The Instigator
Pro (for)
12 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

World Peace In Prehistory (5)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/12/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,165 times Debate No: 18755
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)




World peace existed in prehistory (prior to the development of agriculture) . Post development, large scale wars and campaigns broke out, and the world well into turmoil between people warring with each other (civil war) and waging war on other civilizations. Life was better in pre-agriculture times and had an absents of large scale wars and fights (humans killing other humans).

Pro will have to prove that his assertion is true

Con will have to disprove this assertion and make new points on the differences/similarities of the lifestyles (regarding war)

This is an extension of the debate "Agriculture was mankind's biggest mistake", but focuses on the aspects of war and violence (to humans)


war: conflict between two or more groups of people, resulting in acts of violence
peace: absents of war
pre-agriculture: (before 10,000 - 8,000 BC)
post-agriculture: (after 10,000 - modern day)
humans: homo-sapiens-sapiens

No semantics

First round is for acceptance and questions only


Hello I graciously accept this debate from such an informed opponent. I doubt that my knowledge of history is on par with that of the likes of you, however i feel that this daunting task is not an impossible one and therefore i must try my hand in this endeavor. I am new to the rules and regulations of debates, so i am apologizing in advance if i post jargon in an inappropriate stage of the debate. I have no questions for the instigator at this point, however i will like to make a few opening points. I argue that it was not the development of agricutre that lead to the wars (by your definition) rather then a large variety of influences most notably the development settlements of people such as villages(most likely started as hamlets) to satisfy the basic need of security (security being the most important need after the essential basics such as food,water,sleep,excretion ect). Thus when populations grew and the essential need of food could not be satisfied by the status quo of hunting and gathering, people turn to a practice that has been in place for quite some time before the development of sizable population centers, the further domestication of animals and agriculture (agriculture was in practice much during the period where hunter-gathers roamed freely, but agriculture practices did not flourish during this time due to the large amount of labor required for a less then minimum return, it was also preferable to eat meat because at during this time because much of the foods such as milk were an acquired taste). So the expansion of agriculture was actually a product of satisfying the need of security, in turn caused other groups of people to unify for their own security in turn leading established villages to feel threaten and tempted to weaken the state of the rivaling villages by means of violence before the rivaling village could prove to be a immediate threat to the already established village. For this is human nature, the general mistrust of anything that could be perceived as potentially threatening to the security of not only of them selves but as their way of life as well. It is this mistrust that helps fuel the war machine that allows for excess moneys to be invested into war, it is that of human nature that ambitious men rise up and often bring war, it is this that of human nature that we seek new ways to kill those who are seen as a threat. Agriculture is not the soul of the expansion of wars, it was the byproduct of the need of security which lead to war. Fueled by among other things, human nature.
Debate Round No. 1


Con raises the point that agriculture did not directly lead to war, but its byproducts did. This is partly true. Agriculture created the idea of ownership, "wealth", specialization of labor, and population expansion. None of these factors existed in a pre-agricultural world, therefore, agriculture lead to the development of warfare [3].

Agriculture -> Idea of Ownership -> War
Agriculture -> Population Pressure -> Need for Expansion -> War

Idea of Ownership and Wealth

In hunting gathering communities, the idea of ownership did not exist. The clan work together to accomplish a common goal, gather food and reproduce. The game that was killed was shared amongst everyone (assuming they contributed to the clans progress), as well as the gathered wild vegetation. Before the development of agriculture there where little possessions, the most one person may have had would be a spear for hunting (other types of tools), and animal skins to keep war, everything else was shared amongst the clan.

They idea of ownership developed because of the transition to an agricultural lifestyle. Agricultural lifestyle provides a "steadier food supply", which allowed early cultivators accumulate surplus, which ultimately lead to the idea of "wealth". Pottery helps archeologist determine what type of lifestyle a community had. Pots where developed to store surplus, extensive amounts off food, which had never happened before, which lead to a new issue, food storage [6].
In a hunting and gathering community, every member is needed and contributes to the group. Men and women are equal, but have separate roles. Unlike in later history, women contributed to society and had an important role in survival.

Wealth quickly tore apart the natural way of life. In later history, roles of women in society started to become obsolete, as evident in dynastic China [7]. Wealth and "social status" did not only affect women, but also had an impact on people of other races and social classes, which I will expand on later.

