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Thread: Hunter-gatherers more violent than farmers

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    Post Hunter-gatherers more violent than farmers

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau inculcated us with the idea that our prehistoric ancestors, before the rise of civilisations, cities and states, were more peaceful than us. His image of the noble savage was probably more based on some unusually friendly and welcoming Polynesian tribes than on the average human being.

    In an excellent article, The Economist summarises new researches, according to which hunter-gatherers were much more violent than anything we have known in our written history. They lived in a state of constant warfare, and 25-30% of men died of homicide. It is estimated that if 20th century wars had the same death rate as prehistoric warfare, 2 billion people would have died. Women, for their part, were almost bound to be abducted as a sexual prize at least once in their lifetime.

    More here :
    The Economist : Hunter-gatherers - Noble or savage?
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I don't believe this.
    Hunter/gatherers had a lot of space.
    They walked about and followed the game.
    There are tribes that live on the food that women can find. Meat is a luxury. Men go out to hunt.. As an extra.

    The moment when people started as farmers, that had as an immediate consequence they had to protect their crops by defending the area.
    So agriculture made a military presence necessary.

    Agriculture also made it necessary to build stocks in well defended areas, that became cities.

    So, the cities, and agriculture, together with the military organization meant much more wars, than the hunter/gatherers must have known.

    Although an attack on a small group of people must have been more devastating for human DNA distribution. Some DNA groups might be wiped out in a short time.

    We call that genocide nowadays.

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    The article said there was no division of labor between males and females amongst the homo erectus. How can a guess like that be supported?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reinaert View Post
    I don't believe this.
    Hunter/gatherers had a lot of space.
    They walked about and followed the game.
    There are tribes that live on the food that women can find. Meat is a luxury. Men go out to hunt.. As an extra.

    The moment when people started as farmers, that had as an immediate consequence they had to protect their crops by defending the area.
    So agriculture made a military presence necessary.

    Agriculture also made it necessary to build stocks in well defended areas, that became cities.

    So, the cities, and agriculture, together with the military organization meant much more wars, than the hunter/gatherers must have known.

    Although an attack on a small group of people must have been more devastating for human DNA distribution. Some DNA groups might be wiped out in a short time.

    We call that genocide nowadays.
    So what hunter-gatherers did or do when other tribe comes to hunt in their area, and as you said meat is scarce and I say very important. Do they share?
    Do you know history of prairie Indians in America (before white man put them in reserves, of course)? These are the pure hunters-gatherers. This is answer how peaceful the tribal life was.

    The only difference is that hunters-gatherers had small wars, and agriculturalists had big ones. All relative to the population size.

    If meat was just luxurious and not vital, you would see some groups of hunter-gatherers evolving into vegetarianism. As far as I know there are none. That's how important meat was and is in their diet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elghund View Post
    The article said there was no division of labor between males and females amongst the homo erectus. How can a guess like that be supported?
    I didn't read this article, but if you summarised it correctly, it doesn't make sense what they wrote.
    Did they check the anatomy of Homo Erectus? Do males and females look exactly the same?
    If male is bigger and more muscular it will mean that the male is doing more physical work, like hunting and fighting.
    Females, without contraceptives unlike today, are almost always pregnant therefore can't go with man hunting, or fighting. And someone need to stay, feed and tend to kids in the camp almost all the time. It's a perfect job for a man, I guess. :) a little sarcasm.

    I don't think that Homo Erectus was so much different than Homo Sapience. They were our closest cousins, after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    So what hunter-gatherers did or do when other tribe comes to hunt in their area, and as you said meat is scarce and I say very important. Do they share?
    Do you know history of prairie Indians in America (before white man put them in reserves, of course)? These are the pure hunters-gatherers. This is answer how peaceful the tribal life was.

    The only difference is that hunters-gatherers had small wars, and agriculturalists had big ones. All relative to the population size.

