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the development of dense, predictable food resources. The
¬rst evidence for con¬‚ict on the northwest coast occurs by
Warfare, biology and culture 161
3000 bc, coinciding with evidence for more stable foraging
movement in the form of shell middens, and is seen primar-
ily in non-lethal skeletal injuries. Herb Maschner cautions that
violent con¬‚ict may have occurred earlier, without generating
archaeologicalevidence.From ad 200“500, however,the onset
of warfare is evident in the construction of defensive sites, the
amalgamation of what may have been single lineage com-
munities into large villages and population decline. The bow
and arrow were introduced to the region at that time. ˜The
wars that did result in changes in territory, at least in every
recorded case, were the result of expansionist activities by the
most populous and strongest group in a region, and the group
that had the greatest amount of subsistence resources in their
own territory™ (Maschner 1997: 292). Those with least terri-
tory had neither the wealth nor the numbers to undertake a
successful attack.
Paul Sillitoe (1978) examined the role of Big Men in war-
fare in New Guinea. Big Men are not simply strong men who
can push others around; while admired as skilful organisers
and talkers, they must respect the Melanesian principle that
all men are equal and free to control their own affairs. Here is
another example of Adam Ferguson™s civil society in the state
of nature. Big Men™s scope for political action depends on the
¬‚exibility of local social organisation, and the extent to which
it allows disaffected individuals to join in¬‚uential leaders in
other villages. Big Men fear the encroachment of rivals and try
to use force to sustain or extend their own in¬‚uence. Insecure
Big Men are more likely to foment discord (Sillitoe 1978: 265
and table 4). Sillitoe distinguishes between minor wars that
punish a breakdown in reciprocity between groups who regu-
larly trade and exchange marriage partners, and deep-rooted
wars that persist between groups that lack such interrelation-
ships but seek constantly to revenge past killings by the enemy
Order and anarchy
162
(compare Halbmayer 2001: 59, 61 on South America). Routing
the enemy is more popular in major wars between settlements
not normally linked by exchange. ˜There is a good chance a
war [of redress] . . . will end in the rout of the defeated and
the pillage of their settlement™ (Sillitoe 1978: 263).
Sillitoe notes that different types of military engagement
tend to be found in different New Guinea environments.
Swamp and dense rain forest support a lower density of pop-
ulation, so there are both fewer occasions for people to meet
and less scope for Big Men to construct inter-community net-
works. Sillitoe rejects a simple correlation between population
pressure and frequent war (Sillitoe 1978: 269; see also Sillitoe
1977), but it is clear that war for territorial conquest is most
prevalent in certain environments.

vi o l e n t c on ¬‚ i c t i n c o m p l e x s o c i et i e s
Chapter 2 noted that anthropologists prefer to address theo-
retical issues through analysis of the simplest human societies,
where the fundamental aspects of social life can most clearly
be seen. The applicability of their conclusions to complex
societies needs to be demonstrated. Among horticulturalists,
warfare arises from broken alliances between neighbouring
villages, or irresolvable con¬‚ict between socially unrelated
groups. In complex societies, many recent ethnic con¬‚icts
have been associated with instability in the nation state. The
question here is, what factors lead to the collapse of large-
scale social networks? Chapter 3 showed that the breakdown
of social order rarely if ever results in total anarchy or lack of
social interaction. When the existing social order does break
down, ethnicity and kinship are two key dimensions on which
to reconstruct trust, but on a smaller scale, between people
who interact and claim exclusive rights to resources. Kinship
Warfare, biology and culture 163
and ethnicity are not primordial forms of social organisation
that resurface during periods of anarchy. They are called upon
where they have continued to be salient aspects of government
or civil society. What parallels can be drawn with warfare
among the Yanomam¨ ? Rather than accepting Wrangham and
o
Peterson™s argument that we are confronted with a primordial
lust for ˜the excited assembly of a war party, the stealthy raid,
the discovery of an enemy and the quick estimation of odds,
the gang-kill™ (Wrangham and Peterson 1996: 71), I argue the
parallel lies in the construction and opportunistic repudiation
of social relationships. Two similarities stand out: the con¬‚ict
of interest between those who bene¬t from order and disorder,
and the role of outsiders in supplying weapons that increase
the destructive impact of con¬‚ict.