Surplus lead to increased wealth and social distinctions (upper/lower caste/classes). The idea of having a different social status was almost immediately followed by the idea of superiority. All throughout history, and even today, we see conflicts between social classes, which often results in war and bloodshed [1].

Conflicts where not uncommon between early cultivators and hunter and gathers. Hunter and gathers would take the food of a cultivator, because they did not understand the idea of ownership, and the farmer would get mad. This caused constant conflict between the two, and expansion of farmers did not help to solve the issue. If the hunter and gathers repeatedly stole from the farmer, the farmer would attack and sometimes kill to get them to leave [5].

Population Pressure

Throughout history, a common reason for migration is population pressure. One example of this would be Ionian (Greek) colonist. Having a surplus and steady food supply contributed to a population explosion. More people where born, but the world did not get any bigger, thus causing less land to be available per person (less resources). Once most of the known world turned to an agricultural state, when famines hit, one could not just move to a new location. Because people did not want to stave, they had to take from others, which lead to a common reason for war [1].
I will make the rest of my points and rebuttals in the following rounds…

[1] War:
[2] Agriculture:
[3] Ownership:
[4] Prehistoric Warfare:
[5] Conflict between lifestyles:
[6] Pottery:
[7] Roles of Women:


Everything you posted in your argument can be attributed more towards human nature then the actual "consequences" of agriculture. Man has a duel nature, as pointed out by Niccolo Machiavelli, man has the ability to reason and to logical however he also has the ability to be savage and beast like in his actions. The idea of ownership would not be a problem if it was not in human nature to be jealous. Thus ambitious men will always find a way to deprive others of their possessions, whether it is by physical force or by intellectual wit. It is also reasonable to believe that even before the idea of ownership was established, that territories that were of high value would have been disputed, such as but not limited to hunting grounds, sources of water and places where edible vegetation were plentiful. If life was difficult and food not plentiful, it would be extremely likely that conflicts between clans would arise in order to compete for resources. For as history has told us that even natives who were ethereal with senses of nature, could be as cruel and savage as those of even the most brutal figures of history. Man is still man and if you strip him down to his most primal state, that is when he is the most dangerous and reckless. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that man's conflicts with each other were always brutal, and since the population of men was relativity low during the time of hunter and gathers, that a small conflict between two kin or clans would be the equivalent of a conflict with a high casualty rate if the two populations were proportionally assessed. For example, if you had a population of fifty and you lost ten of your clan members to a rival clan's raid, it would be equally as devastating if a city state had a population of one million and they lost two hundred thousand citizen soldiers in a war against a rival city state. However it would be easier for the city state to replenish their population as they have more potential mating partners and a better mortality rate then the clan.
I would like to address the point of which you made, stating that it was the wealth that came from agriculture was the cause the deterioration of relations between groups of people. One can argue this as much as they want, however the fact is that wealth was just a tool for developing injustices, and without somebody operating the tools the tool itself would be useless. Men often seek for advantages over their fellowman and once the basic needs for survival has been satisfied then the ability to seek such advantages may be pursued. As Machiavelli said wealth alone can not establish a firm rule over other men. Men who establish their rule by wealth alone can be overthrown with relative ease if they don't lay down the foundations of their rule shortly after maintaining power, for allies who are bought by coins (or the fortune of others) rather then loyalty to the person can not be trusted. Men who obtain power by that of skill and ambition find it harder to obtain power, but once power is obtain their new reign is more secure then that one of bought by the coin. Thus it is reasonable to believe that wealth alone did not contribute to imbalance social system, rather the ambition and nature of man that caused for such deterioration to occur. Thus peace can be only achieved if man was governed in a totalitarian state (an example would be japan's long peace when the period of warring clans came to an end when it was united under the rule of a single clan through efforts of men such as Oda Nobunaga) or if the world reverted to a state where clans were isolated from each other and had to struggle to satisfy the basic needs to survive (and even then struggles within clans for dominance and leadership the clan would be inevitable).

To address the issue of population pressure, biology has demonstrated that each ecosystem has a population limit based on the amount of biomass the ecosystem can support, and even then there are cycles of overpopulation and starvation within each ecosystem (refer to references [1][2]). However agriculture allows for for the expansion of the existing population limit by increasing the ecosystem's ability to maintain a larger amount of biomass. It is true that when there is a surplus, populations increase and thus the surplus dwindles until it is gone and there becomes a shortage. However advances in agricultural sciences and genetic engineering allows for greater and more reliable yields in a shorter time, thus keeping it's ability to keep up with the demands of the growing population.

