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An Anthropological Analysis of War

Author(s): Bronislaw Malinowski


Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Jan., 1941), pp. 521-550
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR
BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI

ABSTRACT
It is confusingto regardindividualacts of violenceand primitivefeudsas general
antecedentsof modernwarfareand fallaciousto regardwar as a necessaryresultof
man's biologicalnature. In humansocietiesthe impulseof angeris usuallytranformed
intoattitudesofhostilityorintoacts ofviolencewhichare culturallydetermined.With-
in an institutionconflictsare subjectto thenormsofcustom,technique,ethics,and law.
Warfare is culturallyproductivewhen it creates a new institution,a nation-state.
The economicmotive is not presentin warfareuntil therehas developed a body of
portablewealth; untilfoodcan be preservedand transportedand untiltheproductive
arts have advanced so that one man can produce more than he consumes.The most
importantculturaleffectofconquestis an enrichment in nationallifethrougha division
of functionbetweenconquerorsand conqueredand throughthe developmentof new
institutionsin whichthe conquerorsprovide the politicalelementand the conquered,
the economicefficiency. in so faras it saps theresourcesof
The note of totalitarianism,
cultureand destroysits structure,is incompatiblewiththeconstitutionofhumansocie-
ties for the normal business of producing,maintaining,and transmittingwealth,
solidarity,reason,and conscience,all ofwhichare thereal indicesand values ofciviliza-
tion.
I. WAR THROUGH THE AGES
In any symposium of social scienceson war a place mightbe
rightlyclaimedforanthropology, the studyof mankindat large.
Obviouslythe anthropologist mustnot appearmerelyas an usher,
heralding theadventofwarin theperspective ofhumanevolution;
stilllessas theclownofsocialscience,amusingthesymposium with
anecdoteson cannibalism or head-hunting,on preposterousmagical
ritesor quaintwardances.
Anthropology has done moreharmthangood in confusing the
issueby optimistic messagesfromtheprimevalpast,depicting hu-
man ancestryas livingin thegoldenage ofperpetualpeace. Even
moreconfusing is theteachingofthosewhomaintainor implythat
war is an essentialheritageof man, a psychologicalor biological
destinyfromwhichmanneverwillbe able to freehimself.'
I The view of the primevalpacifism ofman is associated withthe names of Grafton
Elliot Smith,W. J. Perry; of Fr. W. Schmidtand the othermembersof the Vienna
school. The studiesofR. Holsti, van der Bij, and G. C. Wheelershowthat the "lowest
savages" did not live in a state of "perpetual warfare." This is substantiallycorrect.
It does not,however,justifygeneralizationssuch as Elliot Smith's: "Natural man ....
is a good-naturedfellow,honestand considerate,chaste and peaceful."
The view that war has been, is, and will remainthe destinyof mankindhas been
521

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522 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

Thereis,however, a legitimate rolefortheanthropologist. Study-


ing humansocietieson the widestbasis in timeperspectiveand
spatialdistribution,he shouldbe able to tellus whatwarreallyis.
Whether waris a culturalphenomenon to be foundat thebeginnings
of evolution;whatare its determining causesand its effects; what
does it createand whatdoes it destroy-theseare questionswhich
belongto thescienceofman. The forms, thefactors,and theforces
whichdefineand determine humanwarfareshould,therefore, be
analyzedin a correctanthropological theoryofwar.
All theseproblems havetheirpracticalas wellas theoretical bear-
ing. As a memberofa symposium on war,inspiredby pragmatic as
well as philosophical interests,the anthropologist himselfmustbe
fullyacquaintedwiththepresentcircumstances ofwarfareand the
practicalproblems whichariseoutofourcontemporary crisis.There
is no timeto be wastedon fiddling whileRomeburns-or,morecor-
rectly,whileRomeassistsBerlinin burningtheworld.
Dictated by commonsense,indispensable to soundstatesman-
ship,running through abstractand philosophic reflection,
persistent
in and above the battle criesof intrenched armiesand scheming
diplomacies, themainproblemoftodayis simpleand vital: shallwe
abolishwar or mustwe submitto it by choiceor necessity?Is it
desirableto havepermanent peaceand is thispeacepossible?If it is
possible,howcanweimplement it successfully? Thereis obviouslya
priceand a greatpriceto be paid foranyfundamental changein the
constitution of mankind.Here,clearly,thepriceto be paid is the
surrender ofstatesovereignty and thesubordination ofall political
unitsto world-wide control.Whetherthisis a smalleror greater
sacrificein termsofprogress, culture,and personality thanthedis-
asterscreatedbywaris anotherproblem, thesolutionofwhichmay
be foreshadowed in anthropological arguments.
I thinkthatthetaskofevaluatingwarin termsofculturalanaly-
sis is todaythe maindutyof the theoryof civilization.In demo-

elaborated by S. R. Steinmetzand supportedby such anthropologicalauthoritiesas


Sir ArthurKeith and ProfessorRalph Linton. It has beenpartlyaccepted,amongother
leaders in social science,by Dr. J. Shotwelland ProfessorQuincyWright.A balanced
and clear as well as essentiallysound presentationof the beginningsof warfareand its
real determinantsis to be foundin the article on "War" in the Encyclopaediaof the
Social Sciences,writtenby ProfessorAlvinJohnson.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 523

craticcountriespublicopinionmustbe freedfromprejudiceand
enlightenedas regardssound.knowledge. The totalitarian statesare
spendingas muchenergy, and constructive
foresight, engineering on
thetaskofindoctrinating themindsoftheirsubjectsas in thetaskof
buildingarmaments. Unlesswe scientifically and ethicallyrallyto
the counterpart task,we shallnotbe able to opposethem.At the
same timethe fullculturalunderstanding of war in its relationto
nationality and state,in itsdrivesand effects, in thepricepaid and
advantagesgained,is necessary alsofortheproblemofimplementing
anyfundamental change.
The problemofwhatwar is as a culturalphenomenon naturally
fallsintotheconstituent issuesofthebiologicaldeterminants ofwar,
itspoliticaleffects,and its culturalconstructiveness. In thefollow-
ing discussionof pugnacityand aggression we shall see thateven
preorganized fightingis nota simplereactionofviolencedetermined
by the impulseof anger.The firstdistinction to emergefromthis
analysiswillbe betweenorganizedand collective fighting as against
individual,sporadic, and spontaneous acts of violence-which are
theantecedents ofhomicide, murder, and civicdisorder, but notof
war. We shallthenshowthatorganizedfighting has to be fullydis-
cussedwithreference to its politicalbackground.Fightswithina
community fulfilan entirely different
function fromintertribal feuds
orbattles.Even in theselatter,however, wewillhaveto distinguish
betweenculturally effective warfareand military operationswhich
do not leave any permanent markeitherin termsof diffusion, of
evolution, or of anylasting historicalaftereffect.From all thiswill
emergetheconceptof"waras an armedcontestbetweentwoinde-
pendentpoliticalunits,by meansoforganizedmilitary force,in the
pursuitof a tribalor nationalpolicy."12With thisas a minimum
definitionofwar,we shallbe able to see howfutileand confusing it
is to regardprimitivebrawls,scrimmages, and feudsas genuine
antecedents ofourpresentworld-catastrophe.
II. WAR AND HUMAN NATURE
as in-
We have, then,firstto face the issue of "aggressiveness
stinctualbehavior";in otherwords,ofthedetermination ofwarby
2 Cf. my article,"The Deadly Issue," AtlanticMonthly,CLIX (December, 1936),
659-69.

