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As an acquaintance , an ex-Army man so trenchantly put it: "people just love to fight.." . ( In his case ,he can thank his lucky stars it's so - else he might well have had to settle for a far less swash-buckling career .)

The fact of the matter is everyone loves to fight - people , gangs , nay even governments.

Just walk into a pub - and chances are ,you're more than likely to be able to 'thrill' to fists flying , jaws breaking etc.

On a more 'exalted' plane i.e. at a geo-political level , nations can hardly wait to tear into each other on the flimsiest of pretexts.In point of fact they seem to engage in such mass 'blood letting' with an almost sickening predictability.

It doesn't stop here. If the recent tragic spate of random shootings are any pointer : " not only do people love to fight ..they also very chillingly and ominously 'love ' to massacre."

Its almost trite to say that the urge to fight ,and the urge to massacre lie deep within our blood: an atavistic throw-back to our very survival as individuals - and as a species.Urges , that are as crucial to our very existences as drawing breath ,or eating to stay alive.Like it or not ,there is nothing we can do about it. But live with it - in all its savage glory.

However the gods have smiled on us : the supremely enlightened have ,very infrequently, emerged to open our minds and our souls to the possibility of being able to rise above ,and transcend ,this wretched baseness of our very natures . The Buddha with his Eightfold Way , and Christ with his exhortation to 'turn the other cheek". Sadly though,it has been given to very few to follow in their footsteps.

More recently Tolstoy ,drew inspiration from all these giants who bestrode the Sublime like Colossi , and penned his masterpieces on Peace. They're riveting reads but charmingly infeasible.

Gandhi-ji was a bit luckier perhaps. But he too died ,with most of his dreams turned to ashes.

The sad fact of the matter is :the urge to violence ( like the urge to sex ) is 'second nature ' to Man. But unlike sex it can't be sublimated .Repress it and you do so at your extreme peril : for it would only burst forth with redoubled virulence.

It might sound cynical, but the only way to 'manage'violence might well be to 'roll with the punches' and countenance the occasional letting- off of steam - or even a spot of 'blood letting ' if need be.

Nature ,it appears, abhors both a vacuum - and that aberration called Peace.

It never was -nor ever will be - "Peace in our time.".


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The following comments are for "Peace - charming delusion ?"

Finding our higher nature is much easier philosophized than actualized, at least for the masses that is, animal, baser nature verses our higher nature, this I know lives within me, but I am unfortunately not alone. I strive, but always fall short, still I will not be detoured from my passion or path of finding my peaceful path;-)

Good writing, very wise and insightful truths.

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: March 12, 2009 )

Lena. Thank you very much for all the encouragement.Been a long hiatus to my postings.

To take a leaf from Descartes ( excuse any pretension -totally unintended i assure you ) : "i doubt -therefore i am " .

(Nonetheless a lot 'better' than its virulent variant : " I loathe therefore I am." Which seems all-too-depressingly pervasive.)


( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 13, 2009 )

Aggression and violence yes, but it's not inevitable.
A very interesting piece of writing. I too, happen to think that 'peace in our time' is unlikely, at least under present conditions. I also believe that the human 'urge to violence' is a very real phenomenon, serving to colour people's domestic and international relations.

However, I don't think that human aggression can be understood and explained with reference to seemingly innate human qualities. Sigmund Freud believed all people were innately aggressive, so too albeit in various fashions did Desmond Morris, Anthony Storr, Konrad Lorenz, Ivor Montagu and many many more besides.

Their arguments were, and still are clearly wrong in my view. All the facts teach us that animals per se, are generally peaceful creatures with acts of intra-specific aggression proving to be the exception not the norm. True, some carnivores can sometimes behave in an aggressive manner, for example when faced with a shortage of food. But we tend to overlook the fact that humans are not pure carnivores. We are omnivores. Neither do we content ourselves with a given environment as does the lion for instance. No, we make and remake our history.

We should resist the temptation to think of people as instinctive creatures on a par with insects, birds etc... This is to overlook the fact of human history and human capabilities. People do not simply adapt themselves to their environment. As I say, they make it! And they remake it! Over many thousands of years, successive generations have brought into being one higher social system after another, culminating as it currently has in capitalist property relations cross-cutting the globe. A world not premised on cries, howls, yelps and the like as would befit any innately aggressive creature. Instead, language in its numerous shades acts as a medium of communication and thought. Social relationships, technological advance, scientific discovery all belong to humankind and humankind alone. We conceptually plan in order to pursue our myriad consciously desired ends. Foresight, imagination, planning are the kinds of qualities unique to human beings.

