This week’s post is the first in a four part series (II, IIIa, IIIb) looking at what I’m going to term the Fremen Mirage (a play on Le Mirage Spartiate, which we’ve already discussed in some detail), a term I’m creating to encompass a set of related pop-history theories which are flourish, evergreen despite not, perhaps, holding up so well under close examination.
Now, I know this will disappoint, but this is not a four-part look at Fremen culture (although, now that I say that, a deep dive into the real world analogues of the Fremen would be interesting…), though by the end of this series, you will have a good sense of how probable I find it that a low-density de-industrialized population of knife-wielding warriors would overrun a vast, dense industrialized interstellar civilization. Instead, I’m choosing the Fremen – and really the Dune series more generally – to stand in for a particular set of oft-repeated historical ideas and assumptions. It is not one idea, so much as a package set of ideas – often expressed so vaguely as to be beyond historical interrogation. So let’s begin by outlining it: what do I mean by the Fremen Mirage? I think the core tenants run thusly:
- First: That people from less settled or ‘civilized’ societies – what we would have once called ‘barbarians,’ but will, for the sake of simplicity and clarity generally call here the Fremen after the example of the trope found in Dune – are made inherently ‘tougher’ (or more morally ‘pure’ – we’ll come back to this in the third post) by those hard conditions.
- Second: Consequently, people from these less settled societies are better fighters and more militarily capable than their settled or wealthier neighboring societies.
- Third: That, consequently the poorer, harder people will inevitably overrun and subjugate the richer, more prosperous communities around them.
- Fourth: That the consequence of the previous three things is that history supposedly could be understood as an inevitable cycle, where peoples in harder, poorer places conquer their richer neighbors, become rich and ‘decadent’ themselves, lose their fighting capacity and are conquered in their turn. Or, as the common meme puts it:
- “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And weak men create hard times” (The quote is originally from G. Michael Hopf, a novelist and, perhaps conspicuously, not a historian; one also wonders what the women are doing during all of this, but I have to admit, were I they, I would be glad to be left out too).
This complex of ideas is what I phrase as the Fremen Mirage, and as you might imagine from that word ‘mirage,’ there are real, gaping problems in this vision of history. I’ve picked the Fremen to stand in for this idea in part because – being a fictional people – they are unconstrained by the real world messiness of actual societies. Instead, Frank Herbert quite clearly intends the Fremen to be a sort of purified form of this trope, the hardest people from the hardest conditions; they’re even presented as being more extreme than another example of this same trope, the imperial Sardaukar, who also indulge in the same ‘hard men from a hard place’ idea. Moreover, Herbert plays out this cyclical vision of history in the books, with the going-soft (slowly) Sardaukar being no match for the hard-ways Fremen and the latter – despite a near total lack of modern military or industrial infrastructure and what should be a crippling manpower disadvantage – spreading out and defeating all of the ‘civilized’ armies they encounter (with attendant worries that they will will become ‘soft’ and thus weak, should their planet, Arrakis, be made more habitable).
Now, the way this trope, and its contrast between ‘civilized’, ‘soft’ people and the ‘uncivilized’ ‘hard’ Fremen is deployed is often (as we’ll see) pretty crude. A people – say the Greeks – may be the hard Fremen one moment (fighting Persia) and the ‘soft’ people the next (against Rome or Macedon). But we may outline some of the ‘virtues’ of the ‘hard men’ sort of Fremen are supposed to have generally. They are supposed to be self-sufficient and unspecialized (often meaning that all men in the society are warriors) whereas other societies are specialized and overly complex (often to mean large parts of it are demilitarized). Fremen are supposed to be unlearned compared to their literate and intellectually decadent foes. Fremen society is supposed to be poor in both resources and infrastructure, compared to their rich and prosperous opponents.
The opposite of Fremenism is almost invariably termed ‘decadence.’ This is the reserve side of this reductive view of history: not only do hard conditions make for superior people, but that ‘soft’ conditions, associated with complex societies, wealth and book-reading weenies (read: literacy) make for morally inferior people who are consequently worse at fighting. Because we all know that moral purity makes you better at fighting, right? (My non-existent editor would like me to make clear that I am being sarcastic here, and it is extraordinarily obvious that moral virtue does not always lead to battlefield success.)
