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that developed through natural selection during the long
period our species lived by hunting and gathering (see chap-
ter 3). According to Cosmides and Tooby, variation in
human behaviour can be explained as the emergence of local
Order and anarchy
150
adaptations predicated on the mind™s inherent skills rather
than “ as social anthropologists might argue “ cultural
variation (see chapter 2). Tooby quickly jumped to
Chagnon™s defence (http://slate.msn.com/HeyWait/00-10-
24/HeyWait.asp), and pointed out many inaccuracies in
Tierney™s citations (see also Ruby 2000). Tooby further
pointed out that Turner and Sponsel were long-time adver-
saries of Chagnon (See Tooby™s website http://www.psych.
ucsb.edu/research/cep/eldorado/ witchcraft.html).
The dispute between evolutionary psychologists and
cultural anthropologists is partly an issue concerning the pre-
ferred level of analysis. Cosmides and Tooby™s primary tar-
gets are the French sociologist Emile Durkheim and the US
anthropologist Clifford Geertz. Geertz is interested in cul-
turally speci¬c ˜webs of signi¬cance™. His research method is
dedicated to resolving the problems of interpretation posed
by trying to understand an exotic culture ™s values, ¬gures of
speech and assumptions (e.g. Geertz 1973a, 1973b). If one
wanted to understand the cultural signi¬cance of the head-
dresses worn in Highland New Guinea during warfare and
competitive feasting, for example, one would need to gain
entry to culturally speci¬c worlds of meaning, not examine
the universal features of con¬‚ict.
There is, however, a more fundamental issue identi¬ed by
Durkheim (1938 [1901]), that of the emergent properties of
interaction (again, see chapter 2). As Michael Fischer com-
ments,
What seems to infuriate cultural anthropologists about sociobiologists
is their insistence on extrapolating from quite interesting statistics of
animal mating and patterns of investment in care of offspring, and the
various predictive models that can be made of these patterns, to the
Vietnam War or the decisions of the Supreme Court. (Fischer 2001:
13)
Warfare, biology and culture 151
Chapter 2 noted that evolutionary theorists debate whether
the primary motor of evolution is the gene (Dawkins 1976), or
the ecological system that exerts selective pressures on genetic
variations in a population. Stuart Kauffman (1993) and Simon
Conway Morris (1998) argue that the environment to which
organisms adapt is transformed by the emergent properties of
interaction. At least some of the cognitive skills cited by Tooby
and Cosmides (language, co-operation) are only adaptive in
a social environment, i.e. an environment characterised by
the emergent properties of social interaction. Here, I believe,
social anthropologists can validly criticise narrow theories
of genetic causation that discount the way the environment
that exerts selective pressures is constructed. The extent to
which violence is adaptive will also depend at least partly on
the socially constructed environment. The alleged adaptive
signi¬cance of warfare among the Yanomami must be assessed
in the context of the speci¬c natural and social environment
in which the Yanomami live.
Even if some people have a genetic predisposition to vio-
lence, this might not trigger co-ordinated social con¬‚ict. The
question of whether social trends can be explained by scal-
ing up from the intrinsic properties of the individual was
another issue addressed by Durkheim. Durkheim (1952[1897])
attacked the idea that suicide rates in late nineteenth-century
France could be explained as waves of ˜copycat™ actions fol-
lowing an individual suicide. He argued that an increase or
decrease in the suicide rate arose from the state of society.
Durkheim postulated a range of personality types vulnerable
to different kinds of suicide, ranging from the despair brought
on by isolation, to giving one™s life for the fatherland in the
heat of battle. Durkheim argued that during periods of social
disintegration the ¬rst type would be more vulnerable, but
the second type would be most vulnerable during a period
Order and anarchy
152
of intense patriotism. A similar issue is debated in a recent
volume sponsored by the British Psycho-Analytical Society
in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Does
one have to study the psychology of the terrorist to explain
the attack on the World Trade Center, or is it enough to
posit a random range of personality types and study the social
conditions that push some individuals into action? Among
contributors to this debate, Renos Papadopoulos argues that
psycho-analysts ˜seem to have missed glaring external factors
such as environmental pressures, socio-political realities, and
historical legacies™ (Papadopoulos 2002: 269). Stuart Twemlo
and Frank Sacco go further, acknowledging that terrorism
may be directed ˜against the inadmissible perversion of a whole
society™ (Twemlo and Sacco 2002: 101).