As we might expect then, much human behaviour has in the past, and continues to this day to evince chiefly non-aggressive qualities. Without co-operation of some kind, life would simply fall apart. Simply to argue however, as Freud does that such non-aggressive behaviour is best understood as an ability to control by degrees one's inner violent drives is to render his theory of human aggression incapable of testing. An explanation suited to any facts whatsoever a little like Christianity's tale of 'The Fall'. A pseudo-scientific explanation, applicable to all observable phenomena and thus incapable of being scientifically disproven. It never seemed to trouble Freud and others of similar mind that a suggested constant magnitude (innate aggression in human beings in this case) is simply not capable of scientifically explaining so much variable human behaviour. Anthropology for example, teaches us that humans are more than capable of living peacefully together, so too does human history generally.

We should then, reject all such theories that seek to do little else other than to paralyse the human will to seek out the true material causes for human aggression and wickedness. Human drives of any kind I believe, are better understood as socially selected. We are what we are in accordance with the society we build for ourselves. Our biological potentialities become actualities in accordance with definite social conditions. A majority of the world's people currently lives in a global society that daily demands the exploitation of a majority of people by a minority of people. A society that daily subordinates human activity to the pursuit of profits. For as long as such a state of affairs continues to predominate, so too will the need for people among other things, to organise themselves into territorially antagonistic nation states. So too will the desire to aggressively compete with one's fellow being for the few jobs on offer. So too will the desire to engage in a desperate scramble for the few positions of power. So too will the desire of a few rich nations to pillage the natural resources in other countries etc...

If on the other hand we set about consciously engaging in the collective, practical task of rearranging our social relationships along classless lines, in so doing, we then at least stand to change the very nature of those humans party to such transformed social relations. In short, more human(e) social relations will surely give rise to more human(e) kinds of people......

My apologies for rambling more than a bit! A very interesting piece of writing however, does tend to bring out the terrible rambler in me.....

( Posted by: colinbaker62 [Member] On: March 16, 2009 )

The comment is far more searching than the opinion.

You will notice that we both are in agreement as to the essentials.

Even with regard to your point that : human aggression can't be understood or explained with reference to seemingly innate human qualities . In fact what I'd said was that the whole spectrum of human aggression seems to spring from some deep rooted atavistic or primordial impulse.

What we've 'succeeded ' in doing over the millenia that Mankind has been around is to : ' finesse ' it - and render it infinitely more lethal and grisly - drawing upon each successive technological advance.

To the point that even all out war becomes a penny arcade or video game spectacle - for the side which has a huge 'assymetric ' advantage .

Totally painless - with next to no casualties. So delightfully easy .Not even a nicked finger.Except perhaps in opening that can of beer or coke

The 'noblest' and 'most exalted ' recent examples being the Iraq Wars and the repeated Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza.

The valiant Sir Galahads just fly over and 'zap' the 'vermin ' far below . The 'vermin ' often being the old , the infirm , the women , the children and the infants.

It's become so 'easy on the conscience' for the US , the Brit and the Euro Brobdigangians to go war. Easier than taking a walk in the park - or indulging in an orgy.

You ,I have to say ,end on an aspirational note viz. that we should be tending towards....A stark contrast to Tolstoy ,who ( realizing the sheer futility of Peace ) couldn't have been more mordant. Even Huxley was forced to bow to the inevitable , and ring the curtains down on his 1962 Island utopia.

If you notice - i've ,for once, not dredged up my old hobby horse viz. racism . Though its not as if racism etc. isn't inextricably intertwined with Violence. Thought i'd leave it out for a change . That's all.

Grist to your mill perhaps, that there is hope yet for even dyed-in-the-wool cynics ,and nay sayers like me.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 17, 2009 )

Colin etc.
Please read "penny arcade lark' .

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 17, 2009 )

I don't believe that all people have this urge to violence. I see many different kinds of drives in people, different base natures. Some are just prone to bitterness, some are always happy, some who are always happy are bitter and contrary, so the happyness is a lie, which makes thier base nature shifty. Not all of these people are going to have a strong connection to thier ancient survivalist nature, but may have a greater connection with mans more recent evolutions of survivalism. Some are so deeply programmed to be submissive, that they are unable to break out of this internal role and wouldn't be able to engage in violent acts ever in thier lives.

I'm only saying this because i used to believe in a similar idea. I believed that all men had the internal drive for revolution, for change, a drive that comes from our higher nature that made man want to better himself. But unfortunatly I have come to realize that men are totally divided in natures, and some people won't ever respond to my pleas for change. Example, a upper east side trophy wife. That broad is never gonna open her home as a shelter for the poor. There just isn't any way. Now she may have the ability to become oriented on a different point of mans collective nature(s), but it isn't natural for her to re-orient.

In conclusion, if this reply made any sense, im glad. I believe that the aggressive drive is only a point of refrence in our collective mind/nature, and though it may be a powerful point, we as people have the ability to orient ourselfs according to whichever part of "our" nature we see fit (in most cases that choice owing to circumstance and environment). I don't believe we will ever see the day when all men are united at the same time with only this single survivalist nature driving us.

