Robert Hawkins

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Azul, Dec 19, 2007.

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  1. Azul

    Azul Well-Known Member

    a few thoughts:

    - why is the word "terrorism" never used in referral to high school shootings.

    - typical for this time, where possession of the complete monopoly of violence by the state is more accepted than ever before, is the attack on random people.

    - it seems this time provokes in individuals a hatred against all other individuals, rather than just a group, a social stratum or a political party. the high school serial killer will kill anyone. anyone is his enemy.

    - mostly the murder of others is inspired by a desire for suicide. only, a suicide alone is not enough to express whatever it is the high school shooter wants to express.

    - fame is everything nowadays. the talentless resort to murder to obtain this most precious good.
     
  2. protonaut

    protonaut Well-Known Member

    I would guess that it's because the term is often politically framed to target aggressive "outsiders" as enemies, particularly when there is an agenda to serve - proposing sanctions on opposing nations, justifying war, etc.. Though the media doesn't like to portray our own children in such a light, though I suppose any human being - no matter how "innocent" they seem - is capable of destroying others should specific conditions push them to do so. Of course the conditions most responsible for each individual case are hotly debated.

    In times of war, I believe foot soldiers were traditionally subjected to harsh conditions and trained to become killers, with the important distinction that they were brainwashed to view a specific group as their enemy - and taught to defend their own group at all costs. When one is effectively conditioned to displace absolute aggression on an opposing army, they no longer see that group as human. They have no compassion. In a society, when a human is bred in miserable conditions which inspire similar negative emotions, there are different outcomes. Actually, I believe we briefly touched on this topic before. I mentioned psychological displacement and projection, and you suggested that suicidal behavior may arise from an inward (rather than outward) displacement of aggression, if I remember correctly. This is indeed what happens - when someone is bullied and mistreated enough (and there is no objective line to draw here, as it depends on the sensitivity of the victim) they will accumulate negative energy, and seek an outlet to release this negative energy. Most of us tend to vent this negativity on ourselves rather than other people, usually because we fear others, fear the law, or are too peaceful to harm others. Venting on the self can result in depression, and in extreme cases suicide. Venting on others can result in bullying and fighting, and in extreme cases homicide. Some victims have so much negativity inside them that they vent both on themselves and others, in extreme cases this leads to homicide followed by suicide. I might be wrong about some of this, decide for yourself.

    Agreed. In cases of mass killings, these people have generally reached a point of absolute hatred for humanity beyond all reason. There's no segregation, nothing left to defend, nothing to lose. Their enemies are simply "humans", all humans including themselves. Their main goal is to remove as many humans from the planet as possible before offing themselves.

    This can be true in many cases, it's certainly a contributing factor when combined with other negative conditions. Many children are conditioned early on to believe they can be highly successful in our society. Many reach adulthood only to have these dreams shattered, leaving them with no foundation, no purpose. It's no mystery as to why suicide is common in high schools and college campuses. The pressures of conforming to a society of high ideals: achieving high test scores, having lots of friends and finding the guy or girl of your dreams, marrying and having kids, competing against others to earn money for survival, becoming a renowned [insert vocation here], and so forth. It's a system where there will always be losers, due to the flaws of human nature.

    What happens to all of these people who fail, those who are abused and rejected, those who fail to live up to such standards? Some give up early and suicide, others struggle and suffer throughout their whole lives, some manage to succeed despite their unrealistic ideals. Finally, there are also those who will realize that none of these high ideals are actually important. These people understand that it is the individual - and not society - who should have control over their expectations and ultimately their happiness. The more we want out of life, the greater we tend to suffer. I don't pretend to know the best solutions for society, or how to convince others to agree upon a solution for that matter. If asked for my solution, a lot of it would involve changing the customs of our society including the ways we raise our children, educate people, and allowing more freedom in terms of employment and lifestyles. I won't address it all here. However, none of this is vital to my existence, I recognize that the problems of human nature are not my responsibility. I enjoy discussing ideas, but my focus is on my own life above all else. If readers get anything from what I've written here, I hope it includes the idea that in the 21st century, humans should no longer need to feel confined to traditional societies. Explore your alternatives.

