wars cannot be won
I have not, until now, commented on the pictures, or scandal, of American troops and intelligence forces torturing Iraqi prisoners, most of whom, according to a Bush administration announcement today, are going to be released in the next few days since there is no evidence they ever did anything wrong. My reaction was simple: What did you think was going on in these prisons? There have been reports of such abuses, some of them well documented, for almost a year. Many, many people born in the Mideast have been deported to their countries of birth, with no explanation, where they were tortured for months, killed, or simply “disappeared”. The activities in the torture chambers of almost every Mideastern nation, some of them working in collaboration with the CIA, make the “indignities” suffered by the Arabs in the CBS-released photos look like a picnic. And surely no one believes that anything less is going on in the Guantanamo camp, where the US will not allow prisoners, almost none of whom have been charged with anything, to even have contact with families or lawyers, and where the press are only allowed on scheduled, chaperoned visits.

How naive can people be that they find this torture, to use the Presnit’s words, “abhorrent” and “repugnant”? Do people really believe that there is something civilized and decent and honorable about war? Here are the far more rational reactions from two Arab journalists, neither of whom expressed any surprise or indignation at the revelations:

The United States probably expected to get away with such horrible abuse because Arabs had long been passive about torture. Who will take pictures of the even more hideous practices in the Arab world’s prisons where thousands upon thousands of prisoners of conscience have been tortured for many years while we, the millions of Arabs outside the prisons, pretend to neither see nor hear? – Ahmad Amorabi, Al Bayan

President Bush has asked the world not to judge his countrymen on the debased acts of a few. That’s what we said after 9/11. Don’t judge the intentions of the Muslim world by the crazed, deranged acts of a few. – Mona Eltahawy, Al Sharq al Awsat

These kind of abuses, and much, much worse, go on every day, in most of the countries of the world, and with the full knowledge and often acquiescence, sometimes even complicity, of the Presnit and every other world leader. Some see it as one of the costs of freedom. Others realize that we cannot prevent or stop these abuses by any political or military means.

So what is the cause of this? Organized violence is nature’s way of responding to extreme stress, stress that cannot be solved by waiting for nature’s balancing mechanisms (natural predators, epidemic disease etc.) to kick in. As Edward Hall explains in The Hidden Dimension, all animals react the same way in response to stress caused by overcrowding and scarcity. The first-stage reaction is to test the boundaries of the community, to see whether it can expand and take over more land to relieve the pressure. If that is unsuccessful, the second-stage reaction is a form of shock, fueled by an overload of secreted adrenaline that produces hyperactivity, depression, distraction, and metabolic instability, which lead in turn to higher rates of spontaneous abortion, lower fertility, and more suicides. If even this is insufficient to reduce numbers and alleviate overcrowding and scarcity, the third-stage reaction is a form of madness: war, violent and unprovoked aggression, mass suicide, and the eating of the young. This ‘last resort’ ensures that no species can seriously disrupt the ecological balance of life long enough or severely enough to produce an ecological crash. It’s the self-regulating process that has worked well since the first living creatures appeared on the planet three billion years ago.

The evidence that the human species is in this third-stage state of madness is pretty overwhelming: The number and extent and level of violence in wars is unprecedented. Social violence has exploded to the point that in many places there are more people in prisons than in schools. Domestic violence is at epidemic levels — our modern form of eating our young is to sexually, physically or psychologically abuse or neglect them, repress them, throw them into the streets, incarcerate them in juvenile detention centres or schools that rob them of their spirit, self-worth, and physical and psychological security — or send them off to fight wars that are so cruel and violent that even those who return physically intact are often psychologically damaged for life. Suicide and murder are now the leading causes of death for those under 30 in many countries. And the abject poverty and destitution that many in the third world (and an increasing number in the first world) face every day of their lives is the perfect breeding ground for more level-three behaviour — rampant crime and corruption, ‘terrorism’ and other anti-social acts.