That necessarily means that what makes a Fremen is relative – they are less complex, less specialized, less wealthy, less built up, less densely populated, less literate than their contemporary neighbors. After all, modern insurgent mountain fighters are frequently given the Fremen Mirage treatment, but compared to, say, the Romans (who are clearly un-Fremen, except – as we’ll see – when they’re not…) they possess a level of technology and exist in a degree of social complexity the Romans could hardly imagine.
The relativity of ‘Fremeness’ is actually one reason why I’m using the term Fremen in place of tradition or more common terms you’ll see: ‘uncivilized people’ ‘barbarians’ or ‘savages.’ Of course, it lets me neatly dash around the offensive components of those terms, but more to the point, it creates a term to describe the myth without creating a term that might purport to describe the reality. Which is to say I can say that a society is perceived as being Fremen, without actually tagging them with ‘barbarian’ or ‘savage,’ because those terms have all of the intellectual usefulness of a raincoat in the desert. It is rapidly going to become apparent that the popular idea of who does and do not count as Fremen – or its inverse, ‘decadent’ – is such an absurdly moving target as to be practically meaningless (there are a few constants, but only a few), with some societies whip-lashing between the two so fast that it makes me dizzy seeing it.
What I hope we can understand here is that when I start grouping certain societies under the term ‘Fremen,’ I am more talking about the modern perception of them, then anything to do with the reality. As will become clear, some of the classic ‘Fremen’ societies are, in fact, not only agrarian and settled, but in some cases even urbanized – which is to say, ‘civilized’ in the narrowest sense (from the Latin root) of ‘living in cities.’
Let me repeat that one more time, so that everyone hears it, by labeling a culture here as ‘Fremen’ I am not saying they are barbaric or uncivilized, but merely noting a fact about the modern perception of that culture and how it fits into this view of history.
Anyway, over the next four weeks, we’re going to take a critical eye to this theory of history and look at its problems and origins. This week (for the rest of this post) we’re going to take a long view and look at how the dynamic between richer agrarian societies and poorer, non-agrarian societies played out in pre-history and very early history. Next week, we’re going to take a single, pre-modern case study and examine it in detail. Naturally, because this is me, the case study will be (trumpets blaring) Rome, which fought a lot of poorer, less settled peoples and is frequently used as the example of wealthy, ‘civilized’ and ‘decadent’ military failure. I’ve opted to pick these two sets of examples to start out because these periods – classical antiquity and pre-history – ought to be the periods where our Fremen perform the best, as the technological and industrial gap between them and their richer ‘civilized’ opponents is the smallest – in some cases, practically non-existent.
In week three, we’ll look at the origins and intellectual history of this idea: where did it come from? Was it ever really about the ‘barbarians’ at all? And why did this set of ideas suddenly spring back into common usage? And then finally, in week four, we’re going to look at some of the apparent exceptions: horse-nomads, along with modern insurgents and guerrillas – these are some of the most effective historical non-state actors, so if anyone should live up to the Fremen’s billing, it has to be these guys. That also means we can dip our toes into the state of affairs post-gunpowder and even after the industrial revolution, to see if those massive changes to warfare change the balance at all.
Now, I feel the need to note at the outset that structuring the discussion this way means accepting, for the sake of argument, some of the underlying assumptions built into the Fremen Mirage: namely that the chief value of a society is found in how effectively it produces and externalizes violence…which is to say that it assumes a society’s chief purpose and thus the primary metric of judgment is how effective that society is at war. The Fremen Mirage leaves no place for assessing eloquent literature, beautiful artwork, cunning architecture, clever scientific advances, higher quality of life, or any of a host of other contributions to the richness of the human experience. For the sake of argument, I am accepting, from the get go, that this violence-oriented vision of what is to be valued in a society is valid; it will be quite obvious for those who have read my series on Sparta that I do not, in fact, think this is so, and that quite clearly a society which does nothing but fight well is not a goo society. But, so that we don’t get endlessly hung up on these priors, I am going to grant that, for the purpose of this series, we are only assessing these societies by their military capacity.
Let us fight the Fremen on ground of their own choosing. I am, for reasons that will soon become quite obvious, still fairly confident that our sophistication will prevail.
War at the Dawn of Agriculture (c. 9,000 – 5,000 B.C.)
