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Laboratory Coordinator, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

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Must government rest upon violence? If so, what are the implications?

All extant governments rest upon violence. That is, there is no government that does not have at its disposal the means of violence, willingness to use such means, and desire to restrict or even monopolize the means of violence. Furthermore, these means of violence have always turned out to be used more than once in a self-serving fashion, of government against the people, even in countries where this is theoretically "impossible"--if nothing else, some official starts to treat a police or military entity like a private gang of thugs. What is more common is convenience of government is given automatic priority over rights of the people and the means of violence are used to enforce this convenience.
Is this a fundamental necessity of government? Must government have at its disposal not only means of violence but willingness to use them? If the answer to this question is "yes", will this always mean that these means of violence will end up at some time or another being used against the best interests of the people?

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  • Feb 16 2014: Of the over 1400 different cultures recognized in anthropology 11 have been nonviolent. Most of these were artificially and not exclusively so, (i.e. Amish, Mennonite, Janist...), and the rest tragically isolated, (pre-colonial Polynesian pacific isles). When asked "Why do we have war?", I counter, "Why do we have peace?" In the breadth of history we live in the worlds most peaceful time. That is what is remarkable.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

    Some things are endemic to the species. As of yet no culture is known that does not have inebriation, rape, an incest taboo, etc...Violence is intrinsic in a territorial hunting species. We are that. What is incredible, and admirable, is our ability to find peace.

    Government could be looked on as an extension of the peacemaking process, first between the individuals of a society and then with neighboring groups. Purely peaceful societies are artificial because they could not grow naturally in a competitive environment. The monopolization of force is simply a method. Without it, if anyone on a border should, "...covet his neighbors ass..." you may have a war soon enough as families and clans are gathered. It is only the abuse of this monopoly that is tragic, not it's existence.

    I want an moderated impartial outsider to hold that monopoly, and exercise it on my behalf. I do not trust my fellow man to be innately good, and think that a sizable enough percentage require the deterrent of law, and ultimately force, to constrain them.

    On the first day of the Montreal police strike of 1969 four banks were robbed before noon, and Canada is not typically a violent or anarchistic land.

    Regards
    • Feb 16 2014: An interesting datum. What does it say if evaluated in light of Leakey's hypothesis that warfare is a strong expression of human cooperativeness? After all, you can't have a war if you don't have people agreeing to put themselves in mortal danger as a group, following leaders as a group, etc.
      • Feb 19 2014: Bryan

        I agree that warfare is a highly co-operative endeavor requiring the participation of thousands, or at a minimum hundreds of individuals. I do however draw a distinction between warfare and force. War being a sustained co-operative effort to achieve military, economic, or political goals. Many levels of force, (Feud, Raid, Assault, etc...) exist below that threshold of warfare.

        In order for any group to be come large and organized enough for warfare to become a viable option, some level of accord, backed up by traditions and force, must exist to unify them. War requires government. But government relies on more intimate force than war.

        As I assert in my previous comment, violence is an innate trait of homo sap's. Transitioning from hunter/gatherers a method was required in order to bring groups of larger than 50 together. (That being the greatest number that can typically be fed within a half days walk in a reasonably fertile land.)

        Sedentary agriculturalism is a likely cause of turning clans into larger groups, but force was the methodology, and the support. For a multitude of reasons communities of farmers fare better than individual homesteaders. This was especially true of the first old world civilizations which largely developed in marginal, rather than highly fertile zones. It takes communities to efficiently manage resources, defend from nomads and neighbors, dig irrigation canals, etc.. and those communities were united under a banner of absolute force. For all of the ideals of 19th century Anarchism, mankind is not essentially good, or evil, but merely self interested.

        My point is that force on a lesser level was used as a tool to unite a society for productive peaceful purposes first, ( even if these were only side effects of the rise of a ruler), and killing the guys over the hill is an extension, rather than a cause, of governments existence. As you say, you need unity to make war... but unity requires force.

        Regards
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    Feb 23 2014: While there are plenty of communities where common interest is eschewed in favour of winners and losers competition style politics, that in no way diminishes those other communities where consensus building is not only possible but popular as well.

    It is always fascinating to witness how those who are governed by kleptocracies can be such fervent defenders of the very self interested - selfish interest really - policies and agendas that oppress and plunder them. Paulo Freire waa, indeed, a very insightful sociologist.

    Any time an individual or population surrenders any portion or even all of their authority and power to others - namely government office - it is inevitable that the office will eventually be abused and/or exploited when the petty and corrupt are able to obtain that office.

    Direct Democracy is but the latest process whereby the citizen attempts to retain more of that power and authority themself while simply relegating the office holder to that of manager or administrator. We don't need leaders. At least most of us don't. We are more than capable of making and participating in our legislative decision making. What is really needed in office are people that can get the job done. We can decide what tasks are important and how our tax dollars are spent. .

    Where then is there a need for state violence?
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    Feb 14 2014: Human family groups expand and extend continually, and interact with and eventually encompass each other. We continue to recognize local, provincial/state, national and international identities on the governmental level, and are becoming increasingly homogenized in our financial, technical and corporate realms.

    Within these levels and realms we have individuals and groups who choose to interfere with the legal, moral and ethical prerogatives of others, so we assign the task of overseeing, identifying and dealing with these infringements to various elected/chosen individuals and their assigned agencies. We also have recourse to trained and learned representatives to argue our cases regarding such infringements upon our individuals or groups.

    Until the penny drops, until we attain the necessary enlightenment and compassion, we will continue to have recourse to the brute force of these various agencies who, unfortunately, are still needed to represent and to protect our individual and group well-being, through both their mere presence and their capability to act.
  • Feb 14 2014: When the government doesn't have a monopoly on violence, it always ends in a coup or civil war as some general or warlord decides he wants to take power for himself. Its usually under some ideological or religious guise, but truth be told, its usually a power grab.

    If you look around the world at areas without an effective government presence, and perhaps more importantly the government's monopoly on violence, you end up with places like the Congo, Syria, Libya, Somalia...
    Not exactly places you'd want to live in.

    The other extreme, oppressive hell holes like North Korea, are comparatively much rarer, and are also not very stable, as people tend to push back against that sort of thing--which usually leads you right back to violent anarchy, actually.
    • Feb 19 2014: Nadav, Nice to read your ideas...

