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Old 04-10-2005, 08:34 AM   #1
Taliesin
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Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

This is an offshoot of the 'Gun Control' thread. Although here I'd be interested in everyone's opinions about the social pressures and factors that lead to increased violence in any given society and the steps that can be used to limit or reduce it.

Whilst I have a few idea's of my own I'm not going to mention them as I'm more interested in everybody elses's ideas at the moment.
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Old 04-10-2005, 08:42 AM   #2
xuzen
 
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I remember reading somewhere or from a science lecture that certain species of rodents will start killing each other when their population exceed their sustainable capacity. I wonder if such pressure extend to the humankind? You know, crowded metropolis, urban jungle etc... Just curious. I sincerely hope not.

Boon.

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Old 04-10-2005, 11:48 AM   #3
Anat Amitay
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Wow... there's a lot that can be said about this topic. I think I'll start with something specific and maybe add more later.
I know of a certain problem we have here in Israel. There are different economical groups and of course this in itself can lead to violence. But I wanted to refer to something else. Lets say a boy runs away from home because mom is a drug addict and dad beats him up. He's a good boy, he wants to make something out of himself, BUT- The government does not have any resources to give to this child. There are private organizations, sheltters that susstain themselves on contributions, but they do not recieve money from the state per people they tend. On the other hand, if that child will now commit a crime, he will have funding for him. A youth "jail"- he will get a bed, food, councling, clothing....
But he has to commit a crime first to be noticed. Of course that will leave a stain on him for the rest of his life (having a criminal file does limit your options of work places) and you cause a snow ball effect.
Those that try to help before these kids find themselves on the street, dont have enough resources to help everyone which means some will turn to crime, and after that recieve their "funding"...
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Old 04-10-2005, 11:58 AM   #4
Anat Amitay
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Something else:
I find that countries that have harsh laws and punishments, have lower crime levels.
For example: Singapore has a very strict law about many things. Throwing a peice of paper in the street will get you a fine of a lot of money (many years ago it was 1000 dollars). Rape, murder, drug dealing is dealt with a death sentence. There was the story of the american kid that vandalized a car and got sentenced for whipping. But when you're there, you see that it has the effect. Streets are clean, people dont fear letting their kids go around, also at night...
Even if this lessening in violence is due to fear of punishment, why not? Maybe if other countries will cause these people to fear punishment they will find that crime isn't paying off. If punishment isn't strict, then people find crime as an easy option to get rich/ power/ influence...
Just my two cents on violence.
Anat
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Old 04-10-2005, 06:04 PM   #5
Keith_k
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Quote:
Anat Eliraz (Amitay) wrote:
Something else:
I find that countries that have harsh laws and punishments, have lower crime levels.
For example: Singapore has a very strict law about many things. Throwing a peice of paper in the street will get you a fine of a lot of money (many years ago it was 1000 dollars). Rape, murder, drug dealing is dealt with a death sentence. There was the story of the american kid that vandalized a car and got sentenced for whipping. But when you're there, you see that it has the effect. Streets are clean, people dont fear letting their kids go around, also at night...
Even if this lessening in violence is due to fear of punishment, why not? Maybe if other countries will cause these people to fear punishment they will find that crime isn't paying off. If punishment isn't strict, then people find crime as an easy option to get rich/ power/ influence...
Just my two cents on violence.
Anat
The problem with this form of government enforcement of social behaviour is that instead of fearing and being abused by common criminals, the general population fears and is abused by the government. For example:Chinese Man Freed After "Murdered" Wife Shows Up Alive The problem doesn't really get solved, the instigation of violence is simply shifted from one group to another.

The factors that make a society violent are intricate and complex. I don't think that simply changing the style of laws and/or law enforcement will truely turn a violent society into a peaceful one with much success.
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Old 04-10-2005, 06:04 PM   #6
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I think that whether or not a society sees violence as an acceptable means of problem-solving is very important. If 'justice' is held up as a higher good than 'restoring harmony,' then someone who feels that the world has been unjust might feel ok about making themselves some 'justice.'
(please everyone note that I am *not* trying to say that justice is bad!)

In a psychology text once I read that many cultures have very specific psychological problems that almost never happen anywhere else (for instance all of the westerners who go crazy and think that they are Jesus). I suppose the same must be true of less specific problems, though to a lesser or more fuzzy degree.