We are so caught up in this madness that we can’t see it. War is the very manifestation of the insanity that produces a Saddam Hussein, a Kim Jong Il, suicide bombers, Al Qaeda, Enron, and the Patriot Act, and will never be a solution for anything. We can either let our third-stage madness play itself out, with consequences too grim to imagine, or start to take some responsibility for dealing with the underlying causes — overpopulation, inequality, overcrowding, ecological destruction, and ignorance — quickly, dramatically, and immediately. In the meantime, we should not be surprised at what is happening behind the doors of prisons, homes, institutions, schools, factory farms, and old-age facilities. We are merely playing out the instructions embedded in our DNA for three billion years. And if we don’t do something very different very soon, it’s going to get much worse.

This entry was posted in How the World Really Works. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to EATING OUR YOUNG

  1. Pat says:

    Your essay was very interesting and stimulating.Your point about overcrowding and overpopulating is important, but is almost always neglected.I don’t know if there is any connection or not, but the Arab countries are some of the most explosive in terms of increasing populations. Egypt has about doubled its population since the 1950s, and the multitudes are trying to eke by on about the same GDP that the country generated in those same 1950s.Not sure what the answer is, except breeding like a bunch of lemmings is not a solution. Look what happens to the lemmings.

  2. Michael says:

    Great post, Dave. Your analysis and insights are right on! Well done.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks — I was expecting a lot more push-back on this post.

  4. kara says:

    I was a little surprised to see females in the images. I thought war was a male thing. Am I too naive?- Yeah, they would eat me for breakfast.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Kara: At first I was surprised, but then I thought about it more and concluded that when you live in a situation surrounded by fear and violence, with a lot of power and no supervision, there’s no reason to believe women aren’t as vulnerable to this madness as men. There’s an article in today’s NYT about the soul-searching by the family and friends of Lynndee, one of the women charged, who all seem to be incredulous. But I’ve heard that in many Arab lands the beating and psychological violence inflicted on helpless immigrant domestics is mostly carried out by women, who have been indoctrinated to treat them as slaves, less than human.

  6. David Jones says:

    “…………Organized violence is nature’s way of responding to extreme stress…..”There is nothing “natural” about conflict, violence and war if you are thinking of it as a “market adjustment.” Conflict is no more than a visible demonstration of incompetence and failure – an understanding intolerable to those who suffer from extreme, but ubiquitous deterministic belief – perpetuated and exploited by the arms manufacturers and the generalship.

  7. Jon Husband says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that we are slowly boiling to death in our collective insanity. There is little if any rationality in operation, let alone humanistic emotion.All this in a world that is being “led” by a few old white men who are daily professing, loudly, their humanity and confidence in scientific, decisive management by principles underpinning democracy and freedom.It is a farce of the largest scale. Igorance, religion, greed and lust for power are running the lives of all of us around the world – and destroying our home the planet. I can imagine that people 1000 years from now (if there are some around) might look back at this era in world governance as a mix of caricaturish Roman gladiatorism meets WWF meets Monty Python with an MBA meets private Skull & Bones power fetish club membership all wrapped up in a daily brainwashing soap opera on TV.

  8. Yenayer says:

    —- “The United States probably expected to get away with such horrible abuse because Arabs had long been passive about torture. Who will take pictures of the even more hideous practices in the Arab world’s prisons where thousands upon thousands of prisoners of conscience have been tortured for many years while we, the millions of Arabs outside the prisons, pretend to neither see nor hear?” – Ahmad Amorabi, Al Bayan –I only want to point to one thing. All these dictatorial arabs countries, and Iran of the former Shah, were supported either by the USA or the former Soviet Union. Still the USA are supporting Saudi Arabia and all the Arab Gulf states wich are not known to be very democratic. Look what is happening with Lybia ? The ban on the country has been left because Kadaffi agreed to stop its WMD program and, and this is the main point, open the oil field for the US and British compagnies. Did anyone hear about free speech or democracy coming soon to Lybia ? No.. and this does not bother Bush or Blair since they can pump the oil .. and Khadaffi will be free to continue his dictatorship and keep its jails full of opponents. This is the only “democracy” the US wants for the arab countries : the one that let them pump the oil.By the way Dave .. i agree with Sebastien Paquet about putting you among his visionary people :-)

Comments are closed.