I was wondering what everyone's thoughts on violence were. My Marxist leanings tell me that violence is related to poverty; that the state becomes necessary in human society only at that juncture in human society where there is a split between those who have and those who have not. However, we see examples like the Yanomamo who have a fairly egalitarian system in place who engage in lots of violence. I live in an area of the city known for its violence. A few years ago a woman was killed in broad daylight in front of a whole crowd of people. My neighborhood happens to be a poor one. I've heard that most marriages break up because of finances and I can only imagine that domestic violence is a product of this. However, America is arguably the richest country in the world, yet we have more violence than most other industrialized nations. I suppose a distinction must be made here regarding in-group and out-group violence. America has more in-group violence and we also engage in more out-group violence. Is our violent culture the product of a devaluation of human life brought on by the ideological hegemony of the might-is-right doctrine?
I live in a city famous too for the violence (In my country), i have my own idea about the violence.
For the first, "Violence" comes from the latin "Vis" and it means "Strength" and in its old way it hasn't the bad look as it have in our days.
Nature is full of a lot of beautifull things, but also, is full of pain, illness, and violence too. When a flash eater animal goes to hunt, it makes violence.
I know it's different from the violence are you talking, i will arrive on it.
Now, we can think about the violence like a part of our nature. Can we cut off something of our nature? I don't think so, because we will be human no more, but there are parts of our nature for the single, and parts for the society. We always adapt ourselves in order to get a good equilibrium between the own inner movings by our nature and the society requiments.
Violence is usually moved by "to have" without any delays or if there is something against us -we want-. In order to get past through the delay and what's against we need streingth (Vis) in that way, we are acting with violence.
So talking about violence, IN GENERAL, we are not talking of a bad or good thing, but a part of our being. We can now analyze it in our society.
The kind of violence are you referring to, can be described good with marxist philosophy. The poor "wants" and "to have" he acts, the society doesn't give him the instruments "to get" following society rules and the poor "takes" with rules out of society.
A group of people who use those "rules", could be a gang.
I have to cut off now because i'm on job and tomorrow have an university exam, i will come back later:-)
The phenomena of violence can be interpreted via Z.Freud theory. He wrote the book «Dissatisfaction in culture» in 1930 where he explained relations between cultural status and anxiety of people – individuals as well as groups. The culture is a kind of interpersonal compromise. When we speak about rich and prosperous countries we forget about two different «things» - culture and civilization. The «first» doesn’t mean the «second». The culture reduces violence that’s why it is international, but civilization (as only material side of culture) causes free competition. Not all people possesses competitive capacity in material goods – this is the direct way for violence.
You seem to be proposing that the explanation for individual acts of violence is likely to be found in their broader social context. You raise what might be considered a structural explanation of violence in your reference to its relationship with inequality and poverty, but also the possibility of a cultural explanation which might account for certain egalitarian, yet violent, social formations. I'm inclined to agree with you, though I think it's also very interesting that one's subjective experience of violence is unlikely to be primarily formulated with reference to social context (and more often as a specific feeling of antagonism towards the personal characteristics or behaviours of others)
I think the role of symbolic violence in a structural explanation of violence can scarcely be ignored. Bourdieu's concept of symbolic capital fits people's sense of self-worth into their social context. 'The social world gives what is rarest, recognition, consideration, in other words, quite simply, reasons for being. It is capable of giving meaning to life' (Bourdieu P. Pascalian Meditations. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000: 240). The effects produced by the unequal distribution of symbolic capital, then, ought not to surprise us by their severity. Bourdieu considers this effect in the context of violence towards the self, with reference to Durkheim's Suicide: 'the propensity to commit suicide varies inversely with recognized social importance and ... the more that agents are endowed with a consecrated social identity ... the more they are protected against a questioning of the sense of their existence' (ibid). However, I believe this same perceived lack of social worth has a role in interpersonal violence. Consider the following statement from a prison psychiatrist with 25 years of experience: "I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed and humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed, and that did not represent the attempt to prevent or undo this "loss of face"—no matter how severe the punishment ... " (Hsieh CC, Pugh MD. Poverty, income inequality, and violent crime: a meta-analysis of recent aggregate data studies. Crim Justice Rev 1993; 18: 182–202)
Though, of course this is only a partial explanation for intra-societal violence within structures of significant inequality. I'm not sure whether it has much power in explaining intra-group violence in egalitarian social formations, or out-group violence. I'd love to come back to those topics soon, but I'm wary of writing too much all at once.