Who has an interest in promoting disorder?
Albanian blood feuds are brought to an end by creating
classi¬catory brotherhood between the groups. Both par-
ties must agree that honour has been satis¬ed. Clan leaders
(bajraktars) acted as judges, who arbitrated in disputes. The
Ottoman Turks relied on them heavily (Whitaker 1968: 259).
In northern Albania, traditional leaders, local Catholic priests,
and a national mission led by Pjetr Ndreki have all helped
to settle blood feuds during the 1990s. However, Stephanie
Schwandner-Sievers reports that younger men (in their forties
and ¬fties), who were born under Communism, are unfamiliar
with the traditional rituals of reconciliation and are unwilling
to accept them (140). Many of this generation are also involved
in trading drugs, weapons and women between Albania, Mon-
tenegro, Kosovo and Italy. There are fortunes to be made in
trading illegal drugs; therefore it is in the interest of gangs
to prevent the restoration of state control. In Sierra Leone,
Order and anarchy
164
groups of bandits in pursuit of loot and diamonds imitate
rebel tactics, making it harder to establish peace negotiations
(Richards 1996: 7, 132).
Stephen Handelman (1994) argues that the rise of the black
market in Russia during the 1960s increased the power of
criminal gangs that had existed for many decades. During the
Chubais privatisation programme, introduced under Presi-
dent Yeltsin, gangs gained control of black market trade and
co-operated with local state of¬cials with whom they shared an
interest in weakening central control over the economy. After
privatisation, a number of criminal cartels became linked to
high government of¬cials, who used organised crime groups
to empower their struggle for control of the industries, banks
etc. that once belonged to the state. ˜The Russian gang is
arguably the only Soviet institution that bene¬ted from the
collapse of the USSR™ (Handelman 1994: 87). In 1997, the
Russian parliament voted by 288 to 6 that privatisation had
been unsatisfactory. Fifty-seven per cent of Russia™s ¬rms were
privatised, but the state only received $3“5 billion, because the
¬rms had been sold at nominal prices to corrupt cliques who
had an interest in sustaining disorder in civil society.

The role of outsiders
Fighting among the Yanomam¨ may partly be caused by
o
competition for trade goods (Ferguson 1995, Fischer 2001:
10 and Helbling 1999: 105). There is plausible evidence that
Chagnon™s selective provision of machetes increased the
severity of raiding among the Yanomam¨ . Tierney argued
o
that Chagnon provoked warfare by distributing machetes
and other metal goods to win the favour of Yanomami from
whom he needed to collect blood samples and genealogies.
The desire for steel implements drew Yanomami from other
villages toward Chagnon, allowing disease to spread and thus
Warfare, biology and culture 165
stoking claims of sorcery. These claims were supported to
some extent by the ¬ndings of the American Anthropologi-
cal Association™s Task Force. The Task Force report quotes a
Yanomami spokesperson, Jos´ Seripino, who told a member
e
of the force, ˜In those days we didn™t have our own motors
and he came with all that material “ his research materials.
The Yanomami needed these things “ we were getting them
from peasants. So one community has them and another not.
Then other communities will get “¬ghting mad” (Spanish
bravo)™ (American Anthropological Association 2002: 2.97“8,
parenthesis in original).
