Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Modern Deadly Sins Part II: Hatred and Dispossession

The media is a tivoli mirror show, where the humdrum happenings and good works of society and its organisations around the world are squeezed out of salience, while stories of in particular acts of hatred are to the fore.

Why there is so much apparent hatred in the world is both exagerrated and fueuelled by the media, and carefully nurturesd in its propagandic outfalls, suprisingly domestic too for we in the west.

Whether the media helps engender even more hatred between nationalities, secyts,  religions, races, the sexes, sexual orientation and social classes is an interesting point but there is a lot of animosity to report in the world, and even in the current Ukrnian crisis much of it centres around sectarian lines or the backwards neo conservative religion versus liberal secular governance.

Why do we as a species indulge in so much animosity towards our own kind, whem in fact we often display acts of amazing altruism towards strangers?

I think the crux of the issue is that differentiatipn between our encounters with individuals face to face, versus the often literal demonisation of the group;the otheras, the foriegners, "the them".

When we behave as groups we avhieve the greatest feats and build the most robust societal amd economic structures while we also commit the most heaniois crimes in the name of the group versus the them. We all know the 20th century's darkest days in the 1910s, 40s, 50s and then all over again in the balkans when we thought europe at least had freed itself from sectarian genocide and learnt from the past.

A tv anthropologist in new guniae encounter this friend or foe reaction and murderous history. For me the reportage was a kind of eureka moment, proving to me at me at least, that xenophobia has its routes deep in our psyche and not just as a result of media and church propog,anda.

In tis show the traveller went to essentially some of the most primitive peoåles of the world qho live a stone age life style, mainly hunter gathering with marginal embrypnuc agriculure around their long houses. Essemntially tribes were derined as extended families. Strangers were feared and taboo, even people who were related but lived further away than usual daily contact could easily be viewed as ghost-demons. These unpeople then were fair game for a spear or arrow. In one incident a man killed another man on the edge of his purported territory whonwas actually marriedmto his female cousin. The man was known vaguely, or from years gone by, but the fear of seeing him in the territory painted him to be a ghostndemon and hes wasnkilled, furthermore in true papua new gunieamstyle, eaten.

The reporters gained access to these families cagily by kind of social networking on the ground, peeling back thwe onion through a chain of contacts until the ultimate primitive familyntype could be visited. At each stage they met animosity and displaya of aggression and passive aggression you could cut steel with. However at each stage, once the ice was broken the family turned out to be hospitable and keen tonshare stories and conversemon life style.  The camera crew had carefully transcended those boundaries , from the them to the new friends.

There is a fairly established ethological or paleo-socio-anthropological view that human beings have a genetically inherited predisposition to xenophobia. This dates back perhaps to pre language or even early primate ancestprs, where humanoids lived in family groups or small clans.

Our ancestors certainly lived then by hunter gathering and perhaps by some seed enrichment proto-agriculture, and had either territorial life styles or were nomadic. Some may have done both or adapted with goodnor bad seasons, ormexhaustion  ofnresources. Yet others may well have lived parasitically from other humanoids or primates by robbing them, stealimg pray or even cannibalism.

For groups holding territories or wanting to avoid or exploit other tribes or sub species, it became incredibly imortant to recognise strangers, the them , as a matter of life and death.

This psychological apparattis then evolved long before homo sapiens locked themselves into agro-economy, living in towns and iexpanding inter-regional trade. In fact by in large civilisation is only 5,000 -7,000 years old. In evolutionary genetic terms this time span is a blink of an eye.

It is my contention as with many others, that we simply have not had time to evolve out of undesirable genetic predispositions such as gluten allergy, reading exacerbated myopia or of course xenophobia. While society's structures and mechanisms have evolved to be more cohesive, the devisive, nationalistic poltic is still very much present because we have not lost our now increasingly useless xenophobia. Our western meritocricy and middle eastern islamic harmonisation of race for example, render irrational hatred obsolete and most of all, global economics and world wide peace agreements should consign genocide and even petty prejudices to history.

However hatred of sectarian, cultural or racist nature still is peristent and often a prominent force in politics and acts of mass lawlessness. Despite racism and all the other prejudice based -isms being largely irrational within multicultural countries or in the context of global trade and travel, it persists due to evolution being slow. Evolution is slow to act in relation to neutral phenotypic features, or dead-wood-genes as some call them.

Take the human appendix or resibual cæcumb: it has a very marginal role and some people still die of appendicitis yet it is still there. Or the human vagina which is allegedly evolving to be easier for sex face to face, we being the only major mammalian species to prefer this during mating, while the vagina's optimal angle is still for a direction of penetration from the lower mamalian approach ie from behind. In an agricultural based or rather fed society, gluten allergy and hayfever are two other physical slightly delatorious phenotypic characteristics which will possible evolve out of the gene pool.

Other academics with varuous hues of "socio" in their title, argue that xenophobia is a politically and culturally driven phenomena, which can therefore be erradicated by the inevitably or rather poorly presumed march towards the greater good of liberal social democratic societies. This is most often not in the  light of having read anything on behavioural genetics or evolutionary theory and science. Just like the irrational religious anti science heritics of today, they want to just deny genetics and claim we are people with free willx, separate from the animal kingdom. They abhore bioscience and blame  it for eugenics and unwanted societal interferences such as GMO and embryo gene biomarker screening.

The thing is it is very difficult to legislate or organise to erradicate xenophobia on an international basis. One major global reason now is of course the conservative interpretation of Islam and the counter current against reform toward secular societies. This is also true of internal and international interest groups having turned the USA into a post democratic oligarchy, where economic, religious and cultural belief systems are epistatic to rational decision making and logical liberalisation aka small government.

The christian, jewish and muslim conservativism today is all based on of course belief and not science, modern law or rationality. Worse the three powerful groupings are an intertwined self fulfilling sectarian trinity of hatred, violence and what many see as retrogression in terms of individual rights and the recognition of minorities,  and even majority voting in favour of secular governance. Worse are the threats posed today by nationalism, which are the seeds for new conflicts in Europe and Eurasia.

Hatred is here to stay and probably on the rise, who has a barometric measure? But due to the re-entrenchment of religious and nationalist conservatives in the face of post war, small government liberalism, sectarianism and nationalism is it seems set to get worse before it gets better. The conservative groupings are able to exploit the negative perceoptions amongst average families about how far the permissive society has gone, particularly focused on gay rights and in islamic countries, womens rights. This is counter attacked by the march of media, but in coming full circle to how I started this rant, the media is consumer generated social media and not the establishment controlled or hysterical headline chasing media of old. New media facilitates sharing of concepts of life styles from those who are wealthier and more liberal to those who find this aspirational and want to reject the old status quo in the middle east and former ussr in particular.

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