I would like to take this time to address the benefits that agriculture has brought man.
"Where tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are the founders of human civilization."
--Daniel Webster
Before agriculture it was impossible for arts to flourish, thus man was ignorant of the universe and the world around them. The establishment of agriculture allowed for the expansion of arts in a way which would have been impossible in hunting gathering communities. People could purse arts, science and religion in a manner that would benefit the entire human race. Advances in medicine, science and other studies which has increased the lifespan of a person would not have been possible. Fatality rates would be extremely high from minor injuries such as cuts, broken bones or illnesses, because there was always the risk of infections that would almost certainly kill a person. In pre agriculture life, the lifespan of a person was very short by today's standard (people had to reproduce at a early age, hints why kid's have the ability to reproduce in their early teen years). So agriculture and currency (the representation of a good or service) allowed for man to peruse self enlightenment and new technological wonders. For if currency never existed then the blacksmith or the healer would starve and abandon their career.

Thus if it were not for agriculture and a surplus of food which can trade or sell to his fellow man then men would spend his life living like a beast, blissfully ignorant of the world to be discovered and conquered by him and his fellow homosapien. One may argue that our ability to reason and logic separates us from animal, this is true however animals have some sense of reason themselves. They've learned to adapt and evolved to ensure the survival of their species, this is no different from when man developed tools and developed hunting skills. I argue that the thing that separates us from the beast is our ambition to go on to do greater things, to learn the unknown, achieving the unthinkable and exploring new bold frontiers.

So i conclude that it was not agriculture that was the great evil on the contrary it allowed for breakthroughs that benefited all of mankind. Rather it was man's greatest asset and biggest liability, ambition. For if a man who seeks self advancement in society in expense of others will almost always bring some form of misery vice versa, when a man is bent on helping those around him or in the name of the greater good by means of medicine or education or in any direct or indirect manner, he was almost always uncertainly bring good fortune upon those whom he seeks to help.

Debate Round No. 2



Con's main points are; human nature is the reason of war, opposed to the consequences of the development of agriculture; the idea of ownership was preexisting (competition for resources), wealth is just a tool used for oppression, agriculture allowed for human control of population (as a good thing), and that many benefits came from the development of agriculture.

Human nature would naturally lead to war:

Man is natural competitive, and sometimes savage like, but only a savage when need be in order to survive. If you look the most devastating wars in history, they were fought between two or more agricultural states, no large scale wars have been between two groups of hunter and gathers.

Hunter gathers did have disputes over territory, but once one of the groups know that the other group was willing to fight them to defend their territory, the back off, you can also see this between mammals such as wolves and lions, they fight to be the alpha and they loser accepts the loss and leaves or backs down, killing does happen, but it is rarely deliberate or intentional.

As Jared Diamond puts it, "inequality separates the haves and have not's". In other words, inequality throughout the world is due to the development and ability to produce an agricultural state. When the Spanish conquistadors came to the America's, there technology enabled them to wipe out the natives [5]. The conquistadors took advantage of the natives because they "have" and the natives "have not" [3]. The natives only fought back because they had to, for defense.

The idea of ownership was preexisting:

Hunter and gather peoples did not have a surplus, so therefore they add little possessions and no "wealth". The only thing that other members of the same or different clans could be "deprived from" would be ability to mate (women), and food.

The development and use of agriculture allowed man to be able to focus on other things, one of them being war and conquest. Just the fact that there is often a solider or warrior class or caste in a society, tell you a lot. Warrior and Higher classes often had an easily life full of luxury, because they did not do hard manual labor to achieve food, yet it was given to them. One reason for war is to obtain more wealth; greed led to war.

After division of labor started to occur, different classes got their food different ways. The farmer got food from the food they grew, while all the other classes bought or stole the food. An example of a society being reliant on taking the food of other would be the Mongol Hoard [4]. When the Mongols raided a village, they would take the food, thus, having and not having stockpiled food lead to war. "Because agriculture allows food to be stockpiled and enables some people to do things other than look for food, it led to the invention of more and better weapons, soldiers, warfare, class divisions between those who had access to [stockpiled] food and those who did not [1]". Knowing that others had stored food that could be taken by force, wars broke out between those who had (wealth) and those who did not. Because hunter gathers did not have stored food, this does not apply to them.