-LK
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Old 04-10-2005, 06:17 PM   #7
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

There are some head people on this list, aren't there? Any of you reading this who would like to weigh in?

-LK
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Old 04-10-2005, 08:23 PM   #8
dan guthrie
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I wouldn't put poverty as a cause of violence. Some rich people are violent and most poor people are not. During the Warring States period I don't think Japanese peasants were 1 percent as violent as modern day Rio De Janeiro.
It may be a factor but I wouldn't put it as a cause.
I've also heard that the amount of violence overall has been on a steady decrease throughout human history. Anyone else heard the same?
My two cents.
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Old 04-11-2005, 04:05 AM   #9
ruthmc
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
I remember reading somewhere or from a science lecture that certain species of rodents will start killing each other when their population exceed their sustainable capacity. I wonder if such pressure extend to the humankind?
Yes. The scientific studies say that this applies to all living things. We all must compete for resources in order to survive, and when there are a lot of us, the competition can get rather intense...

Ruth
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Old 04-11-2005, 08:11 AM   #10
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Quote:
Dan Guthrie wrote:
I've also heard that the amount of violence overall has been on a steady decrease throughout human history.
I'd be interested to see something to back that up.
Personally, I find it hard to imagine a time in human history that involved more bloodshed than the 20th century.

Sean
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Old 04-11-2005, 09:13 AM   #11
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

IMHO, when you read enough sociology, you get the explanation of poverty, lack of education and opportunity, oppression, cultural and social mememics, and the like. These are explanations, not excuses. Not everyone in those situation choose violence. There is very little, IMHO, that actually supports any biological or genetic cause of violence. Most of it appears to be a psychological choice, though seldom seen as such. Since we really cannot legislate compassion and wisdom, it would appear we need to address this issue one heart and mind at a time until it becomes contagious through identification and imitation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-11-2005, 10:09 AM   #12
Anat Amitay
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I agree with Sean. The 20th centuary had been one of the bloodiest in the history of human kind, it has also been the time of inventions and manufactures that increase violence. (automatic weapons, the increase of drugs...). In history most blood shed was due to disease and even though wars have always raged around the world, I think the ones of this centuary were the worst in violence measure.
I also think there is less respect these days- to older people, to teachers and parents. In a way, that does not mean a person is violent, but those that are violent do not respect anything but themselves.

would you consider violence to be engraved in a human being and each person withstands it more- or less? Or is it just something that comes out of the environment?
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Old 04-11-2005, 10:25 PM   #13
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Seems a little hard to say whether we are more or less violent now.
Medical science is better able to keep people from dying than it used to, but more and more is splattered over the news in an effort to frighten or titilate.

Maybe our lack of respect or general apathy towards others is more an indication.
Seems it's much easier to kill/main/abuse someone if they're not seen as a person.
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Old 04-11-2005, 11:34 PM   #14
dan guthrie
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I'm not married to the position that this is the least violent period of human history and I, too, would like to remember where this fact was presented.
The way I remember it is that the chance of a typical person being attacked is less now than ever. Soldiers and killed civilians are not a large portion of the overall population of the Earth. The soldiers killed in our Civil War dwarf all of our other conflicts per capita for example. By warfare standards, therefore, this is not the bloodiest century in American history.
If you go on a per capita basis and factor in the idea that casualties in war were only attacked once (and died ). Ancient civilians were attacked several times by neighbors, robbers and family members during their shorter lives .
Now I remember, it was in a debate on gun control. The anti-gun speaker brought this fact up to say American's obsession with guns was not based on a real threat but a false, perceived threat. Unfortunately I can't recall the source.
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Old 04-12-2005, 12:05 AM   #15
maikerus
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
I remember reading somewhere or from a science lecture that certain species of rodents will start killing each other when their population exceed their sustainable capacity. I wonder if such pressure extend to the humankind? You know, crowded metropolis, urban jungle etc... Just curious. I sincerely hope not.

Boon.
I seem to remember that part of the study was to open an ajoining maze that was nice, well watered, food etc. and that the rodents would prefer the unstable side and keep going back there. I think they called it "Hell's Kitchen".