    Perhaps the most important skill to learn in this age (in my opinion) is the ability to let go of desire. Growing older, I've become less attached to everything, to the point where I can literally laugh at pain. (not joking - I enjoy standing in the snow barefoot) Why should I not enjoy pain, why should I not be thankful to be human, and to have the ability to feel something as incredible as pain? I wake up feeling good every day of my life, even though my life may be horrible compared to the standards of others. I'm able to enjoy the simplest things because I've learned to accept that which is beyond my control. Certainly unexpected events and tragic situations can inspire anger or other negative emotions, but the difference is that I immediately sense them at the onset when they begin to occur. The spontaneity of life excites me. Finally, I do apologize if this is unhelpful to the current discussion, and I don't really expect those who are suffering to gain much from what I've said, I just felt inclined to communicate my perspective in case even one person is interested. We live in a horrible world, and yet I can't help but be thankful for being here to experience it all. Life is like liquor - it's an acquired taste.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2007
  3. Azul

    Azul Well-Known Member

    PROTONAUT WROTE:
    I would guess that it's because the term is often politically framed to target aggressive "outsiders" as enemies, particularly when there is an agenda to serve - proposing sanctions on opposing nations, justifying war, etc.. Though the media doesn't like to portray our own children in such a light, though I suppose any human being - no matter how "innocent" they seem - is capable of destroying others should specific conditions push them to do so. Of course the conditions most responsible for each individual case are hotly debated.

    Yes. I think this type of incident is formally the same as an al qaida attack, no? They target random people, to make some “point”. Al Qaida could be regarded as a more organized, collective variant of this type of violent outburst. It is not as if al qaida really wants to achieve some political change it is pure hatred, a pure desire to kill. Same with Baader Meinhof e.g.. I think the hatred comes first, the justification for the violence comes later (e.g. some abstract “jihad”).
    ETA attacks and Hamas attacks seem different in that way, in that the cause seems to inspire the violence, not the other way around.
    So that is why this seems strange to me. For me what is called “terrorism” and these supposedly isolated incidents whereby a single individual starts attacking random people is really the same. The people that are called Terrorists are, as you say, outsiders. The violent insiders in a society are not regarded as being fundamentally the same as those who are branded terrorists, but as “mentally unstable” aberrances, something like an “accident” really.
    Somehow this seems hypocritical to me
    .


    PROTONAUT WROTE:

    In times of war, I believe foot soldiers were traditionally subjected to harsh conditions and trained to become killers, with the important distinction that they were brainwashed to view a specific group as their enemy - and taught to defend their own group at all costs. When one is effectively conditioned to displace absolute aggression on an opposing army, they no longer see that group as human. They have no compassion. In a society, when a human is bred in miserable conditions which inspire similar negative emotions, there are different outcomes. Actually, I believe we briefly touched on this topic before. I mentioned psychological displacement and projection, and you suggested that suicidal behavior may arise from an inward (rather than outward) displacement of aggression, if I remember correctly.



    I am frequently pondering the possibility wether this displacement of agression on the self could be regarded as a kind of social mechanism; an instrument the social “whole” (“the population”, for example) possesses to regulate itself. For example the group, you can call it “peer pressure”, introduces to individuals certain parameters which the individuals have to fulfill in order to “fit in”, this means to be happy. If the individual does not feel he fits in – he will notice so not only by the perceived rejection by others but also by the internalized ego ideal he strives for.
    The socialized need to “fit in” is but one of the modi whereby the self regulation of the group can function. There is also something more direct, the ethos, where an individual directly links self destruction with failure to follow certain behavioral rules.
    I think of the samurai ethos where one has to kill oneself when one has not met the social expectations (shame, not being an adequate servant to one’s master), in this case the particular social whole, the
    Japanese one, introjects in the individual a desire to kill himself – but this desire will be completely socialized – it will feel for the individual as if he desires this himself. (Furthermore I really wonder wether any desire an individual feels, apart from the direct somatic ones, can be authentic, can be really his own, in the sense he feels. I wonder wether the view we have of individuals as autonomous entities is correct, and wether the individual must not in every case be regarded as above all the element of a group. I think the group has more reality than the individual. The assumption that desire is authentic, springing from the individual is possibly an illusion.)
    Let’s take an example of our consumerist western world. Society introjects certain parameters in the individual which he has to live up to or else he won’t be happy. For example a thin, fit body. Those who do not possess this often start feeling suicidal, or in less radical cases harm themselves. I think this can be regarded as a displacement of the agressive tendencies in the individual on himself, a displacement which originates in a supra-individual
    social group. Call it a socialised “ego ideal”, an internalized punishing institution.

