Sea Peoples

From Anarchy In Action

From Peter Gelderloos's Worshiping Power:

Chronicles of the Egyptian state mention a series of seafaring raiders as well as land-based invaders whom modern researchers named as the “Sea Peoples.” Probably originating from around the Aegean Sea, they warred with states in the areas of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. Their raiding was so calamitous that some scholars propose them as a cause for the Bronze Age collapse. It seems likely that some if not all of the Sea Peoples were stateless, and their warfare may have been in part motivated by hostility to the states of the region. The Egyptian, Hittite, and Mycenaean states, to name the principal players, were involved in a long-standing power play and scramble for resources that kept the region immersed in warfare, the worst consequences of which were born by the lower strata, the common people. And as we have seen, a major activity of state formation is slave-raiding and the capture of entire populations, which also leads to many people fleeing to zones of resistance (possibly in the mountains and islands that made up the Aegean and its borders). As the states grew in power and the liberated zones filled up, there would be more pressure on fugitive populations to fight back.

Evidence for the statelessness of the Sea Peoples includes their use of oral history and their lack of writing, which also denotes a lack of bureaucracy; their nomadism and extreme mobility; their apparent use of confederal alliances between different peoples; their impressive military efficiency without a corresponding founding of dynasties or cities (state societies that are militarily effective are invariably prolific founders and builders); their oscillation between warring against neighboring states and hiring themselves out as mercenaries. All of these are characteristics of stateless peoples at the time, at least in areas devastated by state effects.

If this is the case, the appearance of the Sea Peoples would constitute ethnogenesis, the creation of a new people or ethnic group, in this case one constituted by runaway slaves and fragments of communities fleeing the warfare and slave-raiding of states. Such a process constituted the preeminent model for revolution at the time. Without internationalism, freedom would have been an ethnic property. Unfortunately, as in the case of the nomadic empires, we have seen how such ethnicities can eventually shift from being the antagonists of states to the founders of states. The relative strength of the values of anti-authoritarianism, on the one hand, and militarism, on the other, as well as the presence or absence of patriarchy, probably determine whether a liberated people become a new politogen.