      I've noticed "today", in the Guardian, North Korea being blasted by Human Rights activists.
      including this or last week's United Nation's studies. For the last 2 years or so, the youthful
      leader of North Korea has taken a militant stance against the United States He told that he
      would make "preemptive war upon American shores", (or something very close to those words).
      I assumed that he was doing a 'tongue in cheek' of the US foreign war policies since WW2.
      The US war policy since about 1949 is to make preemptive wars upon other nations shores.

      I may be wrong in assuming Obama is targeting South America for his "own war".

      The news articles indicate he could be getting ready to re-open hostilities with North Korea.

      Nadav,
      There is something you might want to look into just to show North Korea vs the United States.
      It is the listings of the economic scale of nations for 2013. North Korea #178 is at the very bottom.

      If you Wikipedia the listings of all the wars that the United States has participated in since WW2,
      and matched their opponents against the economic scale for those years, you find those nations
      (and or organizations that did not meet sovereign status) were likewise at the very bottom of the
      economic scale. Many of them, after war, were just "no more" or had different names afterwards.

      Apparently the United States leaders (have lied to us and the congress?) while they took us all
      into wars against the bottom of the barrel.

      Surprisingly, the United States didn't win many of the wars.

      Today, our US fearless leaders do not even bother to tell us about where we do war.
      Private Mercenaries are just an extension we use when necessary.

      Do you not wonder why Iraq and now Afghanistan just want us gone?

      I pride myself in not being a blind patriot.
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    Mar 6 2014: That depends on who is governing and who is being governed.
  • Feb 19 2014: This is a very interesting question. I think the answer is obviouse. The government should never rely upon violence as a means of control or for any other reason. We have seen protesters become angrier the more the police try to restrict their freedom to protest and as a result police become violent. often times I have seen police deliberately trying to make crowds angry so they can use violence. Police are public servants yet they seem to represent the government more than they do the public. And they seem not bothered about killing or harming people when they are given permission to do so. Perhaps we have to ask the question; Will the police and military ever evolve to behave with enough moral integrity to see a situation dealt with in the right way? At the moment we can conclude that the majority of police and military have more depth to their bank accounts than to their moral integrity whether this be a result of genuine niavity or cruel intentions. There is no need for violence and it is counter productive to be violent. However, so long as enough naive individuals sociopaths and sphcopaths seek employment within government sectors the government will continue to make best use of these people and continue to unleash violence on the public causing more upset and more violence. The police, as individuals and soldiers, as individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and need to realise that just because something is legal it does not make it morally right or humane and does not make you any better a person than that of a criminal. We could blame the government (which we already do), but we need to make the individual police officer or soldier take responsibility for their own actions otherwise they will always feel excused for their inhumane and violent behaviours and it will be a longer time before their attitudes change. Violence breeds violence, hate breeds hate and love breeds love. The government need to employ the right tactics.
    • Feb 20 2014: "I think the answer is obviouse. The government should never rely upon violence as a means of control or for any other reason. "

      Oddly, I see the answer just as obviously, in the exact opposite direction.

      For people to live in a civilized manor, there have to be rules (laws) and mechanisms in place to force compliance with the rules.
      • Feb 20 2014: What's civilised about police brutality? Reasonable force under certain circumstances perhaps, but hitting batons off peoples bodies, tasering a person when they refuse a stop and search on the grounds of prejudism and (in some places in the world) shooting people in the back when they run away from the crime scene. These actions are not in line with civilised behaviour and will never result in less violence, but only more as a result of anger. Laws are understandable, but the mechanisms that often come into play when laws are broken often demonstrate worst behaviour than the original crime itself. That's not only irony, but hypocrisy at its height.
        • Feb 20 2014: There is already the concept of reasonable force.

          A police office is to make a verbal request. If a cop tells you to do something, you don't get to decide whether you want to do it or not, based on your assumption if it is racially motivated or whatever.

          A cop tells you to do something, DO IT, or they will escalate force until you comply!

          AFTERWARDS, THEN you can raise a claim of violation of civil rights.


          Of course, I'm one of the people that still thinks the cops did nothing wrong in the Rodney King beating. All he had to do was go limp and allow the cops to cuff him, and the beating would have stopped.

          Then again, I've been on the other side of the baton, and received the training that said to strike the centers of the large bones until the person you are arresting stops resisting.

          Never hit the head, never the joints, oly the mid-point of the large bones (fore arm, upper arm, calf, thigh), which is exactly what the cops were doing to Rodney King.


          A cop tells you to lay down and lock your fingers behind your head, YOU LAY DOWN AND LOCK YOUR FINGERS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!!!!! Continuing to stand, facing the police, yelling "don't tase me bro!" is a great way to get yourself Tasered!
        • Mar 2 2014: If man shot a sore clerk and is resisting arrest and seems to be overpowering force that is trying to resist.

          Many true experiences.

          What would you do?
      • Feb 20 2014: It will be difficult for me to change your mentality through a single post, but one day I am sure you will wake up and realise the truth.
        I am presuming you're american or live in one of those countries where people over so many years have become naturalised to police brutality and you now view it as the right of the police officer. I live in Scotland and if anyone seen a police officer behaving the way some american police officers bahave they would not be tolerated. You can make excuses all day for brutal behaviour, but deep down you know it is wrong and you only want to justify it because you would also enjoy giving people a beating. It's animalistic to say the least, but the government love your type.
        If other countries can arrest people with reasonable force and nothing more why do some countries find beatings are required? Do the American police have a low IQ?, are they unable to negotiate a better outcome? uk police officers are bad enough at times, but if I lived in the usa, I would be on a one way flight out of the place, never to return. If the Americans were not so institusionalised, I am sure they would be to.
        What you may not realise is those that can refrain from being violent are superior beings. The people these police officers inhumanely beat whether or not they have resisted arrest are likely to be better people than any aggressive police officer could hope to be. That's irony for you.

        Through employing aggression, the us government continues to ruin your own country and is attempting to ruin other countries through violent foreign policy.
    • Feb 20 2014: I think the Occupy movement was a PERFECT example of the power of social media to induce change.

      Thousands and thousands of people, angry at the current socio-economic state of the world, gathered together in encampments around the world...

      To sit and disagree about what the problems are, what should be done about them.

