their behaviors (or at least not according to Morgan). They didn’t ‘declare war’ on some other tribe. In fact, they didn’t really seem to care which tribe the others were from. They stood up and indicated that they wanted to go out and fight (often in extremely brutal and savage ways, reminiscent of the brutality and savagery of the chimpanzees) by dancing. Others joined in if they wanted. If not enough people joined in for a war party, there would be no war party.
You can also find parallels with the chimpanzee in their fighting. Once the war parties are formed, they are savage and barbaric. Chimpanzee patrols claw, bite, and beat any members of what they consider to be enemy troops until they are dead. Once they are dead, they don’t stop their savagery: they tear their bodies to pieces. Morgan and many other authors attest to the same behavior among Indian War parties. Normally, humane and reasonable people, when their instincts (or whatever it is) drives them to go out and patrol territory, they become animals. Morgan notes:
The greatest blemish in their character is that savage disposition which impels them to treat their enemies with a severity every other nation shudders at. But if they are thus barbarous to those with whom they are at war, they are friendly, hospitable, and humane in peace. It may with truth be said of them, that they are the worst enemies, and the best friends, of any people in the whole world.
You might almost say that these people seemed to have split personalities.
Normally, they were reasonable and humane in extremes that researchers found hard to even believe. But from time to time, they seemed to get overcome with impulses that pushed them to turn into savage beasts.
This savage behavior was not the result of logical analysis and directed policy. They did not seek or require the permission of any civilian administration to go on a patrol. One person who felt this impulse to patrol got up and started the rhythmic movements of what outsiders called the ‘war dance.’ No words were used. Others felt the same impulse and joined the dance. Then, if the numbers who wanted to go out and patrol was large enough, they would simply leave, without preparation. They would go out, seek members of their species that were not members of their tribe to kill. When they found them, they would tear them to pieces. Then, they would return home and go back to their normal lives as if nothing had ever happened.
They had two sides of their personalities. Most of the time, they acted rationally and reasonably. They wanted peace and tried to find ways to create it. They actually seem to have done a far better job, in the whole, than the members of the societies that followed them.
They did have conflicts. But they were far different than the well planned, well funded, well organized, conflicts that people in the societies we inherited call ‘wars.’ The society wasn’t behind these conflicts.
People who gave in to whatever force pushed them to join war parties had to give up their rights to participate in civil administration. The civilian administration was devoted to peace. Morgan notes:
The confederacy which they organized must be regarded as a remarkable production of wisdom and sagacity. One of its avowed objects was peace; to remove the cause of strife by uniting their tribes under one government, and then extending it by incorporating other tribes of the same name and lineage. Such an insight into the highest objects of government is creditable to their intelligence. Their numbers were small, but they counted in their ranks a large number of able men. This proves the high grade of the stock.
We still have some impulses that we inherited from our animal ancestors that we can’t fully control. Our animal side wants to believe that the borders are real things, that people on the other side are evil monsters who we are required to tear to pieces. It wants us to be so passionate in this feeling that we are actually willing to build nuclear bombs and destroy the entire world rather than allow the people born on the other side of the line to escape what our animal side tells us they are due.
We also have a logical side.
It tells us that people are people.
The imaginary lines that we fight over, kill over, die over, and build weapons that can destroy the world to protect are just that: they are imaginary lines.
They exist only in our minds. If we stopped believing that there is a difference between ‘our people’ (those born inside of the territory our ancestors have conquered and passed down to us) and ‘foreigners’ (those who are not like us because of their place of birth) tomorrow, we would be scratching our heads in wonder about why people could have ever built the ridiculous barriers that they see around them.
Why do we isolate ourselves behind imaginary lines and think that there is such a thing as ‘our people’ and ‘not our people (foreigners)?
Here is a theory to explain this behavior:
We have instincts that we inherited from our evolutionary ancestors that pushed us to do these things. If these instincts were repressed, or at least countered by a formal acknowledgement that they existed, they may lie dormant in the background. A few people might act on these impulse still. But there wouldn’t be any organized structure to try to make all children ‘patriotic’ and turn them into weapons who would be willing to organize to wipe out any groups of people who were born on the other side of lines that the leaders identified as threats to their sovereignty the founders of their system claimed over a part of the planet earth.
There are two sides to our ‘nature.’
We have an animal side. We share certain impulses with all other animals and a unique set of impulses with our territorial ancestors.
We also have a rational side. This is unique to humans: we are the only animals with the brain components capable of processing abstract thoughts, turning them into mental ‘words,’ and then communicating these ‘words’ to others. We can think and plan on a conscious level. Researchers have used MRI and other data to map these brain components and determine which ‘thoughts’ originate in each of them. We have unique brains, able to process data that no other animal’s brains can process. Some of our behavior is the result of the animal impulses.