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524 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

intrinsicallybiologicalmotives.Such expressions as "war is older


thanman,"1 "waris inherent in humannature,"1 "waris biologically
determined" have eitherno meaningor theysignify thathumanity
has to conductwars,evenas all menhave to breathe,sleep,breed,
eat, walk, and evacuate,wherevertheylive and whatevertheir
civilization.Everyschoolboyknowsthisand mostanthropologists
have ignoredthefactsjust mentioned.The studyof man has cer-
tainlyevadedtheissueconcerning therelationbetweencultureand
thebiologicalfoundations ofhumannature.3
Put plainlyand simply,biologicaldeterminism meansthatin no
civilizationcan theindividualorganism surviveand thecommunity
continuewithoutthe integralincorporation into cultureof such
bodilyfunctions as breathing, sleep,rest,excretion,and reproduc-
tion. This seemsso obviousthatit has beenconstantly overlooked
or avowedlyomittedfromtheculturalanalysesofhumanbehavior.
Since,however, thebiologicalactivitiesareinonewaydeterminants
of culture,and since,in turn,everycultureredefines, overdeter-
minesand transmutes manyofthesebiologicalactivities, theactual
interrelation and interdependence cannotbe leftoutsideanthro-
pologicaltheory.We shallhave briefly to definein whatsensecer-
tain phasesof humanbehaviorare biologicalinvariantsand then
applyouranalysisto aggression and pugnacity.
Everyhumanorganismexperiences at intervalsthe impulseof
hunger.Thisleadsto searchforfood,thento theintake,thatis,the
act ofeating,which,in itswake,producessatiety.Fatiguedemands
rest;accumulated fatigue, sleep;bothfollowed by a newstateofthe
organism whichthephysiologist candefinein termsoftheconditions
of the tissues.The sex impulse,moresporadicin its incidenceand
surrounded by moreelaborateand circumstantial culturaldeter-
minantsof courtship, sex taboos,and legal rulings,nevertheless
leads to a definite jointperformance-that of conjugation,which
againis followed by a stateoftemporary quiescenceas regardsthis
impulse.Conjugation maystarta newbiologicalsequenceofevents:
3 The above phraseswithinquotationmarkshave been takenfromcurrentscientific

literatureconcerningwar. The theoreticalproblemsof basic human needs and their


satisfactionin culturehave been fullytreatedin my article,"Culture," in the Encyclo-
paedia of theSocial Sciences,and in an essay on "The Group and the Individual in
FunctionalAnalysis" publishedin thisJournal,XLIV (May, 1939), 938-64.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 525

conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, whichmustoccurregularly


withinanycommunity ifit is to surviveand its cultureto continue.
In all thesesimpleand "obvious"factstherearea fewtheoretical
principles ofgreatimportance. Culturein all its innumerable vari-
etiesredefines thecircumstances underwhichan impulsemayoccur,
and it mayin somecasesremoldtheimpulseand transform it intoa
socialvalue. Abstinences and long-drawn fastsmayslightly modify
theworkings oftheorganism as regardssex and hunger.Vigilsand
prolongedperiodsof intensiveactivitymakerestand sleep deter-
minednotmerelyby organicbut also by culturalrulings.Even the
mostregularand apparently purelyphysiological activityofbreath-
ingis linkedup withculturaldeterminants-partly in thathousing
and sleepingarrangements somewhatconditiontheamountofoxy-
genavailableand therateofbreathing and partlyin thattheact of
breathing, identified
with life itself, been the prototypeof a
has
wholeset of practicesand beliefsconnectedwithanimism.What,
however, can neverbe donein any cultureis thefullelimination of
any of thesevital sequences,imposedon each cultureby human
nature.We can condenseourargument intotheformofthesimple
diagram:
IMPULSE 4 BODILY REACTION -* SATISFACTION

We can say thattheleastvariableas regardsanyculturalinfluences


of the threephasesis the centralone. The actual intakeof air or
food,theact ofconjugation, and theprocessofsleeparephenomena
whichhave to be describedin termsof anatomy,physiology, bio-
chemistry, and physics.The secondimportant pointis that both
links-betweenimpulseand bodilyreactionand betweenthatand
the satisfaction-areas clear-cutphysiological and psychological
realitiesas is thebodilyreactionitself.In otherwords,each culture
has integrally to incorporatethe fullvital sequenceof the three
phases. For each ofthosetripartite vitalsequencesis indispensable
to thesurvivaloftheorganism, or,in thecase ofsexualconjugation
and pregnancy, to thesurvivalofthecommunity. Howevercompli-
cated and substantialmightbe the culturalresponsesto the basic
needsofman-responsessuchas courtship, marriage,and familyin
relationto sex; economicarrangements withinthehousehold, food-

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526 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

producingactivitiesand the tribalor nationalcommisarist, in re-


sponseto hunger-theyare in one way biologically determined, in
thattheyhaveto incorporate eachintegralvitalsequencewithall its
threephasesand linksbetweenthem,intactand complete.
Can we regardpugnacityand aggressiveness and all the other
reactionsofhostility, hate,and violenceas comparableto anyvital
sequenceso fardiscussed?The answermustbe an emphaticnega-
tive. Not thattheimpulseofaggression, violence,or destruction be
everabsentfromany humangroupor fromthelifeof any human
being.If the activityof breathing be interrupted by accidentor a
deliberateact ofanotherindividual, theimmediate reactiontoit is a
violentstruggle to removetheobstacleor to overcomethehuman
act of aggression.Kicking,biting,pushing,immediately start; a
fightensues,whichhas to endwiththedestruction ofthesuffocated
organism or theremovaloftheobstacle.Take away thefoodfrom
thehungry childordogormonkeyandyouwillprovokeimmediate-
ly stronghostilereactions.Any interference withthe progressive
courseof sexualpreliminaries-still more,any interruption of the
physiological act-leads in manand animalto a violentfitofanger.
Thislastpoint,however, bringsus directlyto therecognition that
the impulseof anger,the hostilitiesof jealousy,the violenceof
woundedhonorand sexualand emotional possessiveness are as pro-
ductiveofhostility andoffighting, directorrelayed,as is thethwart-
ingin theimmediate satisfaction
ofa biologicalimpulse.
We couldsumup theseresultsby sayingthattheimpulsewhich
controls aggressionis notprimary butderived.It is contingent upon
circumstances in whicha primarybiologicallydefinedimpulseis
beingthwarted.It is also producedin a greatvarietyofnonorganic
ways,determined bysuchpurelyculturalfactorsas economic owner-
ship,ambition,religiousvalues,privilegesof rank,and personal
sentiments of attachment, dependence,and authority.Thus, to
speakevenoftheimpulseofpugnacity as biologicallydetermined is
incorrect. Thisbecomesevenclearerwhenwe recognize, by looking
at theabovediagram,thattheessenceofan impulseis to producea
clearand definite bodilyreaction,whichagainproducesthe satis-
factionoftheimpulse.In humansocieties,on thecontrary, we find
thattheimpulseof angeris in almosteverycase transformed into

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICALANALYSIS OF WAR 527

chronic statesofthehumanmindororganism-into hate,vindictive-


ness,permanent attitudesofhostility.That suchculturally defined
sentiments can lead, and do lead, to acts ofviolence,simplymeans
thatactsofviolenceareculturally, notbiologically,determined. In-
deed,whenwe lookat theactualcases ofviolentaction,individual,
or collectiveand organized, we findthatmostofthemaretheresult
of purelyconventional, traditional,and ideologicalimperatives,
whichhave nothingwhatsoeverto do withany organically deter-
minedstateofmind.
It is interestingto findthatwhentheargument fora biologicalor
psychological determinism of aggressiveness as something inherent
in man's animalnatureis put forward, examplesfromprehuman
behaviorare easy to find.It is easy to showthat dogs,apes, ba-
boons,and evenbirdsfightoverfemales, food,spatialor territorial
rights.The studyofimmature children inprimitive tribes,orinour
ownnurseries, disclosesthattheargument by violenceis veryoften
usedandhas tobe constantly watchedoverandregulated byadults.4
This,indeed,mighthave suggested to anycompetent observerthat
theelimination ofviolenceandofaggression, andnotitsfostering, is
theessenceofanyeducationalprocess.
Whenwe arefacedwiththequestionwhere,how,andunderwhat
circumstances, acts ofpurelyphysiological aggressionoccuramong
humanadults,we come again to an interesting result.Cases of
sound,normalpeople attacking,hurting,or killingone another
underthestressofgenuineangerdo occur,but theyare extremely,
4 Cf.,forinstance,the argumentsand factualdocumentation givenin the books by
E. F. M. Durbin and JohnBowlby,PersonalAggressiveness and War (London: K. Paul,
Trench, Trubner & Co., I938), and by Edward Glover, War, Sadism and Pacifism
(London: G. Allen& Unwin,I1933). Both thesebooks can be taken as examplesof the
incorrectand insufficientanalysisofwhat aggressivenessreallyis, and ofthe tendency
to confusetheissuesby blaming"human nature"forthepresentcatastrophicincidents
of collective,mechanizedslaughter,whichwe like to call "World War II." Good ex-
amples withoutfaultyinterpretation will also be foundin Frustrationand Aggression,
by John Dollard and others,published by the Institute of Human Relations,Yale
University(I939). To mycolleaguesat thisInstitute,to Dr. JohnDollard and Dr. Neal
A. Miller,I am greatlyindebtedforthebenefitderivedin discussionson aggressiveness
and instinctivebehavior. Part of the presentargumentwas read as a paper beforethe
Monday Evening Group of the Institute,and the suggestionsand criticismsof Pro-
fessorsMark A. May, Clark L. Hull, and Robert M. Yerkes have been incorporated
into this article.

