Ancient Group Strategies Writ Large

– FORESTLANDS: Aristocratic Ethics: What will someone not retaliate against even if we agree to it?(rulers/teleological ethics:outcomes) The ethics of warriors who must hold territory. This is a very high cost strategy because while professional warrior aristocracy is militarily superior, smaller numbers mean threats must be constantly suppressed when small, as soon as identified.

– BORDERLANDS: Cosmopolitan(Jewish) Ethics: What will someone consent to Regardless of future resentment and retaliation? (borderland/subculture/deontological ethics:rules) The ethics of diasporic, migrating traders, or herding peoples who can prey upon the locals who hold territory. This is a very low cost (parasitic) ethics that avoids all contribution to the host commons, but requires preserving the ability to exit (migrate). It is the raider strategy by systemic and verbal rather than physical means.

– STEPPELANDS: Russian(Orthodox) Ethics: What can I get away with now by negotiation and subterfuge, and hold by force later? (steppe raiders) The ethics of steppe people surrounded by competitors, always hostile and unpredictable. This is a difficult and expensive but only possible strategy, when one is surrounded by hostile opportunity seekers. While seemingly expansive, it’s actually a fearful one – aggression as the only possible means of controlling defensive positions across open territory.

– RIVERLANDS: Chinese Ethics: What can I get away with now, but over time make impossible to change later? The ethics of long term ruling bureaucratic class. Sun Tzu strategy, and Confucian hyper familism. This is an exceptionally cost-effective strategy if one possesses a territorial resource (heartland), and can fortify that heartland. Riverlands strategy defends against Steppland and Desertland strategies.

– DESERTLANDS: Muslim Ethics: (I am still working on this one because I don’t get that it’s causal, but opportunistic.) What can I justify now in order to make this minor advance now? And thereby accumulate wins by wearing down opponents over long periods. The ethics of opportunism. As far as I can tell islam is just an excuse for justifying opportunism. We can consider this the combination of religion and justifying opportunism – a long term very successful strategy becuase it’s very low cost.

– HOSTILELANDS: African Ethics (pre-christian). Africa is akin to the Desertlands because of the sheer number of competitors, the hostility of the disease gradient, the plethora of wildlife, combined with the primitiveness of the available technologies. This is the only possible strategy until one or more core states can evolve, and create sufficient stability in some regions. (this is occurring now).

It is a mistake (always), to consider conflicts within states over local power (capital allocation), as of the same consequence as conflicts between civilizations over borders. Because the former is a kinship conflict over priorities, while the latter is a genetic conflict over group evolutionary strategies.

Curt Doolittle
The Philosophy of Aristocracy
The Propertarian Institute


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