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Why Violence Works

Org

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Why Violence Works



Humans, and perhaps their prehuman ancestors, have engaged in murder and mayhem, as individuals and in groups, for hundreds of thousands of years. And, at least since the advent of recorded history, violence and politics have been intimately related. Nation-states use violence against internal and external foes. Dissidents engage in violence against states. Competing political forces inflict violence on one another. Writing in 1924, Winston Churchill declared—with good reason—that "the story of the human race is war."

Some writers see violence as an instrument of politics. Thomas Hobbes regarded violence as a rational means to achieve such political goals as territory, safety, and glory. Carl von Clausewitz famously referred to war as the continuation of politics by other means. A second group of writers view violence as a result of political failure and miscalculation. The title of an influential paper on the origins of the American Civil War by the historian James Randall, "The Blundering Generation," expresses that idea. A third group, most recently exemplified by the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, regards violence as a pathological behavior that is diminishing in frequency with the onward march of civilization. Some proponents of that perspective have even declared that violence is essentially a public-health problem. Whatever their differences, each of these perspectives assigns violence a subordinate role in political life.

But there is an alternative view, one that assigns violence a primary role in politics. This outlook is implied by Mao Zedong's well-known aphorism that political power "grows out of the barrel of a gun." Violence, in other words, is the driving force of politics, while peaceful forms of political engagement fill in the details or, perhaps, merely offer post-hoc justifications for the outcomes of violent struggles. Mao corrected Clausewitz by characterizing politics as a sequel to or even an epiphenomenon of violence—a continuation of violence by other means.

Unfortunately, Mao seemed to have an inordinate fondness for bloodshed. After all, he suggested that the quality of a revolutionary should be judged by the number of people he has killed. Yet our revulsion at Mao's practices should not blind us to the accuracy of his observation. Violence and the threat of violence are the most potent forces in political life.

People say that problems cannot be solved by the use of force, that violence, as the saying goes, is not the answer. That adage appeals to our moral sensibilities. But whether or not violence is the answer depends on the question being asked. For better or worse, violence usually provides the most definitive answers to three major questions of political life: statehood, territoriality, and power. Violent struggle—war, revolution, terrorism—more than any other immediate factor, determines what nations will exist and their relative power, what territories they occupy, and which groups will exercise power within them.

In the case of statehood, there are occasional circumstances when a state may be built and endure mainly through peaceful means. The peaceful divorce of Slovakia and the Czech Republic is an example. This is, however, one of the rare exceptions. As the social scientist Charles Tilly has observed, most regimes are the survivors or descendants of a thousand-year-long culling process in which those states capable of creating and sustaining powerful militaries prevailed, while those that could not or would not fight were conquered or absorbed by others. Similarly, when it comes to control of territory, virtually every square inch of inhabited space on the planet is occupied by groups that forcibly dispossessed—sometimes exterminated—the land's previous claimants.

The meek, in short, have not inherited very much of the earth. Indeed, the West's global dominance for most of the past millennium is in large part a function of its capacity for violence.

Within every nation, the composition of the ruling class is generally shaped by the use or threat of what Walter Benjamin called "law-making violence." That elections have become common in some parts of the world over the past two centuries does not contravene the point. Yes, Barack Obama, America's first black president, was elected. But the possibility that a black person could join America's social and political elite was established through sometimes violent protest four decades earlier, to say nothing of the bloody war that freed black people from chattel slavery.

Violence is politically important for several reasons. Two of those—at the risk of stating the obvious—are the dominance of violence as a form of political action, and the fact that violence is, in the end, politically transformative.
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Gathomas88

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Why Violence Works

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Anyone who claims that "violence has never solved anything" pretty clearly lacks understanding of history and basic human nature.

Violence allowed our species to conquer this planet. It allowed us to keep it.

It has fueled basically every major technological, social, and philosophical innovation of the last ten thousand years.

To be violent is to be human.
 

jag2594

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Anyone who claims that "violence has never solved anything" pretty clearly lacks understanding of history and basic human nature.

Violence allowed our species to conquer this planet. It allowed us to keep it.

It has fueled basically every major technological, social, and philosophical innovation of the last ten thousand years.

To be violent is to be human.

From a reverse evolution perspective, mammals would turn more into reptiles. However brains would be smaller and our playful tendencies would vanish. Young mammals have to learn quickly in the real world. But play intensifies their learning ability.

I am not sure if you believe in evolution though....
 