Some of it is the result of cognitive thought: intention, self-directed analysis, reason, and scientific processing of information that humans alone can do. Often, the things our cognitive minds tell us to do conflict with the things our animal sides push us to do.
One example here is reproduction. All animals have forces that push on them to reproduce and care for their young. In many cases, it is clear that these impulse push them to do things that are not in their own personal best interests and that they would not do if they were entirely rational and reasonable. I want to give an example from my own experience:
I hate scorpions. I have been stung by a scorpion called a ‘bark scorpion’ twice. These are the most deadly scorpions known and inject an extremely powerful neurotoxin. It starts with the most painful sensation imaginable in the part of the body where the sting took place, in my case, my finger. This pain spreads through the hand and arm and eventually the entire right side of my body. The pain is accompanied by paralysis: I can’t move my right side at all. It grows and grows into incredible ferocity. There is no respite through sleep: no matter how tired I was, it couldn’t sleep through the pain. The intense part of the pain lasted for three days and it began to subside. I gradually gained use of my right side again, but the pain continued for seven days. After going though this experience, I became averse to scorpions. My mind would send me into wild panic when I saw one. Then, I picked up a rock that had a scorpion hiding on the other side and got attacked again.
Then, whenever I saw a scorpion, I killed it without remorse or compassion. (Normally, I have an aversion to killing any animal.). One day, while I was walking in the desert, I saw a scorpion on a large flat rock, in the middle of the day. This is unusual: scorpions are nocturnal and normally avoid exposure by staying close to cracks where they can hide if threatened. (I am not the only animal that has had bad experiences with scorpions.) I moved in for the kill but I didn’t kill her immediately. I wanted to see why she had exposed herself to certain death by acting as she did. When I got close, I saw that she had babies. A lot of them. Scorpions carry their babies on their back. She had so many babies that they wouldn’t all fit. She would take a step and some would fall off. Then she waited patiently for them to climb back on. A few more steps and she would have to repeat.
She clearly saw me. She knew she was dead. Scorpions can actually move very quickly and, if she had made a bolt for it, she may have gotten away. I wanted to see how devoted she was to the little mites that were here babies. She was in the bright sun and I thought she may not have seen me, so I moved so I was between her and the sun and she was in my shadow. She was waiting for her babies to get on her back. She clearly knew I was there. I raised my foot to step on her to see if she would abandon her babies and run for her life. She wouldn’t. I almost felt sorry enough for her to let her live. She was just trying to take care of her family. She had made some mistakes in her life. (She should not have been out in that exposed area in the sunlight. Obviously she had made a decision to change her residence that was not sound.) But I could empathize with her position and I respected her devotion for her babies: they were more important to her than her own life.
Humans have the same devotion. Since scorpions don’t have the brain components needed for rational thought, she clearly didn’t do an analysis of her situation, determine it was in her best interests to protect her babies, and then act as she acted. She had some sort of primal pressure that all animals share, to some degree, that pushed her to risk her own life for her family. A large part of human behavior may be explained by comparing humans to other animals. We all have impulses to do certain things.
We evolved from territorial animals, some of which show the same fanatical group territoriality that humans show: they are willing to fight, kill, and die, if necessary, to defend their group’s territory.
Why do we do it?
It clearly isn’t in our own personal best interests to act this way. If you go to war, you will be forced to do some very unpleasant things. (I didn’t even want to kill the scorpion. I can imagine the mental anguish that the solders at Mei Ly felt when they were ordered to kill babies.) In addition, you will know that the people on the other side are willing to kill you to save themselves and their babies. And they are a lot smarter than scorpions. They can plan traps, they have grenades, they have rockets and can be hiding behind rocks with guns themselves. The impulses that push us to engage in the behaviors that chimpanzee analysis’s call ‘group territoriality’ clearly do not come from a logical and scientific analysis of the situations that we find ourselves in.
Our logical minds, in fact, tell us that the war harms everyone involved. Humans can produce great wealth if we work together and cooperate. Other books in this series look at the big picture. Forensic History goes over the objective scientific evidence to show how we got from the earliest events we have evidence about to where we are now. We have tools we can use to study these things. They give us totally consistent and reliable information that can be checked and rechecked and will always give us the same answer.
We were not formed as perfect beings.
We evolved, over an incredibly long period of time, due to scientific processes that work in very understandable ways. Our evolutionary ancestors did things that gave them advantages, but which are harmful to us.
