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War, Violent Crime, and Economic Systems

The current U.S. culture, economic, and political system produces an astounding amount of violence. At the local domestic level there is an epidemic of armed robbery, rape, and murder. At the national level we are engaging in offensive wars of choice and spending a tremendous amount of money on increases in military resources despite the fact that soon the U.S. will spend more on military resources than the rest of the world combined.

In the study of primate behavior it has been documented that individual and organized group violence occurs within primate troops. It has been further demonstrated that changes in the level of violence, independent of genetic factors, do occur in response to cultural change. Robert M. Sapolski's article, A Natural History of Peace , in Foreign Affairs magazine, describes a primate troop that undergoes a cultural transformation that results in dramatically decreased levels of violence. The cultural changes that occurred in the baboon troop were one, a change from a very rigid and highly abusive, from superior to subordinate, male hierarchy, to a looser and less abusive male rank structure. And two, a change in how new males were welcomed into the troop. Females, who don't migrate out of their birth troop as adolescent males do, were much more affectionate with new males more quickly than in other baboon troops, and males were much less punitive toward these new males as well. The new males initially entered the troop displaying aggressive behavior that was typical of their troop of origin, but within hours they became socialized to the high affiliation, low aggression culture of the troop they were becoming part of.

The creation of a first floor economy that gives the basic necessities of life as a birthright in exchange for labor is a social structure that in many ways emulates the more peaceful baboon culture identified in observational research. New entrants are welcomed and given access to the necessities of life in exchange for their creative participation in acquiring those resources. Group affiliative behavior around the function of meeting everyone?s survival needs through democratic forms of group organization also emulates the less rigid and punitive rank hierarchy used by the more peaceful baboon troop. This is particularly true when contrasting this new model with the winner take all approach present in our current capital accumulation model of meeting survival needs. The effect of this change in economic system on levels of violent behavior will likely decrease violence as expressed in murder, armed robbery, rape, and war, and that would be both an economic and a human welfare benefit of tremendous significance.

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