Law School Discussion


« Reply #150 on: September 12, 2006, 02:20:03 AM »


« Reply #151 on: September 12, 2006, 07:05:25 AM »

Your username is also very interesting, tie!

Not to mention his/her signature line...

« Reply #152 on: September 13, 2006, 02:38:37 PM »
tie's or critical's?

« Reply #153 on: September 14, 2006, 04:23:06 AM »
LOL roseta ;)

« Reply #154 on: October 04, 2006, 02:28:43 PM »

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.

In the aftermath of World War I, which some optimists were calling the war to end all wars, the philosopher George Santayana demurred, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." This sort of fatalism is still widespread today, and it cuts across political affiliations. Whether they are hawks or doves, on the left or on the right, many people have come to accept war as inevitable, even "in our genes." The obvious problem with such fatalism is that it can become self-fulfilling. Our first step toward ending war must be to believe that we can do it.

We also need to come to grips with the scale of the problem. As far back as anthropologists have peered into human history and pre-history, they have found evidence of group bloodshed. In "War Before Civilization" Lawrence Keeley estimates that as many as 95% of primitive societies engaged in at least occasional warfare, and many fought constantly. Tribal combat usually involved skirmishes and ambushes rather than pitched battles. But over time the chronic fighting could produce mortality rates as high as 50%.

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.

But Chagnon, significantly, has rejected the notion that Yanomamo warriors are compelled to fight by their aggressive instincts. Truly compulsive, out-of-control killers, Chagnon explains, quickly get killed themselves rather than living long enough to have many wives and children. Successful warriors are usually quite contolled and calculating; they fight because that is how a male advances in their society. Moreover, many Yanomamo men have confessed to Chagnon that they loathe war and wish it could be abolished from their culture -- and in fact rates of violence have recently dropped dramatically as Yanomamo villages have accepted the laws and mores of the outside world.

In his classic book "On Agression," the biologist Konrad Lorenz acknowledged that it might be possible to "breed out the aggressive drive by eugenic planning." But that would be a huge mistake, Lorenz argued, because aggression is a vital part of our humanity. It plays a role in almost all human endeavors, including science, the arts, business, politics, and sports. Aggression can serve the cause of peace. There are, for example, some extremely aggressive peace activists.

Even if warfare is at least in part biologically based -- and what human behavior isn't? -- we cannot end it by altering our biology. Modern war is primarily a social and political phenomenon, and we need social and political solutions to end it. Many such solutions have been proposed, but all are problematic. One perennial plan is for all nations to yield power to a global institution that can enforce peace. This was the vision that inspired the League of Nations and the UN. But neither the US nor any other major power is likely to entrust its national security to an international entity any time soon. And even if we did, how would we ensure that a global military force does not become repressive?

One encouraging finding to emerge from political science is that democracies rarely, if ever, fight each other. But does that mean democracies such as the US should use military means to force countries with no democratic tradition to accept this form of governance? If history teaches us something, it is that war often begets more war. Religion has been prescribed as a solution to war and aggression. After all, most religions preach love and forgiveness, and they prohibit killing, at least in principle. But in practice, of course, religion has often inspired rather than inhibited bloodshed.

We will abolish war someday. The only questions are how, and how soon.

Male Aggression
« Reply #155 on: October 06, 2006, 01:28:30 AM »

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.

Excerpt below is from Chapter 3 of War and Gender

The evidence on the entire question of testosterone and aggression in humans is undermined by problems of measurement, reverse causality, and poor experimental design. The main conclusion is that testosterone seems to influence intensity of aggression in some contexts, but these are not well understood and are not dramatic in magnitude.

Social competition and testosterone levels

The reverse direction of causality – from social aggression to testosterone levels – seems stronger. Men's fluctuating short-term testosterone levels respond to competitive situations, such as a tennis or wrestling match, a chess game, or a competitive task in a psychology laboratory. Levels rise in preparation for the competition, and then go up afterwards in winners, and down in losers. This effect does not depend on direct aggression. It applies to any changes in an individual’s perceived status in a social hierarchy. Winning or losing a physical fight often has that effect, but so do other competitions. The testosterone high of competitive victory has been measured in males participating in a ceremony to receive their MD degrees, and even in sports fans when their team wins. (One study of US males in various professions found highest testosterone levels among trial lawyers and lowest levels among ministers – i.e., among the most, and least, competitive professions.

The effect on testosterone levels depends on subjective judgments about triumph or defeat, and is strongest when a victory is decisive and results from an individual's own efforts. For example, testosterone changes after professional basketball games correlated not with the game's outcome but the player's assessment of his own contribution to a win or loss and his attribution of the outcome to internal or external causes. Similarly, in judo competitors, post-match testosterone significantly correlated not with the outcome but with the individual's satisfaction with that outcome. Among eight men participating in a New York chess tournament over eight weeks, testosterone levels rose about 10% on average in winners of games where the chess ratings of the players were close (the players expected to have to fight hard to win). However, testosterone actually decreased after a win where the ratings showed ahead of time that winning would be easy (down about 10%, as with losers). In 17 young male first-offenders in a shock-incarceration ("boot camp") program, testosterone levels dropped dramatically in the first month, but less so in six men who started out with a bad attitude and may have refused to feel defeated. Thus, men's testosterone response to competition depends on "cognitive and emotional aspects rather than ... objective ... outcome or physical exertion."

