The extended order encompasses a wide variety of topics: human nature, genetic and memetic evolution, societal organization, belief systems and dogma, and economics, to name a few. I find these topics so fascinating that I'm planning on posting a series of related essays on the subject. Hopefully, my plans won't come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines, but will develop into something coherent over time. I'd like to say that I've already outlined the whole series, but that wouldn't be true, so success, at least on the "coherent" front, is probably not terribly likely. But I've got to start somewhere. The place to start, I think, is before humans existed and the topic to start with is something that I'm convinced was inherently part of primitive human nature. And that's war.
The topic begins by contemplating when, in primate evolution, did war, or at least war like behaviors, start. Did war exist before homo sapiens, or was it "invented" relatively late in the game? Some have contended, like Rousseau with his "nobel savage" concept, that civilization itself caused war. But looking at some moderately recent archaeological research, Rousseau's ideas were flawed.
According to this discussion of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence by Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, there is now a large and growing body of evidence that other primates also frequently engage in violent and warlike behavior:
Demonic Males discusses new evidence that killer instincts are not unique to humans, but rather shared with our nearest the common chimpanzee. The authors argue that it is this inherited propensity for killing that allows hominids and chimps to be such good hunters.
According to Wrangham and Peterson, the split between humans and the common chimpanzee was only 6-8 Mya [Million years ago]. Furthermore, humans may have split from the chimpanzee-bonobo line after gorillas, with bonobos (pygmy chimps) separating from chimps only 2.5 Mya. Because chimpanzees may be the modern ancestor of all these forms, and because the earliest australopithecines were quite chimpanzee-like, Wrangham speculates (in a separate article) that "chimpanzees are a conservative species and an amazingly good model for the ancestor of hominids" (1995, reprinted in Sussman 1997:106). If modern chimpanzees and modern humans share certain behavioral traits, these traits have "long evolutionary roots" and are likely to be fixed, biologically inherited parts of our basic human nature and not culturally determined.
Does this mean chimpanzees are naturally violent? Ten years ago it wasn't clear....In this cultural species, it may turn out that one of the least variable of all chimpanzee behaviors is the intense competition between males, the violent aggression they use against strangers, and their willingness to maim and kill those that frustrate their goals....As the picture of chimpanzee society settles into focus, it now includes infanticide, rape and regular battering of females by males (1997:108).
Since humans and chimpanzees share these violent urges, the implication is that human violence has long evolutionary roots. "We are apes of nature, cursed over six million years or more with a rare inheritance, a Dostoyevskyan demon...The coincidence of demonic aggression in ourselves and our closest kin bespeaks its antiquity" (1997:108-109).
Why does this matter? Because the narrative that forms the basis for hypotheses regarding how the extended order evolved is profoundly affected by whether human nature is non-violent (according to Rousseau) and we've become more violent over time, or if we've always been a nasty, brutish, and violent species (the Hobbesian view). Given the accumulating evidence regarding chimpanzees, I'm pretty convinced that latter view is more representative of the truth.
But what about all those stories of primitive tribes, isolated from civilization, that when discovered, were completely peaceful? The ones that didn't have a word for war? It turns out that they are all just stories. Primitive people were and are virtually universally violent and frequently engage in war. This point is argued extensively with supporting data in War Before Civilization by Lawrence Keeley and Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage by Steven LeBlanc. First, an excerpt for War Before Civilization:
The high war death rates among most nonstate societies are obviously the result of several features of primitive warfare: the prevalence of wars, the high proportion of tribesmen who face combat, the cumulative effects of frequent but low-casualty battles, the unmitigated deadliness and very high frequency of raids, the catastrophic mortalities inflicted in general massacres, the customary killing of all adult males, and the often atrocious treatment of women and children. For these reasons, a member of a typical tribal society, especially a male, had a far higher probability of dying "by the sword" than a citizen of an average modern state.Keeley claims that the typical tribal combat casualty rate in a typical tribal society was 0.5 percent per year. While that may not sound like much, that would be the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million Americans dead from combat each year. By contrast, since 9/11, we've only actually lost around 1,000 Americans per year because of war and war-like events.
LeBlanc, who wrote his book after Keeley's came out, "unequivocally argue[s] that, for most of its existence, homo sapiens has waged almost constant war on its own kind and that primeval society was far more warlike than any of its civilized successors."
Convinced about the inherently violent nature of humans yet? No? Well, neither am I. And here I need to discuss belief systems, which is itself an important extended order subtopic, a bit before continuing on. One things humans must do to survive is to make decisions and come to conclusions in the face of great uncertainty. The universe has essentially infinite information and by the time we learn everything there is to know about all but the most trivial topics, it's way too late. The purpose of a belief system is to provide the structure to be able to make decisions in a timely fashion based on extremely limited information.
My belief system, combined with my observations accumulated during my lifetime, resonates well with the views of Keeley and Le Blanc. So I'm going to buy into their view, hook, line and sinker. Or, more accurately, I'm not actually totally convinced, but I've spent all the time researching this particular aspect of humankind that I'm going to spend, and I've made my tentative conclusion for now.
In summary, I'm going to start the narrative regarding the evolution of the extended order based on the belief that the starting point was a bunch of violent primitive tribes frequently at war.