Re: The Violence Problem

Dwayne (
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 23:48:39 +1100 (EST)

> However, most
> aggressive acts are not violent acts. Aggression has more to do with
> being determined to get one's way in the world than with harming or
> destroying other sentient systems.

I would be more inclined to suggest that it is a mechanism through which
tension, anger or frustration (or other emotions) may be easily released
and coped with. I'm not so sure that aggression contains an element of
intent, which seems to be what you are suggesting.

Aggression may well be frequently used to achieve a desired result, but
often it is just -there-, expressed, and then is gone. Consider someone
muttering expletives under their breath, or an individual stamping their
foot when something doesn't work properly.

> So, as I see it, the problem is not aggression itself, which can be used
> for extropic or entropic purposes, depending on the goals and beliefs of
> the user of aggression. The problem is when people believe that harming
> or destroying others is an appropriate and effective way of accomplishing
> what they want in the world.

I think it is more a matter of how people express their aggression.
Motivations and strategies are another problem, as I'm sure someone calmly
and peacefully trying to achieve world domination would upset some people
just as much as if a psychotic maniac were trying to do this.

> Most of our behaviors and beliefs are learned after we are born (although
> our fundamental drives, like our sex drives and our nourishment drives
> were learned through the long process of genetic evolution).

And I think that aggression, also, is a product of evolution. But the way
in which it is expressed, and also the motivations people have, are mostly
acquired after birth.

> Now, the problem is that many people learn, mostly through observation of
> others, that violence and threats of violence are somewhat effective ways
> of getting others to do what they want them to. This strategy works, to
> some extent, so it is reinforced. It also tends to cause the adrenal
> glands to secrete adrenelin, which can be quite pleasant, so the behavior
> is reinforced further. However, the violence strategy is flawed in some
> major ways. The most obvious flaw is that it places the attacker in
> significant danger to their own life and well-being, which conflicts with
> their own internal drive for safety.

This could be modified with proper victim-targetting strategies.

> It also tends to encourage others
> to avoid them, thus conflicting with their drive for social acceptance.

There are societies which value and accept violence, and a certain level of
violence in certain individuals would result in an increase in their

> Since so many people are violent, how do the rest of us effectively
> protect ourselves from them? I think that part of the basic training of
> humans, along with communication skills, problem solving skills and other
> such basic skills should include highly effective self-defence skills and
> strategies. People should be trained to use their bodies effectively in
> situations which require close, unarmed combat, and they should be
> trained to effectively use weapons of all sorts, especially how to use
> ordinary objects as weapons. With everyone well-trained, violence would
> no longer be a good solution, even in the short-term, since there would
> be few potential victims, and the risk of trying violence would be very
> great, especially since any bystanders would be quite capable of
> apprehending you.
> A highly trained populace is probably the most effective way of stopping
> violence.

I'm sure there was a point where any given population lacked highly-trained
individuals, at which point it was a matter of violence and natural
abilities versus much the same.

As far as I am aware class-based structures based on oppression (feudalism
etc) rise up from such a society.

I do agree with you, however, in that if an individual is highly-trained
and capable of self-defense, this individual will suffer less violence and
feel happier and more confident (I'm fairly well-trained, I'm glad I am, I
haven't been injured in an assault in over 12 years). But if -everyone- is
trained, then the training is of less value.