Some animals can gain advantages by being territorial. But in other animals, the costs of territoriality exceed the benefits and, if they don’t lose their territorial instincts, they go extinct. Perhaps, at some point, the territoriality was an advantage. Perhaps, at one point troops of chimps that had impulses to patrol borders and tear to peaces any members of their spices that were not identifiable members of their own troop, had higher birth rates and greater survival rates than troops without these impulses. Perhaps the genes that led to these impulses spread through conquest, as the groups with these impulses wiped out those without them. Perhaps, as a result of this, chimpanzee numbers skyrocketed. Then, chimps with these impulses had to compete against others with the same impulses. From time to time, a member of a troop would get a mutation that led to new patterns within its brain: it was able to design and build weapons that the others couldn’t understand. This chimp felt the incredible pressure to kill and destroy (perhaps; we are speculating here) and built the weapon. Its troop took over and the genetic mutation that led to the brain component that made this new weapon possible spread. It became the norm.
This happened again and again. The chimps became smarter and smarter. Each time, the slightly smarter chimps wiped out the slightly less smart chimps. (We have impulses to wipe out members of our own species that are not members of our own people. We only want to kill them if we identify with them, but think of them as slightly less human than we are.)
About 350,000 years ago, our ancestors gained the specific advantages that allowed them to spread from the temperate regions where they had lived before to all of the landmass around them. They had clothing and fire. They could live in the frigid tundra of Siberia and in the blast furnaces of the Sahara. About 70,000 years ago, they were everywhere in this land mass and dominated nature almost totally: they were the dominant species wherever they were. They now had only one competitor to conquer: other members of their own species. They needed weapons that could wipe out this dangerous enemy.
Scientists can trace the progress from this point in ‘ages,’ which may be thought of as weapons ages.’ It starts with the ‘stone age.’ People learned how to anneal rocks, work them, and turn them into weapons that were far superior to ‘natural’ rocks.
Stone age people didn’t just pick up rocks and throw them at their enemies. They manufactured extremely high quality stone implements by annealing and other processes. Annealing rocks involves using fire to induce rapid temperature changes (skilled craftsmen know how to determine when the temperature is right) to change the hardness of the rocks. The tool makers soften rocks by annealing, work the softened rocks into the right shape, and then harden them by different heat treatments. Annealed rocks can be sharper than razor blades. Properly treated rocks are far sharper and will hold their sharp edges far longer than natural rocks. During the ‘stone age,’ skilled workers manufactured extremely sophisticated weapons in large quantities. Many of these ‘stone age weapons factories’ are currently being studied.
The next ‘ages’ are metal ages, where people made weapons using different processes, each of which led to harder, stronger, and better weapons than the one before it.
Copper, tin, and zinc are easy to remove from rocks and make into tools. But these metals, by themselves, are far softer then rocks and don’t make good weapons. If these metals are mixed, however, metal workers can make brass and bronze, both of which can be used to make high quality and very strong weapons. Iron is one of the hardest metals to remove from natural rocks, but metals made from iron are far stronger than those made of brass or bronze. The most recent metal age is the steel age: steel is an incredibly strong metal and most modern weapons are made mostly of steel.
Their weapons improved. But the reason they wanted these weapons remained the same. When it came to the motivations behind war, they were still apes. They were just apes with better and better weapons.
Now, we are basically apes with nuclear weapons.
Why do we need these devices? No one has presented a rational reason for them. Having them is only harmful. To see how crazy this situation is, consider that, once we had enough weapons to wipe out all life on earth, we kept building more. When one side had enough to wipe out the world twice over, the other side felt it needed to be able to wipe out the world three times over. It kept going and going and, at least as of March of 2023, the militaries of the earth are still building more. And the nuclear programs are the tip of the iceberg. Military contractors get paid hundreds of billions of dollars each year to design, test, and build other weapons that are just as dangerous.
Clearly there is no logic behind this. We don’t develop weapons to destroy the world 1,001 times over because scientists have determined that the human race is better off with this amount of weapons than we would be if we only had the ability to destroy the world 1,000 times over. The pressure to build these weapons comes from somewhere outside of our rational minds.
This pressure pushes us to do things that our rational minds tell us we can’t keep doing if we are to survive as a race. Our minds are fighting themselves. He more we cooperate, the better off we are. But war precludes cooperation. Each of the territorial entities (countries) has only a tiny percentage of the human population. The territorial impulses tell us that these are the only people we can trust and safely work with. This means that the great bulk of the population is always in the other camp, the camp that we don’t trust and won’t work with. We would be harmed by this ‘cutting off of cooperation’ even if there were no costs to war.
