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Letter Published in Natural History Magazine

I suggest that the underlying motive for conflict is internal to societies and cultures, not external. War and the preparation for war enables people with certain abilities to acquire greater power and more resources, not primarily from their enemies, but in relation to others within their own society.

Suppose I am an engineer skilled at building walls. Because I will do well in times of war, my behavior will subtly favor a culture of war, thereby gaining me higher standing in my society and a larger share of its wealth. True, if there are warlike people in a nearby group, we ourselves must be warlike. But in a sense, those who stand to benefit from conflict within each group are partners in maintaining the dynamic.

Alan Silverman
Stone Ridge, New York

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