The Biological Function of War: To Save Every Human Child

The members of social species such as ants, bees, wasps, termites, humans, wolves, and baboons, which either coordinate their actions or have specialized members like soldiers, workers, and queens that perform specific functions, have an advantage over other species whose individual members must hunt, forage, and fend for themselves. By coordinating their actions, they are able to behave like parts of a larger organism, for these various parts work in synchronized ways to defend, forage, hunt, nurture, transport, and perform other vital functions to preserve itself. Anyone who has observed the ferocious efficiency of a marauding army-ant colony, which can contain billions of members, and devours every dead or living creature in its path with frightening rapidity, knows that there are few relatively small terrestrial organisms that can withstand or flee from their destructive onslaught. By working together, they are able to debilitate and dismember animals that are much larger than an individual ant. In order to offset the advantage that this coordinated action gives to these social species, Nature has devised an additional means, besides predators and disease, of limiting their numbers, namely war.

Imagine what would happen if there was no war. In that case, different groups of social organisms would continue to multiply and consume all the available food, thus decimating their prey species. When two groups of the same social species encounter each other on a regular basis, this means that they have grown so numerous that their territories have started to overlap. In other words, they have reached the natural limits of their environment to support them, and so their numbers must be reduced and kept in check, otherwise there exists the possibility that they will eliminate all the organisms on which they depend for their survival. As unpleasant as war is to the individuals that suffer its ravages, it is simply one of the various mechanisms that Nature has devised to preserve the primordial Law of Balance. There are some individuals and peoples who have understood the important biological function of war:

It is not rare, even today, to hear Rwandans argue that a war is necessary to wipe out an excess of population and to bring numbers into line with the available land resources.[1]

When Europeans first arrived in the Americas, and before they began to spread like a pestilence over its fertile lands, they encountered many warring tribes. These tribes of fierce warriors periodically attacked neighbouring tribes. Unlike chivalrous European warriors, who spared women and children from their savagery, they had no qualms about massacring men, women, and children of all ages, a practice that earned them the appellation of “bloodthirsty savages.” But from the perspective of Nature, this chivalrous European discrimination makes no sense, since it is women that bear children, and children of both sexes can start begetting children themselves when they are sexually mature, which is marked by the onset of puberty. Disease and predatory animals do not make such nice distinctions, since they do not spare women and children from their ravages.

War has been regarded as one of the worst of the many scourges that have afflicted humanity throughout the ages. In recent times, numerous efforts have been made to eliminate this ancient scourge from our lives. The success of these efforts is shown by the virtually unchecked increase in our numbers in recent decades, to the point where it is more and more obvious that, collectively, we pose a grave danger to the Earth’s many other living creatures. By thinking only about, and seeking only or primarily to improve, our human lives, we have greatly worsened the lives of countless other organisms, whom we callously treat as if they don’t matter, except as means to satisfy our selfish ends, or as natural obstacles to our continued glorious human progress.

Since we want to live lives that are free from the horrific and tragic devastations of war, then it is essential that we voluntarily perform the biological function that war has performed for our species in the past, which is to limit our numbers so that we live in harmony with the Law of Balance, by not exhausting the other living organisms on which we depend for our survival, and by permitting the survival of the many organisms that we are in the process of tragically diminishing and eliminating – in many cases forever – from the Earth.

It is an almost global conviction that we humans should do everything possible to save every human child that is born on the Earth. As a result, we regard it as unquestionably good when the infant mortality rate is reduced as much as possible in all countries, even in places where the inhabitants are desperately poor, and they are not able to feed, clothe, house, educate, and employ all those who are already alive, let alone the many new babies that continue to be born, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year, in a never-ending cycle of human fecundity. In many poorer countries, where foreign doctors and organizations attempt to save every child that is born, in the belief that this intervention against Nature’s natural survival rate, which prevailed during the very long period prior to science and modern medicine’s interventions, is wise and sensible, this has resulted in a population explosion that has reduced the overall standard of living for many of the inhabitants, while it has increased human population pressures on the land, water, plants, and animals.

