thread: 2005-05-16 : Violence

On 2005-05-18, Valamir wrote:

I think its a fundamental mistake to try and say “assertive” and “aggression” and “force” are over in one box and “violence” is something else.  This is exactly the kind of thinking that Chris has brought up before.  This unreasonable, obsessive need to consider violence to be some automatically harmful alien thing to be purged out of mankind’s behavior responses.

That’s the root of the whole disagreement.  Violence is NOT a bad thing.  For the vast majority of human history Violence was an accepted fact of everyday life and a standard tool in interpersonal dealings.  That it has become (in some circles) so horrifically unacceptable is a curious blip of modern culture.  I think it would the height of hubris to equate that blip with any notion of superior civilization.

Violence, assertiveness, and aggression are intimately intertwined.  True they are not precisely synonyms…but they are completely insperable concepts.  One CANNOT talk about assertiveness in any meaningful way without also acknowledging the role of violence.

Violence, or the threat thereof, is a fundamental part of human social interaction.  Many of the standard rules of common courtesy and etiquette exist because of their relationship to violence.

I hear people saying what amounts to: “if only they’d used the word ‘assertive’ I could agree with them, but since they used the word ‘violence’ or ‘aggression’ I must rail against the horror of it”

Frankly that’s absurd and nonsensical.  It shows exactly the kind of irrational avoidance of the idea of violence that is at the root of Chris’s comments.  They are completely tied together.  You can’t accept one and dismiss the other.

Ultimately one doesn’t exist without the other.

Throughout most of human history you couldn’t BE assertive unless you were also willing to commit violence to back your assertions up.  As civilization progressed that relationship didn’t change, it just became more common to inflict violence by proxy.

The only reason any free citizen has the ability to assert their own opinion in a public forum is because ultimately…that ability is backed by the threat of violence.  To turn your back on that fact and pretend that its not true and that you get through life entirely without violence is the height of naivety, and rather insulting to the people whose job it is to use violence to give you that freedom.

Everytime you express an opinion without being stopped, you can do so because of the underlying threat of violence towards whoever would try to stop you.

Violence constructively applied is the foundation of all civilization.  Its what makes civilization possible.

Now I’m getting a little farther afield philosophically here than this topic was originally.  But I do so only because I keep hearing this embedded sentiment that “violence is wrong, violence is bad, violence is horrific”...and that’s just…well…wrong.

So talking about assertiveness and calling it violence is NOT confusing the issue.  Trying to pretend that those are two seperate and unrelated concepts is what’s confusing the issue.

Every single time you assert yourself there is a corresponding act of violence or threat of violence that goes along with that assertion.  It may not be an act committed by or threatened by you.  It may have been an act committed in the past or threatened to be committed in the future by someone else.  But there is violence underlying every privilege you enjoy.

They are NOT seperate things.


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