Outcomes of aggressive interactions affect testosterone levels among animals. When male rodents fight over status and territory, the winner of the fight produces more testosterone and the loser produces less. In rhesus monkeys, researchers studied whether levels of testosterone, prior to the formation of a group from unfamiliar males, would predict the eventual status hierarchy that emerged in that group. They did not. But once that hierarchy was established, the testosterone levels in the top monkey rose dramatically, as much as tenfold. After fighting, defeated males' testosterone levels dropped to 10–15 percent of the prior level. In one study, the top quartile in the dominance hierarchy had significantly higher testosterone levels than the other three-quarters. In long-established and stable hierarchies, however, high-ranking and low-ranking males did not differ in testosterone levels. Thus, testosterone levels appear to reflect changes in status -- i.e., winning and losing. Similarly, in experiments where male monkeys displayed aggression but did not win or lose an encounter, their testosterone levels were unaffected.

In one pleasant experiment, five men were confined on a sailboat for 14 days and had their testosterone levels monitored. They had similar testosterone levels before and after the trip, but towards the end of the trip the higher-ranking men (in the social hierarchy that emerged during the trip) had more testosterone than the others. These results parallel those in rhesus monkeys. Another experiment found that men's testosterone levels are higher than usual during and immediately after having intercourse, but only slightly higher if at all after masturbation. This suggests that levels of testosterone respond not just to the physiology of sex, but to contextual aspects such as cultural meanings, feelings, or pheramones. Perhaps even sex is subsumed under competition: intercourse, but not masturbation, scores a win.

« Reply #156 on: October 06, 2006, 01:28:55 AM »
Since winning social conflicts increases testosterone levels, winners are presumably more sexually motivated than losers. In some species, high-status males who win conflicts (and, sometimes, control territory) do most of the breeding. This may be the original evolutionary reason for testosterone to rise in winners -- a higher status in the social hierarchy implying more sexual opportunities. The lingering effects on our physiology could help explain both Henry Kissinger's claim that "power is the great aphrodisiac," and the expansive sexual proclivities of many male political leaders. However, the status hierarchy as regu-lator of sexual access (rather than just access to food and resources) does not seem to apply well to humans and closely related species. Nonetheless, the competition-testosterone effect may dampen or augment soldiers' sexuality, since their testosterone levels must move en masse -- downward during both basic training and extended combat (especially for a losing army), but upward before battle and (especially) after a victory.

Does the testosterone response to competition occur in women as well as in men? Evidence is scant, but suggests it does not. Testosterone levels rose before a male–male competition in a video game, but not before a female–female competition. (Neither gender showed a post-outcome response in this experiment, however.) "Apparently T [testosterone] works differently in competition between men than between women." Similarly, when elite women athletes played volleyball and handball, their androgen levels did not change. Testosterone effects in male–female competition or dominance "have yet to be addressed in research with humans."

Biochemical pathways. The biochemistry by which individual biology carries out these testosterone effects is fairly well understood. In short, subjective judgments about a person's social rank drive a frontal lobe–amygdala–hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad axis, modulating testosterone production and thus regulating the expression of certain genes. Direct connections link part of the brain's frontal lobes -- very large in humans, and central to complex social behaviors including aggression -- to the amygdala (which also receives sensory information from the cortex). Nerve bundles in turn link the amygdala to the hypothalamus, generating hormones appropriate to motivated behaviors. The electrical activity of the amygdala "increases during social aggression in monkeys." Damage to the amygdala reduces aggressive behavior in animals and makes monkeys lose social rank. Similarly, damage to the hypothalamus reduces both aggressive and sexual behaviors in male rats, whereas implanting testosterone there restores these behaviors in castrated males.

Feedback of social environment and testosterone.

Thus, sex hormones play an important role in translating social contexts and events – via the frontal lobes, amygdala, hypothalamus, and gonads -- into social behaviors such as intermale aggression. The "hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis" described by biologists -- illustrated on the right side of the above picture -- is embedded in a feedback loop mediated by social relationships on the left side of the figure. Higher testosterone makes individual males stronger and more aggressive towards those already targeted for aggression (those at lower levels in a status hierarchy), though testosterone levels do not directly affect the status hierarchy itself, as we have seen. The right-hand feedback loop, internal to the body, is a self-regulating (negative feedback) loop typical of biological organisms. The left-hand loop, however, tends to be a positive loop (though strongly influenced by external forces) because males who rise in status by winning fights have higher testosterone levels, which make them both stronger and more aggressive towards underlings, in turn making them win fights and boost testosterone.

Testosterone is, however, only a minor influence on changes in status hierarchy, as compared with "social context." This context includes the formation and shifting membership of coalitions (especially important near the top of the hierarchy where an "alpha male" often needs allies to stay in power), individual deaths and comings of age, individual intelligence and learning, scarcity or abundance of resources, and other complex elements that affect hierarchical social relationships.