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Gathomas88

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From a reverse evolution perspective, mammals would turn more into reptiles. However brains would be smaller and our playful tendencies would vanish. Young mammals have to learn quickly in the real world. But play intensifies their learning ability.

I am not sure if you believe in evolution though....
I do believe in evolution.

I am not, however; really sure what your point is here.
 

thinkforyoursel

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...aaahh I like this topic of truth.

I recently got banned from a thread for essentially trying to make this very case.

In Florida where there are disproportional police brutality towards blacks ...particularly black youth...that led to the Travon martin debacle.

One of the things I observed was that the laws and the system in that state will never be fixed ...if it only affects minorities ...while whites are safe and secure knowing they'll never be subjected to that violence.

The solution .....blacks need to start killing whites in Florida as a response ...and I bet anybody things will change in that state.

The idea that marching and singing songs will get the laws change ...is ridiculous in my view. And for that ...I got banned from the thread.
 

opendebate

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Is this conversation arousing you guys. :lol:
 

jag2594

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I do believe in evolution.

I am not, however; really sure what your point is here.
I am trying to say that violence in the human race is a characteristic of reverse evolution. That humans having its mammalian qualities would possible be next evolutionary state. Save the violence for the cold-blood animals, they eat much less than mammals. But mammals have larger brain to body ratio, giving them useful characteristics.

An example would be Tesla, he died in debt, but created around 300 patents. Greed was not part of his motivation.
 

Goshin

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Is this conversation arousing you guys. :lol:


What an odd thing to say.


I'm not sure why any thread remotely related to any form of force seems to bring out the penile references, but they apparently do. :shrug:
 

Goshin

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I am trying to say that violence in the human race is a characteristic of reverse evolution. That humans having its mammalian qualities would possible be next evolutionary state. Save the violence for the cold-blood animals, they eat much less than mammals. But mammals have larger brain to body ratio, giving them useful characteristics.

An example would be Tesla, he died in debt, but created around 300 patents. Greed was not part of his motivation.


Um.... what?


Mammals are every bit as violent as reptiles... and they're better at it.


That's why mammals are more the dominant species and reptiles are more of a secondary niche.
 

opendebate

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What an odd thing to say.


I'm not sure why any thread remotely related to any form of force seems to bring out the penile references, but they apparently do. :shrug:
just given' you guys a hard time ( no pun intended)
 

jag2594

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Um.... what?


Mammals are every bit as violent as reptiles... and they're better at it.


That's why mammals are more the dominant species and reptiles are more of a secondary niche.
No young mammals have a higher brain to body ratio than adult mammals. Which gives them the advantage of learning quickly and increase adaptation.
What could this mean, as our brains increase overtime it could hold on to its characteristics as a child. This could be the next evolution for humans, and other organisms.

Neoteny - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mammals are more advance because of Brain size to body. They learn quickly, but they must constantly eat. While a gator can eat once a month.
 

Goshin

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No young mammals have a higher brain to body ratio than adult mammals. Which gives them the advantage of learning quickly and increase adaptation.
What could this mean, as our brains increase overtime it could hold on to its characteristics as a child. This could be the next evolution for humans, and other organisms.

Neoteny - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mammals are more advance because of Brain size to body. They learn quickly, but they must constantly eat. While a gator can eat once a month.

.... Okay.

I don't see how this actually relates to the topic, at least not very clearly.
 

TurtleDude

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Glowpun

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In Florida where there are disproportional police brutality towards blacks ...particularly black youth...that led to the Travon martin debacle.

One of the things I observed was that the laws and the system in that state will never be fixed ...if it only affects minorities ...while whites are safe and secure knowing they'll never be subjected to that violence.

The solution .....blacks need to start killing whites in Florida as a response ...and I bet anybody things will change in that state.

The solution in North Carolina where republicans are blatantly disenfranchising students, blacks, the working poor regardless of race, would eliminating the local republicans and the governor be justified by the means just mentioned? When is armed insurrection justified?
 

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I doubt if anyone here would recognize civil virtue if it reached up and bit you in the ass.
 

Northern Light

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The OP is over-simplified.

Violence has a function in nature as a base survival mechanism, but in complex social structures it is problematic. Since modern human civilization has tried, whether delusionally or truthfully, to separate itself from nature, it seems like a copout to fall back on the nature argument for why we can't solve our social problems peacefully.

