Protecting people "like us" from people "like them"

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by S.A.M., Jan 12, 2011.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    One would assume there have always been men with daughters, whether they were left out to die, buried/drowned at birth, burned at a stake or as a sati or for a dowry death, or when they were in veil or stripped in public. So what is the transition from the man who "feels good" to the man who is offended by such? What is the transition from a society where this is acceptable behaviour which is legally endorsed to where this is a reprehensible behaviour which is legally opposed?
     
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  3. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    On tribal violence

    An example of this is the Amazon peoples known as Yanomami. While the degree to which they fight and kill each other is controversial, there is no doubt that male/male killings are the major cause of deaths of males in their society.
    http://www.crystalinks.com/yanomami.html

    I quote :

    "About 40% of adult males have killed another person and about 25% of adult males will die from some form of violence. Violence will vary from chest pounding, in which opponents take turns hitting each others on the chest, to club fights, to raids which may involve the killing of individuals and abducting the women, to all out warfare."

    Modern society does not do this. While warfare is still in existence, the percentage of people killed in war is vanishingly small. In our societies, a lot more people die in traffic accidents. The difference compared to primitive tribes is startling. So why do we kill so few people today? It is about learning. We still have the same instincts that the Yanomami tribesmen have, but our cultural learning overrides those instincts.

    Homicides rates in England over the past 1000 years dropped from 100 per 100,000 people per year down to a current total of 1. Even the United States, with then highest homicide rate in the western world, has only 5. The USA also has the highest rate of fatalities in war, and the highest rate in the western world of participation in war. I leave it to others to comment on what all this says about American culture.

    So, on this very positive note, let me say that modern society has learned a degree of tolerance and non violence that would have been unthinkable any other time in history.
     
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Overstated - a currency union is not "tearing down borders," in many important ways (the lack of a unified fiscal policy placing strain on such an arrangement being an obvious one), and you seem to be unduly dismissing the various wars that have occurred in Europe in the intervening time (including various acts of ethnic cleansing not so long ago, contests for national dominance, etc.), as well as the overt, forcible suppression of inter-European conflicts by external superpowers for most of the intervening time.

    There have been long, peaceful periods in European history before. There was one before the World Wars.

    That's because they've been a battlefield for superpowers for nearly their entire history. That this obviates them fighting one another does not go to your point.

    The examples you cite are all regional in nature, and so do not challenge my assertion as such. I.e., I stated at the outset that the standard way that divisions at some particular scale get transcended is by subsuming them into divisions at a larger (and so, more powerful) scale.

    The corollary was that this cannot occur at the global scale, since there is no longer a larger system to eat the smaller one. That nation states might be getting subsumed into "regional hegemonies" does not conflict with that - the very fact of observing that they are hegemonies (and so, conflicted power interests) implies that they depend on an Insider/Other conception for their domination of internal division (to wit, Europeans and Latin Americans band together so that they can compete on the same scale as the dreaded Yanks/Gringos). Which is to say that they are structurally stable, and resistant to dissolution. There will need to be an invasion by an alien species to provide the sort of Other conception strong enough to unify these competing "regional hegemonies."

    And note that we are currently farther away from a single unified political identity than we were a few decades ago. For a long time in the late 20th century, the world was more-or-less organized into just two competing power structures, each of which spanned a huge expanse of the globe. With the collapse of the weaker one and the failure of the stronger to subsume all of humanity in the wake of that, we're seeing a profusion of smaller, regional groupings in place of that. So, moving exactly the opposite direction as you suggest.

    There is no "next step" in that hierarchy, absent some overbearing external threat (i.e., invasion by advanced alien species). The division into dueling superpowers is as close as we are ever likely to get to that - and I doubt we'll even see that degree of proximity again in the foreseeable future. Going from a Cold War, to American Hegemony, to a Multi-Polar World, does not look to me like any kind of steady progression towards greater centralization of political identity and organization. Rather the opposite.

    Depends on what the reason for and aims of the war are. Seeing the Mullahs stomp on the face of the Iranian people didn't decrease the appetite for war on Iran - rather the opposite. Wars are not typically waged to kill the people as such, but to target the state. The restraint here stems from the lack of resources to wage such and the hangover recognition of the hubris of invading Iraq, and not from sympathy for the Iranian people - that latter one tends to run the other way.