We start our examination of the question very literally at the beginning, by asking what advantages or disadvantages were posed by the creation or adoption of ‘civilization’ – by which we mean, at this very early point, agriculture and its attendant developments of writing, urbanism, and greater social complexity and stratification. I am going to talk in generalities, but if you want specifics (and a sense of where my information comes from), and a sense of the sort of evidence (there is a lot of it, but much of it remains quite contested), I might suggest A. Gat, War in Human Civilization (2006) 146-189 and L. Keeley, War Before Civilization (1996) as starting points. The second chapter of J. Guilaine and J. Zammit, The Origins of War (2001), also discusses these questions and presents quite a bit of the core evidence. For a reasonably brisk overall summary of the question, check out Lee, Waging War (2016), 30-35.
We should begin by noting that this innovation seems to have developed not in just one place, but actually in several places at different times: in Mesopotamia, India, China, Mesoamerica, the Andes of South America, in the Sahel region of Africa, among a few others. In each case, farming – and the social structures that supported it – spread out from the initial zone of innovation to a much larger area. This process takes place well before recorded history in all cases, which means that we’re forced to use archaeology and anthropology to observe the broad outlines of it, rather than being able to interrogate it directly and historically. Nevertheless, the creation of agriculture marks the beginning of this sort of divide between what we might term our ‘Fremen’ (peoples that continued to live as hunter-gatherers) and the new agriculturalists. After all, the emergence of more complex societies necessarily meant that the people who were not in those societies were, by comparison, less complex.
Now I want to be clear that this distinction is not as sharp as it is sometimes presented. First, many hunter gatherers were not fully nomadic – most were either semi-nomadic (moving somewhat predictably within an established ‘territory’) or had even become sedentary in order to exploit a particularly resource rich zone (it is this latter group who are likely to be your earliest farmers). Moreover – and this will be a trend that will continue throughout this series – while agriculture and sedentism enabled the first real accumulations of significant wealth in human societies, it does not follow that the average agriculturalist was immediately better off than the average hunter-gatherer; indeed, there is some evidence to indicate the reverse, that the diet of the average peasant was somewhat worse than that of the average hunter-gatherer (something we’ll return to).
Nevertheless, this gives us our first case to study: the expansion of farming. Our main question is how farming spread. Under the assumptions of our Fremen Mirage, we ought to expect farming societies to be frequently overtaken and subjugated by their non-farming neighbors, who still possess all of the skills and supposed ‘toughness’ that comes from the life of a hunter-gatherer. If farming does expand under such conditions, it ought to expand by adoption – neighboring hunter-gatherers ‘going soft’ by adopting farming (since the Fremen ought to be able to outfight the early farming societies, with the latter’s greater degree of wealth and social stratification making them weaker and more ‘decadent’).
Of course, this is not what we see. First, we see that farming begins not in the most impoverished zones, but in areas that were already resource rich and thus supporting a high density of people (and thus, we may assume, higher degrees of social complexity). That is to say, farming is developed by people we might typically as the least Fremen of our pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers. That should clue us in to a problem because – and I present this as a general rule – no one chooses to live in a resource poor zone if other options are available. Which is to say, if these people control the resource rich zones, it is because they have rebuffed all efforts by their neighbors to take those zones from them. And we may be virtually certain such efforts were made (I don’t want to get into the origins-of-war debate here, but suffice to say I am of the opinion that war is a human constant, probably since before the emergence of anatomically modern humans).
Moreover, the evidence points to what we see next: it is not usually that farming spreads, but that farmers spread. In the broad sweep of things, this comes as little surprise: group-size and social complexity had been humankind’s ‘killer app’ long before farming. There is substantial evidence that larger group-size (facilitated by greater intelligence) is the thing which allowed anatomically modern humans to outcompete Neanderthal and push them into areas of progressively more marginal resources. Neanderthal was, ironically, more Fremen than the Fremen – stronger and tougher than anatomically modern humans, but it didn’t help; the numbers advantage outweighed advantages in strength or robustness.
Now, the evidence suggests that, for the most part, early farmers are doing the same thing: using their higher population density – and the attendant military advantages that brings – to displace the lower-density non-farmers. It does seem that some hunter-gatherers held on by adopting agriculture themselves, enabling sufficient population density to resist the invading farmers. But these were not the hunter-gatherers in the toughest, most marginal, ‘hardest’ places, but rather the hunter-gatherers in the softest, easier plaes which could support the higher population densities necessary to hold off the farmers. Thus, for instance, the farmers – coming out of the Near East – appear to have overrun much of Europe, but along the resource-rich European shore-line, in Spain and the Baltics, the more densely population and prosperous Mesolithic societies of complex-hunter-gatherers were able to hold off the farmers long enough to adopt farming themselves.