    In some cultures suicide is explicitly encouraged (the samurai one for example), in others explicitly discouraged (monotheistic religious cultures – for example Europe in the middle ages), i believe that in the secular consumerist society suicide- or in any case agression on the self, is encouraged but this encouragement is not to be viewed as something that happens on a conscious level it is not encouraged in explicit terms, it is more something that happens without individual control over it, something that the individual does not perceive.
    If you are willing to consider this, a possible next step is to think this cultural pressure as a natural mechanism to balance populations, a way the population deals with handling itself in a world where land, resources
    and goods are scarce. Where one leave grass grows another can not grow.
    When we feel shame we feel we want to dissappear. In everyday language we say things like “i was so ashamed I could sink through the floor”. When we feel ashamed we wish to disappear. Why do we want to dissappear? We do not want to be seen by others. We have failed to live up to their expectations. Now, I find it interesting that this shame – the judgement of others – can instill in you a desire to dissappear. Shame is a socialized desire to dissappear.
    In a way, death can be seen as making space for others. Death is the extreme form of being humble and giving up space for those more powerful than you. A less extreme form of this is inhabiting a small space, paying rent and doing a lousy job for the powerful so you are allowed to live (within the confinements of your position).
    So “shame” is one way of bending the reservoir of agression towards the self, another is “guilt”. What is guilt? It is a sense of failure towards others or the ego ideal (the internalized others). I used to not understand why women were speaking in terms of “guilt” when they were talking about eating. I could not understand that, because “guilt”, a feeling of guilt was for me associated with something I had done to others. Viewed in the context of the culturally imposed ego ideal however I understand why they indeed speak of guilt. Often the ego ideal for women also contains very much a physical ideal. It is understandable that the same mechanism, “guilt”, appears in relation to the maintenance of the body, then.
    I’m talking about something that surpasses “social control”, it’s also about the distribution of territory, resources, summarized: the “right to live”.


    [By the way, why does the individual feel his life depends on fulfilling these parameters? Where do these parameters come from? Is someone to blame for them?
    The mimetic nature of this desire is not always clear to the one who desires. I think the desire to be someone else is essential to the “ego”. The ego knows of itself that it is not complete (because it was a compromise from the beginning, something symbolic and not real), not final, but makes the mistake to think that someone else, another ego, IS complete. Thus this illusory complete other becomes a role model, because the ego does not understand why it should be incomplete while he (falsely) perceives the other to be complete. This is why the ego sets itself these parameters. To
    achieve at this kind of rest, to be “something”, something fixed, a state which he will never attain because it is illusory. Many times the different ego’s have the same “role model”. For example some moviestar who is self confident (self confidence means appearing to be complete, to be “whole”), who is successful.
    It’s like looking into a mirror, can you see yourself in the mirror like you would someone else, as a whole, like you view someone else passing you by?
    You know that what you see in the mirror is, to paraphrase R.S. Thomas “a shifting identity, never your own” but at the same time you believe others are stable entities. The tragedy of the ego is that it can’t exist as the illusory completeness it falsely conceives in what is outside him.]


    If I am not making myself clear be not afraid to say so. I have a tendency to be a bit chaotic in my communication :)


    PROTONAUT WROTE:
    If readers get anything from what I've written here, I hope it includes the idea that in the 21st century, humans should no longer need to feel confined to traditional societies. Explore your alternatives.

    Yes I agree but it has to be said that traditional societies offer a lot of advantages, a kind of safety. I would almost go so far as to say that life in a religious society has meaning, and life in a secular society ultimately is meaningless.

    PROTONAUT WROTE:
    Perhaps the most important skill to learn in this age (in my opinion) is the ability to let go of desire. Growing older, I've become less attached to everything, to the point where I can literally laugh at pain. (not joking - I enjoy standing in the snow barefoot) Why should I not enjoy pain, why should I not be thankful to be human, and to have the ability to feel something as incredible as pain?

    That’s an interesting point of view.

    PROTONAUT WROTE:

    Life is like liquor - it's an acquired taste.

    This reminds me of a text by Theodor Adorno: the complete text can be read here if you want to (the chapter is called “Tough Baby”, the subject of this chapter is macho behaviour): http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/adorno/1951/mm/ch01.htm

    “If all pleasure sublates earlier displeasure [Unlust], then here displeasure is raised – as pride in bearing it – unmediated, untransformed, stereotypically into pleasure: unlike wine, every glass of whiskey, every puff on the cigar still recalls the reluctance, which it must have cost the organism, to accustom itself to such powerful stimuli. According to their own constitution, the he-men would thus be what they are usually presented as in film scripts, masochists..”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2007
  4. Azul

    Azul Well-Known Member

    mistake

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