Okay, so maybe you and I didn't personally go to Libya, pull an old, unarmed man into the street and shoot a hole through his head. But we clicked on the links to the videos, didn't we? Actually, I didn't. I refuse to celebrate and glorify killing, be it Gadhafi or Bin Ladin or anybody less notorious, whether I agree with their conduct or not.

 

Every generation these travails repeat themselves. When my mother was a child, it was Stalin and Mussolini dragged through the streets until they were stumps of bone and tattered flesh. It's like every once in a while, we concentrate all our negative feelings about life into a single persona and then kill it as viciously as possible. To abate our growing vengence for a time.

 

But evil men are not its wellspring, for vengence breeds and begets itself when killing is revenge for killing; when men who have harassed and killed the harmless are themselves harassed and killed once they have been rendered harmless.

 

I don't have the solution, but I can see that this is not it.

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Comment by John Camilli on November 15, 2011 at 3:09am

But much more likely than total eradication is the idea of total enslavement, with which I trust you would take some issue. We have made a lot of advances in the last few years at figuring out the human system, and what compels its thoughts and behaviors. For instance, a doctor in London recently designed a magnetic resonance device which can activate the motor cortex from outside the body and compel specific movement. I already mentioned an article about being able to force people to tell the truth or lie, again with external application of magnetic fields. And there are loads more behaviors, moods, and even complex thoughts (right down to individual words) which have been isolated and their mechanisms figured out. Once they're figured out, they can be compelled. So grey goo could just as easily be used to mentally enslave humanity as it could to wipe it out. Does that make you sweat a little yet?

Comment by John Camilli on November 15, 2011 at 3:02am

Then you have not heard of Grey Goo, my friend. Grey Goo is the name given to the concept of self-replicating, programmable nanobots. That technology aaaaaaalmost exists already. We can program existing bacteria and viruses for very specific functions. We can generate nano-scale molecules capable of self-replication. All that's lacking at this point is broader functionability, scaled down, but it's not far away. Some lab just made a nano-car that is 4 nanometers long! It's made up of just a couple dozen atoms, and can be made to "drive" as programmed. There was also a lab, a few months ago, that secured piezoelectric structures to the wings of beetles and used the beetles own wingbeats to power neural implants in its brain that could be used to direct its movement remotely. That's the kind of shit I'm talking about. If you wanted to, you could wipe out every single human on earth with Grey Goo, easily. And don't think there aren't people out there who want to do that, for all sorts of reasons (ever had the fantasy of being the last man on earth so you could have all the ladies? Yeah, lots of other people have too). If someone like that gets that technology first.....it's over man. There's no defense against a marauding, atomic-scale army. You can't run, you can't hide, you couldn't even nuke the problem away. And forget an EM pulse weapon, there are already EM shields in existence.

Comment by TNT666 on November 15, 2011 at 1:53am

Of all the possible scenarios, I don't see any that would achieve 100% eradication, although it's not impossible, say perhaps a catastrophe of the amplitude of a large meteorite hit... but otherwise, specially with issues such as disease, there is always bound to be a couple of humans, with sufficient genetic variation, tucked away in some distant location, which would survive.

I'm not so concerned with instant total eradication as I am with partial eradication, or the process thereof. In a scenario such as a selective genocide, where certain arbitrary features spell life or death. It's the process of eradication which would be unbearable to the human existence. The result of complete eradication has no more bearing on my ethics than does abortion or death, we go from non-existence, to existence, to non-existence, whether it be at the individual level or the species level. Take rising ocean levels, or some invented disease for which the powerful have the vaccine, it's the process of eradication which would be the tough time, massive migrations and unrest. So whether we bottleneck or disappear entirely is not the issue, it's how it goes down that I'm interested in.

Comment by John Camilli on November 15, 2011 at 1:26am

Umm, im not talking about a bottleneck. I'm talking about the eradication of our species. There's no emerging from the other end on that one. We are rapidly approaching a grave situation of wiping ourselves out completely.

Comment by TNT666 on November 15, 2011 at 12:09am

oh well... wouldn't be the first time the human population bottle necked... :)

Comment by John Camilli on November 14, 2011 at 11:29pm

You have a valid point, and I would say that up to current times human aggression was indeed a necessary and effective method of not only population control, but much of human evolution. Our own violence is one of our most potent natural selectors. The problem is that it never ends, and that our weapons are becoming too powerful for us to continue surviving the successive rounds of returned aggression. One of these times, someone's revenge is going to be to unleash a bioweapon that can reproduce itself and engulf the entire planet. And what if that process goes wrong? What if it gets out of control, and we've made something that can oustrip our ability to invent a solution? Then we're all dead.

Comment by TNT666 on November 14, 2011 at 9:41pm

Ok, bear with me a second... disregarding Buddhism, and pacifism, what if... revenge is the most efficient mediator of population control for the human race. We are way overpopulated... the uber rich/corrupt are above the law... what if revenge is the most logical way out of our stupid predicament. What if all this Christian and Buddhist "niceness" is in the end the downfall of our species? Before the golden rule, as soon as someone was presumed deserving of death, by whomever, they were killed. It kept humans in check, it kept greed in check, it kept leaders afraid, it especially kept leaders in check. Today's leaders are beyond the law, the golden rule serves only the powerful, ask all any black person in USA jails.