J¨ rg Helbling proposed that the speci¬c context of
u
Yanomam¨ social behaviour encouraged violence. He argued
o
that they are trapped in a form of the Prisoner™s Dilemma
that discourages the development of reciprocal altruism. Each
lineage must convey the impression that they are ˜tough guys™
rather than trusting suckers. Further, if their partners in an
exchange relationship betray them, the effect of military defeat
would be so devastating that it would be too late to punish the
partners by not reciprocating in the next round of the game,
as many of the ˜suckers™ would be dead (Helbling 1999: 108“
9). This creates a social environment that favours aggressive
individuals. Alliances will only be sustained if both sides an-
ticipate a long-term bene¬t, an outcome that is dif¬cult to rely
upon under such circumstances (Helbling 1999: 111).
Wrangham and Peterson claimed that ˜no human soci-
ety provides a better opportunity for comparison than the
Yanomam¨ . . . because they have been so remarkably pro-
o
tected from modern political in¬‚uences™ (Wrangham and
Peterson 1996: 64). One of Tierney™s most valid criticisms
Warfare, biology and culture 153
is that the Yanomami were not representative of the origi-
nal human condition when Chagnon studied them. Far from
being ˜uncontaminated™ by contact with the outside world,
they had interacted with outsiders since the eighteenth cen-
tury, as victims of slave raiders, enemies of settlers and subjects
of missionary endeavours. Fischer (2001) agrees that one of the
most disconcerting aspects of writing about the Yanomam¨ is o
the way that their long history of contact with slavers, rubber
tappers and others has sometimes been ignored.
The American Anthropological Association task force cre-
ated to investigate Tierney™s claims noted that Chagnon™s 1988
Science paper (which reported that 44 per cent of Yanomam¨ o
men claimed to have killed someone) coincided with a disas-
trous moment in the Yanomami struggle for land rights, when
the Brazilian president authorised the division of Yanomami
land into reserves in order, it was claimed, to bring them under
control. The Brazilian anthropologist Manuela Carneiro da
Cunha pointed out in 1989 that Chagnon™s paper had been
widely reported in the popular press, both in Brazil and the
United States. It is highly likely his arguments were dam-
aging to the Yanomami, justifying violence against them,
and Chagnon had not done enough to counter these nega-
tive images, despite toning down his language in later editions
of his ethnography (American Anthropological Association
2002: 1.32“4).

Chagnon™s data
In view of this controversy, it is important to re-examine
Chagnon™s original data. Chagnon (1988: 985) does not claim
the existence of a gene for leadership, but he does claim that
being a killer among the Yanomam¨ enhances one™s repro-
o
ductive success. Chagnon (1988: table 2) shows that those
Order and anarchy
154
claiming unokai (killer) status undoubtedly have more chil-
dren than non-unokai. Unokai average 4.91 children, non-
unokai average 1.59 children. Compared across all adult age
groups, unokai therefore do better than non-unokai by a ratio
of 3:1 (Wrangham and Peterson™s wording (1996: 68) mis-
leadingly implies this is the difference between unokai and the
average number of wives and children in the whole sample).
