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Try to imagine a species which does not know what fighting, conflict or war is.

They don't have animals on their planet, they are totally on their own. Now humans come and kill some of them and stuff like that.

They would not understand why or what is going on as they have never fought each other there was never the need of self defense or anything like that.

How would they react to such an act?

Is there any animal like this maybe?

Would they just continue life as nothing happened?

Or is it possible to strike back in a non-conflict way?

About the species: The species is familiar to humans, they have 2 arms two legs, they eat plants which they have on mass, they are intelligent but they don't seek knowledge about the universe like we, they seek to find out about their past, why they exist. They have 1 partner which they are bound to forever.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by sphennings, anon, Josh King, Bellerophon, Frostfyre Dec 11 '17 at 19:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ How didn't they ever encountered scarcity? Desire for food? Competition for sexual partners? And, in such circumstances, why would they ever evolve intelligence? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 8 '17 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ An animal that doesn't fight back would have went extinct pretty fast. Every predator would focus on the easy prey. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Dec 8 '17 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ Like the dodo, they would die. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Dec 8 '17 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Strawberry Practically every macroscopic animal with a skeleton (exo or endo) routinely fights other members of their species over mates or food or territory or social standing or whatever other resource is scarce, not to mention the violence inherent to predation. Primates other than humans have even been observed engaging in warfare: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gombe_Chimpanzee_War $\endgroup$ – EldritchWarlord Dec 8 '17 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @A.C.A.C., actually deer recognize the concept of fighting. Not only do they fight back against wolves (and other predators, like human hunters), but they fight each other for reproductive mates. Google "deer fighting". It's not like wolves just walk up to deer and the deer falls over dead. $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Dec 8 '17 at 20:15

12 Answers 12

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A vegetarian species still living in the Garden of Eden, perhaps they even photosynthesise.

  • Never short of food or other resources
  • Reproduces by budding or some sort of wind based pollination so there's no competition for mates
  • No predators so they never need to protect themselves or their young

Plankton fit the bill, admittedly they have a lot of predators but they don't do a lot about them. Grass perhaps, though grass can be quite hostile and extremely competitive for space. Even plants compete for resources like space and light.

A sentient species fitting this description doesn't really hold water. However, if attacked they would probably just look confused and upset, assuming they form emotional attachments.

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    $\begingroup$ Emotions lead to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering ;) $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 8 '17 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot, come to the dark side, we have cookies $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 8 '17 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/… :D $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 8 '17 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot I have the biggest cooki - Urgh! It's a skull... It's a skull..... ... I don't like the dark side any more. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Dec 8 '17 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix did you ever hear the tragedy of darth plagueis the wise? $\endgroup$ – lucidbrot Dec 8 '17 at 21:00
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Your aliens must me some kind of plantoids. They don't need to fight for food because they get energy from their star. Now humans come and kill them...

There are 2 options. If humans leave their planet they will become extremely xenophobic towards alien beings and militarize their world when their technology progresses.

If humans want to settle on their planet, your aliens are doomed. If they can't understand the meaning of war, they won't be able to defend themselves. Even if they try, post-FTL humans must have powerful weapons and ships like in Cameron's Avatar movie.

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    $\begingroup$ insted of doomed, domesticated could be an option $\endgroup$ – Magic-Mouse Dec 8 '17 at 11:33
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My guess would be very poorly.

A big reason why humans are good at fighting wars is because we have evolved to hunt and to protect ourselves against being hunted. A species with no concept of either would be very easy prey even to humans armed with clubs and spears - with several thousand years of military development they would have no chance at all.

As for exactly how they would react to their defeat, it's very hard to say - I'd guess rabbit in the headlights would be a good analogy. No fight or flight response. They'd probably make pretty good slaves or even food if you were really heartless.

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    $\begingroup$ They'd be easy prey for an unarmed human as well. A species that never had to fight, ever, wouldn't know what a punch is, much less be built to withstand one. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Dec 8 '17 at 19:40
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This happened. They died. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori

"[The Maori] commenced to kill us [the Moriori] like sheep.... [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed - men, women and children indiscriminately."

I am disappointed at being unable to trace this quote through Jared Diamond to its native source.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm unsure that's quite the same thing. I'd consider that a society which intentionally chooses not to fight back is very different from one that never knew what fighting was. $\endgroup$ – NotMe Dec 8 '17 at 21:39
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A species that does not understand death would, I think, first try to understand what just happened. Are their peers injured or asleep? Why can't the be mended and brought back?

Then, they would try to understand their place in this. Are they alright with some of their kind being destroyed? Does it bother them? Or are they apathetic?

After orienting themselves towards death and slaughter, I think your species would then turn to consider the attackers. From whatever evidence they have about the encounter, is there any thing they could have done to avoid the destructive outcome. Could they communicate better? Could they have simply acquiesced to some list of demands? Could they develop tools (like fences to keep animals out or cages to keep animals in) that could be used as protective perimeters? Are they sociable enough to organize look outs to be wary next time these hostile creatures return?

After orienting themselves also, then, to responding to the attackers, they might choose to ask themselves if they should be proactive and attack first? Does wider conflict seem inevitable (as Japan felt before Pearl Harbor)? Does your species have a sense of justice demanding that these injuries be avenged? Does your species have philosophies or religions that recommend a particular response (mercy, tolerance)?

I think how your species answers these questions would drive their response.

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  • $\begingroup$ I must have missed the part where it was clarified that they don't understand death. $\endgroup$ – N. Presley Dec 9 '17 at 7:31
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This situation is far from being precise enough to have a definite answer.

Among the plausible possibilities:

The species is completely unable to react

They continue living as they did, and don't react at all as they can't understand at all what is happening. Maybe the humans will invade the planet and exploit is resources, or slaughter them, or something else, depending on what was the reason for the war in the first place.