Elsewhere, the evidence suggests that the hunter-gatherer population was pushed on to more marginal lands (arid areas, hills and mountains, for instance). Again, it seems fairly safe to assume this was violent – I am fairly sure, if you decided to push me off of my good, rich land full of tasty wildlife, I would at least try to stop you and I would probably get quite violent about it.
Now, it is also that this point that we get the emergence of people living another kind of lifestyle: pastoralists. That is, instead of being hunter-gatherers or being farmers, these are people who mostly raise animals, typically on land that is too marginal for proper farming (usually because it is just a touch too arid or mountainous). We’ll talk about them more in Part II and Part IV. For now, I want to follow our farmers just a bit more.
The Beginning of States (4,000 – 1,500 B.C.)
So we’ve seen in the previous section that, for the most part, what we see is that our farmers, with a more prosperous and complex society, spread largely by out-competing (and probably violently expelling) groups of hunter-gatherers. Now we’re going to move forward a few millennia and layer over that another level of social complexity: the state. As before, if the Fremen thesis holds, we ought to expect that state societies – larger, more complex, with greater wealth, specialization and social stratification – should be militarily weaker than non-state peoples and thus ought to struggle to spread.
(Bibliography sidenote: if you want to read more about state formation, I suggest Gat (2006), 231-322. There is an able summary of the basics in Lee (2016), 35-45.)
But before we get into that, we need to talk about what we mean by the state. The state is a system of social organization that is so prevalent in today’s world that all too often we take it for granted that it is the only form of social organization, or the chief one, when in fact it has been around for only a tiny minority of our species’ tenure on this planet. Now the modern, political-science definition of a state today tends to run something like this (this is, for the curious, Max Weber’s definition): a state is a political entity (a polity) which exercises a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory. Another way of defining the phenomenon – and one more useful in the very early stages of state-formation – is to define a state as (to use Wayne Lee’s formulation of the common definition from Waging War, 36), “a society with marked social stratification, with a centralized and internally specialized government capable of extending bureaucratic control out into a settlement hierarchy” consisting of multiple (at least usually three; center, regional centers and subordinate communities below them) tiers.
The state, as an idea, didn’t emerge in just one place, but – like agriculture – it emerges in a number of different places (there is some debate as to exactly how many) independently at different times. We call these first states (more correctly, the first state-systems) – ones that sprung up without any connection to a preexisting state – pristine states. What is immediately striking is that the places these pristine states emerged – Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Andes, Mesoamerica, northern China, etc – are many of the same resource rich zones where agriculture had emerged. States everywhere form first in the zones of most intensive agricultural exploitation and densest population. Rather than hard, difficult country being the breeding ground for the state, it is in fact the richest, softest areas that were (for those who have been to Mesopotamia and are wondering why it doesn’t seem quite so rich and soft anymore, the word you want to look up is salinization).
Now when we’re talking about the emergence of the state, what we mean is a process by which one of these farming communities (by this point, we are looking at early towns) – or more correctly, the military elite of those communities, for the role-specialization enabled by farming has begun, by this point, to create a military/religious aristocracy – is subjugating neighboring farming communities. Towns subordinate the villages in their orbit, and eventually also smaller towns (these become the ‘regional centers’ in our definition above) who have subordinated the villages in their orbit.
The military competition between these communities provided the impetus, and the resources of subordinated communities provided the fuel, for the establishment of new systems of power, both military and civilian. Even as the most militarily success communities establish hierarchies over their peers, often enforcing tribute or even slavery on defeated communities, so the most successful individual military-specialists (and their followers) are lifted up above the community, creating a military aristocracy, arrayed around the family of that successful leader – the origin of kingship. And so early state formation, essentially everywhere it occurs takes the form of the emergence of not just monarchy, but a specific, recognizable form of monarchy: kingship.
With that went the formalization of certain kinds of government control – gifts to the proto-king are formalized as taxes and tribute (to be funneled into military expenses, primarily) tribal militias are brought more fully under the control of the proto-king to become compulsory levies, led by the king’s retainers (who increasingly were a often-hereditary military/civil-administrative elite). The most successful early states become small empires, drawing tribute from the periphery to supply and fund the military activity of the hegemonic community at the center and its military leader (by this point, a king): a ‘military-tributary complex.’
