Raiding among tribes:
One of the sad things about existence is that those who live in the most beautiful environments seem to have the worst attitudes toward outsiders.  Specifically, tribes in undeveloped societies seem constantly to be at war.  One is reminded of the words in the poem “Father Calls Me William,” when the boy reflects that one of the adults he is trying to charm wants him to grow up to be a missionary like her brother, who was eaten by cannibals in Ceylon, “Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.”  Nature seems for no accountable reason to be beautiful just about anywhere she is left along.  She can be improved upon perhaps with a garden, and indeed the largest and most beautiful garden was probably North America at the time of the arrival of Europeans.  The inhabitants had taken great care to sculpt the land, mostly by judicious burns, into a place inspiring awe.  But nature does a good job anyway.  Undeveloped societies usually leave nature alone, if nothing else for lack of serviceable bulldozers. 

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, he is trying to come to grips with the mystery of Africa, which continent still baffles and frustrates both the well meaning and the greedy.  He describes a group of natives who are resigned to their condition because they cannot leave, rightly assuming that as wandering strangers they would be put to death by the first people they met.  It did not end there.  I understand that in Sierra Leone, one of the way the rebel forces would recruit for their army was to enter a village and force boys to shoot the tribal elders.  The boys could then be taken into the army, knowing that if they ever returned home they would be executed and if they went anywhere else, they would not be accepted, to say the least. 

American natives we are told referred to their home territory as their “stamping ground.”  Anywhere else they had to tiptoe or risk being attacked and put to death in a very unpleasant way. 

One may be inclined to think of such people as “poor, ignorant wretches that know no better,” and I am inclined to agree when it comes to violence toward people suspected of witchcraft.  I cannot offer any excuse for that one.  In fact some days I wonder if the popular Harry Potter stories have had an ill consequence in come countries where attacks now occur on children suspected of witchcraft when there were no such attacks in the recent past.  It would appear that it never occurred to them that children could be witches, too.  I have no idea what might motivate such behavior.

But in the case of ordinary tribal warfare, there might be a perfectly good explanation.  Consider what life would be like in the absence of warfare.  There would still be famine, disease, bad weather, dangerous animals and the constant risk of accident or of getting lost.  Life would be dangerous even in the absence of threats from other people.  But instead of responding to the multiple hazards by deciding that at least people would not hurt each other, they appear to make a considerable commitment to doing just that. 

By now you have figured out where this is going.  In order for the tribe to survive the enormous losses to an uncontrolled if beautiful environment, there must be a high birth rate.  The way to achieve that is to restrict the mating pool size.  And the punishment for even the appearance or risk of mating outside the closed gene pool may be death.  And on that project, both sides cooperate.  And it probably works.  The occasional loss of life incurred by enforcing the rule is more than made up for by the higher birth rate of the smaller gene pool. 

Of course in a developed society what is needed is not a maximum birth rate, but a stable birth rate at about replacement level.  And we now know enough to be able to make a rational decision about how to try to get there.  We could at least try.  If we do not, if we persist in the adulation of the wide open gene pool, then our birth rate will continue to fall, and we shall abandon the planet to those who are willing to adopt brutal but effective measures to maintain their gene pool integrity even if they do not know why.  This would not be doing them a favor.

The prevalence of tribal war among undeveloped societies is another effect of the thing we have been tracking. 

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