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We Need More Individuality and Less Group-Think

By February 13, 2024Commentary

The barbaric behavior of Russia during the Ukraine invasion, China’s treatment of the Uighurs, and the simply unbelievable acts of Hamas in Israel, along with countless other depravities around the world, have me wondering what it is in human nature that permits such actions, indeed at times with such great enthusiasm.  While certain individuals, generally those with sociopathic or psychopathic personality disorders, engage in this behavior, more widespread are group-sponsored and orchestrated barbarities.    It is unclear to me how much any leaders these groups may have can steer them to better or worse behavior toward other humans and how much is just a base and basic human willingness to do unfathomable harm to others.    Throughout history we see these massive episodes of brutality–the holocaust is only one example, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Mao in China multiple times, Stalin, the Tutsi massacre, the Taliban and on and on.  Early “civilizations” took great delight in completely razing and burning their enemies’ cities, killing every inhabitant.  Russian soldiers do the same thing in Ukraine.

It is apparent to me that most of the horrendous behavior we observe is “tribal” in the largest sense, not individual.  People perceive themselves to be, or are easily encouraged to view themselves as, members of various groups, defined by race, ethnic background, religion, politics, wealth, or just because you live in a certain place.  Really doesn’t take much to make a “tribe”.  And then anyone who isn’t part of your tribe is the enemy.  And if they are the enemy you can do whatever you want to them, they aren’t really human.  If you start this when people are really young, like Palestinians in their schools teaching very young children to kill Jews, you will have a very well indoctrinated population that hates and commits violence without a second thought.

There is something about being part of a group, especially a group incited to hate another group, that spurs completely irrational behavior.  I think it is literally biochemical and probably stems from very early evolution, in Africa, where the resources to sustain life often were scarce, and getting worked up to kill another group competing for those resources had a certain logic.  I think we will find or have found that groups exude certain biochemicals that predispose members to unleash all restraint.  Something similar is found in an exchange of more positive brain chemicals between mother and child or people in love.  Whatever its evolutionary roots, this abhorrent behavior is insanely inhuman today.  But it serves the purposes of evil people, and there are evil people, like the leaders of Hamas, Vladimir Putin, Xi and others.  I think the only thing that can be done to stop these evil people is to identify them early and put them to death or at least isolate them in some inescapable prison forever, maybe send them to the moon to be miners.

So what we need is less group behavior and more individual thought and action.  We should actually prohibit most large gatherings, since they seem to largely be settings for eruptions of mass violence–see the pro-Hamas rallies everywhere.  We need to teach everyone to view others as individuals and to judge people as individuals.  We need to teach people about the dangers of getting caught up in tribal modes of action.  If we don’t, humanity has a very bleak future, with technology that can and will end civilization, such as it is.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • David says:

    Thanks for your insight.
    Unfortunately the end of Civilization as we know it may be a good idea. Disconnecting from everything that has made life easier has the potential to make us better. Our values have been warped by “Bright and Shinny Things’

  • Larry says:

    Yeah, it’s hard to accept that in today’s “modern world” we have not escaped the brutality, tribalism, despotic leaders that have often characterized human cultures of the past. Check out the concept of the “fourth turning”….generational cycles (–Howe_generational_theory). We look to be in the final “crisis phase” of the current 80-yr/4-generational cycle, which will lead to chaos until a new cultural/social paradigm emerges. Maybe there is no escape.

  • Chris W says:

    No disagreement whatsoever with the problems you identified and calling out pure evil. But I disagree with the proposed solutions at a fundamental level – Why? Who says? And by what standard?

    The secular humanistic worldview has no real basis to answer to those questions.

    An excerpt from a couple of somewhat related articles you may find interesting.

    “All societies require a foundation. It is not possible to build alabaster cities over the Void. This being the case, neither is it possible to build them over the Sinkhole of Secularism…The reason this inane secularism fraud lasted as long as it did was because it was sustained by the residual moral capital in our nation that the Christian faith provided. When that capital is finally exhausted (or rejected), what then? Well, you know . . . and this is just a suggestion . . . I merely put it forward . . . we are kind of finding out what that looks like in this, our current moment.”

    The Sinkhole of Secularism

    This Carnival of Claptrap


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