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528 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

rare.Thinkofourownsociety.You can adduce


indeed,negligibly,
numberofcasesfroma mentalhospital.You can also
an indefinite
showthatwithinveryspecializedsituations, suchas in prisonsor
concentrationcamps,in groupscoopedup by shipwreck or some
otheraccident,aggression is fairlyfrequent.Sucha catastrophe as a
theateron fireor a sinkingboat has sometimes, but notalways,the
effect ofproducing a fightforlife,in whichpeopleare trampledto
death and bonesbrokenthroughacts of violence,determined by
panicand fear.Thereare also casesin everycriminal record,primi-
tiveor civilized,ofhomicidalinjuriesor bruiseswhichoccurunder
outbursts ofangerand hatred,or a fitofjealousy.We see that"ag-
gressiveness" withinthe framework of an adult culturalgroupis
foundundertheheadingsof"panic,""insanity,""artificial propin-
quity,"orelsethatit becomesthetypeofantisocialand anticultural
behaviorcalled"crime."It is alwayspartand productof a break-
downofpersonality orofculture.It is nota case ofa vitalsequence
whichhas to be incorporated intoeveryculture.Even more,sinceit
is a typeofimpulsivesequencewhichconstantly threatensthenor-
mal courseofculturalbehavior, it has to be and is eliminated.
III. THE HARNESSING OF AGGRESSION BY CULTURE

Anotherinteresting pointin the studyof aggression is that,like


charity,it beginsat home. Thinkof the examplesgivenabove.
Theyall implydirectcontactand thentheflaring-up ofangerover
immediateissues, where divergent interests
occur,or, amongthe
insane,areimaginedtooccur.Indeed,thesmallerthegroupengaged
unitedbysomecommon
in co-operation, andlivingdayby
interests,
day withone another,the easierit is forthemto be mutuallyir-
ritatedandtoflareup inanger.Freudandhisfollowers havedemon-
stratedbeyonddoubtand cavil thatwithinthe smallestgroupof
humanco-operation, thefamily, therefrequently ariseanger,hatred,
murderous
and destructive, impulses.Sexual jealousieswithinthe
home,grievancesover food,service,or othereconomicinterests
occurin everyprimitive or civilizedhousehold.I have seenmyself
Australianaborigines,Papuans,Melanesians,AfricanBantus,and
MexicanIndiansturningangryor even flaringinto a passionon
occasionswhentheywereworking together,or celebrating feasts,or

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 529

discussingsomeplansor someissuesof theirdailylife.The actual


occurrence, however,of bodilyviolenceis so rarethat it becomes
statistically
negligible.We shallsee shortlywhythisis so.
Thosewhomaintainthat"naturalaggressiveness" is a permanent
causeofwarfare wouldhave to provethatthisaggressiveness oper-
ates moreas betweenstrangers thanbetweenmembers ofthesame
group.The factstakenfromethnographic evidencegivean entirely
differentanswer.Tribalstrangers are aboveall eliminated fromany
contactwithoneanother.Thus,theVeddasofCeylonhavearrange-
mentsby whichtheycan transactexchangeofgoodsand givesym-
bolic messagesto theirneighbors-theTamils and Singhalese-
withoutevercomingfaceto facewiththem. The Australian Abo-
rigineshavean elaboratesystemofintertribal avoidances.The same
appliesto suchprimitive groupsas thePunansofBorneo,theFire-
landers,and thePygmiesofAfricaand Malaysia.5
Besidestheavoidancesthereare also to be foundclearand legal-
ized formsof contactbetweentribes. In Australiaand in New
Guinea,all overthePacific,and in Africawe couldfindsystemsof
intertribal
law,whichallowonegroupto visitanother, to tradewith
them,or to collaboratein an enterprise. In someregionsan intru-
sionon thepartofa stranger, againsttherulesofintertribal law,and
breakingthrough the normal dividingline,was dangerousto the
intruder.He was liableto be killedor enslaved;at timeshe served
as the piecede resistancein a cannibalrepast.In otherwords,the
executionofsucha trespasser was determined by triballaw,by the
valueofhiscorpseforthetribalkitchen, orofhishead to thecollec-
tionofa head-hunting specialist.The behaviorofthemurderers and
ofthemurdered has,in suchcases,obviouslynothing to do withthe
5 Cf. C. G. and B. Z. Seligman,The Veddas (Cambridge,I9II), and G. C. W. C.
Wheeler,The Tribeand Intertribal Relationsin Australia. A fullethnographicanalysis
offactualdata cannotbe givenin this article. The professionalanthropologist will be
able to assess the documentaryevidence of the references.I hope soon to publish a
memoirwith full ethnographicmaterial in support of the presentargument.I am
undera great debt of obligationto the Cross-CulturalSurvey,organizedby Professor
G. P. Murdock at the Instituteof Human Relations,Yale University.In thissurvey
evidenceconcerningwar and intertribalrelationsis fullycollectedand classifiedunder
rubrics43-44. It is accessible to all studentsof anthropology.Dr. StephenW. Reed
and Dr. AlfredMetrauxhave assistedmegreatlyin discussingtheanthropological prob-
lemsand factsbearingon myapproachto war.

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530 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

psychology ofanger,pugnacity, orphysiological aggressiveness. We


have to concludethat,contrary to the prevailing theoretical bias,
aggression as therawmaterialofbehavioroccursnotin thecontact
betweentribalstrangers but withinthe tribeand withinits com-
ponentco-operative groups.
We haveseenalreadythataggression is a by-product ofco-opera-
tion. This latterorganizeshumanbeingsintosystems concerted
of
activities.Such a system,or institution, as we can call it, is the
family.A smallgroupof peopleare unitedunderthe contractof
marriage.Theyare concerned withtheproduction, education,and
socializationofchildren.They obey a system ofcustomary law,and
theyoperateconjointly a household-i.e.,a portionofenvironment
withan apparatusof implements and consumers goods.The clan
and the local group,the food-producing team and the industrial
workshop, theage gradeand thesecretsocietyare one and all sys-
temsofconcerted activities,each organizedintoan institution.6
Let us tryto understand the place of aggressiveness withinan
institution.Thereis no doubtat all that,withintheseshort-range
co-operative and spatiallycondensedformsofhumanorganization,
genuineaggressiveness willoccurmorereadilyand universally than
anywhereelse. Impulsesto beat a wifeor husband,or to thrash
children,are personally knownto everybody and ethnographically
universal.Nor are partners in work or in businesseverfreeof the
temptation to take each otherby thethroat,whetherprimitive or
civilized.The veryessenceof an institution, however,is thatit is
builtuponthecharter offundamental ruleswhich,on theonehand,
the
clearlydeAne rights, prerogatives, and dutiesofall thepartners.
A wholesetofminorandmoredetailednormsofcustom,technique,
ethics,and law also clearlyand minutely lay downthe respective
functions as regardstype,quantity,and performance in each dif-
ferentialactivity.This does not mean that people do not quarrel,
argue,ordisputeas towhether theperformance orprerogatives have
notbeen infringed. It means,firstand foremost, thatall suchdis-
6 I have suggested,in the above-mentioned article"Culture," that this conceptof
institutionis, in anthropologicalanalysis,preferableto that of culturecomplex.This
point will be more fullyelaborated in a forthcoming article entitled"The Scientific
Approachto the StudyofMan," to appear in a volumeentitledMan and Science,ofthe
"Science and CultureSeries," editedby Dr. R. N. Anshen.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICALANALYSIS OF WAR 53I

putesarewithintheuniverseoflegalor quasilegaldiscourse.It also


meansthatthe disputecan alwaysbe referred, not to the arbitra-
mentofforce,but to thedecisionofauthority.
Andherewe comeuponthefactthatthecharter-thefundamen-
tal customary law-always definesthedivisionofauthority in each
It also definestheuse offorceand violence,theregula-
institution.
tionofwhichis, indeed,theveryessenceofwhatwe call thesocial
organizationof an institutionalized
group.The patriarchalfamily
suppliesthefatherwiththerightto ruleand evenwiththeimple-
mentsofviolence.Undermother-right thefatherhas to submit,to a
muchlargerextent,to the decisionsand influences of his wife's
family,notablyof herbrother.Withinthe institution of the clan,
quarrelsand dissensionsareverystringentlyproscribed,fortheclan
inmanycultures actsas theunitoflegalsolidarity.The mythofthe
perfectharmonyof all dansmen,however,had to be exploded.7
Nevertheless,quarrelswithinthe clan are rapidlyand effectively
eliminatedby the definite,centralized,and organizedauthority
vestedin theleadersand the elders.The local groupnot onlyhas
the rightto co-ordinatethe activitiesand the interestsof its com-
ponent householdsand clans; it also has the means of enforcingits
decisionsifviolencehas to be used or prevented.The tribe,as the
widestco-ordinatinggroup,has alsoitslegalcharter,
and ithas often
also someexecutivemeansfortheenforcement ofdecisionsbearing
uponquarrels,disputes,and feudswithinthegroup.
oncemorethatmostfighting
It is characteristic on theprimitive
leveloccursbetweensmallerunitsofthesame culturalgroup.The
members oftwofamiliesor twoclansor twolocalgroupsmaycome
to blows.We haveinstancesofsuchfighting amongtheVeddas,the
Australian andotherlowestprimitives.8
Aborigines, Suchintratribal
7 Cf.my Crime andCustom in SavageSociety (New York, I926), amongothercontri-
butions to this problem.
8 Perhaps the best and most detailed account of a type offightingin whichone clan
functionsas a social unit against anotheris to be foundin LloydWarner'sbook on the
MurnginentitledA Black Civilization(New York: Harper & Bros., I937). His evi-
dence shows that such armed disputes, thoughat times destructiveand lethal, are
carriedout with strictrules, over definiteissues of clan interests;and are concluded
in a peace ceremony,whichre-establishesthe orderoftriballaw afteran infractionby
one of the clan members.All the data, well assembled and classified,can be easily
studiedin the Cross-CulturalSurveyat Yale.