Tierney (2000: 159) objects that Chagnon included unmar-
ried men in his sample. In fact, Chagnon (1988: table 2) does
not distinguish between unmarried and married men, but he
does break down the ¬gures into age groups. The ¬gures sup-
plied in Chagnon™s table show that 94 per cent of men aged
between twenty and twenty-four are non-unokai, but only
38 per cent of those aged forty-one and over. The status of
unokai is achieved. Many non-unokai must either die young,
or become unokai with age. Chagnon™s sample of men aged
twenty to twenty-four includes 5 unokai in a total of 83, while
his sample of men over forty includes 75 unokai in a total of
121. This demonstrates many men who are not unokai between
the ages of 20 and 24 can expect to achieve that status later
in life. Chagnon asks whether becoming an unokai makes one
more vulnerable to violent death and replies that it does not.
˜Of 15 recent killings . . . nine of the males were under thirty
years of age, their ages at death and the political histories of
their respective villages at the time they were killed suggest
that few, if any of them, were unokai ™ (990). Since only 14 per
cent of men under thirty are unokai, this is not surprising.
A Yanomam¨ man reaches marriageable age in his early
o
twenties (Chagnon 1997: 154). Table 2 in Chagnon 1988 sup-
plies data on family size for men aged twenty onwards. Most of
the young men who have just started to have children are non-
unokai. The size of their families will inevitably be smaller than
those of older men. Chagnon has therefore overestimated the
Warfare, biology and culture 155
advantage of being an unokai by combining data for incom-
plete and completed families. The most accurate measure of
the advantage of being an unokai is to compare reproductive
success among unokai and non-unokai over forty, where fam-
ily size is most probably complete. Unokai over forty have
an average of 6.99 children, non-unokai over forty have an
average of 4.19. In other words, Unokai have 1.67 children
for every 1 child born to a non-unokai. They are advantaged,
but not to the extent implied by Chagnon™s all-age ratio of
3:1. The advantage is, moreover, not suf¬cient to eliminate
non-unokai from the population. Thirty-eight per cent of men
over forty are non-unokai. If one were to make a narrow pre-
sumption of genetic causation, this would suggest some form
of polymorphism (i.e. that there are also selective advantages
to being a non-unokai). One does not need to assume narrow
genetic causation to see that killing is not the whole story.
Approximately 30 per cent of deaths among adult males
in the region of the Yanomam¨ tribe are due to violence
o
(Chagnon 1988: 986), but 44 per cent of living men aged
twenty-¬ve or older claim to have killed someone (987). That
means either that a proportion (32 per cent) of claimed killings
must be spurious or, at least, that more than one person has
been responsible for the same killing. ˜Many victims are shot
by just one or two raiders, but one victim was shot by 15 mem-
bersoftheraidingparty™(Chagnon1988:987).Chagnon(1988:
¬g. 1) documents the number of victims for whom living killers
unokaied. He notes that 60 per cent (83 of 137) claim to have
participated in only one killing while, at the other extreme, one
man claims to have participated in sixteen different killings. A
small proportion of men stand out as multiple killers (two claim
fourteen killings each, another two claim twelve). Seventy-
¬ve per cent of claimed killings (more than enough to account
for the level of reported deaths) are accounted for by the
Order and anarchy
156
¬fty-¬ve unokai who reported having killed two or more men.
These ¬fty-¬ve constitute a mere 16 per cent of the adult male
population. For most men, the aim is probably simply to have
a reputation for ¬erceness (see Halbmayer 2001: 62 on the
Yukpa of northwestern Venezuela). Tierney points out that
very few women are actually abducted among the Yanomam¨ . o
Even Chagnon™s low ¬gure of 17 per cent is higher than that
recorded elsewhere among the Yanomam¨ , and some of these
o
were probably willing elopements (Tierney 2000: 159“64). It
is curious that, even though 30 per cent of Yanomam¨ men o
get killed in ¬ghting, Chagnon still claims there is a shortage
of marriageable women (Chagnon 1997: 157).2

Warfare and territoriality
The Yanomam¨ reportedly say inter-village warfare does not
o
take place over resources (Wrangham and Peterson 1996: 66).