    If meat was just luxurious and not vital, you would see some groups of hunter-gatherers evolving into vegetarianism. As far as I know there are none. That's how important meat was and is in their diet.
    As far as I know North American natives didn't know that many wars amongst each other like the natives of South America did.
    The Maya and Aztecs knew agriculture, and used bloody methods like human sacrifices to keep the power.

    Natives in North America knew outcasts though, just like other people.
    The viking raids in Europe were mainly done by bands of outcasts.

    My point is that the higher the grade of organization, the easier it is to wage war. A perfect example is the Roman Empire. They made robbing and stealing into a professional enterprise. And we call that civilization?

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    Keep in mind that inside Roman Empire (once the empire had a good hold on provinces) there was rather peaceful coexistence between peoples, open borders, trade, and in many provinces a bigger prosperity than before. So the empire, and many of them in past, had both sides.
    One mistake you're making is that you think there have to be a higher force, like government or a king to send the men to war. Look around you, what the young men and boys, love to do. These days they spend countless hours in front of a screen playing war games, and before electronics, boys were outside running, fighting, playing war games. They also love playing group sports, and these are not too far away from wars. Two teams going against each other with a common goal of conquering the other side.
    This shows how much we are pre-wired for a war, or hunting. Boys are born ready to fight. The only explanation, for something being so hard wired to the brain, is a million or two years of evolution. Last two, or even more, million years our ancestors spent as hunter-gatherers, we know that for sure. The conclusion is that being a warrior was a primary need for them. We are as eager to fight now, as were our ancestors thousands years ago.
    At the end it doesn't matter why young guys are so eager to go to the war. In any case they fulfill their instinct or let's say a calling. Throw them to Afghanistan, Darfur, Balkans, any conflict recent or past, and they will fight. Reason, religion, or just an order makes only the killing easier. The rest is just a warrior calling, hunter nature, an instinct, and yes we are born with brains and physic for it.

    I can agree that some hunter-gatherers didn’t see much fighting, like Amazon Indians, or (guessing) Australian Aborigines, or Oceania tribes. Scarcity of population and distances making wars rarity. The thing that I don't agree is to think that we are more vicious or more war hungry in agricultural or today's industrial societies. We are capable to do the same bestialities, crimes or genocides as our ancestors were thousands of year ago, or even million. The only difference is the scale of the wars.

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    Sorry, but I don't agree with you.

    Sports and hunting can be seen as a preparation for war, but it seems to be a cultural problem in some countries that people have no problem with going to war.
    Most of the time it is because of unemployment, lack of chances to study.
    Also propaganda and lack of knowing what is happening somewhere else in the world is also a reason.

    For me it is a great mystery why Australians and Canadians went to go fighting for the British in World War 1.
    Fighting nowadays seems only to be normal in the Anglo-American hemisphere.

    Dutch soldiers also fought in Afghanistan, but they were sent there by the Dutch government while most of the Dutch people were against it.
    In The Netherlands military personnel has a low status.
    They are regarded as mercenaries, because that is what they are.

    Another point is, war is more anonymous nowadays. A pilot in a bomber plane doesn't hear the screaming of his victims, doesn't smell the dieing people.
    Only soldiers on the ground get PTSS of what they experience.

    BTW I was in the Navy as a conscript, so I know what I am talking about. ;)

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    I had intended to do a little research on what some other writers came up with on estimated casualties of hunter-gatherer societies before posting on this thread.

    Reinaerts last post, however, drew my ire.
    One reason that we use such a forum is for people to discuss ideas. LeBrok brought some good points. What little boy doesn’t pick up a stick and essentially practice what he may have to do sometime in life? Not to say that I would word a post of mine in exactly the same way, but that is our purpose, to exchange ideas, facts, and thoughts. Reinaert then decided to add something that is so without merit or any shred of credibility that I frankly have little idea of where to start.
    I would have to say that your condition is a symptom of the illness that afflicts the West today. In a world of Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs, too many in the West will not rest content with being sheep but seem to want others to be sheep also. There is no one who likes being able to leave my keys in my car at night or know that my kids grow up in a safe town more than I do. I also would do anything possible to avoid sending people away to fight. But a critical part of what Western culture IS, is the fact that the citizen will stand up at a moments notice, bare his teeth when the wolf arrives, and fight the wolf if necessary. This applies to the nation in general and not just your own family. This is what makes us so much more independent than people from other parts of the world that are more likely to submit easily to foreign rule.

