Human Warfare Throughout World History


The concept of warfare has been familiar to human beings throughout their existence. During the ancient times already, people used to gather in groups to fight for their territory and resources. Primitive societies that used wooden sticks, Romans with highly developed warfare, and modern nations that create powerful weapons unite to stand their ground and prove their privilege to others. The history of war reveals the creation of numerous outstanding strategies and tools that affected the allocation of power and dominance in the world. The destructive nature of war is discussed by outstanding scientists, writers, and philosophers because its negative influences remain in the memory of the population for centuries. However, it is also possible to discuss the same theme from another perspective. This paper will prove that even though the evolution of warfare makes the world more dangerous, it can also be considered as a phenomenon that integrates and unifies societies driving their development forward.

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Warfare Changes

The very concept of war as we perceive it today is usually associated with ancient Rome, as Romans were sophisticated warriors. However, this trend can be traced back to the appearance of the humankind, so it is not surprising that Pitman (2011) considers war to be a part of the human genome. Initially, intergroup conflicts were managed with those elements that were provided by nature, such as sticks and stones (Warcat, 2015). People even yelled at each other at a distance to frighten and beat aside their enemies to obtain access to territories and resources needed for living.

With the course of time, communities evolved, which provided them with an opportunity to develop new war strategies and advanced weapons. The creation of an arrow made people more flexible, as they could affect their enemies from a distance. Realizing associated risks, humans invented armor and shields that increased their ability to protect themselves and minimalized the number of lethal outcomes. Fire arrows were used as an improved version of the initially created weapon (Warcat, 2015). In a similar way, various tools were upgraded.

Fighting under the leadership of generals, military troops used violence to damage their enemies with the help of the armor that became stronger and stronger. Soon, not only the number of warriors but also the weapon they used could determine the outcome of the war. For instance, with the creation of a gun, a group of peasants became able to defeat knights (Warcat, 2015). The increase of vulnerability was also associated with the invention of bombs that could be used for mass destruction.

Technology started a faceless war as it allowed people to attack their enemies from a distance. Atomic bombs and biological weapons made it possible for one person to damage the whole cities. Humans became able to utilize aerial, naval, and on-land warfare both to protect their nations and to destroy others. What is more critical, it involved more individuals in the process of war, as not only the military but also scientists were engaged (Pitman, 2011). In addition to that, realizing the criticalness of potential threats, societies became more united.

Warfare Controversy

Being an element of human nature, war can be easily associated with social behaviors. Pitman (2011) speaks about complex dynamics of wars because they intertwine with human aggressive actions and readiness to take risks, collective spirit, and fear of strangers. People start gathering in groups and protecting their territory because it is natural for them to fight for their lives and the lives of their descendants and they understand that quantity provides privilege and superiority.

From the very beginning, the majority of wars were caused by the issue associated with access to resources. In this way, some armed conflicts became so critical that they could lead to the eradication of humankind (Morris, 2012). Nevertheless, winners of the global issues often absorbed other involved parties, which allowed them to form complex states and empires that focused on the necessity to maintain peace. With the course of time, even special organizations were developed to meet this purpose. However, they tend to emphasize the power of diplomacy instead of the power of harmful weapons (Morris, 2012). As a result, the number of death associated with wars and social issues reduced even though the magnitude of armed conflicts increased. Moreover, in battles of older times, people had fewer resources that could be used to protect their lives and enhance their well-being. Thus, it is possible to argue whether the development of warfare endanger the development of societies or push it forward.

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Functionalist Approach

While some professionals focus on the evolution of the warfare as on the history of war tactics and weapon, others discuss it from sociological perspectives. The functionalist approach seems to be the most interesting in this way because it encourages considering the concept of war as a tool used to enhance social solidarity, unite people, and improve their rights. According to functionalism, conflicts are not always negative, and they may affect social institutions in a positive way (“Sociological perspectives,” n.d.). For example, the very case of a crime is a great problem and is often associated with numerous complications observed by a victim and other involved individuals. Nevertheless, it also leads to the creation of new jobs in the spheres needed to deal with a crime, such as law enforcement.

Functionalism treats war just like a crime that can turn out to be useful for people even though it is associated with horrible events. First of all, it provides societies with an opportunity to resolve international conflicts (“Sociological perspectives,” n.d.). Even thousands of years ago, if ideological disputes occurred, the winner of the war had a right to proclaim his truth universal. It was true for issues associated with territorial boundaries or religion. Of course, war is not the best option that should be used to solve problems, but it can be utilized for this purpose.

People who live in one society or have a common enemy become more united and develop a strong sense of solidarity (“Sociological perspectives,” n.d.). Shared purpose makes individuals experience the feeling of social bonding. They gather in groups to share their mutual ideas and focus on those characteristics that make them unique in comparison to their enemy. Individuals also realize that they are stronger when they are together, which makes them act as an entity and allows them to speak for the masses.

Wars can lead to the integration of diverse populations and development of social institutions. Even before the times of ancient Rome, tribes used to fight with each other. Due to this process, they turned into the nation-state and political entity (“Sociological perspectives,” n.d.). Under the influence of the united group, its members lose their identity and assimilate to others. With the course of time, they managed to start treating themselves as one community. What is more, their diverse experiences, abilities, and resources made it possible to reach additional advances.

The quality of life may improve due to the influence of war. For instance, some wars provided societies with an opportunity to obtain freedom or build democracy. The evolution of warfare leads to the establishment of additional job opportunities, especially considering the defense and healthcare spheres (“Sociological perspectives,” n.d.). As a result, country’s economy can be improved significantly, as well as the well-being of the population. Both scientific and technological development is associated with the evolution of warfare because their demands urged streamlined innovations.


Thus, on the basis of the discussed information, it is possible to conclude that the evolution of warfare provided both positive and negative effect on the societies, groups, and states involved in armed conflicts. People started fighting with each other because of the issues associated with access to territory and resources. Initially, they used basic tools like wooden sticks but managed to develop the current form of the faceless war due to the technological development. While wars lead to numerous deaths, they also manage to unify societies benefiting them in different ways. Absorbing defeated states and fighting for the same purpose, dominants manage to become more powerful. As a result, they can benefit their population, maintaining peace, improving economy and infrastructure, developing science and technology, and sharing a sense of social bonding. Wars can turn out to be a key to freedom and democracy even though they seem to be a cause of extinction from the very beginning.


Morris, I. (2012). The evolution of war. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, 3(1), 9-37.

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Pitman, G. R. (2010). The evolution of human warfare. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 41(3), 352-379.

Sociological perspectives on war and terrorism. (n.d.). Web.

Warcat. (2015). Evolution of warfare. Web.

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