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The Origin and Meaning of Violence

IVU News - Issue 3 - 1998

A Russian proverb says that it is easier to destroy than to create. Just as every life needs to be carefully nurtured and preserved, it can also be destroyed and lost in an instant. Perhaps due to lack of sufficient knowledge in this field, scientists seem strangely unable to grasp, foresee and adopt the necessary solutions to prevent violence on a large scale.
pillory
Convict pelted to death by a bloodthirsty mob on the pillory.
pillory
The bull: a totured victim of the bloody ritual of bullfighting

The first step in a close study of the process of killing is to identify the “objects” or victims — called “targets” by Professor R. Baenninger (Temple University USA, 1991). In this way we can compile an endless list of daily victims of ordinary people such as insects, fish, birds and other animals.

As these living beings resemble their human counterparts anatomically, physiologically and behaviourally, according to their evolutionary development human beings may be seen to develop either as killers or as killers’ clients.

To overcome the barrier of post factum analysis and have a better understanding of the genesis of animals, we must explore the many factors which either prevent or favour the transition from killing animals to killing people. To do this the following points need to be considered:

  1. Parents tend to encourage young children to acquire a habitual pattern of destructive behaviour.
  2. Those who grow up as killers, with a specific ideology and skills, can in certain circumstances — well described by criminologists, sociologists and psychologists — inflict that habitual act upon a non-habitual victim such as their fellow human beings.
  3. The individual action of a maniac, or the collective behaviour of street gangs or militarists, is triggered and determined by a set of circumstances.
The following is proposed as a typical behavioural model for such aggression:
  1. A man isolates and restricts his victims’ qualities to a single one — out of a chosen few — bad, black, dirty, harmful, etc. Likewise, he may focus his attention on his own feelings of anger, greed, hatred, lust, sadism, etc., thus narrowing his vision of his victim’s qualities in order to justify his personal motives: “He bothers me”, “It’s profitable”, etc. — a phenomenon comparable to viewing the victim through the sights of a gun.
  2. The following stage may be to recall their previous victims (often animals), uttering abuse driven by some imaginary symbol.
  3. Finally, they will try to kill, help to kill or order to kill in the way they usually do.
Alternatively, in what is described as the “friend - estranger” model, the stranger is either “used” or killed.

People do to other animals what they are capable of doing to other humans. Cattle farms and slaughterhouses are prototype concentration camps, there is a link between the poisoning of insects and the manufacture of chemical weapons, and so on. Military propaganda is full of slogans such as “Lousy intelligentsia”, “Russian pigs”, “Fascist beasts”, “Gusanos” (worms), and so on.

Another way to stimulate a spirit of attack and induce human aggression is the use of military paraphernalia with images of predatory animals on the various emblems and state insignias of the military forces, as well as the names used for weapons — the “Eagle” aeroplane, and so on.

This set of propositions reflecting the connection and transition between the killing of non-human animals and the taking of human life may be further enriched by many other views and related themes dealing with the impact and influence of the act of killing upon a person’s personality and character, allowing us to comprehend and explain many aspects of terrorism, totalitarianism and the way in which armies are structured and organised, as well as the root cause of criminality, suicide, fear, depression and other human problems.

I will be glad to co-operate with anyone interested in this subject.

Thesis by S Mordynsky, adapted by the editor

[St. Petersburg Vegetarian Society, box 37, 191011 St. Petersburg, Russia. E-mail: Natalia Tsobkallo lag@infopro.spb.su ]


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