    Meanwhile, you dramatically misunderstand the impact of internet communications on the Othering process. Such does not depend particularly on maintaining the Others as mere abstractions - the identity politics are more than strong enough to not only withstand, but actually draw strength from, contact with the Outsider. They have to be, or they wouldn't work in the first place. They can even be successfully applied to subgroups that had long been a stable, accepted, integrated part of the in-group. There would not have been a Holocaust, otherwise. It's the power that accrues from the identification that sustains the politics, not some easily-dispelled ignorance on the part of the participants.

    And you can see plenty of examples of that here. There's no shortage of posters here whose entire activities consist of seeking out conflict with whatever outsider is relevant to their identity, and then relentless fomenting conflict and divison with them. Just as communications provide more opportunities for insight and bonding, they also provide more opportunities for pigheadedness and division. The malign and greedy are empowered right along with the benign and generous.

    Heck, there are even those who are so committed to divisiveness that they seek to employ threads like this one - which is supposed to critically analyze the Othering process - as opportunities to Other. The thing about identity politics is that once you have somebody's very identity invested in the politics, they'll go to great lengths to defend their identity and advance the politics. To do otherwise is understood as something approaching suicide.

    Actually we should expect more of such acts, if your hypothesis about the formation of regional hegemonies is accurate. Since there is no spur to a unified global identity, we'll end up with a bunch of regional blocs fighting one another.
     
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  7. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    But the absolute number has risen dramatically - a single nuclear weapon is capable of killing more people than ever coexisted on Earth during the eras in which tribal systems were predominant. The percentage of people killed in war goes down because the population has grown at an even faster rate than the killing has, not because there's been any reduction in killing as such.

    And that seems to be a different phenomenon than you were praising - it doesn't work by eschewing killing. It works by embracing ever-greater levels of killing, and justifying such by generating even higher increases in population growth. The bloodiest wars in history were those associated with the triumph of the nation-state system over the old dynastic monarchies, after all. So, no, this process isn't about repressing the killing instinct. It's about sublimating it - indulging it in a way that ends up leading to population growth that outstrips the increased killing.
     
  8. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    Quad

    Since WWII, the drop has been in absolute numbers as well as per capita. The drop has been so dramatic that it would be wrong to airily wave it away as unimportant. Some tribal systems have involved 10% to as high as 80% of the male population regularly dying in male on male conflict. Even WWII came nowhere near that figure.

    Today, we measure loss of life in war in thousands. WWII measured it in millions. Whether you like it or not, the world has become a much safer place to live, with massive reductions in loss of life due to war. You can argue against this all you like, but the numbers back up my viewpoint.
     
  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Excluding the World Wars from the tally of nation-state-associated violence and then saying that it compares favorably to some other system of political organization is not an honest or reasonable way to compare. You have to measure such things in the long term, and the fact that there's been some decades of peace after the biggest cataclysm of violence in human history is just that.

    Moreover, reduction in violent warfare since WWII seems to have as much to do with the spread of nuclear weapons technology (which makes large wars much more risky) than any changes in socio-political organizational dynamics as such. But this again begs for a long-scale analysis - big wars may become less frequent, but how much damage will they do when they finally do occur? The weapons technology is at the level where it is capable of more-or-less destroying civilization as we know it.

    And moreover, you're only counting killing of humans. If you look at the levels of killing that nation-states inflict on animals and ecosystems, they are beyond even comparing to the killing that tribal systems exhibited. We're driving species into extinction at a rate that would have been incomprehensible in the Stone Age.

    The point of all of this being that increases in the power to kill - and so, instances of killing - are fundamentally related to the increases in power and capabilities that enable the proliferation of different organizational systems.

    That would be "hundreds of thousands," not just "thousands."

    And WWII is, again, not part of some separate, bygone era. It is the central, emblematic conflict of the nation-state system. If we're analyzing nation-state organization and its associated death tolls, there is no honest or reasonable way to exclude the World Wars from the tally. Those were not episodes of some tribal political structure that we have since left behind.