In short, the process of state formation is one by which – driven by the demands of intense military competition between agricultural communities – the level of social stratification, specialization and complexity increase towards the development of complex hierarchies of specialists (most of whom are specialist farmers) and the creation of institutional forms of power, as well as enabling the first spectacular accumulations of wealth in the ruling class of these new societies. In short, the state is the least Fremen thing possible, and state formation is a move away from what we might term Fremenism – where the Fremen are egalitarian, the state is stratified; where the Fremen social structure is simple, the state is increasingly complex; where the Fremen are all hard, ‘badass’ generalist warriors, the state is specialized and consists of large numbers of demilitarized specialist-farmers; where the Fremen are poor, the rulers of these new states are the first mega-wealthy. They were the least Fremen people who existed at the time. It is important to keep this in mind; it is easy to lose perspective in terms of what a ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ society look like at any given moment in time, although state formation tends to be when societies start displaying their wealth in very obvious ways, like by assembling masses of prestige goods (gold, jewels, spices, expensive fabrics, etc) and building megalithic structures like massive temples and palaces.
There’s a lot more to this process – one day we’ll talk more about state formation on its own – but I wanted to lay out the basic outlines because I want to show how central military power is to this process. While the state produces all of these very un-Fremen things: social complexity, increased specialization, bureaucracy (which in turn leads to literacy and from there to very un-Fremen literature) and the accumulation of large amounts of wealth, it does so in the pursuit of military power. And it worked: the state was and remains the single best organizational principle for the creation and direction of violence ever derived. With only a handful of exceptions (which we’ll discuss in the final part of this series), the potential violence the state can bring to bear wildly outstrips the capacity of other forms of social organization.
All of which leads into how the state spread: whereas farming spread through the spread of farmers, the state spreads as an idea, jumping across culture and linguistic barriers, eventually reaching the point we are at now, where we can imagine the populated parts of the world as broken entirely into a network of states (although in practice, our maps conceal quite a lot of non-state peoples and areas beneath the clean, pretty lines).
This collection of institutions and social structures, once developed, proved so much more capable of mobilizing the resources of an agrarian society to produce military force than the tribal systems of organization that proceeded it, that tribal societies that found themselves in the path of expanding states tended either to be subjugated (and thus learn state institutions ‘from below’ as it were) or else were compelled to develop state institutions themselves in order to compete (a process we’ll look at in more detail in Gaul and Germany next week, but also note 1 Samuel 8-13, where the Israelites demand a king ‘like the other nations have’ in order to compete militarily).
In short, the rise of the state as a system of human organization seems to be one in which the richest, most densely populated and socially complex farmers, in direct competition with each other, developed progressively more complex social forms, with greater amounts of specialization and hierarchy, which was so effective in increasing these societies’ ability to project military power that their neighbors were forced to adopt the innovation, one way or another (and then their neighbors, and so on, but see the caveat below).
Where States Fear to Tread
Now, a you might imagine, there are some exceptions to the expansion of both farming and states and these are worth noting.
Farming, of course, is heavily constrained by geography: the land has to be arable (not too rocky, not too acidic, not sand), with sufficient water to support crops and (generally) not mountainous. These are not iron-clad rules, some non-arable land can be loosened and tilled into arability (but at a cost), water may be brought to the land by irrigation and in some cases even the sides of mountains may be farmed through terrace farming. But these are all difficult and labor-intensive ways of farming the unfarmable and suffer rapidly diminishing returns. Significant land areas are simply not very suitable for farming (it is worth noting that the qualities which make for good farmland are also generally what a hunter-gatherer or a pastoralist might want in an area of land, so this land is going to be fiercely competed over).
But, of course, a lot of earth’s available surface is these kinds of relatively unfarmable places, areas of deserts, mountains, grassland with too little water for farming, and so on. These places were not empty. Chronologically quite closely to the advent of farming, another form of subsistence evolved in these unfarmable places: pastoralism, which is to say animal-husbandry. Herds of animals may be subsisted off of grasses in land with greatly insufficient fertility to support farming.