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532 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

fightingis alwaystheresultoftheinfraction oftriballaw. A member


of a clan or a family is killed.A woman is abductedor an act of
adultery committed. Onlyintherarestofcases,a spontaneous brawl
orfight ensuesimmediately. For thereexistrulesoftriballawwhich
definethewayin whichthedisputehas tobe fought out. The whole
typeof fighting betweenfamilies, clans,or local groups is conven-
tional,determined in everydetailbybeliefsand elements ofmaterial
culture,or by values and agreements. The collectivebehaviorin
suchfighting, whichis characteristic oftheprimitive leveloflowest
savages,is guided at every step and is controlled by factorswhich
can be onlystudiedwithreference to thesocialorganization, to cus-
tomarylaw, to mythological ideas, as well as to the materialap-
paratusofa primitive culture.9
Whenthereis a strongrivalry betweentwogroups,and whenthis
leads to a generalstateof mind-generating frequent outbursts of
angerand sentiments ofhatredoverrealdivergences ofinterest-we
findan arrangement in whichoccasionalfightsarenotonlyallowed,
but speciallyorganized, so as to giveventto hostilefeelings and re-
establishorderafterthefeelings have beenovertlyexpressed.Such
occasionaltournament fightstakesometimes pronouncedly peaceful
form.The publicsongsofinsult,bywhichtheEskimoevenup their
differences and expresshatred,grievances, or hostility, are a well-
knownexampleofthis.In CentralEuropetheinstitution ofSunday
afternoon drinking and fighting fulfilsthefunction of an organized
and regulatedexchangeof insults,blows,at times injuriesand
casualties,inwhichaccumulated resentments oftheweekareevened
up. We have a gooddescription of such regulatedfights withinthe
group among the Kiwai Papuans, among the Polynesians,and
amongtheSouthAmericanIndians.
Anthropological evidence,correctly interpreted, shows,therefore,
thatthereis a complete disjunction betweenthepsychological factof
pugnacity and the cultural determination of feuds and fights.Pug-
9 If space wouldallow,we couldshowthatwitchcraft, whichis also an importanttool
of expressinganger or hatred, is a characteristicsubstitutemechanism.The use of
direct violenceis eliminatedby translatingthe reactionof anger into a sentimentof
hatred,and expressingthis,not by any fightingor use offorce,but by mysticalacts of
hostility.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 533

nacitycan be transformed throughsuchculturalfactorsas propa-


ganda,scare-mongering, andindoctrination intoanypossibleoreven
improbable channels.We haveseenthechangein France: thepug-
nacityofyesterday has overnight becomea lukewarm alliance,and
thefriendship ofthemostrecentpastmay,at anymoment, flareup
intothepugnacity oftomorrow. The rawmaterialofpugnacity does
admittedly exist.It is notin anywaythebiologicalcoreofanytype
oforganizedviolence,in thesensein whichwe foundthatsexis the
coreoforganizedfamilylife,hungerofcommissariat, evacuationof
sanitaryarrangements, or themaintenance ofbodilytemperature a
biologicalfactoraroundwhichcenterculturaladjustments ofcloth-
ingand housing.Angerand aggressiveness mayflareup almostat
anymoment inthecourseoforganized co-operation. Theirincidence
decreaseswiththe size of the group.As an impulse,pugnacityis
indefinitelyplastic.As a typeof behavior,fighting can be linked
withan indefinitely widerangeofculturalmotives.
Everywhere, at all levelsofdevelopment, and in all typesof cul-
ture,we findthatthedirecteffects ofaggressiveness are eliminated
by thetransformation ofpugnacity intocollective hatreds,tribalor
nationalpolicies,whichlead to organized, orderedfighting, butpre-
ventanyphysiological reactionsofanger.Humanbeingsneverfight
on an extensive scaleunderthedirectinfluence ofan aggressive im-
pulse. Theyfightand organizeforfighting because,throughtribal
tradition,
through teachings ofa religioussystem, orofan aggressive
patriotism,theyhavebeenindoctrinated withcertainculturalvalues
whichtheyare preparedto defend,and withcertaincollectiveha-
tredson whichtheyarereadyto assaultand kill. Sincepugnacity is
so widespread,yet indefinitely plastic,the real problemis not
whether we can completely eliminateit fromhumannature,buthow
we can canalizeit so as to makeit constructive.
IV. TRIBE-NATION AND TRIBE-STATE

In ourstudyofanthropological evidenceinso faras it throwslight


on modern warfare,we arein searchofgenuineprimitive antecedents
of fighting,such as occurredin historicaltimes,and offighting as
it has becometransformed in the modernworldwars. The use of
violence,clearly,has to receivea fullersociological
treatment. Na-

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534 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

tionalism andimperialism, and eventotalitarianism-in myopinion,


a phenomenon of culturalpathology-mustbe suppliedwiththeir
evolutionary background and theirethnographic antecedents.
We have alreadyseen thatwhentwo clansor twolocal groups
fightwitheachotherwithintheframework ofthesametriballaw,we
dealwithcasesoflegalmechanisms, butnotwithantecedents ofwar.
We haveto facenowthequestionofhowto define, in termsofsocial
organization and of culture,the groupswhichcan legitimately be
regardedas pursuing someprototype ofinternationalpolicy,so that
theirbattlescan be considered as genuineprecursors ofwarfare.
The conceptoftribeand oftribalunitywouldnaturally occurto
everyanthropologist or studentof socialscience.An ethnographic
mapoftheworldshows,on everycontinent, well-defined boundaries
whichseparateone tribefromtheother.The unityofsucha tribe
consists defactointhehomogeneity, at timesidentity,ofculture.All
tribesmen acceptthesametradition inmythology, incustomary law,
in economicvalues,and in moralprinciples.They also use similar
implements and consumesimilargoods.They fightand huntwith
thesameweaponsand marryaccordingto thesametriballaw and
custom.Betweenthemembers ofsucha tribecommunication is pos-
sible because theyhave similarartifacts,skills,and elementsof
knowledge.They also speak the same language-at timesdivided
by somedialecticalvarieties-butgenerally allowingfreecommuni-
cation.As a rule,thetribeis endogamous, thatis, marriageis per-
mittedwithinits limitsbut notoutside.Consequently, thekinship
systemusuallyweldsthe wholetribeinto a groupof relatedand
mutuallyco-operative, or potentially antagonistic,clans. The tribe
in thissense,therefore, is a groupofpeoplewhoconjointly exercisea
typeof culture.They also transmitthis culturein the same lan-
guage,according to similareducationalprinciples, and thustheyare
the unitthroughwhichthe culturelives and withwhicha culture
dies.
In the terminology hereadopted,we can say thatthetribeas a
culturalentitycan be definedas a federation ofpartlyindependent
and also co-ordinated component institutions.One tribe,therefore,
differsfromthe otherin the organization of the family,the local
groups,theclan,as wellas economic, magical,and religiousteams.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICALANALYSIS OF WAR 535

