Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Violent Nature?

After reading Bobo's latest bit-o-useless crap, I am posting something I've been thinking more about lately: the place of violence in human nature and society. It seems like I am hearing more about how violent and destructive people (yes, particularly men) are...

I was on the opposite side of a discussion over the weekend where violence [by men] against women was said to be remnant of a time when men would kill other men (for women), but since they only beat/abused/subdued the women, the female of the species was better off then the [dead] male.

Shows like Doomsday Preppers and the individuals who are akin to that mentality all assume that once something [very] bad happens that we will regress to a barbaric, violent culture pretty much immediately. It's a weird notion that a tiny slip from modern society would so quickly--in the minds of some--result in my willingness to kill someone for their canned goods. I really think it says more about the mindset of the preppers than it does the rest of society.

Really, though, that isn't the way humanity and society work. We are not so...fragile(?) as that. Violence actually makes little sense in most cases, and in reality the people who exhibit violence are either in an extreme situation or are mentally deficient or ill.

Individuals have families and societies have a sense of security and trust that are necessary for them to function and thrive. If one person injures or kills another that person should then expect others to do the same. It is a very isolated way of living. Because this further means living in constant fear of someone else hurting/killing you, it is also a much less productive way of living.

So we group together. This offers some security (if someone wants to hurt an individual in the group that person is far less likely to get away with it), and because of that it also allows for people to expend more effort on non-security related issues. There is still, however, the threat of group on group violence.

Minimizing the group on group violence threat can be accomplished by growing the group sizes. The larger the group the harder an attack would be, and the more resources it would consume (e.g. war). The better use of time and effort is directed internally. But that growth improves technology which, along with other benefits, will mean more effective possible violence.

Group size/technology mismatch is a back and forth that was, for large nations, pretty much resolved by the end of the cold war: the technology exist to utterly destroy human civilization, so no gain can be made. The trade off here is that the size of the societies that are necessary to avert this level of violence runs somewhat counter to the ability to deter individual violence.

In the US individual violence is deterred by local sub-groups of the overall society that is the USA. In descending size: federal police, state/park police, local police, neighborhood/community groups/organizations/residents, and family which could be a literal family or friends or a close-knit subset of a neighborhood. In countries like Afghanistan, where the top 3-4 levels are weak and/or corrupt internally, that leaves the last, but in the vacuum between the top and bottom exists lots of space for mid-group on group violence, and so a place for tribal warfare and groups like al qaeda.

Still, independent of enforcement, it is the case that violence is counter productive both from a societal and from an individual viewpoint. Even an event (war, solar flare, asteroid, disease, economic collapse) that would break down upper group levels would still leave a lot of social norms, because that will guarantee the best life for those remaining. This doesn't mean that there wouldn't be massive suffering, especially in the short run, but the people/groups who will do the best on a longer time scale will be those who help, not those that hoard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we may have a problem. It never hurts to be prepared. I'm not saying to get a bunker but just think ahead a little. "What if???"
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You may find some info you can use. If not it is an interesting read!