    If you can’t see what motivated the Aussies, New Zealanders, Canadians, etc. to fight in the wars when the parent country needed them, then I have to say that your mind is simply in a sad and wrong place. Those people grew up in prosperous, orderly, and safe society (yes, I know – not perfect). Is anyone going to suggest that they would have had these benefits if not for the culture and protective military power of Britain? Clearly, when London called for help, a properly brought up individual would answer the call.

    Unfortunately, I do believe Reinaert when he mentions what those in the Netherlands say about people in uniform, even those of their own country. It is a pathetic illustration of how Western culture has declined in a nation that has a glorious history of standing up for liberty. Western Europe may have to fight for its very existence in forty years. He and those like him deride Dutch troops trying to stave off that threat. Western Europe is going to have to resurrect its martial spirit if it is planning to exist at all in the future.

    It is, I guess, natural for the sheep not to like the sheepdog. The sheepdog looks like the wolf, has teeth like the wolf, and has the capacity for violence. When the wolf arrives, the sheep run away, and the sheepdog puts himself between them and the wolf. When the wolf is gone, the sheep go back to disliking the sheepdog.

    Essay on Sheep, Sheepdogs, and wolves can be found at below address: http://www.gleamingedge.com/mirrors/...sheepdogs.html


    PS, I know what I am talking about- I was a United States Marine (Not conscripted) for four years, NJ National Guard (again a volunteer) for twelve years, and have been a local law enforcement officer for over twenty years. I love Liberty, freedom, and I am happy with my station in life. I would never bother anyone that did not hurt others or violate civil law. Even those that I have arrested were treated with respect by my me and those who worked under my supervision.

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    Haha. This forum is European. Europeans have had enough of wars.
    If you put down Europeans on a European forum, you aren't going to get any credibility.
    To be honest, American policy in the last 50 years is really insane!

    And there is a nice movie about the behavior of the American National Guard.
    I like the movie "Southern Comfort" ;)

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    lol, Reinaert, you're are just sweet. From your cosy, nice, and warm place that didn't see war for last 60 years, mostly thanks to US and Britain winning the wars and planting democracy again in Germany and Italy. Yes, you can enjoy your peaceful Holland thanks to many soldiers that died in the past. You can thank your existence to many of your ancestors being the better warriors than others, winning wars over their enemies, so their gens could live in you.......but not all of the genes obviously, because the one that makes a man the warrior mutated away from you. That's the reason you don't understand us, other guy, that played wars as kids, threw stones and spears with pleasure.
    Another thing, if not US mighty presence in Europe after WW2, you and your country would be rotting for many years in fascist Germany, or communist Soviet regime, like I did in Poland. You were sheltered by military of other country, so you can live peacefully and post whatever you want.
    And that is probably nothing much to be thankful for. ;)
    BTW I was never in the army, but I can fight and die for my freedoms and my family.

    You're right that unemployment can induce men to the war, and in few ways I must say. But if you think of hunter-gatherers, what type of job did they have? By our standards they were always unemployed. Unless you consider the hunter and warrior the occupation of theirs. Right, they were the warriors and the hunters, by occupation, by birth, by culture, by DNA. Now you have your answer how peaceful they were.

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    I will be brief:

    For the record, I never put down Europeans. I sadly remarked on the all-too-common decline of a major factor of what made Western culture what it is and consequently made the West so free. I see no cause to claim that I have no credibility. On the contrary, I hold that everything that we are here comes from Western Culture, which comes from Europe. Why do you think that I joined a Europe forum, to put down the cradle of my ancestors and their culture? I submit that I could perform a better defense of Western Culture than many.

