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New paper: Why are cultures warlike or peaceful?
Author: Agner Date: 2013-08-19 09:38
My new paper "Why are cultures warlike or peaceful?" is a further development of my cultural r/k theory.

I am explaining why cultures in crisis or danger develop in a warlike and intolerant direction, while cultures under safe and stable conditions develop in a peaceful and tolerant direction. I have found that individuals show a preference for a strong leader and a strict social order in cases of war, crisis or other collective danger, while people prefer an egalitarian society in times of peace and safety. This is a psychological mechanism that I believe has evolved in a distant past. Such a mechanism could be an evolutionary stable strategy because it is able to facilitate collective fighting and suppress free riders.

The paper is both theoretical and experimental. I have tested this theory on ethnographic data from 186 non-industrial societies of the past. It is concluded that:

  • The level of war or intergroup conflict depends on environmental factors
  • A culture under war or conflict will develop in the direction called regal, while a culture under peace and safety will develop in the opposite direction, which I will call kungic, after the !Kung bushmen of Kalahari.
  • It is confirmed that intergroup conflict makes the political system more hierarchical, makes the culture more punitive, makes the religiosity more strict, increases group identity, makes sexual morals more strict, makes children work more, and makes art more embellished, stylized and perfectionist. In the absense of conflict, the culture will develop in the opposite direction.
  • Regality is essentially the same phenomenon as social psychologists call authoritarianism. Regality theory offers a more theoretically sound replacement for authoritarianism theory, free of political bias and ethnocentrism.
  • Regality theory offers interesting contributions to the understanding of diverse aspects of individual psychology, including tolerance, punitiveness, sexual behavior and art preferences, as well as social-level phenomena such as morals, ideologies, religious power, political organization and international conflicts.
  • Regality theory improves the possibilities for a scientific understanding of history based on environmental and technological factors and intergroup relations. Rather than explaining a war as caused by the whims of a particular bellicose leader, we can start to study why this leader was bellicose and, more importantly, why he had enough supporters to stay in power, or why the population did not overturn this despot and replace him with somebody more peaceful.
  • Regality theory can be useful for predicting future political developments.

The text is too long for a journal article and it is my intention to make it into a book. However, the findings are so important that I have decided to publish it already now:

thread New paper: Why are cultures warlike or peaceful? - Agner - 2013-08-19
last reply New paper: Why are cultures warlike or peaceful? new - Agner - 2016-09-21