Wrangham and Peterson (1996: 77) claim that violent deaths
among the !Kung (Ju/™hoansi) hunter gatherers of the Kala-
hari are more frequent than in America™s worst cities. Richard
Lee (1979: 382), the leading authority on the Ju/™hoansi, esti-
mates there were twenty-two instances of homicide among
Dobe Ju/™hoansi in the thirty years between 1920 and1955. In
1964 the population, including temporary residents, was 466,
while in 1968 it was 584 (Lee 1979: 43). Fifteen killings arose
in the course of feuds, while seven were single killings that did
not provoke retaliation. Five deaths were prompted by mari-
tal disputes, but at least ¬ve victims were innocent bystanders
(Lee 1979: 383, 389). While this may seem a high death rate,
the homicide rate rose considerably between 1978 and 1980.
In just three years there were seven cases of Ju/™hoansi killing
other Ju/™hoansi, often in drunken brawls. Murders increased
because men were now using weapons issued by the South
AfricanarmyduringtheirwarwithNamibiannationalistguer-
rillas (Lee and Hurlich 1982: 341).
The evidence that many recent wars af¬‚icting nation states
have been rendered more deadly by the introduction of pow-
erful weapons supplied by other nations is overwhelming.
Traditional procedures for resolving disputes may be unequal
to the greater scale of destruction. Firearms were introduced
Order and anarchy
166
into northern Albania during Ottoman Turkish rule, which
made feuding much easier and more lethal (Schwandner-
Sievers 1999: 146). While unable to provide precise dates,
Schwandner-Sievers quotes sources who deduce that muskets
were introduced to neighbouring Montenegro in about 1700,
and ˜modern™ ¬rearms (i.e. breech-loading ri¬‚es) in about
1820. In 1907 an Austrian nobleman carried out a survey of
deaths in thirty villages over a period of ¬fteen years, and
calculated that 19 per cent of deaths arose from feuding.
Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2004), writing on recent vio-
lence on the Indonesian island of Ambon, notes that some of
the contemporary violence resembles a traditional pattern of
violent con¬‚ict management. If, for instance, a close relative
is wounded in a traf¬c accident, brothers and cousins set out
to catch the presumed perpetrator. If found, he will be beaten
severely, perhaps even killed. If the alleged perpetrator is not
found, negotiation and reconciliation can be undertaken by
elderly relatives. Now, however, the traditional social restric-
tions that previously restrained serious escalation seem to be
failing. During the ¬rst month of the con¬‚ict reviewed in
chapter 3 only knives and home-made weapons were used.
Imported guns and automatic weapons have since increased
the level of violence to a previously unknown level. The com-
munity to be defended has expanded from relatives and the vil-
lage to the entire religious community. The elderly no longer
know whom to talk to, or how to re-create peace. The staff
of rural mosques are locally appointed and do not belong to
a hierarchy beyond the village level, while Christian church
organisation is not embedded in adat (traditional law). There
is, therefore, no clear basis on which to re-establish mutual
trust.
In Africa, huge quantities of lethal weapons have increased
violence; arms control is very dif¬cult (Ferguson 2003: 5). In
Warfare, biology and culture 167
nineteenth-century Somalia the most lethal weapon was the
spear, but in 1992 ˜every man and youth I encountered was
very visibly armed with a Kalashnikov, or American equiva-
lent, and there appeared to be plenty of heavy weapons in the
background™ (Lewis 1997: 184). There was also a lively trade
in tanks across the Ethiopian border. Somalia was armed ¬rst
by the Soviet Union and later by the United States. As clan
authority in Somalia broke down during the 1980s, competi-
tion among urban elites was often played out along genealog-
ical lines, but without the constraining rules of customary law
(Besteman, 2003: 292, my emphasis).
At the start of civil war in Chad, in 1966, ˜there were almost
no ¬ghters, nothing to ¬ght with, and no way to get to the ¬ght™
(Reyna 2003: 279). The Frolinat rebels had perhaps a hundred
partisans ¬ghting with lances, while President Tombalbaye
had a thousand soldiers armed with antiquated ri¬‚es and light
machine guns. By Habr´ ™s rule in 1986“7, ˜there were per-
e
haps 20,000 soldiers in different liberation armies armed with
everything from tanks, to missiles, to phosphorus mortars.