Comment by John Camilli on October 26, 2011 at 8:29pm

I do the same thing with anger directed at me. However small the effect, if I can absorb someone else's hatred and rage, and not echo the same back at them or someone else, then I feel I have decreased man's overall agression. It may be that we are deluding ourselves in that effort though: suppressing and re-directing emotions is guesswork at best. But, yeah, that's about all I can think to do about it too.

 

However, I fear its even worse than your first paragraph suggests. I think war is such an avaricious creature that it wont subside until one of the combatants is dead or enslaved. Once you've shed the blood of someone else's family, friends or countrymen, there is no going back to the table because people just refuse to let that stuff go. We are nationalists and nepotists to an extreme that endangers all of humanity.

 

It all seems rhettorical to discuss, but just because the past repeats itself thus does not mean that the future will continue to bear the same results. When my parents were kids, they had to worry about nuclear holocaust, but in the very (VERY) near future we will have much bigger things to worry about - things that could literally whipe humans out. Sure, there are enough nukes to blow the world up several dozen times over, but even if they were all set off, it wouldn't actually blow up the world because all of the bombs are on the earth's surface and most of the energy would escape into space. Of course there would be fallout for decades or more afterward, but people could survive it at this point: some of them in isolated areas underground, others in self-sustaining bomb shelters, etc. The point is nuclear war would not mean the extinction of our race. But the same cannot be said of the weapons being developed right now.

 

Programmable bioweapons do not stop at bunker walls or a few yards of dirt. We are already managing mass production and self-assembly in nanotechnology, as well as programmability. Put them all together and you have an unstoppable army of viruses and bacteria at your disposal. The End for whoever opposes their wielder, which I suspect will be the American military. I was going to say they'd probably be the first one's to get it, but frankly once someone has them, they'd be able to stop anyone else from develpoing them, so there won't be a second or third party with access. That type of shit scares me. And with the way humanity keeps charging down this same old path, I really fear that we are going to find the end of it in our lifetimes.

Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on October 26, 2011 at 9:25am

If you look at European history, you can easily see how this hatred and revenge cycles can go on and on for a very long time.  Even the names suggest the extreme length of these conflicts:  the 100 years war, the 30 years war, 300 years of war in Ireland.  Look Israeli history - born after WWII and seemingly it's been war ever since.  It seems that war feeds on itself and the only thing that ends it is when people have finally had enough of war and are ready to sit at the table and talk.

 

Recently,  I have been the victim of a revenge campaign.  It's very, very hard not to fight back and do something equally bad myself, but I know the satisfaction of revenge is never satisfying and a person has to keep on getting revenge until their offenses are much worse than the original offender's.  I just stand there and take it knowing that eventually the anger will be directed at someone else and I will be the better for taking for having not reacted.  My plan will work in the long term, but right now my revenger is the popular and has turned almost my entire family against me. 

 

In my situation, no one's being killed or tortured, but it still applies.  To simply defend one's country in moderation without revenge is difficult, but in the long run, refraining from revenge is the best course of action.  However, in history, this appears very uncommon.  If you're lucky there's a Jimmy Carter around to bring everyone to the table before the situation gets totally insane.

Comment by John Camilli on October 25, 2011 at 9:10pm
I watch this anime called Naruto, which may seem strangely off-topic, but the reason I mention it is because, among a plethora of other issue, the show addresses the revenge cycle that humans employ as "justice." It's a show about ninja, so naturally there's lots of fighting, and suprisingly for a "kid's" cartoon, a good deal of dying. Sometimes main characters die, but whether its someone you like or hate or don't even know, the show does a really excellent job of making you feel the sadness of the life lost.


For the first few seasons of the show, it's a lot of "good guy" vs. "bad guy" encounters, but as the story unfolds, the lines start to blur about who is "good" and who is "evil" and, more importantly, whether or not it even makes sense to think of people that way. Unlike many hero-villain conflicts, the viewer actually gets to understand the motives of the people with whom the main characters conflict, and they are damn solid motives too. I actually found myself "switching sides" as the show unfolded, so that now I empathize more with the "villains" than I do with the "heros."


Years into the show, you encounter a ninja who wants to create a weapon of mass destruction, something more terrifying than even combat-hardened soldiers have ever seen. He views himself as a savior of man; as a catalyst for unifying the disparate and conflicting groups throughout the world - by making himself the most hated and feared enemy of them all. His ambition is to pile all of humanitites hatred unto himself; to make them all hate him, instead of each other. It's his solution to the enless cycle, which has taken its toll on his life as well. And despite opposing him, even the other characters come to realize that his plan has merrit.


That's why I can sometimes look at these people, like Gadhafi and Hussein and Bin Laden and NOT completely hate them. In some cases, I think these people may have simply become a convenient figure-head for humanities pent up hostilities at the time. In other cases I can see that they inflicted that on themselves, but that it was with the intentions of doing something they thought was good, no matter how the rest of us disagreed. In the end, I think it's whether or not you try to assert your views on others that causes problems, not what your individual views are.

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