Talking about what animals do to each other in nature has absolutely zero relevance to why government, in its nature, inevitably ignores the will of the people and inflicts violence on them. This empathic "we" that is always invoked by biological determinists when they talk about "our" violent nature is such a load of crap. Most humans just want to make their daily bread and live in peace, but it's the ruling class that becomes corrupted by power who think that might makes right. I think violence is definitely part of our species but engaging in it is a choice of free will. You can choose to nurture the violent wolf or the rational, higher-functioning brain that we all possess. If that weren't true, we would still be seeing the same level of war and death that has always plagued humanity, yet the truth is that war and violence are on the decline as complex interdependence increases. Through nuclear standoffs, humans have demonstrated that when faced with our collective destruction, we are capable of putting supreme violence on the backburner in favor of higher level reasoning processes.

People like Martin Luther King and Gandhi succinctly pointed out that the reason why the system is able to use violence against us is because we use violence to engage with the system. Non-violent resistence, en mass, is completely disabling of the violent structures. In other words, they NEED you to devolve to a baser state in order for their protocols to have any effect, and this is why the government and its media lackies spend most of their time trying to emotionally overwhelm your higher brain functions with their pedantic trolling.

Part of that propaganda is making you believe that humans are violent savages with no redeeming qualities because then you won't band together with your neighbor and realize that you can collectively throw your bodies onto the gears and disable the system without throwing a single punch. Once you buy into that brainwashing, then they've got you. The truth is that humans have had many epochs of lasting peace where communities and nations worked together for mutual benefit.
 

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Your post reminded me of Toffler's three forms of power
Violence is the lowest 'quality' of power.
Subsequently the three societies he describes based on the three legs of the stool are of ascending quality.
 

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The OP is over-simplified.

Violence has a function in nature as a base survival mechanism, but in complex social structures it is problematic. Since modern human civilization has tried, whether delusionally or truthfully, to separate itself from nature, it seems like a copout to fall back on the nature argument for why we can't solve our social problems peacefully.

Talking about what animals do to each other in nature has absolutely zero relevance to why government, in its nature, inevitably ignores the will of the people and inflicts violence on them. This empathic "we" that is always invoked by biological determinists when they talk about "our" violent nature is such a load of crap. Most humans just want to make their daily bread and live in peace, but it's the ruling class that becomes corrupted by power who think that might makes right. I think violence is definitely part of our species but engaging in it is a choice of free will. You can choose to nurture the violent wolf or the rational, higher-functioning brain that we all possess. If that weren't true, we would still be seeing the same level of war and death that has always plagued humanity, yet the truth is that war and violence are on the decline as complex interdependence increases. Through nuclear standoffs, humans have demonstrated that when faced with our collective destruction, we are capable of putting supreme violence on the backburner in favor of higher level reasoning processes.

People like Martin Luther King and Gandhi succinctly pointed out that the reason why the system is able to use violence against us is because we use violence to engage with the system. Non-violent resistence, en mass, is completely disabling of the violent structures. In other words, they NEED you to devolve to a baser state in order for their protocols to have any effect, and this is why the government and its media lackies spend most of their time trying to emotionally overwhelm your higher brain functions with their pedantic trolling.

Part of that propaganda is making you believe that humans are violent savages with no redeeming qualities because then you won't band together with your neighbor and realize that you can collectively throw your bodies onto the gears and disable the system without throwing a single punch. Once you buy into that brainwashing, then they've got you. The truth is that humans have had many epochs of lasting peace where communities and nations worked together for mutual benefit.
You're missing the point of the article. Ginsberg contends that violence should be praised, not condemned, for it's propensity to destroy social structures. In the case of MLK, his protests worked better due the emotional reactions brought on by armed state resistance. Venezuela and Cuba wouldn't be the flourishing democracies they are now, if it weren't for violence. Nor would American slaves wouldn't have been liberated in the 1800s. We wouldn't have the modern welfare systems if socialists and communists didn't have the violent organizing capacity they did - nor the bourgeois democracies themselves.

I'm not trying to discard the very real power of propaganda and non-violent organization/ But it's still true that the world's major changes, very largely, have been productions of violence.
 

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Anyone who claims that "violence has never solved anything" pretty clearly lacks understanding of history and basic human nature.

Violence allowed our species to conquer this planet. It allowed us to keep it.

It has fueled basically every major technological, social, and philosophical innovation of the last ten thousand years.

To be violent is to be human.
Jean Rasczak: Correct. Naked force has resolved more conflicts throughout history than any other factor. The contrary opinion, that violence doesn't solve anything, is wishful thinking at its worst; people who forget that always die.
cheesy movie but an awesome quote
 

Gathomas88

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