Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace
By Douglas P. Fry, 2007
Perspective of anthropology – vast breadth, cultures from around the world, vast time
Anthropology helps us overcome our tendency to focus only on the
(what is now has always been)
One goal of book is to help people see that there are non violent means to seek justice,
because a cross-cultural perspective shows that much violence stems from people
defending their rights or attempting to correct injustices.
Humans have a tremendous
capacity for resolving conflicts without violence.
“How can we improve the quality of life for all humanity, reduce the social and economic
inequalities that foment hostility, hatred, and terrorism, and create new procedures and
institutions for providing justice and resolving differences without war?”
Chapter 1, “Charting a new Direction”
The cultural, social, and historical context of the
questions they ask, the assumptions they make, and the conclusions they draw from the
“Cultural beliefs about war bias scientific interpretations, affect perceptions of
human nature, and may even close our minds to the possibility of determining
alternatives to armed conflict
Looking at the actual evidence, both cross-cultural and archeological,
will help us evaluate prior views of man’s innate tendency to wage war (the “man the
Man the Warrior:
humans are innately aggressive and warlike by nature, esp.
males, tight evolutionary link between chimpanzee violence and human violence,
emphasize sex differences in aggression as though they were 100%
biological/genetic, recite a litany of barbarity, atrocity, and brutality
humans have a remarkable capacity for working out conflicts without
resorting to violence, and the evidence suggests that humans are NOT warlike by
“ . . . the human potential for conflict resolution tends to be underappreciated, whereas
warfare and other forms of violence tend to be emphasized, exaggerated, and naturalized.
Naturalizing war creates an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy.
If war is natural, then
there is little point in trying to prevent, reduce, or abolish it. . . . this presumption helps