But our logical minds see that war is always costly. During world conflicts, as much of half of the wealth the human race creates is devoted to supporting the military, extracting resources for raw materials needed for weapons, making weapons, repairing damage so facilities can be used, and other expenses that would not exist if the wars didn’t exist. Even before we had the technology to destroy our entire race, we could see that war was the most costly activity the human race engaged in. Now that we have weapons that can destroy us all, we can see that war has infinite cost: if war wipes out the human race, nothing the human race has ever done matters. The cost will take away everything we have and everything our ancestors have devoted their lives to building. Our entire existence will be meaningless.
Our logical minds tell us this.
Our animal sides push us to keep accepting that we have a ‘territory’ that we are required to defend and protect (a ‘country’ or ‘nation’ or whatever you want to call it), by any means necessary. If we must kill to protect our country, we have killed for a noble purpose; if we must die, we have died with honor. The animal side, if nurtured and encouraged, can take over. It can push us to keep building more and more powerful weapons, even when we have enough to destroy our world thousands of times over. It is not rational. It is not reasonable. It is not even, really, human, in the strictest sense of the word: we are acting like savage apes that towers over our reason.
What To Do
The book Preventing Extinction, a part of this series, lays out the general road that, if taken, will lead, eventually, to sound societies.
Here is the basic idea: humans have always been divided in some way. There had never been a union. In the days of natural law societies, we were divided into gentes, phratries, tribes, and confederations. In territorial sovereignty societies, the land is divided into ‘countries’ and, at birth, children are assigned to a country. Each country loudly proclaims its own sovereignty and independence and takes up levies from the people as taxes to pay for militaries to defend and protect this independence.
There is no community of humankind, working to advance the interests of the entire human race. We, the people of the planet earth, have no advocate.
In fact, the human race has never had any practical tools to create this union of humans, at least not, until very recently. Technology has given us tools that we could use either to unite us or to further divide us with ever more dangerous conflicts. So far, the people who run the societies (the leaders of the ‘sovereign nations’) have chosen to use these tools to help them make war better than their rivals. The tools have proven very useful for this.
We can start to understand that the animalistic generals and presidents and other members of the entities called ‘governments’ don’t speak for the human race. They speak only for their ‘countries,’ which logic tells us are figments of their own imaginations. They muster the primitive to action using fear and hatred. These are the term that we use for the feelings we inherited from our aggressive, violent, and animalistic ancestors. The entities called ‘governments’ of the entities they call ‘governments’ would prefer that the people they rule not give in to their human side. They don’t want us to be logical, reasonable, or even scientific (except when working to build weapons for them). Any thoughts in this area harm the animal sides of our nature to which they want to appeal.
The book Forensic History shows that many people in the past have seen the fundamental conflict in our dual nature. Read the books in the references from the time of Socrates to, Thomas More, to George Orwell, and you will realize that this duality holds promise for our future. Others have seen that, while the militant entities called ‘governments’ are working to enflame irrational fear and hatred of any born on the other side of an imaginary line, others have tried to create organizations that play to our human side.
We are greedy. We want good lives. We can have better lives if we work together and cooperate with other members of our species than if we devote our wealth to harm the ones we have been told we are supposed to hate and fear.
The model the book Preventing Extinction proposes has been tried before. It was tried by Socrates, by Alexander the Great, by the leaders of the Inca, by Henri Dunant (the founder of the model GMO that Preventing Extinction proposes we emulate). But I propose that the practical tools needed to build on this model have simply not existed until now. Humans have been divided by language and culture in ways so profound it was easy for leaders to make us think that each different skin tone, nose size, face configuration, or other difference made the others appear to be different ‘races.’ Each government could tell its people that they were the only true ‘human race.’ All other races were sub human. Since the people couldn’t travel and communicate with others to learn otherwise, the people believed this. Then, when the leaders wanted to make war, they could simply invent some stories of atrocities committed by the claimed sub-humans and the ape part of the minds of their followers would aspire to tear these claimed sub-humans to pieces as punishment for their attempting to harm the only true humans that ever existed.
The proposal of Preventing Extinction starts with the creation and funding of an organization that is designed to be in instrument of the human race as a whole. It is not a ‘union of states’ that is designed to advance the interests of the states against other states, or a union of nations that is designed to advance the interests of the united nations against nations that are not part of their union. States and nations are not parts of all human societies, they are only parts of societies that have extreme forms of territoriality. The organization will not be administered by a government and not be affailiates with a government; it will not have any ability or authority to ‘govern’ anyone at all. It will be the kind of organization that has only come to exist, a kind of organization called a ‘non-governmental organization.’