      In the end, no agreement on problems or solutions could be reached, so people got bored and the movement died as quickly as it had started.
    • Feb 20 2014: A niece made a post on her Facebook page about how 99.9% of Pit Bulls never attack anyone.

      Okay, but with millions of pit bulls, that is still a lot of attacks. Pit Bulls are the leading dog killers, involved in about 30 of the 40 annual dog related human deaths each year.

      So, if I am around a pit pull, how should I treat it? Like it is 99.9% unlikely I will be attacked, or like I am dealing with the dog breed that causes 75% of human deaths from dog attack?

      The answer is, BOTH!!!!!

      So what does that have to do with police violence?

      Everything!

      99% of suspects that an officer approaches will not turn violent. If an officer is going to approach hundreds of suspects a year, that means he will encounter violent suspects several times a year. Therefore, for his own protection, he has to treat each and every suspect approach as if it has the potential to turn violent.

      This is why an officer will make certain requests, such as keeping your hands in plain sight at all times, or depending on the circumstance, asking you get into a submissive position where the officer can search you safely.

      At that point, your refusal to comply with the officer's request has escalated the situation from 99% unlikely to turn violent into something higher than 50-50 chance of turning violent. The officer therefore, needs to escalate his response to adjust to the situation. And yes, that includes the use of force to impose compliance with his requests.


      We expect the police to do a very dangerous job. To be able to do that job in a way that increases their own relatively safety, they must be authorized to use force to impose compliance on suspects. Otherwise, it becomes impossible for them to do their job.
      • Feb 20 2014: Police officers result to force often before negotiating a better outcome. Additionaly if a police officer approaches a person beleiving they may become violent, their mannerism will already have become unfamiliar to what that person being approached is used to (respect, fairness, calmness, equal status etc...) and through this they are encouraging a change of behaviour in the approached. It's a case of what comes first, the chicken or the egg.
        I personally believe it is incredibly cowardly for police officers to feel there is ever a need to use violence beyond reasonable force. And sometimes the job is less dangerous for the police officer than what it becomes for the detained. There needs to be a mutual respect, but this will never happen when police officers contain an arrogant and egotistic undertone onset by fear and a general disrespect for people who they can't wait to have a go at. Not all police officers have bad intentions, but there are many that do and as a result unnecessary violence is unleashed on the public.
        The governments feel they can control the public and realise political agendas if they have police officers prepared to be brutal. In many ways these police officers that use violence are traitors to the people and help the government infringe on civil liberties. I'm not sure if some of these police officers realise the extent of their participation in corrupt politics.
    • Feb 20 2014: Mint Thinny

      I don't think the niceties of police brutality is at issue, but rather if the police, (or any extension of government), should be allowed the use of force in any circumstances. From your second post in this chain I presume that you agree it should be a recourse in some situations. This of course contradicts the"...never rely on violence as a means of control or for any other reason."

      Without much effort I can conceive of a list of legitimate uses of force by my government, such as detaining the insane and criminals, defending it's citizens from invasion or abuse, etc... Yes the government monopoly on force has been, can be, and is being abused, but that is not the question. Does governance ultimately rest on force, and what does this influence if so?

      Plenty of places are not dominated by corrupt officials using violence as a tool. Still, the historic legitimacy of their unity is underpinned by force. Does the fact that a baseball bat makes a good club make it any less effective in baseball? Should we outlaw the sport because so many bat related crimes are occurring?

      Scotland is surely a fine place, as is my Canadian homeland. but the Commonwealth we both share is one of the few modern democratic governments that did not have a revolution, or seven, in order to gain the civil rights you and I enjoy. Even so, our Governments were created on battlefields, whether at Hastings, Bannokburn, or the Plains of Abraham. At no time since has any of our legislative bodies authorized force to be utilized by any other body. Our peaceful lands were born in blood, and rest on brutal foundations. The last Canadian execution was 1969, but even incarceration is a expression of force. Is there another way to have government?

      Regards
      • Feb 21 2014: Reasonable force is such an action that can be justified truly, not in an individuals perception, but as a rule. Eg. If a person was hurting another person, a law inforcer or another individual would attempt to restrain the aggressor. This behaviour is justified as it stops another from being harmed. However if the police officer then goes onto repeatedly Hit the guy, after the harm from the situation has been removed this is violence and uneeded. Force should only be used as a restraining method not as a punishment. Incarceration, I beleive should work the same, it's about removing potential harm from society, but should not be used as a means of punishment, that's why I believe prisons should be sustainable villages or the likes where skills and rehabilitation are developed,but peoples freedom within the confinement is not undermined. This type of prison may be a stretch of the mind for some people who like the idea of revenge.

        Our countries may not have had a revolution,but as such you are suggesting that those countries that have had revolutions have aggression in their genetics, even though many countries are in part a mixture of immigrants from commonwealth countries.
        I beleive, the more advanced a countries people, the less aggressive will be their law inforcers, whether a result of genetics, Expectation (most likely), education or inherited culture.
        Governments are not a bad idea. Since the creation of central governments and local authorities, crime has reduced (or maybe crime is just interpreted differently, as a police officer beating a man, or shooting a man is not logged as crime). Government just needs to change their policies on the acceptance of violence in their forces. Will they do this? I highly doubt it. Instead we are just going to have to wait for an awakening.
        I am not patriotic and I do not even see my own country at the state it should be (far from). Every country has unacceptable behaviour/ loose canons, but some countries are plagued
        • Feb 21 2014: Mint Thinny

          In no way do I mean to suggest that there is a difference between the violence implicit between countries with revolutionary, or non-revolutionary histories. Just the opposite in fact. As I said above, even without revolutions all our countries were founded in conflict, as all of our governments rest on foundations of force.

          Regards
      • Feb 21 2014: That's true, but these conflicts are part of the process of human evolution. Intellect should have prevailed by now so we do not treat people with disrespect. We use knifes and forks today, we go to school, we pay taxes and we should understand right from wrong, but many seem still to be stuck in a time of human evolution where distinguishing their actions from wild animals is difficult, yet the government are not only tolerable to this lack of advancment , but incourage it and train it.
        I have to conclude that no amount of intellect can make up for a lack of wisdom.