« Reply #157 on: October 06, 2006, 06:41:54 PM »
You guys are so funny! ;)

« Reply #158 on: October 08, 2006, 10:49:24 PM »
Aggression has to do with many hormones AND neurotransmitters. You have testosterone, cortisol, thyroxine, adrenaline, catecholamines, and so on ..

« Reply #159 on: October 11, 2006, 10:47:39 PM »

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.

America fakes elections, re-enslaves blacks, continually disenfranchises its middle class, exports torture, and threatens the world with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. At the same time it promotes a myth it is an enlightened nation resorting to covert assassination and lying to its citizens only because it must do so to survive in a vicious world. Believers fail to see that the most vicious nation must bear some responsibility for a international climate of viciousness. Their belief is essential to success, the only criterion of value America recognizes.

In direct competition to the American-style cotton-candy Christianity is gangsta morality, a side-effect of 50 years of public American piracy, a common vision shared by George Bushes, Dr. Dres and Eminems, Al Pacino characters and Henry Kissinger, celebrating the use and threat of force and intimidation to gain power. Kissinger's tactic of encouraging the world to think that the President was violent, brutal and insane is the link between a Nixon, Reagan or Bush foreign policy statement and a lyric like Snoop Dog's seminal, "rat a tat tat, rat a tat tat, never hesitate to shoot a n-word in the back" or any of a million other quotable rap lyrics. The difference is that the Bushes are making the money while black youth embrace a message which destines them to death, jail, or, for a very few, a conditional and precarious success based on maintaining the trust of their white masters.

While liberals look the other way, the School of the Americas pumps out torturers. The liberal morality is not Christian but a vague belief in science resting atop an uneasy and heterogeneous combination of Enlightenment, materialist/Protestant and pagan values. Christianity is considered synonymous with ignorance, although it retains a nostalgic, kitsch appeal. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country; more than China. We have one twentieth of the world's population but one fourth of its prisoners. We have seven times the rate of incarceration of comparable industrial European nations, although we have a nearly equal crime rate. Drug offenses are a large source of inmates, whose labor is now accessible to manufacture commercial goods.

America celebrates stupidity in order to help people ignore the dissonance between their belief that America is a democratic nation with civil rights and the fact that it is an Orwellian totalitarian state derived from lessons learned in the "great experiments" of Fascism and Stalinism. Popular culture celebrates stupidity as an end in itself and as a road to happiness. Recent examples are by no means limited to Forrest Gump, South Park, Jackass, George W. Bush, and the WWE. They only expand an older tradition of "aw shucks" ignorance. Before, the awshucks had to be combined with an audacious, aggressive optimism; now it is best when combined with ruthless brutality and a psychotic sense of humor. While the psychopathic ravings of a rapper are considered entertaining, the re-enslaving of African Americans in the prison-industrial complex is justified in the white mind by the very same lyrics. Popular culture serves up rebellion to the masses in such a way that when and if they finally act out against the state that makes them miserable their very act of rebellion finally supports that state. The belief that popular culture produces what the masses want is one of the beliefs that supports the fascist structure and promotes isolation among those who reject its pabulum.

As the New Rome arises, which is ultimately the Only Rome (Old Rome but a foreshadowing) we are being given our new gladiatorial spectacles. Enlightenment structures are left standing because they obstruct the public's view of the new hegemony of terror. The center vanishes and intellectual and moral cohesion vanishes or diffuses into the new matrix of unbridled power politics, i.e., violence and terror. The taboo against nuclear warfare, sacred since Nagasaki, is wearing thin, as biological and chemical warfare are actively pursued by the state in compulsory vaccination programs, AIDS, spraying of populations, fluoridation, assaults by civil forces on domestic foes using military hardware, and again, in a way, the crack epidemic.

Christianity was the savory smell that drew the Goths and Vandals into the Roman fold, useful under feudal conditions for the management of serfs; in this late industrial period it mobilizes a social force that is pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-private property, and notoriously judgmental. The irony of Christianity is that since Paul it has always been used in the support of something which is the opposite of the stated doctrines of Christ. The Church renders these doctrines impotent. By memorializing them as the incomprehensible words of a divine figure and emphasizing the sense of mystery and ritual, the Church neutralized Christ and yet wielded his charisma in the mediaeval Disneyland of the Gothic Cathedral to maintain the spore of Rome in the way that Jennifer Lopez and Puff Daddy magnetize people to American prison culture.

The connection of the New World Order to Hitlerism is not only revealed in its propaganda terminology but also in myriad tendrils, personal and institutional, from the silverware used by the Bushes at the Skull and Bones club, which counted Hitler among its previous owners, to loans made from Prescott Bush to Nazi Germany after 1942, to the practice extreme methods of torture and killing by the state intelligence apparatus (albeit it often outside national boundaries and by proxy.) However, to call the New World Order a Nazi or Fascist state is to obscure the progress that has been made in euthanasia since the middle of the twentieth century.