Habr´ may have had up to 25,000 people in his army™ (Reyna
e
2003: 276“7). There has, as Steve Reyna (277) puts it, been ˜a
spectacular accumulation of the means of violence in postcolo-
nial Chad™. Many states have been involved, but particularly
France, Libya and the United States.

The restoration of trust
If the breakdown of mutual trust can also be interpreted as the
consequence of moving from a non-zero-sum game to a zero-
sum game, then peace could be restored by persuading oppo-
nents that they can both bene¬t from the cessation of con¬‚ict.
If this is so, they have an incentive to negotiate peace (compare
chapter 2 on the threat of mutual destruction in nuclear war).
Order and anarchy
168
In northern Somalia peace was restored in 1991. Locally based
Somali clans were able, without outside help, to rebuild peace.
They were encouraged by the potential economic bene¬ts of
restoring safe travel in search of pasture and safe trade routes.
David Pratten also shows how effectively local communities
in East Africa can draw on traditional forms of social organ-
isation to combat anarchy and oppression (Pratten 1997 and
2000).
Peace negotiations can be based on a complex assessment of
the relative costs and bene¬ts of alternative plans, in the search
for a Nash equilibrium. Opponents may be persuaded to accept
a compromise that represents the most feasible route to settled
co-existence (Barakat et al. 2001: 177). Sultan Barakat and his
co-authors describe the negotiations they undertook to rebuild
a formerly Muslim village in Bosnia that had been colonised
by Bosnian Croats during the civil war of the 1990s. The most
feasible solution for allowing settled co-existence between the
two parties entailed both sides making compromises. It was
agreed that the Muslim refugees would return to their homes
and rebuild the mosque in return for handing properties above
the current water supply level to the Croats, who would then
bene¬t from a new water supply taking water to higher ground.
External agencies can thus play a part by making co-operation
a precondition for assistance (see also Leutloff-Grandits 2003).
The critical issue concerns the distribution of power between
those who see bene¬t in the restoration of order, and those
who, like the Yanomami unokai, bene¬t from disorder.

c on c lu s i on
Order and anarchy began as an enquiry into why social change
sometimes proceeds in an orderly fashion while at other times
society disintegrates into disorder and civil war. One possible
explanation “ advocated by Thomas Hobbes and Napoleon
Warfare, biology and culture 169
Chagnon “ is that humans are inherently prone to violence,
and will only renounce warfare when the state, or some other
arbiter, can guarantee everyone will adhere to their social
obligations. If the state weakens, anarchy results. Another
possibility “ championed by John Locke and Adam Ferguson “
is that humans have always been capable of building co-
operation and reciprocity through recognition that social
order is in their long-term self-interest. The scope of social
relations, however, ¬‚uctuates according to the extent to which
mutual trust can be relied upon, or wellbeing increased
through joint action. The case studies analysed here support
the latter explanation. Social change can undermine trust and
deprive people of needed resources. Trust is a fragile resource.
Where free-riding brings high rewards (as in the Johannes-
burg gold rush) people may decide they can dispense with
mutual obligations. Where resources are ¬xed, where others™
trustworthiness is doubtful, individuals may sever extensive
social ties to acknowledge only members of a village, kin group
or ethnic community, often one that asserts a superior right to
scarce resources.
Civil society is made up of the relations people construct
among themselves, out of self-interest. I do not discount the
possibility that men and women may act through disinterested
altruism, but it is more persuasive to start from the ˜bottom
line™ “ that self-interest must be satis¬ed if social relations are
to persist. Competition and exploitation are as important in
human society as are co-operation and mutual aid. Whether
civil society is considered a ˜good thing™, or not, depends both
on the character of the social order and the stand-point of the
person passing judgement. Those who believe society should
consist of individual entrepreneurs will advocate a different
kind of civil society to those who believe that mutual aid
is the key to human welfare. Where the state is oppressive,
civil society can play a valuable role in promoting human
Order and anarchy
170
rights. Where a multi-ethnic state is experiencing economic
hardship, factionalism in civil society can destroy the lives of
many citizens.