Although Chagnon denies that Yanomam¨ warfare is for ter-
o
ritorial gain, he writes: ˜Where the Yanomam¨ have bordered
o
the territory of other peoples they have fought with them and
consistently pushed them out . . . and have virtually exter-
minated the Mak´ Indians™ (Chagnon 1967: 129). It seems
u
clear there is a territorial dimension to Yanomam¨ warfare
o
(cf. Helbling 1999: 106), and that it is not solely motivated
by the quest for wives. In general, the population densities
of human hunter-gatherers are very low compared with other
primates. It is populations living at high densities that are prone
to boundary defence and its corollary, cross-boundary raid-
ing, which may result in deaths. Inter-group warfare is well

Are more than 30 per cent of Yanomami girls the victims of infanticide?
2

Chagnon says he has not published on infanticide since 1985, in order to
protect the Yanomam¨ from prosecution, but he has never observed a case
o
of infanticide (1997: 94).
Warfare, biology and culture 157
documented on the northwest coast of North America (Ros-
man and Rubel 1971) which was noted above as an exception
to the common pattern of ¬‚exible territoriality among hunter-
gatherers. A good case has recently been made for its former
existence in western Arnhem Land, north Australia (Tacon ¸
and Chippindale 1994), at a time that coincided with the ¬‚ood-
ing of low-lying land when sea levels rose after the last glacial
period. In both cases, population density is exceptionally high
for recent hunter-gatherers (nortwest coast: 0.4 to 0.67/km2 ,
coastal Arnhem Land: 0.3“0.5/km2 ). The central Yanomam¨ o
were reported to have a density of 0.34 persons/kilometre2
(Lizot 1977: 122), which falls within this range.

Warfare and mating
Why might adult men among the Yanomam¨ fall into two cate-
o
gories, ˜killers™ and ˜non-killers™? The ˜group selection™ fallacy
was mentioned in chapter 2. If social behaviour is genetically
determined, individuals who forgo their own reproductive
interests to bene¬t others will not transmit their altruistic
genes to the next generation. Altruism will be displaced by
sel¬shness. When altruistic behaviour is genetically deter-
mined, it can only persist if it enhances the bearer™s repro-
ductive success. Could this be the case among Yanomam¨ ? o
The two theories concerning the evolution of altruism were
summarised in chapter 2. One argues that altruism will be
favoured by natural selection if the fortunate recipient of an
altruistic act carries the same gene as the altruist who makes
the sacri¬ce. This is known as kin selection. The alternative
theory is that, if the giver and receiver have a continuing social
relationship, the altruist will receive help from the other at a
later date. This is known as reciprocal altruism. It is repre-
sented in Axelrod™s model for the evolution of co-operation,
Order and anarchy
158
and exempli¬ed by the rights of mutual access to territories
between hunter-gatherer bands in uncertain environments.
˜Free-riders™ are those who accept resources without recipro-
cating (see chapter 2), while the victim of non-reciprocation
is a ˜sucker™.
In his analyses of Yanomam¨ behaviour, Chagnon (1982)
o
is explicit in his intention to explore the explanatory power
of a kin-selecting model, but his data suggest that recipro-
cal altruism may also play a part in structuring behaviour
toward socially recognised kin, despite the high risk noted
by Helbling (1999) in his application of game theory to
Yanomam¨ behaviour. Competition for spouses among the
o
Yanomam¨ is reduced by a form of reciprocal altruism. A pair
o
of men in different groups agree to exchange their sisters so
that each can have a wife (Chagnon 1979), and this alliance
can be perpetuated by further marriage exchanges. Yanomam¨ o
marriage strategies are based on the distinction between paral-
lel and cross cousins. Parallel cousins (children of the father™s
brother and mother™s sister) belong to one™s own lineage. Cross
cousins (children of the father™s sister and mother™s brother)
belong to the lineage with whom one™s father exchanged sisters
(see Figure 2.1, p. 60). Cross cousins are ideal marriage part-
ners if an alliance is to be extended. Parallel cousins are classed
as ˜sister™ or ˜brother™, cross cousins as ˜wife™ or ˜brother-
in-law™. The latter terms are extended to other members of
an allied lineage. Forty per cent of Yanomami marriages are
between people culturally classi¬ed as cross cousins, but who are
not in fact ¬rst cousins. Chagnon recognises that culturally
based (rather than genetic) distinctions between parallel and
cross cousins are crucial to marriage exchange (Chagnon 1982:
¬gs. 14.12“13; Chagnon 1979). Use of the kinship terminol-
ogy, according to which a man calls women of his own lineage
˜sister™, and those of an allied lineage ˜wife™, can therefore be
Warfare, biology and culture 159
regarded as a signal of commitment to continued reciprocal,
altruistic exchange between two groups. This level of social
organisation is de¬nitely not found in chimpanzee communi-
ties, and is based on the unique capacity of humans to construct
inter-group relations.
