Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Summer 2006)
Memes and the Origin of War
H. Keith Henson
Evolutionary psychology and memetics are used here to propose
a model of war. Population growth leads to a resource crisis.
An impending resource crisis activates a behavioral switch in
humans allowing the build-up of memes (i.e., learned elements
of culture), which lead to synchronized attacks on neighboring
tribes. Hamilton's criterion of inclusive fitness is invoked
to account for the evolution of this species typical behavior.
War, as a species typical behavior in the Environment of Evolutionary
Adaptiveness (EEA) of humans is discussed, first as a response
to an attack and then as an unprovoked attack. Unprovoked attacks
are more common when the aggressor population anticipates "looming
privation." The well-known reduction in the ability of
humans to think rationally in war situations is explained in
evolutionary terms as a divergence in interest between the individual
and his genes. Population growth at a higher rate than economic
growth is seen as a major causal factor for wars.