        I understand your point of our founding nations being as a result of brute force, conflict etc...so in the past mabey the blood spilt and the harm that came to others was many (perhaps many more than what we see in these nations where police today are using intolerable force). However we cannot excuse today's behaviour because similar behaviours where shown in the past. Perhaps we can understand it from the point of view that these other nations are going through a point of human evolution that our nations past long ago. So in affect we are waiting for these brutal nations to catch up.
  • Feb 18 2014: As long as sociopathy and psychopathy exist in the human psyche, we will have violence in society, and, by extension, a governmental enforcement regime that must have the means and willingness for violence at its disposal.
  • Feb 14 2014: Yes it would seem that all observable powers today require a near monopoly of violence.
    This is prehaps du greatly to the underlying général lack of understanding of our own animal impulses (IE anger, jelousy, repulsion).
    Also our background philosophies/ religions are composed of conditional violence allowing moralities
    that define our interactions on small scale and wich places violence as a behavioural regulator.
    Therefore it is nutural that our governement being our main actif social regulator should be in relative control of violence.

    However we might remember that in old tibetain society the background religion/philosophie (IE bouddhism) excluded violence
    and there was a général culture of understanding ones own emotions wich allowed them to live in total abscence of violence
    (or at least this is what I have been lead to understand). There was no army, no police, nothing to prepare them for the psychological shock of china's invasion. So it is maybe possible to govern without violence if a totally non violent culture is already in place, maybe
    in time, who knows? ....
    • Feb 19 2014: Alwin

      Sorry to burst the myth, but pre-China Tibet was factionalized and violent throughout it's history, from it's inception by Kubli Khan who sent a Grand Lama to violently unify and govern the lesser Lamas in the 13th century.

      It was a later Lama ,(Sonam Gyatso 16th c.), from a different Buddhist sect who, with the aid of a Chinese army, seized control of the nation with force.He then burned the writings, and the Lama's, of dissenting sects. It was he who fisrt took the title Dalai (Ocean) Lama, and insisted he was a divine incarnation of 2 earlier Dalai Lamas, making him the 3rd. The current Dali Lama, ( though he seems a peaceful chap),claims a title that was conceived and created in violence.

      The intervening centuries are just as brutal, and blood-soaked as any medieval western state. In addition, serfdom survived there right up to 1959, whereas this semi-slave status had faded into history centuries before elsewhere. The life of a Tibetan serf was, "...nasty, brutish, and short." and has been improved in length by the Chinese dominion, and in quality, ( as measured by caloric intake, age of death, infant mortality rates etc..)

      The myth of a peaceful Tibet is a social construct that is useful to anti-Chinese propagandists, and little else. I do not argue that Chinese dominion is morally better, simply that it did not replace a peaceful culture with a violent one.

      Regards
      • Mar 6 2014: I see, no surprise, anti-something activists very often seem to shout louder. So I guess there are no traces of relatively large non-violent cultures (based on your current "top" comment ... yet ... that makes sense.
        Maybe our minds are slowly evolving away from the hunter gatherer way of life as our capacity to abstract is push forwards by technology (a rufutable point mostly based on rising IQs and use of virtual spaces) but that said most violent behaviour is governed by the "center of the brain" or "animal brain" so it is really "rooted" in our nervous system (endocrine and motor) (sorry for all these blurry termes). Shame, I was hoping a non-violent society had been done at least once (one a little more potentiel than the amish for example).
  • Mar 7 2014: 196 Different countries with different governments that rule, tax, and should provide services.

    196 Geographical Governments who Tax and cannot seem to provide tax-paid needed services
    to their populations. So they resort to violence to control the unruly and disenchanted.

    America has seen a peace exist between it's 50 member States Geographical Governments
    for about 150 years now. Most disagreements between States have been solved or are in
    the courts awaiting peaceful dispositions.

    Violence or it's threat is meted out by Law Enforcement to control the Geographical Governed
    Populations within the States, who have paid their taxes, and become unruly and disenchanted,
    when expected pre-paid services are not provided.

    As the individual member States give way to the Federal Government on issues, another layer
    of Governance is added, along with additional Violence or it's threat, meted out by Federal Law
    Enforcement to control the Geographical Governed Populations within or without the United States.
    Once labeled a Terrorist, a Preacher, or otherwise, paid taxes mean little, and the unruly and
    disenchanted who expected pre-paid services are sorely out of luck. Instead of an arrest at the
    supermarket, Federal Law Enforcement will surround and burn the house down.

    We have such a rich history... Growing every day...
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    Mar 7 2014: To Joshua.........Thank you)
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    Mar 6 2014: to observe ourselves in the world and say we all actively invite violence in our culture entirely through nature is an accepted defintion inclusive of all man and therefor is not an inclusive label if a prime motivator. Social acceptance outdistances selfish aggression as a human motivator such is mans need for community. Violence is a sign of our social ills...that our social structure in which past violence on the parts of individuals and nations became commited to violence as a means to improve ones life. its effect still scares and defines in part every culture in its self knowledge of nationhood ,or in our own person hood. But our need for community and to be accepted is the real heavy weight in this net...if we can crawl out of our collective shell shock of the birth of our world net,we will argue past the horrors of man and generate the supportive attitudes that has knowledge of the world and as the saying goes..he who feels it knows it..and that this is the statement that a modern man who is plugged in makes in nature.
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    Mar 3 2014: Bryan, The historical path to change is violance and then the strength to maintain that control.

    As an example. Why would the USA with one of the mightest war machines in the world need a Homeland securty force with more than a billion additional rounds of ammo and armored vehicles in addition to each state having a milta, and local and state police.

    That would appear to be a plan to includes violance and federal control without defining the use of this "additional" force. This directly applies to your question as to what are the implications?

    I bring this argument as a working example ... not as a direct reflection on the administration ... however, some will make it political and not a observation.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Mar 2 2014: government has a history of violence>the method is always to normalize the event(racism,sexcism,war,incareration,genocide) by ways of a social meme,dismiss all claims of credibility on the part of the victim and ultimately denig the victim exists. this would include no access to witness evidence of the victim,question of the intelligenc,pain and emotional intelligence,or religious credit. The implications are that good people are made to participate in behaviour thay would not agree with were they given unfiltered witness. I ultimately think the cognitive dissonance yeilds a moral gap in everyhumans brain in which they maintain blanks in selfawareness and will participate in numerous activities in complete conflict with their desired experience of self and behaviour
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    Feb 27 2014: I think, what ultimately makes humans successful as species is cooperation. Other species are capable of cooperation, and it also leads to overwhelming success. E.g. "Nearly 80% of all [African] wild dog hunts end in a kill; for comparison, the success rate of lions, often viewed as ultimate predators, is only 30%. Schaller found 9 of 10 wild dog hunts in the Serengeti ended in kills." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycaon_pictus). But I can't think of any other species than humans capable to coordinate efforts of millions.

