E O Wilson on aggression

The following text has been taken from On Human Nature by E O Wilson, 1995, pp 116-118. Texts in capital letters and in the square brackets have been provided.
Human nature: In the broader sense, the full set of innate behavioural predispositions that characterise the human species; and in the narrower sense, those dispositions that affect social behavior.

…Although the evidence suggests that the biological nature of humankind launched the evolution of organized aggression and roughly directed its early history across many societies, the eventual outcome will be determined by cultural processes brought increasingly under the control of rational thought…
… Quincy Wright wrote: Out of the warlike peoples arose civilization, while the peaceful collectors and hunters were driven to the ends of the earth, where they are gradually being exterminated or absorbed, with only the dubious satisfaction of observing the nations which had wielded war so effectively to destroy them and to become great, now victimized by their own instrument.
..Civilizations have been propelled by the reciprocating thrusts of cultural evolution and organized violence, and in our time they have come to within one step of nuclear annihilation…In Abba Eban’s memorable words on the occasion of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, MEN USE REASON AS A LAT RESORT [emphasis added].
… the full evolution of warfare can be reversed, even in the face of entrenched cultural practice…
…This terrible equilibrium [achieved by Maori tribes by violent aggression in Kenya] was finally disturbed and reversed when EUROPEAN FIREARMS were introduced. The Maoris were understandably enchanted by the first muskets that the British colonists showed them…
… Within a few years Maori leaders acquired guns of their own and began to employ them with devastating effects on their neighbors… Other tribes rushed to arm themselves in order to regain parity in the escalating hostilities…
.The arms race son became self-limiting…[The hostile tribes tired of violent aggression]… In the 1830s and early 1840s the Maoris converted rapidly and massively to Christianity, and warfare among the tribes ceased entirely…
…Our brains do appear to be programmed to the following event: we are inclined to partition other people into friends and aliens, in the same sense that birds are inclined to learn territorial songs and to navigate by the polar constellations. We tend to fear actions of strangers and to solve conflict by aggression…
The learning rules of violent aggression [handed to us by evolution] are largely obsolete. We are no longer hunter-gatherers who settle disputes with spears, arrows and stone axes. But… [we cannot] banish them [completely]. We can only work our way around them…With pacifism as a goal, scholars and political leaders will find it useful to deepen studies in anthropology and social psychology, and to express this technical knowledge openly as part of political science and daily diplomatic procedure… Scientists, great writers, some of the more successful businessmen, and MARXIST-LENINISTS have been doing just that more or less unconsciously for generations…

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