I may be wrong though...I can't find the reference.

cheers,

--Michael

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Old 04-12-2005, 08:23 AM   #16
ruthmc
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
I seem to remember that part of the study was to open an ajoining maze that was nice, well watered, food etc. and that the rodents would prefer the unstable side and keep going back there. I think they called it "Hell's Kitchen".
That's not surprising if the rats were in the unstable side first. They would just keep going back to the familiar, no matter how chaotic it was. Lots of human choose the familiar over the improved too

Ruth
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Old 04-12-2005, 08:31 AM   #17
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Interesting Responses

I'm particularly interested in Anat's response about Corporal Punishment - however in the UK those sort of punishments were abolished in 1948 because they were counter-productive, so harshness of punishments in itself isn't necessarily an effective 'cure'

I'm still interested in the why of 'violence' - which I define as emotionally driven and undisciplined application of force to a given target. And brutality which I define as being a deliberate application of force with the sole intent to cause specific harm or suffering.

I'm also interested in Lorine's sense of 'justice' outweighing harmony in our value system.

As I read it (and I am open to correction) the argument runs that where the priority is a redress of grievances against any perceived injustice (whether actually unjust or not) is the higher value that doing your part to maintain a harmonious society, there is likely to be more violence.

What I don't see, is why that leads to violence/ or brutality.

Anyone got any other idea's suggestions
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Old 04-12-2005, 11:52 AM   #18
Anat Amitay
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

What I wonder, is why do people today find their "answer" in violence? A teenager is dumped by his girlfriend, so he takes a rifle, goes to school and shoots anyone he sees. someone in a parking- lot asks another to watch not scratching his car as he parks, so he gets knifed and murdered, etc...
Why has human life (and when) become so cheap? When has talking stopped being an option of solving problems (or has it ever been)?
If we put aside the violence of war (which I dont justify), there is alot of violence in our everyday surroundings. Has it always been there, or has it increased?
Anat
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Old 04-13-2005, 12:49 PM   #19
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

As for whether this time in history is bloodier or not, I don't know. I would guess it is no worse than before, maybe better, but I do not have any evidence. I will say though, that violence is just much more visible these days. In the past, someone in one city, say Boston, could knife some people, get caught, convicted, and executed and nobody would even find out about it in Detroit until much later, and even then they probably wouldn't. Today, as soon as something occurs, like the recent shooting in Atlanta, people across the country or even the world can just turn on 24-hours cable news, or a news website, and can find out about it in minutes. Even the radio is relatively recent if we are comparing this century.

Plus, now photography and video technology shows the aftermath of violence on a more realistic scale, which I think has a stronger emotional impact and adds a sense of reality to any incident that occurs. It is far more "real" than printed text or artistic renderings of the past.

What do I think causes violence? There is no exact "cause" per se, just a lot of reasons. Poverty, drugs, mental illness, those all certainly contribute to the problem, but I don't think any of them causes violence. I think if there is any root cause, it would best be described as a generalized lack of respect for other people.

Rational people can discuss things, have different views, accept that they have different views, and co-exist peacefully. Many other people who not very rational often cannot accept the possibility of other points of view than their own, and react to those with opposing views with hostility. Hostility against one person only breeds more hostility, anger, and violent emotions in both people. If it flares up enough, those feelings might be released as violence.

The United States is a very diverse country. There are people from all over the world, with every different religious, political, social, moral, etc belief imaginable. I love that diversity, it has the potential to generate almost any idea imaginable and double checks itself with other ideas. Unfortunately, there are enough people in the majority who do NOT respect those different from themselves that hostility results, especially when beliefs and practices clash.

I think the key to solving this type of problem, is an increased exposure of people to people, and that is slowly but surely happening. As children are raised in an environment where diversity is celebrated, and the respect to those with differences is role-modeled, I think over the long term, the problems with violence here in this country at least will decrease. People also need to learn to talk "diplomatically" and with discipline. Sometimes it is hard to share your opinions and feelings in a non-hostile manner, but that must be encouraged. In other words, teaching de-escalation.

Anyway, I am no sociologist or anything, but those are my thoughts. It seems I rambled on a bit...