Chapter 4 has looked at the Yanomam¨ case in detail
o
because I believe it illustrates some fundamental points about
evolutionary approaches to human social behaviour. Charles
Darwin™s theory of evolution emphasised variability and
contingency: variability in behaviour within a population, and
contingency in environments. Even if aggression and warfare
bring bene¬ts to individual Yanomami men, this does not
justify the conclusion that warfare is in any universal sense
adaptive. Not all Yanomami men are ˜killers™, and those who
seek such a reputation take advantage of the particular insta-
bility of Yanomami alliances that stems from the dif¬culty of
sustaining trust between villages. From a global perspective,
the success of one supposed personality type in one speci¬c
social environment is less important than is (as Durkheim
suggested in his study of suicide) a general understanding of
the relative outcomes of different social strategies in different
circumstances.
The arguments for a direct evolutionary link between chim-
panzee inter-group aggression and human warfare are sim-
plistic. Humans differ from chimpanzees in their ability to
construct social relationships on a wider scale, with individ-
uals beyond the local band. Humans have evolved a greater
capacity for learning and for keeping track of multiple social
relations. These skills, seen clearly in the cultural interpreta-
tion of kinship, do not free humans from the constraints of
natural selection, but they do allow us to respond more ¬‚ex-
ibly and with greater innovation to the challenges of social
life. There is undoubtedly a genetic component in our abil-
ity to keep track of the state of reciprocal relationships. The
evolution of the brain can be matched to the size of social
Warfare, biology and culture 171
groups among primates, i.e. apes and monkeys (Dunbar 1993),
but the environment to which such a condition is adaptive is
largely socially constructed. Peacemaking skills have evolved
in concert with the importance of social relationships among
primates (de Waal 1989).
Human warfare arises when the web of social relation-
ships is compromised. Human societies are complex systems
and vulnerable to periods of disorder. The more unstable the
state of the system, the greater the probability that a small,
chance event will de¬‚ect it along a new historical trajectory
(Stewart 1997: 127“9). It is at such moments that sel¬sh leaders
or unscrupulous mass media, as in Yugoslavia and Rwanda,
have maximum opportunity to change the course of history.
In periods of uncertainty, people are willing to accept as leader
anyone who offers a simple and quick solution, however inept
that solution subsequently proves to be. Once people can fore-
see the end of mutual dependence within a wider society, they
may abandon reciprocal obligations and seek to re-establish
relations within a more exclusive group. Warfare can be inten-
si¬ed by the supply of lethal weapons, sometimes beyond the
level that can be handled by local procedures for reconcil-
iation. The manipulative activities of leaders play a part in
fomenting war, whether they are local Big Men in small-scale,
uncentralised societies, or the leaders of nation states. Leaders,
however, can only manipulate social relationships constructed
and sustained, or repudiated, by the communities within which
they operate.
Our species evolved in a social environment. As Adam Fer-
guson put it in 1767: ˜Mankind are to be taken in groupes, as
they have always subsisted™ (Ferguson 1995: 10). Order and
anarchy has argued against the view that the capitalist market
economy is uniquely conducive to the creation of civil society.
Chapter 1 showed that Locke and Ferguson, the originators
Order and anarchy
172
of the concept, regarded civil society as much more widely
applicable. Historical and recent, non-Western examples were
given in support of Locke™s and Ferguson™s position. The book
has therefore argued that ˜civil society™ should include all those
social organisations occupying the space between the house-
hold and the state that enable people to co-ordinate their man-
agement of resources and activities. It has done so in order to
explore the usefulness of Locke™s and Ferguson™s original con-
ceptualisations of civil society, in which people pursue social
relations out of rational self-interest in all types of society,
ranging from humankind™s ˜natural™ condition (in politically

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