The identityofinstitutions, theirpotentialco-operation dueto com-


munityoflanguage,tradition, and law,theinterchange ofservices,
and thepossibility ofjointenterprise on a largescale-thesearethe
factorswhichmake forthe unityof a primitive, culturally homo-
geneousgroup. This,I submit,is theprototype ofwhatwe define
todayas nationality:a largegroup,unifiedby language,tradition,
and culture.To the divisionas we findit betweenprimitivecul-
turallydifferentiatedtribestherecorrespond todaysuchdivisionsas
betweenGermansand Poles,Swedesand Norwegians, Italiansand
French.In ourmodernworldthesedivisionsdo notalwayscoincide
withtheboundaries ofthestate. Hence,all thecontemporary politi-
cal problemsof nationalism, imperialism, the statusof minorities,
and of irredentist groupsare coveredby the principleof national
self-determination. All suchproblemshingeobviouslyon the rela-
tionbetweennationand state.
The principle ofpoliticalunityorstatehoodcanalsobe found-on
a primitivelevel-in creatingdivisionsas well as in establishing
unity.We knowalreadythatauthority, as thepowertousephysical
forcein the sanctioning of law, existseven at the lowestlevel of
development. We have seenthatit is theveryessenceof thecon-
stitution oforganizedsystems ofactivities,thatis,institutions. We
have seenthatit also functions as thebasis fora widerterritorial
controloftherelationsbetweeninstitutions. At thelowestlevelwe
foundthelocalgroupas the widest co-ordinating unitwithpolitical
prerogatives. If wewereto surveythepoliticalconditions at a some-
whathigherlevelofdevelopment, we wouldfindinmostpartsofthe
world,in Melanesiaand Polynesia,in Africaand partsofAmerica,
thatpoliticalpoweris wieldedbymuchlargerregional groups, united
on theprinciple ofauthority and,as a rule,equippedwithmilitary
organization, the dutyof whichis partlyinternalpolicing,partly
external defense or aggression. Muchofmyownfieldworkhas been
done in the Trobriand Islands, wheresuch politicallyorganized
regionswereto be foundandwherea clearprototype ofa politically
organizedstatecouldbe seenat work.
We have thus introducedanotherconceptforwhichthe word
"tribe"is also used in anthropology. I submitthatthedistinction
betweenpoliticaland culturalunitsis necessary.To implement it

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536 THE AMERICANJOURNAL
OF SOCIOLOGY

terminologically,I suggestthatwe cointhetwoexpressions "tribe-


nation"and "tribe-state."The tribe-nation is the unitof cultural
co-operation. The tribe-state has to be definedin termsofpolitical
unity,thatis,ofcentralized authoritativepowerand thecorrespond-
ingorganization of armedforce.It is clearfromall thathas been
saidthatthetribe-nation is an earlierand morefundamental typeof
culturaldifferentiationthan the tribe-state. The two do not coin-
cide,forwehavemanyinstances ofthetribe-state as a subdivisionof
thetribe-nation. The MaoriofNew Zealand,theTrobriandIsland-
ers, the Zulu beforeEuropean advent,as well as many North
Americantribes,couldbe quotedas examplesofthis.Amongthem
thetribe-nation embracesmanytribe-states. On theotherhand,we
couldadducefromEast and WestAfricaexamplesin whichtwoor
moretribe-nations areunitedwithinthesametribe-state. I have in
mindthekingdoms ofUnyoroandUganda,suchpoliticalunitsas the
Masai or theBemba,all ofwhomhave "subjectminorities" within
theirdominion.I"
The twoprinciples of statehoodand nationality must,therefore,
be keptapartin theory, evenas theyaredifierent in culturalreality.
Nevertheless, therehas alwaysexisteda convergence ofthetwoprin-
ciplesand a tendency towardthecoalescence ofthetwogroups-the
nationand thestate. In Europethistendency, underthe nameof
nationalism, has made its definiteappearancein politicalaspira-
tionsand as a cause of warsand rebellions eversincethe French
Revolutionand theNapoleonicWars. Its mainexponents wereGer-
many,Poland,and Italy,wherethedisjunction ofthetwoprinciples
had beenmostpronounced.Many historians regardnationalism in
thissenseas an entirely newphenomenon of recentEuropeanhis-
tory.In realitynationalism is probablyas old as an earlyappear-
anceofpoliticalpower.On theonehand,a primitive nation,thatis,
a tribecarrying a homogeneous culture,is best protectedagainst
IOSuch conditionscan clearlybe paralleledfromthe map ofhistoricaland even con-
temporaryEurope. Austro-Hungary was a monarchyin whichsomefourteenor fifteen
nationalitieswere federated.Germanybeforethe Napoleonic Wars was a nation di-
vided intomanysmall states. Italy was also parceledout and partlysubject to foreign
rule beforeits unificationin I87I. Poland forone hundredand fifty
yearswas a nation
partitionedamong threelarge states. Switzerlandis a politicalentityembracingfour
componentnationalities.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 537

outsidedisturbances by beingorganizedintoa tribe-state.On the


otherhand,thestrongest is theonewhichcoincideswith
tribe-state
thetribe-nation, is evenunderprimitive
sincepoliticalorganization
conditionsmostsolidlybasedon theassociationwiththegroupwho
are fullyco-operativethroughthe possessionof one language,one
systemofcustomsand laws,one economicmachinery, and one type
ofmilitary equipment.
V. WAR AND PRIMITIVE POLITICS

We can now returnto the roleplayedby fighting in the early


ofstatehoodand nationality.
crystallization As a working hypothe-
sis, we mightsuggestthat once a stronglocal group developed a
militarymachine,it woulduse thisin thegradualsubjugation ofits
neighbors and extensionof its politicalcontrol.Ethnography sup-
pliesus withtheevidencethatfighting betweenlocal groupsofthe
same culturedoes exist.It also suppliesus witha clearpictureof
conditionsinwhichfairly extensive politicalunits,whichformstates
withina largernation,are in existence.The studyofthestatusquo
and of fragments of historyamongthe Maori of New Zealand,
amongseveralAfricantribes,as wellas all we knowaboutthepre-
Columbianhistory ofMexicoand Peru,pointsto thefactthatonce
armedmilitary operationsstartin a region,theytendto theforma-
tionof the nation-state.The archeologist and historianconcerned
withtheMediterranean worldmightshowthatanalogousdevelop-
mentsproducedtheRomanstate,someoftheGreekpoliticalunits,
and theempiresofEgypt,Babylonia,Assyria,and Persia. Warsof
nationalism, as a meansof unifying
therefore, underthe same ad-
ministrativeruleand providing withthesamemilitary machinethe
naturallyhomogeneous culturalgroup,thatis, thenation,have al-
waysbeena powerful forcein evolutionand history.
Warfareof thistypeis culturally productive in thatit createsa
newinstitution, thenation-state.Obviously, sincethepoliticalunit
extendsto embracethe culturalone,bothassumea different char-
acter. The co-ordination of any subdivisionsof such a group,
whetherregionalor institutional, becomestandardized and organ-
ized. Moreover,a nation-state usuallyassumesa muchmorepro-
nouncedcontrolovereconomics and man-power, overcontributions

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538 OF SOCIOLOGY
THE AMERICANJOURNAL

to thetribalexchequerand publicservicesrendered.It can also en-


forceitsdecisions, thatis,sanctionadministrative activitiesand cus-
tomary law. It is legitimate, therefore, to regardfighting ofthistype
as a genuineantecedent ofcertainhistorical wars. For fighting here
functions as an instrument ofpolicybetweentwotribe-states, and it
leads to theformation oflargerpoliticalgroups,and finally, of the
tribe-nation.
It is necessaryto remember that organizedfighting at higher
stagesofsavageryor barbarism doesnotalwayspresentthispoliti-
callysignificant character.Mostofthefighting at thisstagebelongs
to an interesting, highly complicated, and somewhat exotictype:
raidsforhead-hunting, forcannibalfeasts,forvictimsof human
sacrificeto tribalgods. Space doesnotallowme to entermorefully
intotheanalysisofthistypeoffighting. Sufficeit to say thatit is
notcognatetowarfare, forit is devoidofanypoliticalrelevancy; nor
can it be considered as any systematic pursuitofintertribal policy.
Human man-hunting in searchof anatomictrophies,the various
typesof armedbody-snatching forcannibalism, actualor mystical,
as foodformenand foodforgods,presenta phaseofhumanevolu-
tionwhichcan be understood in termsofambition, thirstforglory,
and of mysticalsystems.In a competent analysisof warfareas a
factorin humanevolution, theymustbe keptapartfromconstruc-
tiveor organizedsystemsofwarfare.II
So farwehavedealtwithfighting organized on politicalprinciples
and performing a politicalfunction, and we have dealtbriefly with
sportivetypesof humanman-hunting. Wheredoes the economic
motiveenterintoourproblem?It is conspicuously absentfromthe
of
earliesttypes fighting. Nor are thereasons tofind.Under
difficult
conditions whereportablewealthdoes not exist;wherefoodis too
perishable and tooclumsytobe accumulated and transported; where
slaveryis ofno valuebecauseeveryindividualconsumesexactlyas
muchas he produces-force is a uselessimplement forthetransfer of
wealth.Whenmaterialbooty,humanlabor,and condensedwealth
-i.e., preciousmetalsor stones-becomefullyavailable,predatory
raidsacquirea meaningand maketheirappearance.Thus,we have
to registera newtypeoffighting: armedexpeditions forloot,slave
II "TheDeadlyIssue,"Atlantic December,
Monthly, I936.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 539

