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The belief that violence is a reasonable and often necessary route to achieving our aims goes unquestioned in most societies. Violence is thought to be the nature of things. It's what works. It seems inevitable -- the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today. Walter Wink, a professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in N.Y.C., in an article first published by Bible Society's Spring 1999 issue of The Bible in TransMission, further expalains that our very origin is violence. Killing is in our genes. Humanity is not the originator of evil, but merely finds evil already present and perpetuates it. Human beings are thus naturally incapable of peaceful coexistence. Order must continually be imposed upon us from on high: men over women, masters over slaves, priests over laity, aristocrats over peasants, rulers over people. Unquestioning obedience is the highest virtue, and order the highest religious value. In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the ideology of conquest. Ours is neither a perfect nor perfectible world, but a theater of perpetual conflict in which the prize goes to the strong. Peace through war, security through strength: these are the core convictions that arise from this ancient historical religion. The Babylonian myth is as universally present today as at any time in its long and bloody history. It is the dominant myth in contemporary America.
This violence, some scholars argue, is an inevitable consequence of innate male ambition and agression. "Males have evolved to possess strong appetites for power," the anthropologist Richard Wrangham contends in "Demonic Males," "because with extraodrinary power comes extraordinary reproductive success." As evidence for this hypothesis, Wrangham cites studies of societies such as the Yanomamo, an Amazonian tribe. Yanomamo men from different villages often engage in lethal raids and counter-raids. Like most tribal societies, the anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who has observed the Yanomamo for decades, found that killers on average have twice as many wives and three times as many children as non-killers.
Capitalism itself encourages competition between individuals, pitting them against each other in a rat race for power, privilege and prestige. But we must recognize the fact that such a society is incompatible with human nature. It is an "insane society," a "sick society." Erich Fromm, for example, believed that humans are the only animal species whose individual members have an awareness of themselves as separate individuals, have "self consciousness." This gives us a sense of individuality and freedom, says Fromm, but at the same time a sense of aloneness. According to him, the driving force behind human behaviour is the desire to overcome this sense of aloneness, the desire to feel part of a greater whole, the desire to be liked and accepted by other human beings. Is it human nature to be completely adaptable or are there conditions that humans couldn't adapt to because it would be contrary to their nature? Fromm comes down in favor of the second view. Humans are social animals, and we need each other not only practically so as to collectively produce the material things we need to live but also psychologically -- we need to feel part of a group, of a community. From which it follows that any society which does not satisfy this psychological need, or which actively works to prevent it being satisfied, is incompatible with human nature. Only a society based on cooperation and community is a sane society as one which properly meets the psychological needs of human beings for a sense of belonging; not just a sense of belonging but a state of actually belonging to a real community.Capitalism is against "human nature" because it denies, and works against, this basic need. Although capitalism continually seeks to reduce us to isolated social atoms who only collide in the marketplace as buyers and sellers, the basic human need for community still expresses itself even if in distorted and perverted forms. Capitalism can try to suppress the human need for cooperation and community but will never be able to succeed.
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