    For any that did not see it - "Southern Comfort" is a 1970's MOVIE (not real) that portrays a poorly-trained and led unit on training maneuvers in the Louisiana Swamps. They fire machine gun blanks at Cajun people, who answer back with a real shotgun or rifle blast, killing one of the unit. The rest of the movie is mostly about the Cajuns hunting the guardsmen down one by one. It is entertaining enough, but it is still a movie. If Reinaert had half of the spirit of those Cajuns (descendants of French colonists), I would respect him.

    Those that defended the water-logged cities and towns of the Netherlands from the Spanish armies must be rolling over in their graves. I’m a Catholic for crying out loud, but I have more respect and admiration for the best of his country than Reinaert does. Also, those like Piet Hein and Jan Coen were brave and capable men.

    By the way, thanks for the much-needed support that we got from your country when we were fighting for our independence.





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    1 members found this post helpful.
    We are discussing the behaviour of hunter/gatherers here.
    Of course he Netherlands have an army, navy and airforce, but they should stick where they are for. Defence of the homeland.
    Not assisting British and American troops and companies that loot countries like Afghanistan of Iraq.

    Because that was the point I made, when a "civilization" gets on a higher level of controlling the masses, they also are able to build a large fighting force, and in no time that large force is used to loot other countries for gold, silver, oil and whatever is necessary to finance a large military infrastructure.

    Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, because of the gold the Celts had.
    His "Bello Gallico" was nothing more than propaganda to hide his real agenda.

    The British looted in India, South Africa and the rest of their empire.
    In 1914 the British were considered thughs by the Dutch people because of the "Boer War" in South Africa.
    So, in short, the British should have stayed out of continental Europe in 1914.
    Than the war would have been over in 14 days.
    That was also the German plan. Germany had a conflict with Serbia end their Allie Russia. The Germans thought they could pull the same trick against France as in 1870.
    The way Britain and France got a loud mouth again in 1918, after a very hesitating American army fought the last battle, took care the Germans became angry. A seize fire was changed into a defeat.
    Stupid! It induced the Second World war.

    So, why should I as a Dutchman be grateful for wars brought to us by the British in the first place?
    It was all in the interest of their empire, and after that the interest of the American Republic.
    American companies made millions of dollars during world war 2, and came out rich.

    Exactly as I told you complex civilizations like war to dictate their politics on other peoples.
    That has nothing to do with the courage or will to fight of the soldiers.
    With propaganda and a militaristic education you can make every kid fight like a tiger.
    Look at the Hitler Jugend and the SS.
    A few years of lies was enough the get them all gung ho.

    BTW Piet Hein was nothing more than a pirate.

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    Ok, I am fed up with your assertions. I know who Piet Hein is, but I used it to
    illustrate a point about the fighting spirit of those people. Attacking Spanish silver fleets may not be nice, but it is very gutsy, as is being willing to fight a war with a powerful nation such as Spain.

    I will not entertain any more of your claims as doing so would lend a false picture of your credibility. In most places you would be ignored like the mad man with the handwritten sign. Neither LeBrok nor I made any crude or mean accusations to start this. Like I first wrote, I wanted to do some research so I could make a post that was relevant to this thread. (Without pointing fingers at anyone in the process – I like discussion. That is why I am here)

    One last fact that should make you feel better- the US is not looting- we're losing money like crazy over there. Oh yes, we are also still conducting operations in a place which formerly was a safe haven for terrorists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Regulus View Post
    Ok, I am fed up with your assertions. I know who Piet Hein is, but I used it to
    illustrate a point about the fighting spirit of those people. Attacking Spanish silver fleets may not be nice, but it is very gutsy, as is being willing to fight a war with a powerful nation such as Spain.