Agriculture allowed for human control of population (as a good thing):

This debates focus is on war, so I will only address the points that are relevant to this debate. When food could not be self-obtained, it was taken from others by force, "Armies march on their stomachs" [2]. By having a large population, internal and external conflicts occur. Each person born means less per person. If there is enough food to feed a group of ten, then by having a group of twenty would mean that each person would only get half. Because there are ten more people then there is enough food, there is a need for either more food, or more space, both of which lead to warfare.


[1]Farming is the Root of All Evil:
[2]An Edible History of Humanity: pgs. 145-196
[3] Guns, Germs, and Steel:
[4]Mongol Conquest:
[5] Conquistadors:
Debate Round No. 3


Con posted the wrong argument so I will only use this round as conclusion, while if Con wants, will be able to make her argument for round 3.


After the development of agriculture, man was able to diverge from being purely focused on finding food. Because of this, many things happened, which lead to warfare and conquest. The idea of ownership, population pressure and need for expansion, greed, and addiction luxury, and social and racial indifference, all led to deadly wars. The ability to develop specialization of labor, and focus and weaponry also contributed to the after math of wars. All these causes are a byproduct of the development of agriculture; therefore, they were non-existent in pre-agriculture/hunter gather times. If the sense that is was in absents of war, hunter and gather times where more peaceful, worldwide. Evidence from my argument suggest that "Life was better in pre-agriculture times and [was absent from] large scale wars and fights (of humans killing other humans)"; I have proved my original assertion.



Human Nature Leads to War:
You state that man only kills when out of necessity, and if there were disputes between territories between tribes over territory they would have a clean fight and the victor will keep their claim to the land. This is partly true, when tribes or groups of people lives in close proximity of each other they would often raid each other in fear of being raided first. It's a common scenario take this as an example, a robber enters a house with a gun, the home owner wakes up and (being a good american) get's his gun from his nightstand to see what the noise is, it is at this point which the robber and the home owner meet each other in the hall way, neither of them want to shoot the other but they are both thinking that if they don't shoot the other they will get shot themselves. This was the mentality of tribes, it wasn't until treaties and the trading of surpluses (mutual relationship) that tribes had a reason not to strike another without reason.
You argument of social inequality being developed by surpluses and wealth, i still stand by my conclusion that wealth is only a tool used by the ambitious to find obtain advantages over their fellowman. For truly ambitious men will find a way to achieve their goal even when they lack the resources to do so, in order to place themselves higher in a man made society.

The idea of ownership pre-existing.
I would like to take this time to agree with you that before agriculture that there was little to no wealth. However one must consider the use of hunting to prepare for war. Through out time hunting has been used as a way to train children for the horrors of war, teaching them to be patient and never to hesitate to deal a striking blow when the time is right. This has proven to be an effective training from ancient times to modern times. For example Vasily Zaytsev the hero of Stalingrad was a adept hunter killing his first wolf at the age of 5, he lived in the Ural mountains allowing for plenty for practice, during Stalingrad he had a confirmed 242 kills within 4 months.[1]
As for you're references to the mongol conquests, one must understand the reasoning of which why Mongolia would seek to invade, historians believe that the combined drop in annual temperature (causing growing seasons to be shorter), trade disruptions with china, and Tenggeri (sky god) granting Chinggis Khan permission to unite the world under one sword were all factors which drove the Mongols to mass conquest. [2] Thus as you stated earlier in round 3 "Man is natural competitive, and sometimes savage like, but only a savage when need be in order to survive. ", the Mongols savagery was justified.

