Skip to main content.

Back to: >> Browse Highlights

Several Individual Pages Updated 2006 Sept, 13 Dec 2012, 09 Sept 2013 and 2 Mar 2016.

MACHINE TRANSLATE: This or any other page: Download Babylon

Each page toggles to its neighbors, resources, and back here.

    Arising in antiquity, before mammals, before the atmosphere became what it is, genes were mutating in makeup and/or organization leaving their creations to survive or not as selection would have it for their particular niche. The advent of civilization and its exponential development came so fast, [in geologic time], that genes preferred for peaceful living have yet to be selected. They may never be if humanity persists along its present path. Yet there is Hope, lots of it. Nature itself provides it. And there are avenues for action, provided we can read the Tea Leaves.

Authoritarians-Aggressive, Hierarchical, and Conventional, make up most of us. Our Achilles Heel is that we are also overly obedient and susceptible to charismatic personalities--for better or worse. When worse, problems arise all the way from the individual or family level to genocide on a national scale. Hitler's Germans were typical Authoritarians as shown by Adorno.

Stanley Milgram in the post-war period, and more recently, Jerry Burger confirmed the personality was and still is common in the American culture as well. Beyond all that, Bob Altemeyer illustrated how the personality operates in and on politics; he found European and North American politicians are quite similar in their Authoritarianism. The trait seems to be universal and therefore enabled genetically.

The Authoritarian Personalities, APs, with their overly obedience, form a ready-made cadre for the psycho-sociopath. These people, mostly male, when charismatic, can capture the imaginations of the APs. Violence can know no end when these people take charge. Hitler's Germany and Rwanda were prime examples. So was My Lai on a smaller scale. Kent State was a mild--if student murders don't count--example of the same overly-obedient mechanics.

So far, the outline seems too aberrant to apply to the likes of you and me. But hold on--they do. Yes, healthy North-American college students were turned into abusive automatons in a matter of hours. Impossible? Not at all! For example, Philip Zimbardo devised a most-remarkable experiment that foretold Abu Ghraib accurately in remarkable detail. Given the right conditions, the cream of the North-American college crop can revert to sociopathic (jungle) behavior in 24 hours. An inescapable conclusion that follows is that the membrane that separates our civilized and violent selves is paper thin. This condition reflects how important the nature/nurture issue is to the future of humankind.

We are each born with a nature shaped by eons in the jungles, savannas, and mountains, fighting for survival. On the one hand aggressively taking charge of a willing group of followers could often win the day, enabling the winners to pass their genes on to the next generations. On the pther hand, altruistic parents who cooperated also survived in the face of adversity and their genes too were passed on for generations to mold and enhance. What that left each of us with is an intrinsic genetic construct that exhibits two clusters of emotional traits within each of us as individuals. These clusters are often in direct opposition to one another. In the vernacular, most of us have both our good and bad sides.

Given the inertia naturally present in all cultures, it will take generations to imbue the typical Joe and Jane citizen with the knowledge and wherewithal to create peaceful societies. Nevertheless it is not too late to start. Some thoughts follow.

Wisdom, like insight, only comes to most of us after a lot of living and thinking about life. Too few of us shake off the blight of being overly obedient. Those seriously into these questions are invited to visit Browser's Hub for a more formal and much more complete rendition of the turf.

MACHINE TRANSLATE: This or any other page: Download Babylon