The species ends up assimilating the threat

Maybe despite being unaware of the concept of war they are aware of the concept of danger. If so they can identify the humans as a danger and try to counter them, like you would counter an illness, a threatening volcano or any dislikable thing. They would probably end up loosing the war because of their lack of experience but many factors could help them (time to travel for humans, overpowered secret psychic powers for aliens... )

The species reacts, but in an unexpected way

Any reaction could happen if you consider the aliens alien enough. Maybe they will start a cult around the murderer as they see him as someone above the natural rules, maybe they will all commit suicide to understand how it works, maybe they will make their planet explode as it is what is supposed to happen in the end of their calendar...

The reaction could be completely foolish, or have good repercussions, who knows? For example maybe they have a habit to nuke everything around their planet each time they have a problem they don't understand and because of this habit they never encountered any other civilization, and thus never needed to keep the notion of war: they just launch nuclear missiles like some humans fire anti-chem-trail fireworks, without knowing what it does exactly.

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  • $\begingroup$ were they engineered to always know how to make nukes and no other weapons? I thought your second idea, specifically trailing off with "many factors could help them", is a good starting point, but it quickly feels like it turns into a "do my homework" question. The OP is positing an absurdly blank slate and asking what would happen; IMO we need more clarification of what the species is immediately capable of. $\endgroup$ – N. Presley Dec 9 '17 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ @N.Presley: maybe they just forgot about the other weapons, or maybe they just don't know they were originally weapons and use their lasers to mine. $\endgroup$ – Anne Aunyme Dec 11 '17 at 10:19
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You can take some inspiration from the "Enderverse" by Orson Scott Card and entertain the idea that the species did not initially evolve to be peaceful, but was engineered or altered much later in their history.

Namely, have a look at Pequeninos. Although they look quite the opposite to what you seek - for them "war" and "death" is just a part of the lifecycle, see "Third life" paragraph. In the books that actually lead to a gruesome cultural misunderstanding, when Pequeninos tried to "save" injured human by killing him.

In their case they might be indifferent or even welcome humans killing them. You can play on the definition of the "war" - it's considered "bad" by humans mostly because it leads to the end of conscientious life of an individual (aka "death"). If this premise is not true, "war" can be perceived very differently.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding Devstr! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Dec 8 '17 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ I like this as a starting point - but I'm still unsure whether Xxy has already clearly conveyed exactly what the species knows and is capable of, and whether there is nothing needing clarification - like whether the species has concepts of violence, pain, crime, punishment, overpopulation, disagreement, competition, etc. $\endgroup$ – N. Presley Dec 9 '17 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ They definitely understood, there was a phrase along the lines of "if you had cut the trees we would have killed you all" $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 12 '17 at 10:35
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Your species could wipe out the humans pretty quickly

A species such as you describe would be an example of near perfect racial harmony, everyone agreeing in broad terms how the race/society should exist. This is their entire universe, this is the natural way of things in their view.

Their only possible reaction to viewing the violent actions of humans is to regard the "aliens" as extremely ill. They are driven to act completely against nature, from your species POV, they destroy the harmony that is the natural order of life. They threaten life itself, ergo they must be wiped out. And this disease is contagious, they've seen humans fighting amongst themselves, it must be stopped.

An entire race is now mobilised against the humans. Single minded, utterly loyal to their comrades, they don't even regard humans as truly intelligent, they're a pestilence like green fly to be wiped out. The entire resources of their planet is now dedicated to the destruction of every human they see. No hesitation, no negotiation, no mercy.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you forgot one "no": Specifically, No chance of being successful. $\endgroup$ – NotMe Dec 8 '17 at 21:41
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They are organic robots networked on a subconscious level, left there by another intelligent species for the sole purpose to maintain the plant life on the planet. They will not fight back but will find a way to exterminate humans as humans pose a problem in keeping with their objective.

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I think it is impossible for a planet to develop only one life form. If we look at earth the entire planet has a sort of balance, where the development of one form life is stopped by another, none of them getting to be fully disruptive. From this balance the competition emerges, and intelligence at some point evolves. Of course once humans evolved and we got very intelligent compared to all other life forms, we got to a point where our population dictates the balance. But absent the competition there is no need for intelligence (which is costly from an evolutionary point of view), so your aliens would not think anything of the actions of humans because they would be unable to think (that if they could evolve like this, but I doubt they could).

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Their society would be forever corrupted.

When you boil down the essence of war and fighting, it comes down to: "I am right and you are wrong."

The concept that MY opinion and/or life matters more than another, will become essentially the first and most corrupting concept introduced to their society: SELFISHNESS.

How that plays out, who knows. It could spark class wars, genocide of all other species, or the worse by far: create lawyers.

It all depends on which pressures are strongest in their society.

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Daisyworld shows you have to have many species, so this would not be stable, at least not naturally. It's possible for this to happen if you imagine pacifist colonists going to a world without animals and then using technology to preserve the balance.

With no war to slow them down, they would rapidly become more and more advanced for the purpose of improving the stability of their ecosystem. Chaotic systems, when destabilized, cannot be controlled and fluctuations will spiral out of control.

So these are not primitive people, not in the scenario outlined. These would be people with advanced genetic engineering and planetary engineering skills. People whose instincts with destabilizing influences is to counteract them immediately through technology. Non-destructively and non-aggressively.

Not long after the humans started killing them, they'd have remotely analysed the neurology (they need that skill for medicine), determined the abnormalities involved (hyperactivity in some areas, suppressed activity in others), calculated the electrical and magnetic stimulation required to produce the opposite effect, and pacified the humans.

Aggressive cultures tend to be primitive. War is not the mother of invention but its death. The humans would not have defences against the technology of the alien civilization.

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