wars,and large-scaleorganizedrobbery.We couldquoteexamples


fromEast and SoutheastAfrica, wherecattleraidingwas a lucrative
industryassociatedwithwar. Amongthe northwestern tribesof
America,slaveryis foundperhapsin its simplesttypeand furnishes
oneofthemainmotivesofintertribal feuds.Nomadictribeswho,as
organizedrobberbands,controlled someof the caravanroutesin
NorthAfricaand in Asia, developedand used theirmilitaryef-
ficiencyfora systematiclevyoftribute, and forlootat theexpense
of theirwealthiersedentary, mercantile or agricultural,neighbors.
We have, in the above analysis,made one or two distinctions,
perhapstoo sharply,but forthepurposeof isolatingtheprinciples
whichlead to the appearanceof genuine,purposeful warfare.We
have spokenofnationalism as an earlytendency leadingto political
warsand theformation ofprimitive nation-states.We spokeofor-
ganizedraidscarriedoutundertheeconomic motive.Thesetypesof
fighting veryoftencoincide.It is even moreimportant to realize
thatnationalism, as the tendencyof extending politicalcontrolto
the fulllimitsof culturalunity,is nevera clear-cutphenomenon.
Nationalismseldomstopsat the legitimateculturalboundariesof
the nation.Whetherit be a Hitleror a Chaka, a Napoleonor an
Aztecconqueror, a GenghisKhan or an Inca ruler,he willreadily
and naturallyoverstepthe boundariesof his nation.Nationalism
readilyturnsintoimperialism, thatis,thetendency ofincorporating
othernationsunderthepoliticalruleofthemilitary conqueror.
Here we arriveat a newphenomenon whichhas playedan im-
portantrolein thedevelopment ofmankind.Conquest,theintegral
occupationofanotherculturalarea by force,combinesall thebene-
fitsof loot,slavery,and increasein politicalpower.Conquestis a
phenomenon whichmusthaveplayedan enormous partin theprog-
ressof mankindat the stagewhere,in a paralleland independent
manner, we had theestablishment oflargeagricultural communities
andmilitarily strongnomadicorcattle-raising tribes.Fromthecon-
ditionsfoundin variouspartsof the ethnographically observable
worldand fromtherecordsofhistory we can retraceand reconstruct
the main characteristics of culturallyconstructive conquest.The
bestethnographic areasforthisanalysisare to be foundamongthe
East African tribes,wherewe stillcan studythesymbiosis ofinvad-

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540 OF SOCIOLOGY
THE AMERICANJOURNAL

ingHamiticor Niloticcattlebreedersand nomadswithsedentary


agricultural Bantus. Or,we couldturnto somepartsofWestAfrica,
wherewe findextensive monarchies, in whichthesedentary agricul-
turalWest AfricanNegroeslive underthe ruleof theirSudanese
conquerors.FromtheNew Worldthehistories oftheMexicanand
Peruvianstatesembodyrichmaterialforthis studyof conquest.
The mostimportant culturaleffectof conquestis an all-round
enrichment in nationallifethrougha naturaldivisionof function
betweenconquerors and conqueredand throughthe development
and crystallizationofmanyadditionalinstitutions. The conquerors
providethepoliticalelement;thoseconquered, as a rule,supplyeco-
nomicefficiency. Thisalso meansthattheconquerors, in exploiting
thesubject community, organize a tribalexchequer, institute
taxes,
but also establishsecurity and communication, and thusstimulate
industry and commerce.Undertheimpactoftwodifferent cultures,
the customary law of each tribebecomesformulated, and oftena
compoundsystemof codification is drawnup. Religiousand scien-
tificideas are exchangedand cross-fertilize each other.
War as an implement of diffusionand cross-fertilizationby con-
questassumes,therefore, an important rolein evolutionandhistory.
Suchwar,let us notforget, madea verylate appearancein human
evolution.It could not occurbeforesuch highdifferentiation in
typesofcultureas thatofnomadicpastoralism and sedentary agri-
culturalpursuits.No fruitsof victorywereobtainablein any eco-
nomic,political,or culturalsensebeforeslavery,loot, or tribute
couldbe effected by violence.

VI. THE CONTRIBUTION OF ANTHROPOLOGY


TO THE PROBLEM OF WAR

Glancingback overourpreviousarguments, we can see thatwe


havearrivedat certaintheoretical newto anthropologi-
conclusions,
cal theory.It will stillbe necessaryto showwhereour gains in
clarityand definitionare relatedto modernproblems.
As regardsthetheoretical gains,we have shownthatwar cannot
be regardedas a fiatofhumandestiny, in thatit couldbe relatedto
biologicalneeds or immutablepsychological drives. All typesof
fightingarecomplexculturalresponses duenotto anydirectdictates

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICALANALYSIS OF WAR 54I

of an impulsebut to collectiveformsof sentiment and value. As a


mechanism oforganizedforceforthepursuitofnationalpolicieswar
is slowin evolving.Its incidencedependson thegradualdevelop-
mentofmilitary equipment and organization, ofthescopeforlucra-
tiveexploits,oftheformation ofindependent politicalunits.
Takingintoaccountall suchfactors, we had to establish,within
the genusof aggression and use of violence,the following distinc-
tions: (i) Fighting, privateand angry,withina groupbelongsto the
typeofbreachof customand law and is theprototype of criminal
behavior.It is countered and curbedby thecustomary law within
institutions and betweeninstitutions. (2) Fighting, collectiveand
organized, is a juridicalmechanism fortheadjustment ofdifferences
betweenconstituent groupsofthesamelargerculturalunit. Among
the lowestsavages thesetwo typesare the onlyformsof armed
contestto be found. (3) Armedraids,as a typeof man-hunting
sport,forpurposesofhead-hunting, cannibalism, humansacrifices,
and the collectionof othertrophies.(4) Warfareas the political
expression of earlynationalism, thatis, the tendencyto makethe
tribe-nation and tribe-state coincide,and thusto forma primitive
nation-state.(5) Militaryexpeditionsof organizedpillage,slave-
raiding,and collectiverobbery.(6) Wars betweentwo culturally
differentiated groupsas an instrument ofnationalpolicy.This type
of fighting, withwhichwar in the fullestsenseof thewordbegan,
leads to conquest,and, throughthis,to the creationoffull-fledged
military and politicalstates,armedforinternalcontrol, fordefense
and aggression.This typeof statepresents, as a rule,and forthe
firsttimein evolution,clearformsof administrative, political,and
legal organization. Conquestis also of first-rate importance in the
processesofdiffusion and evolution.
The typesof armedcontest,listedas (4) and (6) and thesetwo
only,are,in form,sociological foundations, and in theoccurrence of
constructive policyare comparablewithhistorically definedwars.
Everyone of the six typesheresummedup presentsan entirely
different culturalphase in the development of organizedfighting.
The neglectto establishthedifferentiation hereintroduced has led
to graveerrorsin the applicationof anthropological principlesto
generalproblemsconcerning the natureof war. The crudeshort-

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542 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

circuiting-by whichourmodern imperialisms, nationalhatreds, and


world-wide lustofpowerhave been connected withaggression and
pugnacity-islargelythe resultof not establishing the above dis-
tinctions,of disregarding the culturalfunction of conflict,and of
confusing war,as a highlyspecializedand mechanized phenomenon,
withanyformofaggression.
We can determineeven more preciselythe mannerin which
anthropological evidence,as thebackground ofcorrectunderstand-
ing and informed knowledge, can be made to bear on someof our
currentproblems.In general,of course,it is clear that sinceour
mainconcern is whether warwilldestroyourWesterncivilization or
not,theanthropological approach, which insistson considering the
culturalcontextofwar,mightbe helpful.
Especiallyimportant in a theoreticaldiscussionof whetherwar
can be controlled and ultimately abolished,is the recognition that
war is notbiologically founded.The factthatits occurrence can-
not be tracedto the earliestbeginnings of humancultureis sig-
nificant.Obviously, ifwarwerenecessary to humanevolution;ifit
weresomething withoutwhichhumangroupshave to decayand by
whichtheyadvance;thenwarcouldnotbe absentfromtheearliest
stages,inwhichtheactualbirthofculturalrealitiestookplaceunder
thegreateststrainsand againsttheheaviestodds. A reallyvitalin-
gredient couldnot,therefore, be lackingin thecomposition ofprimi-
tive humanity, to
struggling lay down the foundations of further
progress.
War, lookedat in evolutionary perspective,is alwaysa highly
destructive event.Its purposeand raison d'etredependon whether
it createsgreater valuesthanitdestroys.Violenceis constructive, or
at leastprofitable, onlywhenit can lead to large-scaletransfers of
wealthand privilege, ofideologicaloutfit,and ofmoralexperience.
Thus, humanity had to accumulatea considerable stockof trans-
ferablegoods,ideas, and principlesbeforethe diffusion of those
through conquest,andevenmore,thepoolingandthereorganization
of economic,political,and spiritualresourcescouldlead to things
greaterthanthosewhichhad beendestroyed through theagencyof
fighting.
Our analysishas shownthatthe workof culturalexerciseis as-