Chagnon claims that the age difference between men and
women at marriage creates different generation lengths of men
and women and frequently requires the rules to be broken if
marriage practices are to work (1997: 154). This is a common
problem in classi¬catory kinship systems (see Keen 1982 for
an example from Australia). It is more likely that, as Chagnon
illustrates (1997: 147), rules are subject to competing interpre-
tations rather than broken. When a particular classi¬cation no
longer re¬‚ects political expediency, the leader of a Yanomami
lineage takes the initiative in signalling lineage ¬ssion. He does
so by reclassifying distant ˜sisters™ (distant parallel cousins) as
˜wives™ (Chagnon 1979). Chagnon subtitled his 1982 paper
˜Man the rule breaker™. But to conclude that man is more of a
rule breaker than a rule maker does not tell us who makes the
rules (or why).
An alternative vision of Yanomam¨ society might go as
o
follows. Horticultural societies are particularly vulnerable to
warfare because they have dense patches of desirable resources
(their garden crops), but lack an overarching social organisa-
tion to regulate inter-village access to gardens peacefully. A
precarious form of reciprocal altruism is therefore negotiated
around marriage exchanges that seek to guarantee order, a
good example of Adam Ferguson™s concept of civil society in
the ˜state of nature™. But this order is repeatedly undermined by
free-riders who organise raids or split large lineages to their
personal advantage, while jeopardising the lives of others.
Villages that split may become enemies (Chagnon 1988: 987,
988), and small villages are more vulnerable to attack than
Order and anarchy
160
large ones (Chagnon 1988: 986). Promoting raids may bring
short-term gains, but undermine longer-term social relation-
ships. If Yanomam¨ men can loosely be divided into ˜killers™
o
and ˜peacemakers™, this would re¬‚ect the precarious balance
between the two competing strategies in their social life.

t h e b roa d e r pi c t u r e on wa r fa r e i n
s m a l l - s c a l e s o c i et i e s
If we want to understand when and why human warfare
began, it seems that we need to look at the emergent prop-
erties of social and ecological systems. Layton and Barton
(2001) hypothesised that human warfare ¬rst occurred when
hunter-gatherers moved into environments with dense and
predictable resources. In the areas of the world best stud-
ied archaeologically, this would have occurred in post-glacial
times, during the Mesolithic. The cultural invention of farm-
ing, creating defended ¬elds of dense crops, will have ex-
acerbated the trend. Carol and Melvin Ember (1997) found
that hunter-gatherer societies were not particularly peaceful,
but had a lower frequency of war than non-foragers. They
also found that victors in those societies that ¬ght at least once
every two years almost always take land or other resources
from the defeated. Land is less likely to be at issue among
hunter-gatherers that allow mutual access to each other™s ter-
ritory.
Warfare originated on the northwest coast of North Amer-
ica as a consequence of change in the natural ecology. The
coast has been inhabited since 9000 bc, but during the long
period between 9000and 3500bc groups were small and mobile
(Maschner 1997). At that time, unstable sea levels precluded

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