( Posted by: roach [Member] On: March 17, 2009 )

Thanks for all you've said.

Of course as you've rightly pointed out : not all people have an equal predisposition to violence . In fact taking it a step further ( to a 'higher' plane) : aggregate predispositions to violence seems to vary from culture to culture. Ranging from the testosterone charged Western ethoses - all the way to the more 'peaceable ' aboriginals and tribals .

Whatever be the case ,there's hope yet for the future as youth open up their minds to this whole sordid business of instinctive violence.

We might yet see a world where violence , racial inequality , and above all white supremacy , has absolutely no place whatsoever.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 17, 2009 )

doubtful, so long as our worlds religion is the central bank, we will never be free from racism or supremists.

( Posted by: roach [Member] On: March 18, 2009 )

Thanks for your comment.

However my own take on this is a bit different. The world's religion for quite a while now ( more so since it became a unipolar world ) is the obsession with Wealth Creation .

Almost everything that afflicts us all ( be it Central Banks and Crooked Governments etc. ) follow from this central core of our raison d'etre.

It only struck me after I'd heard Roger Penrose ,the cosmologist, saying precisely this. He's quite right .

Anyway here's to hoping that things improve.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 18, 2009 )

here here
i'll toast that

( Posted by: roach [Member] On: March 19, 2009 )

second nature
I noticed you said second nature to "Man". Was this a conscious decision made because somehow "man" sounds more poetic? Or do you think it was a Freudian slip of some sort? It adds an element to this I don't think you meant to be there...

I think you bring up a lot of good points. But I also question all attempts to assign things to human nature or "second nature".
for one, we're not in any kind of natural habitat. Civilization is not natural, it's just kind of what happened. It makes us live in ways we never would have lived 10,000 years ago, and effects how we interact other people, animals, nature and ourselves. I'm not saying I think human nature is being bred out of us, just that I don't think we have the perspective we often think we do. can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world with no guns, no police, no government, no media, no electricity, no armies, no cigarettes, no alcohol, no caffeine, etc, a world where you grew, gathered and hunted your own food, where children were raised in collective fashion? I CAN'T. All those things have a profound impact on our lives and who knows how far that impact goes?
I think to some extent some violence might be natural. I've seen a lot of it in my lifetime, through work with Amnesty International, where I read about extreme instances of torture, through projects I've done on sexual violence. I've also bore the brunt of violence, having been in abusive relationships, having been tear gassed, having been pulled over at gun point.
But there's reaction and necessity and those things don't equal nature. There's a huge difference to me (maybe not to other people), between hunting and killing an animal to eat, or even fighting and killing a person than massacres or rape or war, or self defense.

I recently read an article by Yaquian activist Rod Coronado entitled "the High Price of Pacifism", in which he said "I came from a long line of cop killers... had it not been for my ancestors' willingness to kill their oppressors I might not be alive today."
There's a lot to take away from this statement. But, in the interest of adapting it to my point, the main thing here I think is reaction. When faced with genocide people react violently, when violence is the bulk of what we see in mass media or on our streets or in our families we believe violence is an inherent part of living. In the military soldiers are taught violence is part of duty. In our culture violence is a symbol of power and strength and power and strength are integral parts of our idea of manhood.
Take away those things, the need to defend oneself from genocide, the AK47s, the adherence to strict gender roles and we don't know what would be natural. Violence being an inherent part of living in the 21st century doesn't make it an inherent part of evolution, or us.

We can say that people love to fight, and there's some truth to that. I know it's true of me, I have considered myself a warrior of some kind or another from a young age. But, as I stated in the previous paragraphs, it doesn't take into account surroundings. It doesn't take into account how greed, power struggles, gender, racism, neocolonialism, property ownership, and exposure to violence shape our need to fight.

One thing I absolutely agree with you on is that peace is indeed a charming delusion. Or, at least it is as long as we spend our time philosophizing about it instead of making conscious decisions to live it in our everyday lives...

( Posted by: ruina [Member] On: March 25, 2009 )

Excuse my not having replied earlier. Matter of fact just looked in now and saw your comment. Thanks very much.

If as ,you've quoted in your bio ,"things end with a whimper'- that might well be as 'peaceful' as it gets.

That aside : " making conscious decisions to live it in our everyday lives ' is the moot point. And easier said than done.

How does one deal with aggression .Particularly when it's unprovoked . Frankly ,I don't see too many of us (very nobly )'doing things like turning the other cheek' etc.

That said ,few challenges could be more uphill ,and more daunting ,than striving for peace : as it goes against the very grain of our natures.

However ( as you've said ) it is precisely this that should render it ( the striving for peace ) all the more imperative.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 28, 2009 )

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