The non-governmental organization will be built on a model that was put together by the great pioneer of non-governmental organizations, Henri Dunant.
This organization has already been formed and provided with initial funding. It is called the ‘community of humankind.’
To really understand how the community of humankind works, you have to understand some fairly complex principles that are discussed in the books of Possible Societies. It is possible for a society to be built on the idea that humans are the absolute owners or ‘sovereigns’ of the world: it was given to use by its creator and we have both the rights and obligation to hold dominion over it and subdue it (conquer each part of it and then rape it of its wealth which is then used to enrich the conquerors). We know such a society is possible: we live in such a society. It is also possible to form a society on the premise that humans are at the mercy of nature, that nature is our master, and that we have no right or authority to do anything to the world that changes its condition or accept any ownability of it whatever.
Possible Societies shows that it is also possible to build a society where a group of people have worked out the different rights to the world that can be ownable. They have determined that if certain specific rights to the world are ownable, this will lead to harm to the world and the human race. (For example, if you can own the right to destroy a forest for profit, converting it from a living thing to a pile of lumber sitting on a devastated landscape, you will have incentives to do things you would not have incentives to do if this right were not ownable.) However, there are also possible ownable rights that, if owned, will lead to enormous benefits to the human race. (Solar photoelectric panels—in fact all ‘silicon based’ or electronic devices—are made literally of sand: sand is 87% silicon dioxide and 8.3% aluminum, the same percentage as the devices.) If you can own the right to build a factory that turns sand into photoelectric devices (and LED light bulbs, smart phones, television sets, satellite transponders for global communications) and to sell these devices for profit, you have incentives to turn something with little real value to humans (sand) into things with great value to humans. You can make yourself rich doing things that make the human race better off. In some cases, ownership harms the human race. In others, it benefits the human race. If we understand which rights, if owned, will make the world better and which rights, if owned, will harm the world, we can set up systems that divide the rights to certain parcels of land, allowing people to own the rights that, if owned, bring benefits, and denying the ownership of other rights.
Preventing Extinction explains how to use a non-governmental organization (notice how the term ‘non governmental’ is stressed) to make this happen, on a property by property basis. It takes a holistic approach to dealing with the problems of the human race. It doesn’t seek to do good things and hope that this leads to a sound society. It works backwards from an understanding of the idea of a sound society. The destination is identified. The organization itself is one of the tools used to move the human race toward that destination.
The organization called the ‘community of humankind’ is designed to allow people who own property in our world today to use that property to benefit the human race. They can put their property into the system in a way that will strip off certain rights to that property that, from then on, will not be ownable or buyable. These rights will not belong to anyone, not even the human race as a whole. But they will be under the care, custody, and control of the human race as a whole, though a set of processes explained in Possible Societies and Preventing Extinction. Certain streams of money will be in this category: some of the unearned wealth of the world (the ‘free cash flows’ of bountiful properties) will be unowned and unownable.
At the present time, the human race is not a ‘community’ because there are no organized institutions to tie us together to turn us into a community of humankind. If a share of the bounty of the world around us is unowned and unownable, but under the care, custody, and control of the human race, we will have something to tie us together. We will control a collective stream of wealth. We will be in a position to make collective decisions about our collective welfare, without having to go through any kind of militant organization (a ‘government’).
This, of course, is an extreme oversimplification of a network of steps that, if taken, will allow the human race to begin to move toward unity and allow us to stop devoting our wealth to organized military conflict with other members of our species. It allows us to get onto a road that leads to a sound society. That is the long term goal.
As noted above, however, two problems are so serious that we need to take steps to try to mitigate them and reduce their severity right away: war and environmental destruction.
The rest of this book is designed to explain steps that can be taken to mitigate the first of these problems, war.
The most important of these steps is to create hope. We create hope by showing people that the extreme territoriality that lies at the foundation of the problem of war is NOT an inherent part of the human condition. In fact, it isn’t really a human problem at all. It is a part of our animal side. It is a reality of the human condition that is under our control. Our human side can fight it.
For people to truly see this, they need to have a tool like the organization discussed above, the community of humankind. They need to know that they have an alternative to using their lives and wealth to support the entities they were raised to call their ‘nations’ in their conflict with other nations. They need to know that there is an organization that was designed, from the ground up, to unite the human race in a way that turns us into a community of humankind, and to foster and encourage the human side of our character. They need to know that they can help move their race—the human race—move toward this goal in a real way by taking real steps.
The first thing we must do is to help put together this organization and make sure that it is formed as a result of collective (not selfish) action. I am in the process of creating this organization.