War is a Consequence of Intelligence


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Mar 8, 2013
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War is a Consequence of Intelligence – History and War (wordpress.com)

Violent competition is normal in nature. Contrary to the idealistic assumption of peaceful cows, herbivores will kill anything they perceive as a threat, competition or merely an annoyance. One of world’s most deadliest large animals is hippopotamus, and of course snakes also do not bite people because they think they can eat a human.

That however is not war. War is group violence in the context of an organized society. Within that context, many animals wage wars, but what defines these animals is a high level of group intelligence. Ants for example may not be individually smart, but they have a high degree of group intelligence, with complex social organization and – for their scale – enormous buildings. And they wage wars pretty much constantly. Most of this is fundamentally hunting strategy, but slave-making ants will raid other ant nests to enslave said ants’ brood.

On the other end of the scale, chimpanzees – apes very close to humans – wage real wars, absorbing territory of the exterminated group in the process. In Gombe chimpanzee war of 1974 – 1978., Kasakela chimpanzees exterminated the males of the Kahama group; some females were also killed while the rest were enslaved. In a sense, this would make chimpanzee wars more brutal than most human wars. And this is not a unique case: chimpanzee groups very frequently kill in order to expand their territory. In some cases, violence is aimed against other spieces, such as chimpanzee attacks on gorillas. Oftentimes, it is caused for competition for resources, which directly leads to competition for territory.

Territorial conflicts play an important role in the evolution. Fighting allows the most capable and populous group to obtain the resources, allowing the good genes as well as beneficial behaviour to spread. As a result, evolutionary fitness of the species is increased. Warfare has driven both biological evolution, leading to increase in intelligence, as well as social evolution, leading to larger and better organized communities.

In fact, if all animals were as intelligent as humans, consequence would be constant warfare. Or rather, intelligent species would fight until one gained dominance and exterminated all the others. Any species that tried to coexist would end up as such naïve groups historically did, being exterminated by the others. End result would be complete annihilation of all multicellular life on Earth.

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