    I think, cooperation requires subordination and authority. In any organization, there is a leader directing and coordinating the efforts of other people. For an organization to be successful, other people must submit themselves to the authority of the leader. Ideally, when authority is based on expertise and respect, people would do this voluntarily. But how would you handle cases when people refuse to submit to authority?

    People start questioning authority from a very young age. My children did that as soon as they were able to stand up in their bed, holding to the rails. I thought about this question while thinking about the "morality" of physical punishment of children. What would you do with a defiant child throwing a tantrum in a mall, embarrassing you in front of strangers? Words and reasoning don't help. Toddlers do not reason like adults. Ultimately, what most adults would do is physically pick up the child and take it to a "naughty spot". That's violence right there. I think, all authority (an hence, all human organization) hinges on domination - ability to harm (fire an employee, garnish wages). Physical domination (violence or threat of violence) seems to be the most basic form of domination. I believe, all other forms of domination are backed by the threat of violence.

    Indoctrination is another way to make millions act as one. Hence, religion and propaganda.
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    Feb 22 2014: SO...most people answered man is naturally violent.HMMMM.Therefor I must assume that each person who preaches this theory is human and therefor you,intellectuals all,are in fact VIOLENT> Interesting,or are you all somehow excluded from the human roots you swear is the collective man? Or is this ALL the other humans...but not you? I do not believe humans are naturally violent..I am not,nor are my chosen friends> Violence is taught in large amounts exclusively to MEN...as their archetype(sic)This whole mess of memes is a cultural hologram to self validate theft and murder of those cultures whose priorities it is to evolve....pirate cultures such as Europe raped,enslaved and genocided most of the rest of the world> So if you answered YES we are violent...I will assume your NATURE is such and you could evlove rather then hide behind nature as an excuse
  • Feb 22 2014: People cooperate to survive. The larger the coop the more resources it can control and the larger it can become. The larger it becomes the harder it is to control. In capitalism, competition allows a survival of the fittest mechanism to keep the economy strong. An economy of "Life" leads to growth. This is good, however resources are finite, The economy of "Death" parasitizes the economy in a symbiotic way, opposing the growth of other economies and to some extent our own.
    The balance of these economies keeps the world on the edge, but away from a global extinction event. The instability lies in the globalization of these capitalist corporate entities, which increasingly control government rather than vice versa.
    The potential exists to deminsh our reliance, on a "Death" economy to control growth. That is to make better use of existing resources and to self-control our population growth in line with our ability to make necessary resources available.
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    Feb 21 2014: well, dude, your use of the word "violence" is confusing. Let's say someone is lurking outside your house with a gun, and you're afraid they mean you harm. You call 911, and the police come and capture this person or perhaps engage in a shootout with him or her and kill him. The police are representatives of the government, correct? Would you say they employed violence to kill this person who was a threat to you, an innocent person? I would say they used force against an unreasonable person.
  • Feb 20 2014: "Remember WACO, and a lot of others.
    The WACO religious nut went shopping each and every Friday night
    at the same old supermarket with his wives."

    Actually, I can't imagine a worse place to try to arrest a nut like this than in public, where innocent people can get caught in the crossfire and/or taken hostage.

    As for the government blowing up the compound, I still find it amazing how easy it is to convince people of things that they want to be true.
  • Feb 20 2014: GEEESCH....
    I suppose that tack didn't work...
    Oh, well, back to the drawing board.

    I feel so "plundered and sacked"
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    Feb 20 2014: I agree that violence has long been an integral aspect of patriarchal and paternal agents of governance. The primary thing the threat of violence has achieved over the eons is to ensure that governance remains in the hands of those who seek power, whether for their own purposes or for some perceived greater good. Governance that allows an individual and their cohorts/supporters to dominate the rest of the population and then to impose whatever legislative prejudices they wish upon the population. A model that has worked very well for monarchies, aristocracies, dictatorships presidents and prime ministers the world over for a few thousand years.

    Since most people will always seek the path of least resistance, that violence has had to be tempered for fear of rousing the masses into protests and even revolts. It is only a fraction of any given population that will openly challenge the status quo and even then they tend to have limited effect as long as the threat of violent state response is contained and moderated with humorous asides and marginalizing comments.

    However, perhaps this communication era that is sweeping the world will finally rock that structure back a bit. More and more we see people publically tweeting, face booking and messaging opinions and sharing ever deeper understandings regarding political events. More and more are calling for referendums and Direct Democracy as a way of leveling the playing field. Makes one wonder what will happen to the threat of violence then?
    • Feb 20 2014: The idea of people living in harmony, without leaders and without threat of force used to force compliance is NOT new.

      Communes and CoOpps have a VERY long history... Of dismal failure.


      Direct Democracy just means that we all get to vote on a law, and then we will use force to impose compliance.

      Here is AZ we have referendum process. We voted to make it illegal to smoke in a bar, stripping the right of the property owner to determine what customers could do in his establishment. If a bar owner allows smoking in his bar, we fine him. If he doesn't pay the fine, we shut down his business and can put him in jail.
  • Feb 19 2014: It would seem to me that it would come down to an issue of power. What is a government if not an assembly of power and while there are many ways to flex power and influence over another government, the most immediately effective appears to be violence, either directly or indirectly. Whether this is inherently true is another question but what people have found to gather the most attention and bend others into cooperation is the threat of such a heinous alternative.
  • Feb 19 2014: Bryan Maloney, "A line in the sand no more."

    The next age of Human's Government is going to be determined by the Youth's.

    It is apparent from history that Elders are too easily corrupted and become set in their ways.

    Worldwide, Youths are quietly waking, communicating, learning, seeing, yearning, and knowing
    how to disregard the Geographical Government's that draw their bloody lines in the sand, and
    harm anyone who objects to their terrors.