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 543

sociatedwithone of the two widestgroups,the tribe-nation. The


workofdestroying and also ofreconstructingin mattersculturalis
associatedwiththetribe-state. Here,oncemore,it willbe clearto
everysocialstudentthat,in givingthisethnographic background to
theconceptsofstateand nation,ofnationalism and imperialism,we
may have contributed to the theoretical
clarificationof the corre-
spondingmodernfacts.
Whatmattersto us today,as ever,is humancultureas a whole,in
all itsvarieties,
racialand religious,
nationalor affectedby regional
differentiation
ofinterestsandofvalues. Nationhoodinitsmanifold
manifestations, todayas always,is thecarrierofeach culture.The
stateshouldbe theguardianand thedefender ofthenation,notits
master,stilllessitsdestroyer. The Wilsonianprinciple ofself-deter-
mination was scientifically,
hencemorally,justified.It was justified
to theextentonlythateach cultureoughtto have fullscopeforits
development-thatis, everynationoughtto be leftin peace and
freedom.Self-determination was a mistake,
in thatitled to thearm-
ingofnewnationsand morenations,whileit oughtto have meant
onlythe disarming of dangerous,predatoryneighbors.Self-deter-
minationcan be perfectly wellbroughtaboutby theabolitionofall
states,ratherthanby thearmingofall nations.
Thus, the generalformulawhichanthropological analysisim-
poses on sound and enlightened statesmanship is the complete
autonomyof each culturalgroup,and the use of forceonlyas a
sanctionof law within,and in foreignrelations,a policingof the
worldas a whole.

VII. TOTALITARIANISM AND WORLD WARS I AND II


IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Anthropological analysisofmodernconditions cannotstophere,


however;norneed it remainsatisfied withtheimportant but very
generalstatement just formulated. To vindicateits claimof appli-
cabilityto thesavageryofcivilization,as wellas to thecivilizations
of savages,it is necessaryto go a stepor twofurther and submit
the culturalpathologyof today,that is, totalitarian systemsand
WorldWars I and II, to a somewhatmoredetailedand searching
analysis.

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544 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

Worldwar,thatis,totalwar,is,in thelightofouranthropological
criteria,as distinct fromthehistorical warsup to I9I4 as thesewere
different fromhead-hunting or slave-raiding. The influence ofpres-
entwarfare on cultureis so totalthatit posestheproblemwhether
the integralorganization foreffective violence-whichwe call to-
talitarianism-iscompatiblewiththe survivalof culture.
Culture,as weknow,is exercised in eachofitsvarietiesby theco-
operativeworking ofpartlyindependent, partlyco-ordinated insti-
tutionswithinthegroup,whichwedefined as thenation.It hasbeen
thusexercised and transmitted fromtheverybeginnings ofhuman-
ity,rightthrough tothebeginnings ofthiscentury.The foundations
oftheindustrial, liberal,and democratic era which,as I am writing
this,stillsurvivesin theUnitedStatesand in a fewLatin-American
countries, werelaid on theverysamestructure ofinstitutional dif-
ferentiation and co-ordination by the state,whichcontrolledthe
development ofhumancivilization as a whole.The principle of to-
talitarianism, blackorred,brownoryellow,has introduced themost
radicalrevolution knownin thehistoryofmankind.In its cultural
significance it is the transformation of nationhoodand all its re-
sourcesinto a lethal,"technocratic" instrument of violence.This
becomesa meansjustified by theend. The endis theacquisitionof
morepowerforonestate,thatis,morescopefororganizing violence
on a largerscale and forfurther destructive uses. Thus,theend of
totalitarianism, in so faras it graduallysaps all theresources ofcul-
tureand destroysits structure, is diametricallyopposedand com-
pletelyincompatible withtheconstitution ofhumansocietiesforthe
normal,peacefulbusinessofproducing, maintaining, and transmit-
tingwealth,solidarity, reason,and conscience, all ofwhichare the
realindicesand valuesof civilization.
The war of I9I4-I8 was, I submit,different in all fundamentals
fromthehistorical warsofconstructive conquest.In its technique,
in itsinfluence on nationallife,and also in itsreference to theinter-
nationalsituationit becamea totalwar. Fightinggoeson nownot
merelyon all the frontiers geographically possible;it is wagedon
land,on sea, and in theair. Modernwarmakesit impossible to dis-
tinguish betweenthemilitary personnel ofan armyand thecivilians;
betweenmilitaryobjectivesand the culturalportionof national

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 545

wealth,and themeansofproduction, themonuments, thechurches,


and thelaboratories. Linesofcommunication, seatsofgovernment,
centersof industry, and even centersof administrative, legal,and
activityare rapidlybecomingtargetsfordestruction,
scientific as
muchas garrisons, lines,and airdromes.This development
fortified
is notonlydue to thebarbarismof a nationor of a dictator.It is
inevitable,forit is dictatedby the moderntechniqueof violence.
The totalcharacter ofwar,however, goesmuchfurther. Warhas
to transform everysingleculturalactivitywithina belligerent na-
tion. The familyand theschool,thefactoryand thecourtsoflaw,
are affected so profoundly thattheirwork-theexerciseof culture
through autonomous institutions-is
self-contained temporarilypar-
alyzedordistorted.It is enoughto lookat thestatisticsofmobiliza-
tionin man-power, in activity,and in publicopinionto realizethat
at presentit has becomepossibleto transform somehundred million
humanbeingsintoone enormouswar machine.And it is obvious
thatwhentwowarmachinesofthissize are launchedagainsteach
other,theonewiththelessperfect andtotalmobilization is boundto
succumb.I2
12
Fuller data illustratingthe completeremoldingof all nationallifeduringwar and
as preparednessfor war, will be found in ProfessorWillard Waller's symposiumon
War in the TwentiethCentury(New York: Dryden Press, 1940). The fouressays on
economy,the state, propaganda and public opinion,and on social institutionsin war
timeshould,in my opinion,be read carefullyby all studentsofthe subject. They show
that total war completelytransformsthe substance of modernculture. The reader,
pursuingthemin thelightofourpresentanalysis,may be able to drawevenmorepoint-
ed conclusions,especiallyin assessingthat totalitarianism is nothingbut the constitu-
tion of the nationon a war-timebasis. That this effectof war is not generallyunder-
stood or appreciatedcan be seen fromthe finalessay in ProfessorWailer's volume,in
whichDr. Linton, a competentauthorityupon all mattersanthropological,seems to
minimizethe destructiveness ofwar and ofits profoundinfluenceon culture. Speaking
of modernwar, he affirms that "its uniqueness,especiallyas regardspotentialitiesfor
destruction,has been greatly overrated..... The principlesupon which successful
war must be waged have not changedsince the dawn of history,whilethe destructive
intent of war has certainlydiminished ..... In Europe . . . . still otherfactors..
willkeep intentionaldestructionto a minimum ..... It seemssafeto predict. . . . that
.... therewill be no swiftvictoriesagainst large or powerfulnations" (What about
France? op. cit., pp. 535-38). Such opinions,and they are by no means exclusiveto
the writerquoted, showhow easy it is to miss the real issue. Even ifwe admittedthat
the tollofsometwentymillionhumanlivestakenby thelast WorldWar was ofno great
importance;nor yet the fiftymillionmaimedand rendereduseless,we would have to
assess the disorganizationin economicmatters,the lack of securityas regardswealth

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546 OF SOCIOLOGY
THE AMERICANJOURNAL

The stupendous, almostmiraculous successesofHitler'sGermany


haveso dazzledthepublicopinionofneutralsand belligerents alike,
thatsomeofthereallessonshavenotyetbeenlearned.In themin-
gledreactionofhorrorand admiration whichfollowed theBlitzkrieg
againstPoland,the "conquest"ofDenmarkand Norway,withthe
implicitsubjugation ofSweden,thecampaignagainsttheLow Coun-
tries,and theshattering collapseofFrance,manyofus had to fight
hardagainstthe feelingthat,afterall, totalitarianism is "a better
and bigger"regimethan"the decayingdemo-plutocracies." Sound
anthropologicalunderstanding ofthesefactsas culturalphenomena
teachessomething else. An organizedgangof criminals willalways
gaintheupperhandin an armedattackon a bank. The onlychance
thebankhas is,notin fighting thegang,butinhavinga policeforce
to protectit. Andthepolicewillbe reallyefficient ifit prevents the
formation ofan armedgangwithsuchinstruments ofviolenceat its
disposal,as wouldmake defenseimpossible, or at least costlyand
destructive.Preparedaggression willalwaysgetthebetterofunpre-
pareddefense.Defensemustbe preparedso as to preventaggres-
siveness,ratherthanfightit.
Andherewe cometo themostimportant elementin thecultural
assessmentof totalitarianism. Bornout of the firstWorldWar,it
was,inprinciple,nothing lessand nothing morethantheapplication
ofthepoliticaltechniquesdevelopedbetweenI9I4 and I9I8 as the
typeof political,economic,educational,and propagandist regime,
suitableto thecarrying-out of a majorwar.
Nazi Germany developeda systemofvalueswhichcould,through
the techniqueof modernpropagandaand underthe sanctionof a
perfectlyorganizedpolice,be made to becomethe doctrineof the
wholenation.The systemofvalueswas based on thesuperiority of
one race,ofone nationwithinthisrace,and ofone organizedgang
withinthenation.Sucha doctrine, it can be seeneasily,is function-
ally adapted to the creationof highlyartificial, but nevertheless
sentiments
effective, ofsuperiority,aggressiveness,nationalegoism,

and life,and thegeneraldebasementofcivicand ethicalprinciples.The real issue,how-


ever,discussedin the text,is whethertheintegralinfluenceofpreparednessfor,and the
use of,violencedo or do not disorganizethe textureof moderncivilization.