    I will not entertain any more of your claims as doing so would lend a false picture of your credibility. In most places you would be ignored like the mad man with the handwritten sign. Neither LeBrok nor I made any crude or mean accusations to start this. Like I first wrote, I wanted to do some research so I could make a post that was relevant to this thread. (Without pointing fingers at anyone in the process – I like discussion. That is why I am here)

    One last fact that should make you feel better- the US is not looting- we're losing money like crazy over there. Oh yes, we are also still conducting operations in a place which formerly was a safe haven for terrorists.
    The US are looting.
    And stop your propaganda.
    This is a European site, and we don't buy lies anymore.
    Fighting spirit is bullshit, it comes out of a bottle of rum, or amphetamine (German) or coke.
    Opium is necessary for the production of morphine for a fighting force to shut up wounded soldiers. Bad for moral. Afghanistan is a paradise for American companies.

    So get off your high horse, and shut up.

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    I said that I will longer entertain your false claims.
    Stop being crude, and stop making false accusations.
    This is ridiculous.

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    Lol, the accusation of propaganda mainly come from people spreading one. They ignore facts and logical thinking. They are not open for new ideas nor discussing subject in civilized manner. We have always few around and Reinaert turned to be one of them. Sorry to hear your impertinence, crude manners, and abusive tone.
    If you feel like discussing something on forum, pick the point, like proving how US loots Iraq. Put forward your logic and information, possibly with links to material you base your understanding on. Let's put a dollar value on looting and don't forget research how much US spent rebuilding. Show us the dollar value of your claim. Do you have one, or you just read this somewhere, and believed it? Let us check it out, who knows, maybe you can change our minds with right material?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reinaert View Post
    The US are looting.
    And stop your propaganda.
    This is a European site, and we don't buy lies anymore.
    Fighting spirit is bullshit, it comes out of a bottle of rum, or amphetamine (German) or coke.
    Opium is necessary for the production of morphine for a fighting force to shut up wounded soldiers. Bad for moral. Afghanistan is a paradise for American companies.

    So get off your high horse, and shut up.
    Ironically, the British have a phrase for alchohol-induced bravado. It is called 'Dutch courage'.

    Reinart seems to have little respect for British and American people. The British caused WW2?! Nothing to do with Hitler then? Where was he? Water-painting? Were it not for the British and Americans the Dutch would be speaking German now. Britain didn't come out of WW2 'rich' as Reinart says the Americans did. On the contrary, Britain only recently pad off its financial war debts. Blood debts are not so easy to pay off.

    Easy to insult Britain from behind a computer screen. I bet that you would not dare to say such things in my country. Even our dear, little old ladies would eat you for breakfast, 'Reinart'....

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    I stole some time to look at a book by John Keegan. "A History of Warfare". He comes to a number of conclusions, some of which I would not hold to, but that is why we consult more than one source when we try to learn.

    I think that the general idea of this thread is pretty valid. I had not given it much thought before this. It is believed that societies based on hunting/gathering do not have as many offspring as sedentary communities. This may be from a variety of factors. The land can, of course, support the h/g lifestyle, but it cannot support large populations. It is likely that competition for food sources resulted in warfare on a small scale. I cannot imagine one hungry group approaching another who has access to, say, a productive trout stream and just being willing to pass by unless the second group looks prepared and able to stand their ground. Any conflicts must have been bloody but I would think that the percentage of those killed was fairly low. The instinct for the group to survive must have compelled a weaker group to be willing to pack up and leave before too many of the hunters/defenders were killed or incapacitated or too many of the young women were seized.

    I would hold that, when a more sedentary community is threatened, it may be more likely that they would risk an all-out fight because they have more to lose since they have built up an infrastructure, etc.

    An H/G group has few articles to weigh it down. It can move quickly by design as it needs to follow food sources anyway.

    I do, in general, agree that H/G societies may very well have been very violent. As mentioned earlier, most H/G societies that were still in existence in the 19th and 20th centuries were not only fairly violent but tended to be extraordinarily and shockingly cruel to their captives, both male and female, colonists and fellow natives. The only point that I would question would be the percentages of casualties given. This is a good thread.