    With the internet's Facebook and Twitter, and a host of other social networks, Youth's can translate
    and share their knowledge about how the world really works. From there, the next step is to make
    change happen.
    ===
    In the last few years the "Springs" were popular. Some worked, and others were put down by
    Geographic Government's extreme measures.

    The Youth's were honing their skills.
    ===
    I foresee in the near future elder politicians being those over 40.
    ===
    Right now, Militaries and Weapons hold sway. But not for long.
    What will occur in the short-term will either be bloody or blood-less.
    But, either way, the Youths will prevail.

    Say "Bye Bye" to Geographic Government. A horse ridden much too long.
    • Feb 19 2014: This is remarkably similar to the Anarchist pamphlets that circulated through Europe, and to a lesser degree America, in the decade before and after WWI. An interesting conjunction, and an argument for cyclic historic change.

      I cannot however agree. The developed world has the oldest average of politicians and plutocrats there has ever been, and that average is not decreasing. Modern medicine now allows much greater ability much later in life, and that is being put to good use in the uppermost echelons.

      As for the, "workers of the world unite", and "we shall overcome" style argument, it may well go over in a weaker less homogenized nation, but you would do well to remember that the national guard at Kent State fired when ordered to, America spends more on it's military than the next 26 nations combined, ( 25 of whom are Allies), and the military throughout history has been innately conservative.

      The ratio of youth in population in the developed and undeveloped world is dropping dramatically as average death ages continue to increase and birth rates decrease. In addition, the youth you call to, by the very virtue of their youth, have less education, experience, resources and allies than the opposition in this false dichotomy.

      In WWI the french army insisted that "elan", or virtuous bravery would carry any battlefield. If a soldier was sufficiently motivated and heroic, he could do anything in his bright red trousers. The Germans however got uniforms the color of mud, and taunted the french into attacking machine gun nests. My point being that sincerity is useless in a knife fight.

      Rosa Parks and Martin L. King did more for emancipation of the American black population than the Panthers ever could achieve. The most productive path is almost always social modification, rather than subversive revolution.

      Regards
      • Feb 20 2014: Ian, You are a clever thinker, and a pure salesman.

        But the problem you may have overlooked, is communication.
        We are well on the way to resolving the babble into a singular language.

        History is a but tale of the past. The youths are the future.
        • Feb 20 2014: "We are well on the way to resolving the babble into a singular language."

          Hardly.
    • Feb 20 2014: Kids can't agree on what to have for lunch. They certainly aren't going to be able to rise up against the powers that be.

      And even if they did, they would find that the systems of rules and laws existed for a reason, and would have to recreate those systems to make society function.
    • Feb 20 2014: What drugs are you taking and where can I get some? This whole "youth is going to fix everything" schtick is VERY OLD. Great day in the morning, the people who made a lot of noise about it are now GREAT-GRANDPARENTS.

      Children--always thinking that the universe came into existence the day they were born.
      • Feb 21 2014: Bryan, I am a GREAT-GRANDPARENT.
        In the1960's, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." corporal punishment disappeared.
        Teenagers found crash pads, free love, drugs and alcohol, and living in communes.
        Parents just gave up their responsibilities.

        The welfare state was born. Mexicans 'swam the river' to have their babies free.
        Blacks migrated to California's 'a lie gets you on welfare' for life. Whites, were slow
        getting started, found through their doctors, mental illnesses, a great welfare scam.
        Asians, they showed integrity, went to college and made their parent's proud.

        Those "lost generations" are still hanging around, still on welfare. But, I noticed
        a small change. Welfare Agencies are now asking for beneficiaries to provide
        proofs they still are eligible for benefits.

        Bryan, I've never been addicted to anything. So, you will have to look elsewhere
        for your drugs.
    • Feb 22 2014: Snapshots in time never tell the whole story. A movie is worth a thousand pictures. As the Arab Spring moves into summer; what has changed, what is better? Youth may well see the flaws in what is, but do they act before knowing what is better and how to achieve it. The internet generation too will grow older. Look around it already has. Rule by youths has been considered before e.g. "Logan's Run", "Lord of the flys", and if you object that they are both fictional, then consider the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. The internet is indeed a great world-changing tool. Perhaps the Youth will be able to communicate with the Mature to find out why they are so often complacent about wide-spread corruption. Perhaps together there is an answer...
      • Feb 22 2014: Bradley, thank you
        Teddy Roosevelt at 42, was our youngest president, and Jack Kennedy was next.
        The constitution makes 35 the youngest age allowed and adds a 14 year prior US
        residency requirement.

        I lean towards 35 through 42 as aged Youths. I was bitten by the "ambition bug"
        when I turned 29, and inside of 10 years had made enough money to retire.
        When you're hot, you're hot. Someone even made that into a song.

        With technologies changing ever so quickly, elders cannot keep track as well as
        Youths.

        After spending too much time to figure the US politics, I came to the conclusion
        that today's elected and appointed leaders are too corrupt to change. Change
        will require a the ambition bug to bite. And a new set of ambitious followers.

        Politicians of licentious behavior run the country, why not our Youths?

        Our Politicians do send our Youths to Wars to be killed and maimed, and after
        a notification to their parents, a flag, a burial, or VA healthcare for the maimed,
        those Youths are simply forgotten, with a "Thank you for your service.".

        No one wants this cycle of everlasting war to continue. And no one ever asks
        why we have so little returned in services for the taxes we pay. Perhaps our
        Youths could do better for the voters.

        Obama has only gotten $12 Million US Dollars out of his Presidency thus far.
        He ranks only 21st of richest Presidents. Clinton is near the top and rising.
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    Feb 18 2014: Initially laws were not simply instruments of social control and sanctions. It was because strangers from afar were often ignorant of how to behave, therefore edicts would be posted identifying for all to just what the important customs and expected deportments of members of a community were. Nor were they arbitrary edicts but ones that deemed to be universal to the community. In the 1700's B.C. a leader named Hammurabi - of what is now Iraq - is believed to have been the first to codify or systematize the rules for all he governed. Many of the new laws simply standardized social, family and economic relationships such as contractual obligations, wages for certain professions, inheritance and divorce requirements.

    Over the ages laws become more about legislated prejudices, marginalizing minorities and gamesmanship between competing political parties designed to give their backroom backers an economic edge in the marketplace.