    For humans only, and only in percentage terms.

    The point being, again, that said percentage reduction is not achieved by any actual reduction in acts of violence. Rather, violence proliferates. The "safety" is achieved by using the associated power to ensure that populations proliferate even more quickly than the violence.
     
  10. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    Quad

    WWII ended 66 years ago. That period is long enough to include it in our historical trend.

    You said :

    "The point of all of this being that increases in the power to kill - and so, instances of killing - are fundamentally related to the increases in power and capabilities that enable the proliferation of different organizational systems."

    This increase in power has been exponential over the 66 year since the end of WWII, and deaths in war have kept falling. I would say that this thesis is disproved. Simply being better able to kill does not translate into more killing.

    I believe there is a trend towards more 'civilised' behaviour throughout the world. We are learning to avoid wars, rather than promulgate them. It was not that long (couple centuries) when the concept of increasing national size, power and prestige, through wars of conquest was regarded as OK. Today that philosophy is loathed (except perhaps, in Israel).

    Today the only nation arrogant enough to use military means to impose its will on other nations is America. Given time, perhaps even the USA will become civilised. And even America has to have a rationalisation before going to war, so that its actions are claimed to be for the benefit of people.
     
  11. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Of trends in political organization over the entire course of human history? Not even close. I'd laugh at the preposterousness of the suggestion, if it weren't evidently serious.

    You seem to be confusing some quantity of lint in your navel with the real world, there.

    The real world has featured recent events like Russia invading Georgia, China's ongoing repression of Tibet, numerous wars in Africa, etc. And what of the Israel example you just listed?
     
  12. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    Diversity is necessary contrary to what people think. It is why we are diversified if you ask Me. Don't marry your mother friends, there is a reason why it is illegal. or your brother don't marry your brother
     
  13. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    Quad said ;

    "The real world has featured recent events like Russia invading Georgia, China's ongoing repression of Tibet, numerous wars in Africa, etc. And what of the Israel example you just listed? "

    OK. I will grant you that. America is just the most consistent and frequent offender.
     
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The request was for possibly illuminating circumstances that have, in our experience, been causally or referentially associated with an awakening of the requested kind.

    I offered one. You don't have to consider it, if you don't want to.
    The Scottish Enlightenment was marked by several such transitions among a fairly large number of high status people from the cultures affected directly by it - involving women, slavery, class structure, etc. Does that make its features of interest?
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  15. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Civilization is what, 10,000 years old? Compare that to 6 million years for the genus Homo and 200,000 for the species Homo sapiens.

    Large cities full of people of different races and cultures are a very recent development. We did not evolve under these circumstances. Our instincts, innate morality, and drives were not "designed" with such places in mind.

    Our intelligence and free will allows for great flexibility and gives us the ability to overcome our evolutionary heritage; but backsliding is soooo easy and just feels right. So when times get tough, we know who the enemy is, and it ain't "us".
     
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Except that I don't see any evidence, just opinions here. If you read carefully, I am asking what changed group legislated attitudes. Can you show me where the "men having daughters" played out as a causative in reddefining the other, in changing identity such that there was an abandoning the veil by a society, and in changing its legislation?
    Not yet you haven't
    What did the Scottish enlightenment consist of? What led to the transitions?
     
  17. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

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    At the very least, the most reported commented upon.
    Also the most open.
    Odd, that.
     
  18. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

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    You know, Fraggle - I really don't think that is the case.
    The choice of terminology is more significant than that.
     
  19. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

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    ...

    ..

    You people actually let her get away with this.
    Not a single one calling her. Not a single post even remotely concerned with showing the above crap for what it is.

    Eh. Attempt to address rampant stupidity and disingenous bullshit, or go play poker.

    Poker. Wins every time. Nighty night.
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    ??? I'll be happy to back up my statements

    official socially acceptable status of convict women in Australian colonies:



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    source:The land downunder By Ted Egan

    This was officially sanctioned behaviour against women.
     
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Sorry, SAM? Which behaviour do you think was officially sanctioned?
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    All of the above, since it was all legal and under the governers aegis.
     
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Being legal and being sanctioned are quite different things, SAM. Take being drunk, for example.
     

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