Culture and collective violence: How good people, usually men, do bad things
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AbstractWe are taught to love; we are taught to hate. We build; we destroy. We give life; we kill. These human activities are the consequences of culture, our birth culture and the individual translation of that cultural heritage we all absorb and carry into our future, further socializing those who associate with us. Culture is profoundly implicated in all we do, and is responsible for legitimating the violence we perpetrate against one another. It answers Mao Tse Tung's opening question in his Selected works (Mao, 1960), "Who are our friends; who are our enemies?" By providing the answer to this basic social probe and legitimizing our responses, culture becomes the culprit, responsible for the collective violence we perpetrate together against others. Or, for the peace we wage . . . In this essay, I will develop the theme of culture as educator, as motivator, as roadmap, as coordinator and as legitimizer of the evil we do in the name of good. Culture provides the plausibility structures (Berger & Luckman, 1966) for these essential supports to the collective violence we wreak upon one another, but culture is not the agent of the carnage; it is we as social agents acting in concert who provide the daily, proximal supports for the orchestration of collective violence. We reward and we punish those who act with us or against us or who by-stand, thereby motivating ourselves and others to act in accordance with those plausibility structures. Culture proposes; man (usually) disposes. Many contemporary cultures encompass, however, a rich cornucopia of possibilities, providing ample opportunities for cooperative initiatives, non-violent responses to provocation, and joint consultation for peaceful alternatives. These alternative responses are taught within any cultural group for dealing with ingroup members, with the teaching especially designed to promote the female role. These responses are also taught in some cultural sub-groups in terms of social philosophy and guidance, and occasionally become cultural and even national policy, implemented through agencies of socialization. However, these non-violent alternatives are especially difficult to enact whenever a cultural group considers itself under threat of destruction. So, it is in times of peace that we must act to build institutions for the non-violent resolution of the inevitable problems arising from inter-dependency and our habitation of this single, imperiled planet. Ironically, this integrative process will be prompted when members of a culture are educated to appreciate the enormity of collective violence. © 2007 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
All Author(s) ListBond M.H.
All Editor(s) Listed. by Boris Drozdek and John P. Wilson.
Detailed descriptioned. by Boris Drozdek and John P. Wilson.
Year2007
Month12
Day1
Pages27 - 58
ISBN9780387697949
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

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