    The 'right to violence' that is accorded governments was supposed to be related to protecting the realm from enemies without and wrongdoers within. Of course, how you define enemies and wrongdoers has always been a contentious issue, usually favouring those who support the government and sanctioning those who do not.

    But violence has always been the principle form of social control for primates and human beings are no exception. After centuries of accepted tolerance, It is only recently that violence within the family has become a source of contention and it is no coincidence that more and more people are starting to question the use of violence by the state.

    Bullying at school, whether it be emotional, physical or psychological, is now being challenged as potentially forming the very foundation of so much of other forms of social violence we see around us. And it is the bullying and violence perpetrated by parents, care-givers and especially siblings that will need to be resolved before that of the state can be addressed.
    • Feb 18 2014: Edits were posted...

      Was this before or after written language was invented, or during the time where only the learned few knew how to read?

      The code of Hammurabi was FAR from the first code. It is simply the oldest known still existing. Indeed, most of the code was economic in nature, establishing standardized weights and measures, setting out the legal tender, setting rules for governing debt, contracts, etc.


      As I see it, the problem with questioning the use of violence by the state is "How do you induce compliance without risk of escalation to violence?"

      Even with the risk of use of force, up to and including violence, we can barely get people to comply.

      It seems to me that people are trying to rationalize away a very basic element of human nature, self-interest.
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        Feb 18 2014: Self interest runs rampant when there is no risk involved. But in a survival situation common interest wins out every time. The threat of violence is the first resort of the self interested and the arrogant, simply because it is so effective in the short term. But in the long run it has been an abject failure.

        Once the community becomes accustomed to the threats and the violence many of its inhabitants also become desensitized to the controls behind the threat, In fact, the threat of violence becomes a tool the oppressed can then use and have used time and time again to overthrow the oppressors.

        However, since so many of them only knew oppression and threats of violence as social controls they are most likely to fall back on the same practices and become oppressors of some minority or another themselves.

        But in a community where consensus is required and respect for all voices is a given, common interest dominates and threats and violence are viewed as the tools of the unimaginative and petty.
        • Feb 19 2014: William,

          I would argue that the threat of violence has been very successful, rather than an abject failure in the long term . Government has universally rested on a monopolization of force since it's inception more than 5000 years ago. The unity provided by that monopolization took us from the Stone age to the Enlightenment, from the age of Might Makes Right to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

          As we live in humanities most peaceful time, ( the odds of a human dying by violence are lower now than any time in history), you might argue that the monopolization of force by governments has led to a widespread decrease of force in the lives of individual.

          This monopolization is a method, and a highly successful one. It is not an end in itself. Government does not exist in order to monopolize violence, but to promote social unity, (voluntarily or no, that is the point of the force). The fact that this method can, has, and is being abused, does not invalidate it's place in our history.

          The fact that violence is a species wide trait should speak to it's innate quality in our psychology. That it is constrained in individuals is a remarkable achievement, and in part due to the long tradition of leaving it to the state. The more anarchistic the environment, the more intimately violent. Look at the odds of being killed in Mogadishu vs. Montreal. Somalia has a weak monopoly on force, Canada a strong one, but both place have local gangs in conflict.

          That we can even imagine an idealist society where force is not required is a mark of the methods success, rather than it's failure. Note that I do not maintain that this monopoly is morally correct, merely objectively functional. By citing it a success I am innately asserting that civilization is better than being a hunter/gatherer, (though studies show most h/g's work less than 18 hours a week), and that unity with less individual violence is better than dis-unity with more.

          Regards
  • Feb 18 2014: I happened to be in Las Vegas over the weekend. Some street performers were set up in a particularly busy walkway. People formed a fairly large half-circle around the performers, blocking all of the walkway except a small section about 5 people wide.

    Now, had there been some sort of authority, with ability to create rules and impose compliance, perhaps we could have had this narrow passage between crowd and building form into 2 lanes going direction, for maximum efficiency.

    Without such authority to create and impose rules, what we actually got was 10 wide mob on one side trying to go one direction and 10 wide mob on the other side trying to go the other direction, and absolute inability of anyone to move in either direction until the performance ended and the crowd broke up.

    Many people began jumping hand rails and walking in the road as the only way around the deadlock that comes from leaving mobs to their own ends, without ability to create or enforce rules.

    Of course, walking in the road was not overly dangerous as the cars too were so packed in that there was little movement.

    In Las Vegas, the rule is that you have to be in the intersection when the light turns red. The result is that when you get a green light, you can't go, because the intersection is full of people that are trying to go in the perpendicular direction. Those cars cannot clear the intersection because the intersection ahead of them is full of cars going the other way....

    Poor rules or refusal by the masses to follow the rules, create deadlock just as easily as total lack of rules.


    Only by having good rules, and adherence to those rules, can a society hope to achieve any semblance of efficiency.
  • Feb 18 2014: I am concerned as to the definition of violence.

    For example, we set up laws intended to keep people safe, such as traffic laws. You know, laws like speed limits, which side of the road to travel on, that you can not be driving while intoxicated, etc.

    If you are violating one of these laws, the government officials (police) will attempt to stop you to investigate or cite. Fines may be imposed for violations, or even jail time.

    If you refuse to comply with an officer, violence can and will be used to force compliance.


    If not the risk of escalation to violence, then how can we possibly enforce rules over people that refuse to follow the rules?
    • Feb 18 2014: And the laws you cite are the ONLY KINDS OF LAWS THAT CAN EXIST? What about laws that prohibit marriage on the basis of race? The USA had such laws for a time. Was it right for violence or threat of violence to be used to enforce THOSE laws?

      Stop being a blind cultist of government.
      • Feb 18 2014: My post was simply an inquiry as to the definition of violence.

        I hate the word "right" because it is too ambiguous. Do you mean factually correct? Morally desirable? Permissible actions? The direction opposite of left?



        The laws themselves were morally undesirable, however it was permissible for government to enforce the laws.

        You have to follow ALL the laws, as they exist, or risk use of force against you to force compliance.

        If you do not like the laws, then work to change them. In the mean time, you have to follow them.
    • Feb 19 2014: Darrell,
      I don't agree with -- ... the laws,..."you have to follow them".