Last edited by Thomas Ambrose : 04-13-2005 at 12:50 PM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 04-15-2005, 07:57 AM   #20
Jim ashby
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Anat, human life IS cheap. Every 40 weeks or so any female can drop another litter of mewling cabbages on the planet to be fed, watered, housed and educated, probably by others. To quote the late Bill Hicks "let's work out a food/air deal and stop rutting just for one day". I have children, by choice, and I have never claimed that it was "an accident" or that it wasd "just something that hapened in the heat of the moment" nor do I subscribe to any religion that tells me when or whether to mate or use contraception. Rise above the belief that we humans are more than just another species on the planet. We just use tools and language better than others.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 04-15-2005, 08:58 AM   #21
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

James

Although I cannot speak for Anat, I must say I am horrified by the apparant 'holier than thou' attitude you are reflecting. You do not seem to realise that for the vast majority of us, myself included, are prisoners of the beliefs we were raised with. Your argument that we should "Rise above the belief that we humans are more than just another species on the planet. We just use tools and language better than others" is equally horrifying - are you suggesting that we ignore the possibility that it is possible to become less violent through shaping the environment about us and just shrug our shoulders and say "we're just animals, no difference (apart from that we are far more toxic to the world around us) lets not bother trying to understand. Because that is the impression you give me.
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Old 04-16-2005, 06:31 AM   #22
Jim ashby
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

"Prisoners of beliefs"? PRISONERS of beliefs! Why would anyone wish to REMAIN a prisoner? Does that make any sense (other than the same sense that an institutionalised recidivist has in wishing to stay in jail because he/she is terrified of having to make decisionsfor him/herself). Why would anyone who preaches love and understanding (as most religions do) wish to keep YOU and your mind prisoner? Think on that.
As to shrugging my shoulders and saying "we're just animals, no difference etc." I think you've missed the point. My point is that human life IS cheap and those that preach that we are 'special', usually (in my experience) have an agenda far away from the "peace and love and understanding" of their words. I think your second sentence says it all in the defence of my argument ...."prisoners of the beliefs we were raised with....".

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 04-17-2005, 12:49 AM   #23
Anat Amitay
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

human life is cheap because we make it cheap, just like we make the life of animals cheap when we cause their extinction. I don't think my life is better than anyone elses, but- some how humans kill for cheap reasons. I mean, animals kill their own also, but their reason is survival of the strong ( if a cub is born late and winter is coming, it will be killed because the mother can't feed it when food becomes scarce. A lion will kill cubs from an earlier batch to astablish his genes in the next generation. etc.)
Humans seem to kill for ego, for stupid beliefs that this is what will make them holy, for land that none of us really truely own. An animal will never kill it's kind for these reasons. They might fight, but the loser can run to fight another day. Humans have a very light touch on the rifles trigger, or so it seems to me.
Human life doesn't have a price. When someone ends anothers life, they took away something that can never be returned. I don't believe we should kill animals also, since it's much the same their planet as it is ours, but I think that everyone needs to give more respect to the lives of people and animals just the same. because they are there, if not for any other reason. I don't believe anyone is holy, but I do think we need to treat each other better, with more respect and aknoweldge the fact that we are different, have different beliefs and thoughts, and still, we can live side by side.
Anat
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Old 04-17-2005, 08:52 AM   #24
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

I tend to agree with Lynn's insight on the issue. To add. The problem cannot be solved at a society level. It is on an individual level. Until people learn to be interdependent, develop true compassion and empathy for each other, it won't happen no matter how much legislation we impose.

Freud is good, but it allows too much room for excuses. I am what I am because society did it to me, my parents did it to me....At some point we have to accept responsibility for our own actions and happiness and realize that our actions impact those around us.

You are only a prisoner if you choose to be. Recommend reading Victor Frankl if you need perspective in this arena.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:14 AM   #25
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Re: Factors in Violent and/or Brutal Society

Kevin

As far as you argument that we are only prisoners if we choose to be. Personally I'd say firstly you have to realize that you are a prisoner. If you have the intellect or education to realize that then you are in the position to recognize the bars and choose. All a bit hard if you are raised with them (remember the Jesuit boast "Give me the child until he is 7, and i will give you the man"). This is a different point to responsibility for you own actions.

Although I'd be interested in the title of Victor Frankle work.

James

As far as you why would religions want to keep you and your mind prisoner. Another nice try - the religious answer is that they wish to teach right and wrong, morality and it is the individual own choice to follow or not.

I don't accept that life is cheap - I believe human beings cheapen it - As far as those who preach peace and understanding having an agenda far beyond their words - that sounds like a reference to Bush and Blair - and for them it's a fair comment.

Would you say the same about the people who work for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture??? Because I certainly wouldn't.


Anyway back to the thread

What are the factors that lead to increased violence in society. Not necessarily causes, but also those matters that contribute to increased violence/brutality.
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