In the former posts of this series about violence we addressed The Seville Statement on Violence and the book The Nature of Human Aggression by the anthropologist Ashley Montagu who bases many of his claims on hunter-gatherers’ allegedly non-violent lifestyle.
Our last representative of the thinkers who argue that humans are not naturally violent is Paul Chappell, a captain in the U.S. army who writes and lectures about violence, war and peace.
The following post mainly regards his book Will War Ever End? as well as some of the claims he often argues in his lectures and articles.
Like the former thinkers, he argues that humans are not naturally violent without even mentioning (not to mention considering), humans’ daily and worst expression of violence.
And like the former thinkers he also argues about violence and human nature but refers only to wars as if they are the only expression of violence, and despite that they are not even the worst expression of violence.
One of Montagu’s theory’s main foundations is hunter-gatherer societies which he writes about:
“these people live, more or less clearly approximately the way our ancestors lived during a great part of human evolutionary history, and they afford us some insight into the basic questions of human nature and human culture.
If we are indeed innately violent, if we are really creatures driven by genes to murder our own kind, if we are indeed incapable of controlling the hostile forces within ourselves, we should see these characteristics demonstrated here in these people… and they are peaceful. And friendly. And cooperative. They share their food and their belonging with each other and with strangers. Their relationships with each other are close and loving. They care.”
Like many Rousseauistic romantic anthropologists, his observations of hunter-gatherers societies are extremely biased. Since similar false perceptions are sometimes heard by some animal activists, we find it important to examine these societies from a more critical viewpoint. Continue reading