I don’t want to get into all of the possible permutations of pastoralism, from mostly stationary ranching to transhumance to true nomadism – that’s for another time. But I do want to note the existence of these unfarmable places, because they are places that the state struggles to go, and in some cases can never truly go into. The state, as an organizational system, is fundamentally based on farming communities: densely populated, sedentary and highly specialized. But pastoralist societies are often thinly populated, transitory and largely unspecialized. Whereas an expanding state could simply convert tribal farmers into new state subjects, relying on the (borrowing the idea from Landers, The Field and the Forge (2005) demographic space created by those farmers (the available agricultural surplus, community centers like towns and villages to serve as administrative centers, transportation infrastructure, and sedentary farmers) to do so, pastoralists are a difficult fit with the state. They often don’t stay neatly in one place for the purpose of taxation or extraction, there is no easy administrative center to organize them, and – knowing that their rough terrain gives them a degree of insulation from state control – they tend to be truculent.
Here we seem to finally have some real Fremen – a low-population density community that is able to resist the encroachment of the highly complex and sophisticated state. And to a degree there is something to this, but we should not that in most cases, it is not the people or their military prowess that keeps the state away, but the land itself. And the level of protection the land provides varies.
In many parts of the world, these pastoralists found themselves effectively ‘enclosed’ by a state – surrounded on all sides – and thus tamed by it. This was the experience, for instance, of the hill peoples of Italy, who often fiercely resisted the expansion of the Roman Republic, but were eventually unable to stop it. In areas of the world where the pastoral zone was small, where it afforded relatively little protection against the larger armies of complex states, this is largely what happened.
But of course there are some areas – the borders of the Sahara, the Arabian Desert and most crucially the Eurasian Steppe, where this unfarmable zone stretches on and on, creating a vast zone that farmers – and consequently the state – could not penetrate. As we’ll see a bit later in this series, this was not always because the people who lived in those zones had superiority in a direct fight (though they sometimes did), but that when they were militarily weaker (which was usually as it turns out), the state could not press its advantage and consolidate control of them because the agrarian armies of the state could not penetrate this area – what K. Chase calls the ‘arid zone’ (in contrast to the vast sweep of agricultural land running east-west from China through India to Mesopotamia into the Mediterranean, which he calls the oikumene after the Greek word meaning ‘the inhabited world.’).
We’ll talk more about the most successful residents of the arid zone a bit later in this series. But what I want to note for now is that, as the name ‘arid zone’ implies, this was, by and large, a resource poor part of the world. It was the marginal land: if you could be anywhere else, you would be. And so while, with the rise of pastoralism, we have the emergence of our proto-typical Fremen, they are hardly the world-conquerors we were told to expect. Instead, they appear as the losers of the expansion of farming and the state, peoples shoved out into the worst land, forced to eke a living out there and protected, not by their badass military skills, but by the sheer uninhabitability of where they live. And remember: (almost) no one chooses to live in a resource-poor zone if they have other options.
Now, before we conclude for the week, I want to note some necessary caveats. This march of agriculture and the state I’ve laid out doesn’t mean that farmers and states always win, merely that – in areas where agriculture is possible – they usually won. It certainly is the case – as we’ll see next week – that sometimes settled states are overthrown by, for instance, migrating pastoralists (e.g. the Amorites moving into Mesopotamia c. 2000 B.C.) or steppe nomads. As we’ll see, because these peoples often live in areas where – because they are unsuitable for agriculture – the state cannot generally follow them, they essentially have unlimited ‘at bats,’ able to retreat and regroup in their own homelands to try again later.
Nevertheless, the idea at the core of the Fremen Mirage is that the Fremen are militarily stronger in a general sense. If I may lean on a sports analogy, we would not call a team ‘better’ if they lost 98 games but happened to win the last 2. The question is both the ratio of victories to defeats, and the impact of those results. And that’s why the march of the state and of farming is so instructive: we can see the same process repeat itself, in a wide variety of areas, over very long periods of time, with what must have been many hundreds if not thousands of small wars. And it is quite clear from that evidence, that at the dawn of civilization, it was the least Fremen societies who tended to win the most.
Next time: we’re going to look at how one of the wealthiest, most complex and sophisticated states of its day (Rome, natch) dealt with conflict with a variety of less wealthy, frequently less complex neighbors and ask: do the ‘barbarians’ – our Fremen – always win? Do they generally win? Do they hardly ever win?