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 547

and a moralitywhichfitsperfectly well into a universalbarrack-


roomdrill.Parallelto indoctrination, therehad to go thecomplete
reorganization of social life. The family,the municipality, the
schools,thecourts,thechurches, and all theinstitutions ofintellec-
tual and artisticproduction wereput directly undertheforcedand
armedcontrol ofthestate.Neverbeforeinhumanity has theautono-
mous workingof component institutions been so completely sub-
mittedto statecontrol.Never,thatis, has the exerciseof culture
becomeso completely paralyzed.Thismeans,in termsofindividual
psychology, thatany differential initiative, any formation of inde-
pendentcriticaljudgment, anybuilding-up ofpublicopinionthrough
discussion, controversy, and agreement, has beenreplacedby a pas-
siveacceptanceofdictatedtruths.As regardsthesocialstructure of
the nation,the controlfromabove has had the effect of replacing
spontaneous solidarity betweenhusbandand wife,betweenparents
and children, amongfriends orpartners, by a mechanically imposed
"spiritofunity,"to be acceptedregardless ofanypersonalimpulse,
reasonablejudgment, or rulingofconscience.
We knowwellhowtheresultsofindividualresearch, theteaching
of the variousreligions, and the creationof artistshave been pre-
scribed,limited,and directed.In religion, notably,we can see that
Naziismis tryingto substitute its owndogmaticsystem,its ritual,
and itsethicsforthoseofChristianity, as wellas fortheestablished
ethicsofWesterncivilization and theconvictions ofscientificjudg-
ment.
It is notnecessary to inveighagainstthetotalitarian system;cer-
tainlythisis not a place formoralindignations or partisanviews.
Scientific ethics,in anycase,mustbe limitedto a clearstatement of
the consequences of a typeof action,whetherthisbe a small-scale
enterprise ora world-wide system.The scienceofman,however, has
alwaystherightand thedutyto pointoutwhattheconsequences of
a culturalrevolution willbe. This is the foundation of all applied
science.Socialsciencemustnotbe afraidofpredicting, anticipating,
and developing someethicsofreason.This does notmeanthatwe
have the dutyor thelibertyof condemning certainendson moral
grounds.We can,however, pointout,ifthisis theresultofourcon-
sideredopinionand analysis,thattotalitarianism mustlead to the

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548 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

destructionofthenationwithwhichit is associatedand,lateron,to
destructionon international scale.
Totalitarianism is an extremeexpression in the shiftof balance
betweenstateand nation.It is extremebecausemodernmeansof
mechanicalmobilizationof man-power, economicresources,and
spiritualvalueshavebecomeso dangerously thatit is now
effective
possibleto refashion wholecommunities-consisting ofhundreds of
millions-andto changeeach of themfroma nation,exercising,
transmitting, and developingculture,intoa belligerent machinery
supremein war,but unsuited,perhapsunable,to carryon thena-
tionalheritageof culture.The Germannation,onceleadingin sci-
enceandinart,richina highly differentiated regionalfolklore,
peasant
life,and economicdiversity, has nowbeenchangedintoa large-scale
barracks.It wouldbe an important historicaltask to showhow
muchof Germany'sgreatnesswas due to the racial,regional,and
traditional differences of its component parts.The progressive ex-
tinctionof thisdiversity is the pricewhichGermany, as a nation,
had to pay in orderto make Germany,the state, so powerful.
Nationalism inthismoderntotalitarian formis pernicious becauseit
has becomethegreatestenemyofthenationitself.
And whatis theplace of totalitarianism in internationalpolicies
and politics?It is obviousthat humanityis now facedwithtwo
alternatives-the finalvictory, in thelongrun,oftotalitarianism or
democracy.No stateorganized on a peacebasis,thatis,forthefull-
est and mosteffective exerciseof civilization, can competewitha
stateorganized forefficiency inwar. Nazi victorycanbe finalonlyif
Hitler'snation-state, one and alone, assumesfull controlof the
wholeworld.If thiswereprobableor evenpossible,we mightwell
arguethatoncehumanity is submitted to one conqueror, thecondi-
tionsofcreativeand constructive conquestwillsetin,withtheusual
beneficent results,obtainedat a greatprice,but finallyacceptable.
The possibilityofa completevictoryofone state does not exist. If
Germany wins,shewillhave at leastthreemoretotalitarian
powers
to reckonwith-Italy,Russia,and Japan. WhenItalyfallsout and
becomesa mereappendageofHitlerism, theUnitedStatesofAmer-
ica mayhaveto entertheranksoftotalitarian
countries.For,on the
assumptionthatGreatBritainis beatenand absorbedintotheGer-

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AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF WAR 549

man-ledtotalitarian block,as Francehas become,theUnitedStates


mustcontinuein isolation.Thiswillmean,again,eitherembracing
totalitarianism or withdrawing intoa precarious stateofsemi-inde-
pendencein matterspolitical,economic, and cultural.Fortunately,
GreatBritainis stillfighting the battleof libertyand civilization
and,as itshabithas alwaysbeen,itmayremainbeatenin all battles
exceptthefinalone.
Totalitarianism, unlessit becomesthe universalempireof one
singlepower,is not a sourceof stabilitybut of age-longperiodic
worldwars. Anthropological analysissupportsthosewho believe
thatwarmustbe abolished.Nationalism, in thesenseofa demand
forculturalautonomy withineach groupunitedby language,tradi-
tion,and culture, is legitimate and indispensable to thecarrying-out
oftheverybusinessofculture.Suchculturalautonomy ofthecom-
ponentpartsofpresent-day humanity is,orwas,theprinciple ofthe
nationallifeofSwitzerland andoftheoldAustro-Hungarian empire;
of the relationsbetweenthepowerful UnitedStatesand its Latin-
Americanneighbors, whowouldbe entirely unableto defendtheir
culturalautonomy by force,butenjoyit,withall-round by
benefits,
thepolicyofthe "goodneighbor."
We are nowlivingin a worldwherefashionscomeand go, and
wherethesoundestidealsandprinciples arediscredited becausethey
areconsidered to havebecomewornoutorworntoolong. Thisatti-
tudeinitselfis almostas pernicious as certaingermsoftotalitarian-
ism. The studentofsocial science ought to fightagainstit. I would,
therefore, reiteratethe beliefswhichinspiredsome of the finest
thinkers and best fighters of the last war. I believethat war can
legitimately be foughtonlyto end war. I believethat the future
peaceofmankindis possibleonlyon a principle ofa commonwealth
ofnations.I believethatin a humanity stilldividedby races,cul-
tures,customs,and languages,a fulltolerancein racialrelations, in
the treatment of nationalities, and nationalminorities, and in the
respectfortheindividual, is theverymainspring ofall progressand
thefoundation ofall stability.The greatenemyoftodayis the sov-
ereignstate,evenas we findit in democratic commonwealths-cer-
tainlyas it has developedintothemalignant growth oftotalitarian-
ism. The realfailureoftheWilsonianLeagueofNationswas due to

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550 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

thefactthatits verybuildersrefusedto pay thepricewhichit ob-


viouslyimposed.Theywerenotpreparedto abrogateone ounceof
theirnationalsovereignty, thatthiswas theverymaterial
forgetting
out ofwhichtheLeague had to be constructed.
Unlesswe courageously, and withdue humility,
resolutely, take
up the principles,the ideals,and the plans whichoriginatedat
firstin Americaand werealso firstdenouncedby thiscountry, we
shallnotbe ableto overcome themajordiseaseofourage. Thismay
be calledtotalwar,or totalitarianism,
or extremestatesovereignty,
or injusticein mattersracial,religious,and national. It always
resultsin the substitution
of forceforargument, of oppressionfor
justice,and ofcrude,dictatedmysticism forfaithand reason.
INSTITUTE OF HUMAN RELATIONS
YALE UNIVERSITY

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