New book searches the origins of human violence

There is no way to escape the fact: the human being is an animal that kills. Not only other animals, the basic need for food is justified. It kills other humans. Since always. For many reasons.

Because he disputes the same sexual partner, because he wants to dominate the same territory, because he simply cannot support the other behavior other than.

But is there a founding milestone of this violence? Archaeological finds point to a thousand years ago, on the shores of Lake Turkana, between present-day Kenya and Ethiopia. indicators of an atrocity that resulted in at least ten deaths, including that of a pregnant woman. Evidence shows that the victims were tied up before being executed, with a weapon made of obsidian, a volcanic glass. from the cruelty perpetrated by Homo sapiens to write the newly released Homo Ferox: The Origins of Human Violence and What to Do to Defeat It (publisher HarperCollins), this nature-preserved photograph portrays that something has always happened since the advent of the species.

With chronological variations, it’s true. There has been a rise in violence over time, with a very violent midway point. But a precipitous fall from the organization of States, he explains, who is a columnist for Folha.

If among the first groups of humans, such hunter-gatherers, homicides were not so recurrent, from the point where agriculture was dominated and people took possession of territories, these disputes began to increase.

Well then, there was no reason to fight, after all. Land, power, social control. The first civilizations were created, and the side effect was the exponential increase in violence.

In the book, Lopes delves into biological, psychological, historical and cultural explanations to draw this panorama.

It is not quite right to think in linear evolutionary terms. The big theme is this paradox at various levels, he comments.

After all, if the creation of the modern State, with its institutions and the normalized relations between people and countries, works as a social shield that In theory, it must ensure that crimes do not happen, also this whole structure that allows the occurrence of increasingly lethal wars and we do not even need to think about the possibilities of weaponry in this millennium, since historical carnages were seen from the Napoleonic conquests to the two great wars World Cups of the Century 20.

However, treating these public moments as an exception, contemporary society tends to be less violent as a result of this cultural invention than civilization itself , with its legal instruments and ethical and moral principles.

On a daily basis, most deaths result from so-called misunderstandings, as any police officer in the homicide department in a large city is tired of. to know. It’s the fights over football or even because one is wanting the other’s wife.

Yes, for the most part, they are male disagreements. In the book, Lopes explains well that this is a reflection of what is called maladaptation, an evolutionary characteristic that ends up having harmful effects on everyday life.

In the past, Homo sapiens fought to perpetuate its genes. And, biologically, men have the ability to generate many more offspring than women. So these disputes for procreation often occurred, it was a time when no one thought about asking the maiden if she wanted to be raffled between two aggressive competitors.

I usually say that the problem of the world is man, and this is one of the most central things, says the journalist.

We evolved into this competition between male members, for prestige, for position, for goods and, ultimately, a dispute for sexual access. This shaped the human psychology of violence.

However, as Lopes emphasizes, this is now a lie. Monogamy is instituted by legal systems, there are contraceptive methods, no one seems to be disputing who will have the greatest offspring.

A man with more children today will not have more political power. Although, in the case of Bolsonaro, we are a little in doubt, comments Lopes.

But the psychological, hormonal and biological incentives that have been installed in our software to follow this path are still are there. the adaptation that was established and these things keep happening, he reflects.

Another residual aspect is the so-called tribalism, the tendency to unite in groups with our fellow men. As society embraces these diverse groups, the ingredients for conflict are on the table.

This division between us and them was once useful in the remote past. Matter of survival. Today, however, it only serves as gunpowder for fights at Sunday lunch and fuels urges to actually get to work.

When there was no effective state arbitration for conflicts, this was somehow accurate . Today there are far more effective mechanisms than going to justice with one’s own hands, but the institute is still there. and, to tame this business, it takes a lot of effort, education, political systems and functioning State, he argues.

that is why, as already proven by several comparative scientific studies between societies with more or more legislation Less permissive, the liberation of weapons is not a good idea.

Disintelligences are the main cause of lethal violence and this is one of the reasons why the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčarming the population is a complete idiocy, says Lopes.

In statistical terms, the author continues, if it is not possible to change the programming that makes the human being someone prone to commit certain stupidities, it is better to reduce access to tools that help them in that.

There is a constant. But we can turn her intensity knob in significant ways, depending on how society is functioning at that moment, she explains.

The good news is that, Homo Ferox demonstrates this, the world is less violent today.

An economic explanation. In the past, wars were more worthwhile: the planet’s financial organization guaranteed more power to those who held control of regions where gold was extracted, for example.

Military clashes meant more resources, more slaves , more riches. They were productive wars, he describes. It was worth it from an economic point of view to wage war.

Today the account does not seem to close. And perhaps it’s no wonder that US President Joe Biden has withdrawn his troops from Afghanistan and has declared that he has no intention of putting his nose to the Talib issue. Becoming a power creating a Silicon Valley in your country than occupying new territories, extracting the monopoly of gold or iron, he compares.

By the way the world economy is structured today, the most encouraging, long-term pocket factor. Give me a hope.


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