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The natural history of violence.
  1. C Russell,
  2. W M Russell

    Abstract

    In the past, human violence was associated with food shortage, but recently it has increased even in relatively well-fed societies. The reason appears from studies of monkeys under relaxed, spacious conditions and under crowding stress. Uncrowded monkeys have unaggressive leaders, rarely quarrel, and protect females and young. Crowded monkeys (even well-fed) have brutal bosses, often quarrel, and wound and kill each other, including females and young. Crowding has similar behaviour effects on other mammals, with physiological disturbances including greater susceptibility to infections. All this appears to be a regular response to overpopulation, reducing the population before it has depleted its natural resources. Human beings, like monkeys and other mammals, need ample space, and become more violent when crowded. Human history is marked by population cycles: population outgrows resources, the resulting violence, stress and disease mortality cuts down the population, leading to a relief period of social and cultural progress, till renewed population growth produces the next crisis. The modern population crisis is world-wide, and explains the increase of violence even in well-fed societies. The solution to the problem of violence is to substitute voluntary birth control for involuntary death control, and bring about relaxed conditions for a reduced world population.

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