Agriculture allowed for human control of population (as a good thing):
As response to the quote "Armies march on their stomachs" thus leading food being taken by others. I will give you two example in which armies did not take locals(or condemned this action). George Washington of the United States and Hannibal of Carthage. Washington knew that if he was to win the war he must have the support of the local population, thus he did not allow for his troops to force quarter upon the locals and condemned the taking of foods and supplies from the locals. As a result his army was often under supplied (of course foraging parties were allowed to hunt and gather) to and during winter campaigns the soldiers ate mostly fire cake (water and flour cooked on a rock over a fire). However this strategy worked, the locals despised the British whom they would have to give quarter to and give they supplies and food over uncontested. Thus as the war went on more colonials favored the continental army in the way they went about the war. Hannibal of Carthage faced a similar scenario in the second Punic war, in which he tried to conquer Rome. But once he reached the Italian peninsula he could not receive any supply or reinforcements from Carthage, so he had to rely on the city states withing the peninsula to aid him. He could not have appeared to be barbaric by simply ransacking the city states for out of concern for their own safety they would seek alliances with Rome. So Hannibal went out on a shock and awe strategy, hoping to win over the favor and support of city states in the area by showing off his mercenary army and more notably the elephants that came with him. He showed the he could defeat the Romans in any engagement by winning several consecutive wins most notably the Battle of Cannae in which his army killed 70,000 Roman and Roman allies in roughly 6 and a half hours.[3] The Romans could not win in a conventional fight, so they ultimately won by strengthening their allies defenses, avoiding directly confronting Hannibal and isolating those who helped him. Although this was a slow process, Hannibal was left out to dry leaving him with no alternative besides retreating.

I would not like to respond to the statement claiming that a growing population means less for everybody. Though in theory this is true advances in agricultural sciences and generic engineering allows for more the be produced quickly. In the hunting-gathering society, food was not easily available one had to spend a reasonable amount of time to obtain it. Though in theory hunting gathering communities would have a lesser rate of hunger then we have, but that is in theory and in reality several factors beyond the hunter-gather communities control could affect the community thus bringing severe food shortages.

The rate of violence is declining.
Steven Pinker writes a interesting perspective of the decline of violence with history in his "the myth of violence" presentation. In which he states you were 35 times more likely to be murdered back in in the middle ages then you would be now. He states that casualties suffered now are lowed to very small percents or parts of percents of a population when they go to war. [4][5] He also states that our ancestors were far more violent then we were and it's been in a steady decline since then, and today we are living the most peaceful existence in our history. He also states that in non-states hunter gathering communities men would be much more likely to die at the hands of an other man then in more recent history. A example he gives is that the Jivaro would have a 60 % chance to die at the hands of an other man opposed to in the 20th century US/Europe where a man had a few small percentage of dying at the hands of another man(this includes both world wars and the genocide of Mao,Stalin and other notorious dictators). He then goes on into his presentation four reasonable explanations explaining the decline in violence. [4]

Thus is can be concluded that man was violent even during the times of hunting-gathering societies. Agriculture can not be accused of increasing violence for as shown by Steve Pinker violence has been on a declined over time. You can not accuse the wealth created by surpluses for creating inequalities in society, for it is in human nature to try and obtain an edge over their fellow man, thus is the very reason why true communism could not work. Despite the belief that everyone is equal in a true communist society, men will always seek to have an advantage over their other fellow man. Also the myth that hunger and turmoil did not affect hunting gathering communities, can also be debunked due to the adverse conditions weather and other biotic and abiotic factors, which can bring shortages in food thus leading to immigration and disputes within the community and disputes of territory with other communities. Thus leaving us reason the believe that agriculture was quite beneficiary to the human race.

Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Mikeee 6 years ago
Good debate
Posted by OldIronGuts 6 years ago
I would like to take this time to thank my opponent for being understanding of my mistake and applaud him for his understanding.
Posted by Mikeee 6 years ago
Just post your round 3 and conclusion for round 4 in the last round.
Posted by OldIronGuts 6 years ago
Uhmm i posted the wrong response in the wrong argument.
I someone forfeited the last round on a different debate, and i accidently posted "bump" on this debate. So i don't know how this'll play out. or where to how we should do the last round.
Posted by Lordknukle 6 years ago
i have no interest in this debate topic.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by seraine 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Con could have easily won this by citing empirical evidence. Even if wealth was just a tool to get power over others, it was still only possible because of agriculture. 3:1 Pro.
Vote Placed by imabench 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pretty good debate. Con sounded more convincing to me even though the pro made a lot of good arguments. Well done to both sides
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I am nullifying Crypto's vote, since he appeared to vote based on avatars. Even in that case, I am hesistant to give either side a point for argument so far...Mikee's argument could easily have been steered to Con's side about human nature, but that does not necessarily mean that there was no world peace, though...
Vote Placed by Crypto247 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Wins only due to my little pony avatar. But imo they were both equals in the debate.