upheavals in England, 1640 - 1848

Louis R Godena louisgodena at ids.net
Wed Jun 19 20:28:49 MDT 1996


Rahul writes (truncated version):

>Still, it
>doesn't take much perspicacity to discern that certain attitudes are
>prevalent in some societies, rare in others. Obviously, it's an
>environmentally determined effect, not a genetically determined one. An
>American is much more likely, in my experience, to try to justify an act of
>butchery committed abroad by his government than a citizen of almost any
>other country. I state a fact. One can speculate about the reasons for that
>fact, the most obvious of which is government propaganda, but any
>explanation which invokes only the coercion of the elite and not the
>compliance of the masses, is only a half-truth.

If you mean that certain societies, for some unspecified reasons, are
incapable of commiting heinous acts in parellel situations where certain
conditions are present that provoked similar heinous acts by other
societies, then I would have to disagree.    My own family, on my mother's
side,  is descended from the Possomoquoddy Indians (originally from
northeastern Canada).    They migrated into northern Maine several hundred
years ago, driving out or killing or enslaving the original inhabitants.
Three hundred years later, the English and French did the same to them.
What's the difference?   This was replicated hundreds of times throughout
the Americas, from 500 AD through 1890.

Brutish acts in brutish societies have their parellel, to a greater or
lesser extent, in all societies.   Hitler intended the deaths of millions of
people to accomplish the ends of German national imperialism.    The US has
always accepted that millions of deaths were necessary to promote its own
interests worldwide.    We have a much more sophisticated elan to our
killings (along with a wonderfully compliant media).  They give us our cover
to commit our crimes for the sake of altruistic ends.    The Possomoquoddys
originally killed off their elderly by pushing them out to sea on ice
floats.    The European's more gradual methods of elimination, through
starvation or disease,  were arguably more humane.    Yet the same ends were
met.    Did this make them more humane?   I suspect not.

It is not the brutality of this or that society that can be isolated,
singled out and condemned, any more than it is the "offensive" or
"defensive" character of a war or conflict;  it is the nature of the change
being sought and resisted.    All societies, yours and mine alike, have the
drenching blood of untold masses on their hands.   It is, in my view,
pointless to define this or that society as causing more or less pain to
more or less people, resulting somehow from racial or cultural differences.
Similar conditions will produce similar results.    Our tasks as Marxists is
to study and define societies as they heretofore exist and the historical
processes that will lead to a more facilitative, humane society where the
premises for much of mankind's brutality will be erased.


                                   Louis Godena




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