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    Well.. Can you agree with me that people from Islands like Great Britain and America can afford to have loud mouths?

    Europeans on the continent have had to seek some diplomatic arrangement for hundreds of years.

    It's not about how vigilant or brave a people is, but how intelligent the leaders are.

    Europe wants a great economy. Friendly relations with Russia at least.
    We can have a Eurasian economy getting stronger and stronger, but Britain and America are on the war path to disturb that European target.
    It's that simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Lol, the accusation of propaganda mainly come from people spreading one. They ignore facts and logical thinking. They are not open for new ideas nor discussing subject in civilized manner. We have always few around and Reinaert turned to be one of them. Sorry to hear your impertinence, crude manners, and abusive tone.
    If you feel like discussing something on forum, pick the point, like proving how US loots Iraq. Put forward your logic and information, possibly with links to material you base your understanding on. Let's put a dollar value on looting and don't forget research how much US spent rebuilding. Show us the dollar value of your claim. Do you have one, or you just read this somewhere, and believed it? Let us check it out, who knows, maybe you can change our minds with right material?
    You are working for the CIA?
    LIES!

  22. #22
    Regular Member Regulus's Avatar
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    For crying out loud, man! I am here to share ideas and learn.

    No one defends the US (Of course not perfect, nor is any other country) more vociferously than I do, but I am not here for this.

    I thought that we were done with this. That is why I posted my revelant thoughts about Hunter/gatherers.

    If I wanted to join a forum where my purpose would be to debate the attributes of my country, I am sure that I would not have a hard time locating one.

    Are you OK, man?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reinaert View Post
    Well.. Can you agree with me that people from Islands like Great Britain and America can afford to have loud mouths?

    Europeans on the continent have had to seek some diplomatic arrangement for hundreds of years.

    It's not about how vigilant or brave a people is, but how intelligent the leaders are.

    Europe wants a great economy. Friendly relations with Russia at least.
    We can have a Eurasian economy getting stronger and stronger, but Britain and America are on the war path to disturb that European target.
    It's that simple.
    No, Reinart, it is not 'that simple'. It is you who are the simplistic, reductionist thinker here, offering laughably unitary explanations for complex politico-social phenomena. You engage in the crudest reification here. Countries are not actors in the sense of individual human beings possessing the means to formulate and act upon decisions. There is no entity called 'Britain' with a 'loud mouth' any more than there is an entity called 'the Netherlands' with a tendency towards capitulation, hippy idealism and Advocaat-guzzling. Countries are not stereotypes and they are all made up of different kinds of personalities.

    By the way, there is no such thing as inherited ethnic/national guilt either so stop bleating like a sheep about the naughty things Britain did in the past. All European countries, if one delves back into history, have at some time been involved in unfortunate bloodshedding.

    Don't make me laugh about mainland Europeans 'having to seek some diplomatic arrangement for hundreds of years'. For the best part of this time, mainland European nations have incessantly warred with each other.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yorkie View Post
    No, Reinart, it is not 'that simple'. It is you who are the simplistic, reductionist thinker here, offering laughably unitary explanations for complex politico-social phenomena. You engage in the crudest reification here. Countries are not actors in the sense of individual human beings possessing the means to formulate and act upon decisions. There is no entity called 'Britain' with a 'loud mouth' any more than there is an entity called 'the Netherlands' with a tendency towards capitulation, hippy idealism and Advocaat-guzzling. Countries are not stereotypes and they are all made up of different kinds of personalities.

    By the way, there is no such thing as inherited ethnic/national guilt either so stop bleating like a sheep about the naughty things Britain did in the past. All European countries, if one delves back into history, have at some time been involved in unfortunate bloodshedding.
    Bla bla.. We were all sinners but the British were the worst of all...
    Agree?


    100 year war against France. Reason.. Looting.

  25. #25
    Regular Member Regulus's Avatar
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    In the immortal words of Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's a wonderful Life", George Bailey says "Oh why don't you go annoy somebody else?"

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