The discussion on violence could goes round on itself. For ex, if we see nietzsche for him a saint makes violence too with his actions, but in that way we are deep in phylosophy. With my post i just wanted to tell about the inner of violence in the human being, or maybe investigate on that, now if you express it with actions or by advertising it's a different matter
Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. It's been a crazy summer. I am familiar with Zizek, but I've only read a bit of In Defense of Lost Causes, which I found to be very interesting. Anyway, that's off the subject somewhat. I think to say that violence is part of OUR nature is to differentiate between "our nature" and Nature. I find interesting the idea that violence is not good or bad. I guess I was looking at violence as a social problem, ie: a negative thing. To me human nature is primarily social, which is why domestic/in-group violence is especially perplexing. Why would a society turn on itself? To me this is where economic inequality comes in, as Nick said. Top-down violence, also called class war, is an essential part of the system itself. The only reason people continue to submit to a system that oppresses them is because of the threat (and sometimes action) of violence. There is also the factor of paradigm differences. For example, the United States military has been called the world's policeman. The military philosophy of the United States holds that the government must intervene whenever violence is being perpetrated that does not support the economic and political philosophies of the United States.
A study of non-violent people and non-violent communities might be a helpful approach. For example, when the Amish children were gunned down in Pennsylvania, did the Amish respond with violence? No. Their commitment to non-violence is deep and absorbed from an early age.
I think we need to differentiate individual violence from group violence. Saying, and in some ways I agree with Marx, that violence is part of a class struggle negates individual violence and also negates powerful entities (America and to a lesser extent other western countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Australia).
We also need to consider what IS violence? Violence, as has been pointed out, can be non-physical. Violence can be, and is, therefore multi-faceted. Psychological Violence, especially in teenage girls, is a huge problem and is very rarely linked to anything Marxist.
Then we have dictators like Idi Amin, Saddam Hussien, Ivan the IV, Pol Pot the list can go on and on, who have (or had as the case may be) the power yet are still violent.
A very interesting topic but one that I think needs the topic of discussion refining somewhat.
Violence is from greed, lack of something to keep someone busy and envy, poverty could the main issue really jealous is as well be the major cause of violence. The word freedom sometimes bring out masses to fight against laws of G-d and against the laws of nature
The problem with violence is that it stems from a number of societal disparities in wealth, social status and inclusion (or lack of). However, I think it unproductive to find a universal explanation for how violence is manifested.
I am particularly drawn to this discussion as I am the Book Reviews Editor, and am currently looking for an individual to review the following title Violence: Ethnographic Encounters by Parvis Ghassem-Fachand. I will be posting this throughout the OAC later on in the week, but I thought that it may be a fitting title to introduce to this discussion. If anyone has any queries please email Stacy Hope: firstname.lastname@example.org. It may add to the fabric of the discussion at hand.
The participants have already well said on the root cause of violence. However, from my point of view, that is Buddhist perspective, the root causes of violence are underlining within human beings and in their cultures. Ignorance and desire are the main root causes of all sufferings including violence. Poverty cannot be the root cause of violence but indeed a vital stimulator. Please see the below data. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_homicide_rate
Nepal is the poorest country but the violence rate was very minimum in the past (No official data, just memory), and still homicide rate in Nepal or even India is very less than other developed and developing countries as we see the above link.
In Buddhist perspective, physical harm is the extreme manifestation of violence which is originated in mind first. Besides, harsh words, cursing and scolding also are considered violence.