Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Most Unholy Trinity: War, Oppression & Patriarchy

Catchy title, no? ;)

According to some social scientists, we have problems because we have a "selfish gene" (well, find that sucker and mutate it!). They suggest, and even insist, that we are naturally and innately selfish -- nothing to be done about it.

And then there's religion ... which tells us that we developed selfishness through disobedience (though how we'd disobey withOUT selfishness being there in the first place is never addressed...!). They suggest, and even insist (under threat of eternal punishment for disagreeing) that we are hopelessly and inately selfish -- BUT, if we "do the right thing" or "make the right choice" we can overcome this selfishness. Interestingly, the adherents to such religions don't seem to have managed that selfishness-overcoming thingy very well ... perhaps they need to read more scriptures, or pray harder. Yeah, that'll work.

And then there are others who say that it's because of testosterone. That the presence of this chemical is responsible for the war and patriarchy we observe and experience (women produce 100 micrograms of the stuff, whereas men produce 5100 micrograms)... that this chemical tells men to "screw it or kill it" (oh yes, I cleaned up the author's language -- now you really want to read this book, doncha?).

But which came first? Is this chemical state the cause, or the result, of aggressive behavior..?

And here's another question: if we humans are genetically and chemically set up to be agrressive, then why was war almost utterly absent in human history until 6,000 years ago?

What if, 6,000 years ago, when vast portions of the lush and populated areas of planet became suddenly arid and inhospitable, so that water was hard to find, and food was scarce ... and humans, forced to suddenly compete with each other to survive, and had to develop a more sharply defined ego to do so ... and as a result became more self-aware, more afraid of death ... and thus sought ways to become "immortal"? What if they imagined that the taking of another's life, whether in warfare, or in a sacrificial ritual, gave them more life? (This proposal is put forth by Ken Wilbur.)

How else might the ego-explosion have led to war? We've already seen how the Fall brought about an inner disconten, and sense of incompleteness, along with a tendency to compete for life-resources. And then to accumulate status and wealth (to feel important). If you have things I want in order to feel better, I will take them. And so, I will fight you in order to take your things (haven't we all seen this in 2 year olds? And in corporate boardrooms of 40/50 year olds?).

The lack of empathy/compassion, that came with the Fall, made warfare easier. If I see you as "other", and you have what I want/need, you are dispensible. If I cannot feel another's pain, it's easier to justify inflicting pain on them. War has also been a historical means to alleviate boredom ...! War has often given a nation, and the people within it, a united purpose. "WE" are in this together. "WE" have a common enemy (interestingly, this is also what binds folks in a common religion -- having a common enemy to focus on).

Another possible source for war is sexual repression ... according to Wilhelm Reich, if humans don't have a healthy sex life with regular orgasms, then "undischarged bio-energetic tension" builds up ... creating a sense of frustration and latent agression, which seeks to have an outlet. Eurasian societies have largely been sexually repressive ... which may explain the long history of continual warfare in this region.

In addition, there have been connections made between socieities which withhhold physical affections from infants, and the penchant for war. Neurophychologist James Prescott compiled data from 400 different cultures, and found a profound connection between affectionate touch, and a low level of violence.
"Those socieities which give their infants the greatest amount of physical affection have less theft and violence among addults, thus supporting the theory that deprivation of bodily pleasure during infancy is significantly linked to a high rate of crime and violence."

Of course, it's also quite likely that the ego-explosion is what's behind the violence, the lack of affection, and the sexual repression ... and rather than focusing on the tip of the iceburg, it's better to go to the bottom of it.

Next: Patriarchy -- Why Men and Women are From Different Planets...!

Shalom, Dena


cwtpmom said...

Of course, it's also quite likely that the ego-explosion is what's behind the violence, the lack of affection, and the sexual repression ... and rather than focusing on the tip of the iceburg, it's better to go to the bottom of it.

Maybe man wanted to forget his origin, no? It appears to me that the group of men who remembered and revered their origin were always peaceful. It was just a thought I had as I was blogging about this subject today.

オテモヤン said...
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