In Nature, such an extravagant and unnatural survival rate, a rate higher than fifty percent, is not found anywhere, not even among whales, elephants, lions, bears, walruses, or sharks, those animals that have few or no predators once they become adults. In Nature, the survival rate of newborns of all species is lower than fifty percent, and it is usually much, much lower than this. Even human beings, when they lived in a state of Nature, neither dominating over other organisms nor being dominated by them, had a survival rate that was in accordance with these natural rates. It is only during the very recent history of our species, a period that has lasted just a few turbulent and disruptive centuries, that we have exempted ourselves from this unvarying natural pattern of survival. The irony is that, by focusing solely or primarily on the survival of human beings, we fail to see that we are making the long-term survival of our species less and less likely. It is truly a case of not being able to see the forest, or the whole, complex picture of which we humans form only a small, dependent part, for the trees, which represent our obsession with the survival of each and every individual human being.

The very clear result of this exemption, which we foolishly regard as another of the many proofs of our manifest superiority over all other organisms, has been a planetary disaster. We have proliferated like a pestilence over most of the Earth’s habitable land, bringing death and destruction wherever we have established ourselves, as our numbers continue to multiply unchecked. Our extremely myopic understanding, which regards everything that is human as good, and everything that is not human as bad or inferior, and therefore unimportant or not worthy of preservation, fails to see that the desire to save every human child that is born means that a great many other forms of life will necessarily be harmed, reduced, diminished, or driven to extinction by this highly unnatural practice. This is because, unlike all other living creatures, we humans are not content merely to have enough to eat, a simple dwelling made of natural materials, and to reproduce our kind, but we must build all the artificial and often sterile or destructive things that we designate by the term “culture” or “civilization,” which we vainly consider to be of greater worth, and therefore of more importance, than the living Creation of God, whose divine Creation we are in the process of desecrating, diminishing, damaging, and destroying all over the world.

Instead of being regarded as a beautiful, precious, and unique form of life, each new human baby, especially those babies that are born in wealthy countries, should be regarded as an oil-guzzling monster that will consume vast quantities of oil and other “natural resources,” while expropriating, befouling, and altering more and more land, whether for habitation or to grow foods to sate its voracious appetite, or to extract minerals and other substances, all the while producing huge quantities of garbage and pollution, which in turn will cause the deaths of numerous other living organisms, throughout its increasingly prolonged lifespan. For oil will have to be burned to make sure that this insatiable monster is fed, housed, clothed, cleaned, kept warm, educated, entertained, amused, distracted, exercised, informed, fashionably dressed, intoxicated, inspired, saved from boredom, cured when sick or injured, transported from one place to another, protected from dangers, employed, artistically stimulated, and, even after its death, buried or cremated, and its memory honoured or remembered. Of all the many different kinds of life that exist on the Earth, it is only we perverse and unnatural human beings that consume oil, coal, and natural gas, which we are doing in greater and greater quantities, as if their supply were unlimited.

Given the truly catastrophic proliferation of the human population all over the Earth, the only rational course of action for our species to take at the present time is for as many people as possible to make the difficult but necessary decision not to have any children – or if they find this too radical a course to follow, then to have fewer children than the number that they intended to have.[2] For each human child that is not born, and consequently will not go on to live a long life of destructive, polluting, and life-destroying consumption, while potentially begetting even more children in one’s turn, will enable the offspring of all the many other vital, wonderful, varied, and extraordinary life forms with whom we share the planet to survive, reproduce, and perpetuate their kind. By doing so, we will recognize the right of all life forms to exist and thrive, and not only that single, stupid, depraved, and profoundly selfish species known as homo stupidus.

[1] Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition by Jared Diamond, chapter 10. Penguin, New York, 2011.

[2] Without the interventions of modern medicine, agriculture, and other of our human technologies, more than 19 out of every 20 people who are alive today would not be alive, since either they or one of their ancestors would have perished, whether as a result of disease, war, famine, or predation. Hence, the question of whether or not they will beget children would not have arisen, since they wouldn’t be alive to consider it. However, this mandate not to have any children, or to have fewer children than one intended, does not need to be adhered to forever: after a few centuries, if the majority of the world’s population were to follow it, then all those who want children could have them – provided, of course, that they limit themselves to one or two at the most.