Capitalism needs war, does it not? This is the rhetoric thrown around by many anti-capitalists. The following is a conjecture formulated based on knowledge of human history and the evolutionary past of humanity. It still requires further testing, but as it stands, it is quite reasonable to assume that it is indeed a valid view point, at least as valid as those view points of the “great economics” who had very little real world knowledge to go by when producing their economic theories.
Capitalism needs war; this is the mantra of many anti-capitalists in the world. Why? Maybe it’s because they see mega corporations profiting off of war, or maybe it’s because they simply do not understand capitalism.
Looking at Evolutionary History
Our Distant Relatives
Let’s step back for a moment and look at the evolutionary history of the human species. Many millions of years ago, the distant ancestors had to find a way to manage limited resources that were available to them. This is a problem faced with every single species, and that is what drives evolution. Somewhere along the way, warfare became a selective trait for gaining resources. The strong took resources from the weak and went on to find mates, which allowed them to pass on their genes to others. We see this trait in our close relatives, the Chimpanzees, which while generally supportive of those within their own group, often have extremely violent war campaigns against neighboring groups.
Why Humans are Different
Obviously we see the warlike behavior in humans, and history is littered with warfare. However, we also see activity in humans that we do not see in other animals to any large degree: managing resources through economic systems. An economic system is a system of rules and procedures about how to manage limited resources and capitalism is one of the most advanced forms of economic systems.
How Does Capitalism Relate to War
So how does capitalism relate to war? Well, capitalism is an alternative to war. Instead of fighting and killing to acquire resources, we come up with new ideas and build businesses. Those who are successful business owners and employees obtain resources to prosper and the material possessions necessary to impress a potential mate. This is all done without lethal force and as a byproduct, we obtain innovations that push the entire human race forward and allow even better use of limited resources. Capitalism replaces warfare. We no longer need to kill others to gain resources and to impress mates. We can accumulate resources through economic decisions. In addition, because capitalism means innovation, we can add new resources to the inventory.
One might question then, why war still exists, even when we have capitalism. Well capitalism isn’t perfect, and our warlike tendencies haven’t been eliminated. However war is not generally waged by communities in capitalist societies. It’s waged by governments. Governments are the remnants of our evolutionary history that involved war.