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An Anthropological Analysis of War

Bronislaw Malinowski
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Jan., 1941), pp. 521-550
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2769922
Page Count: 30
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An Anthropological Analysis of War
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Abstract

It is confusing to regard individual acts of violence and primitive feuds as general antecedents of modern warfare and fallacious to regard war as a necessary result of man's biological nature. In human societies the impulse of anger is usually tranformed into attitudes of hostility or into acts of violence which are culturally determiden. Within an institution conflicts are subject to the norms of custom, technique, ethics, and law. Werfare is culturally productive when it creates a new institution, a notion-state. The economic motive is not present in warfare until there has developed a body of portable wealth; until food can be preserved and transported and until the productive arts have advanced so that one man can produce more than he consumes. The most important cultural effect of conquest is an enrichment in national life through a division of function between conquerors and conquered and through the development of new institutions in which the conquerors provide the political element and the conquered, the economic efficiency. The note of totalitarianism, in so far as it saps the resources of culture and destroys its structure, is incompatible with the constitution of human societies for the normal business of producing, maintaining, and transmitting wealth, solidarity, reason, and conscience, all of which are the real indices and values of civilization.

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