      A drunk, being obnoxious and/or dangerous to himself and others, simply cannot.
      I believe the solve would better involve a fishing net or stun gun approach.

      Instead of chasing a drunk in a race to destruction. Monitor and jail him later.

      Engineers could design a larger fishing net to fit the auto or truck situation.
      Automobiles could easily be manufactured with an electronic shut down switch.

      The problem is that the Police and Enforcement bureaus want to use the Anarchy
      excuse. It gives them a reason for terror and bigger budgets..

      I've never seen a Fireman or Para-medic with a handgun on their hip. And I know
      they sometimes are in the middle of the dangerous Police vs Perp actions.

      Surely our educational Universities turn out more than Lawyers and future Judges.
      • Feb 20 2014: "A drunk, being obnoxious and/or dangerous to himself and others, simply cannot. (follow police orders). I believe the solve would better involve a fishing net or stun gun approach. "

        Many argue that any attempt at arrest is, in itself, an act of violence. Stun gun would definitely be considered violence.

        "Instead of chasing a drunk in a race to destruction. Monitor and jail him later."

        Many running from police are doing so to give themselves a chance to destroy evidence. Dump their drugs or illegal guns, ditch the stolen car, let their blood alcohol content diminish or be able to claim someone else was driving.

        "I've never seen a Fireman or Para-medic with a handgun on their hip. And I know
        they sometimes are in the middle of the dangerous Police vs Perp actions."

        Right. The firemen don't go into the dangerous situation of potentially violent people, until the cops have already gone in with guns to make the situation safe for the firemen.
        • Feb 21 2014: Darrell, Thank you,
          You are right of course.
          I hope you agree with this suggestion that many criminals and/or drunks,
          running from police while inside a speeding vehicle, are dangerous.

          I am more than familiar with such behavior. I witnessed an innocent
          pedestrian be run down by a charging police car that was chasing a
          fleeing speeder.

          The answer to whether or not to chase is an easy one. "Do not chase."

          This is an old problem, but has yet to be solved in most of our cities.
          They've tried spiked-roadway-strips, road-blocks, and chasing.
          The latter is a field day for the media and it's audiences.

          You wrote -- "any argue that any attempt at arrest is, in itself, an act of
          violence. Stun gun would definitely be considered violence."
          Actually, Stun Guns and Fishing Nets are a bit of a stretch.
          It was late and I was tired... Sorry.

          Technology today is being applauded for what they have created thus far.
          But using electronic controls to remotely stop an out of control vehicle was
          never acceptable politically and so innocent pedestrians still remain at risk.

          Some teenager will develop a control, have a field day playing tricks, and
          then the police will decide it's time to have one of their own controls, so they
          can bolster the speeding ticket revenues. I foresee police using a 9v battery
          with a laser to target the car. Right now, In London the teenagers use those
          9v battery lasers at night for fun and games, but the side effect is blinding the
          pilots who are landing at Heathrow airport. The police catch and ticket those
          teens or their parents. lol
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    Feb 18 2014: The first and only reason societies form in the first place is to eliminate the savagery that people in that society would like to avoid. In the past this has always involved savage violence. Therefore, the means to restrict violence (threat or application of stronger violence or enforcement) are necessary. Yet you also need a mechanism in place which makes the determination of when and how and why to utilize those measures. That is the component of the architecture which becomes broken. Having a policeman with a gun doesn't cause shooting deaths, for instance. The rulebook that says "if suspect does BLAHBLAHBLAH then pull your gun and shoot" is the critical element. In societies that trust each other these rules often come from good judgment of the individual. As breakdown of trust occurs or as firsthand violence deadens the emotional intelligence of officers, for instance, reliance on rules to metaphor behavior becomes more standard.

    The problem with this is simple: Justice relies on JUDGMENT. Rules merely support legality. Once a justice system descends into a mere legal system it tends to feel like the spread of tyranny. That starts a competing downward descent which JFK rightly mused as "fear itself". I came up with a solution to this issue as a matter of fact. :-) You can read about it in these two places: http://ewan2014.com/403/ https://www.dropbox.com/s/x8vrd25jxibxupm/improved-liberty.pdf
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    Feb 18 2014: I don't see why government would automatically do bad things. It is true that occasionally governments make mistakes and do bad things, but then again people who aren't in government occasionally make mistakes and do bad things as well.
    • Feb 19 2014: Greg, WoW,
      You really are laid back today.
      Sometimes, I suppose the soft tone works best. lol
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        Feb 19 2014: well, i really don't like to argue frank how about you? it always seems to me like if you argue, the content of what you're arguing about gets lost and people just focus on the emotions of arguing, anger, etc.
        you gave me some good comments below but i couldn't reply as they were at the third level. What were the yellow dots you were talking about?
    • Feb 20 2014: I don't see why government would automatically do good things. You presume it will.
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        Feb 20 2014: I don't presume it will do good things. What have I said that makes you think so?
  • Feb 17 2014: I would argue that human civilization is the battle over resources, starting with the cavemen. Someone below seemed to indicate that the polynesian race was not violent. They fully realized that islands could only support a certain number of people and usually waged total warfare, killing men, women and children.
    • Feb 19 2014: Wayne, interesting --
      A few hundred millions killed and maimed (into shorter lifespans) here and there
      seem to keep the world's populations in check.

      One of my family were among those lost in the battle over resources,
      I could not argue your argument.
      • Feb 19 2014: I think many of us are in the same boat, having lost many members of family during wars.
  • Feb 16 2014: Just a little thought. Carl Schmitts first sentence in "Der Begriff des Politischen" was something like "The Concept of the State pressupposes the Concept of the Political." And if you understand the first sentence in Carl Schmitts texts you don't need to read the rest.

    So when you ask if Goverments must rest upon violence? The Schmitt sentence is my entry. I don't think governments rest upon violence as such, but Goverments rests upon the ability to use violence, but most likely don't. Mao once said: "Politics is war without bloodshed, while wars are politics with bloodshed." And when you ask if the willingness to use violence against your own population is a prerequisite for Governments ability to rule, well it must be clear that the state violence tools are divided into two major groups. 1. Versus intruders and other outsiders (typical the army) and 2. Versus inside problems (typical the police). Especially the police forces use their right to exercise violence quite often and is certainly some of the elements that legitimate a government and the rest of the state.