July 15, 2008


World War I recruiting poster.

The theme at Goat Rope lately has been human evil and the kinds of things that make it thrive and grow (or not). If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts.

In George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, a typical workday includes an official two minute "hate session" aimed at enemies of the state. An image of an enemy appears on a screen and the faithful are expected to snarl, hiss, yell, jump up and down and otherwise to dutifully express their hatred.

You know, kinda like Fox News...

One of the most effective ways to create a climate in which evil flourishes is to label and dehumanize certain groups. This is usually an important step that governments and political movements use to pave the way to war, genocide, torture, and other atrocities.

For a good overview, click here.

As Philip Zimbardo wrote in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,

The powerful don't usually do the dirtiest work themselves, just as Mafia dons leave the "whackings" to underlings. Systems create hierarchies of dominance with the influence and communication going down--rarely up--the line. When a power elite wants to destroy an enemy nation, it turns to propaganda experts to fashion a program of hate. What does it take for the citizens of one society to hate the citizens of another society to the degree that they want to segregate them, torture, them even kill them? It requires a "hostile imagination," a psychological construction embedded deeply in the minds by propaganda that transforms those others into "The Enemy." That image is a soldier's most powerful motive, one that loads his rifle with the ammunition of hate and fear. The image of a dreaded enemy threatening one's personal well-being and the society's national security emboldens mothers and fathers to send sons to war and empowers governments to rearrange priorities to turn plowshares into swords of destruction.

Good thing that never happens anymore, huh?

100 YEARS? Majorities in the US and Iraq want a withdrawal of American troops.

NO MORE BLANK CHECKS. Here's Scott Ritter talking sense on Iran.

TOUGH DAYS FOR THE MARKET GOD. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne argues we're witnessing the shipwreck of market fundamentalism. The news hasn't reached everybody in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia yet.

THIS IS YOUR PET on drugs.

LOOK TO THE ANT, THOU SLUGGARD. That's what evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson does.


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