Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pitching WAR OUT ON ITS EAR

Here's a jewel of a site: It’s about the world’s peaceful societies. You say you didn’t know there were any? Well then check it out, because this site makes it clearer than a crystal that humans are not born to make war. You have to craft people into warriors and destroyers, ‘cause they don’t just waltz into the world that way.

These guys have no war, no violence, no murder, no assault, no rape, no brutality, no gang war, no arson, no purse snatching, and no sneezing into someone else’s soup.

Many of the peaceful societies hold their nonviolence at the centers of their belief systems. In contrast, many people in contemporary societies tend to minimize the peace elements in their faith traditions in order to foster social agendas that depend on continued violence.” MORE >>>
Wish I could tell you that none of this site’s 25 societies worship warrior gods. I’d eat my hat if the first 23 did, but the last two – the Amish and the Hutterites – worship Mr. Jehovah. For most of the others, religion isn’t described. (Which makes me suspicious; wanna take bets that many are, in fact, Goddess worshippers?) __________
This man and his son belong to a group called the Semai. The games Semai children play are not competitive. In one game, they hit at each other with sticks, but the sticks always fall an inch or more short of ever touching anyone.

18 comments:

joe in oklahoma said...

you really oughtta consider that perhaps the amish and hutterites worship a god who does not resemble your perceptions of Mr Jehovah.

Athana said...

I don't think so, Joe. My family's 1/2 Amish. My uncle knows the Amish so well he's one of the few people they let in to write a book about them. My experience of Amish-type people is that they can be one of two types: Jehovah types (uptight, pompous, hard, angry, mean, and determined to break the rules), or Jesus types (ultra soft, kind, giving, complete law-abiding rule-followers and lovable -- as long as they don't consider you lazy).

Morgaine said...

Joe- it isn't a stretch to consider Mr. J a war god. How much do you have to gloss over to see him as anything else?

Morgaine said...

Athana - have you read Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence yet?

contratimes said...

Athana,

It seems that the peaceful society is the warless society, or so your post suggests. Is peace really the absence of war, the absence of crime? Then would not a gulag or maximum-security prison be one of the most peaceful places on the planet? For surely there is no war in a prison cell; surely there is peace abundant in solitary confinement.

The Amish may be cheek-turning people, but it would be a mistake to suggest that they are at peace. They are at war with modernity, passionately at war. If you are something of an Amish expert, Athana, you know that they are split even among themselves: Black Bumper Mennonites vs. Chrome Mennonites; Amish who want to leave the society; Amish who are not against selling land to outsiders while others oppose such a deal. The Amish, in fact, are not what one would call at peace with the world, though they may be (at least) at peace with themselves. The Amish exist in conflict with the world, and they define themselves by that conflict: they stand against something and they know what it is that threatens them. That they do not take up arms is commendable; but their pacifism is not necessarily an indication of peace. In fact, there pacifism is likely a form of resignation, even surrender. Many of the "peaceful" peoples cited here might have actually given up, after centuries of fighting. Now they just wait to be gobbled up by the inevitable forces which eventually (most likely) will gobble them up. The Shakers, hardly a warmongering group adoring a warrior god, surrendered to their own self-demolition, in large part because of their refusal to be engaged in the conflicts within and without their society: their passivity was surrender.

I imagine that many people who come to this site consider themselves "progressives." That's fine, and honorable. I do not mock them. But it must be asked what is particularly progressive about reversion - reverting back to old goddesses and agrarian or quasi-agrarian living.

Finally, if the earliest religions were Matriarchal/Goddess religions, and if people are not "born" to fight, or war, or be aggressive; if it is the case that people can only be taught to be warriors, then it must be asked: Who taught the teachers? Or was there just a sudden appearance, out of nowhere, of violent people? Or were the Goddess religions not as gentle and meek as is so often claimed? Who taught the first warriors if not the matriarchs? Who taught the first aggressors if no one is born aggressive? And if it was not the matriarchs who polluted humanity, surely the matriarchs and their goddesses failed humanity by permitting this all to occur, by permitting their being supplanted by warrior gods, no?

Peace to you,

BG

Athana said...

Morgaine, I hadn't read this article. It's excellent! It fits in with most everything I ever learned in grad school, and it's also what James DeMeo is saying in Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence in the Deserts of the Old World.

Athana said...

contratimes, that’s an excellent question: “Who taught the teachers?” I may just have to post on that again.

Your possible answers are:

“…Was there just a sudden appearance, out of nowhere, of violent people?

“Or were the Goddess religions not as gentle and meek as is so often claimed?

“Who taught the first warriors if not the matriarchs?

“And if it was not the matriarchs who polluted humanity, surely the matriarchs and their goddesses failed humanity by permitting this all to occur, by permitting their being supplanted by warrior gods, no?”

The answer is “None of the above.”

Morgaine said...

Contratimes - what are you smoking? Seriously, to make a statement that a gulag is peaceful? What kind of fucked up logic is that? Oh, wait, I know -it's patriarchal logic, which is no logic at all.

Once upon a time, humans acted like humans. They traveled, shared knowledge, traded goods, got along. The lived in matirfocal kinship groups and created wealth and peace. Then some group of men realized that they could amass wealth and power if they were willing to murder and enslave people to do it. They created armies to do their dirty work and Priests to make the people like it, and they destroyed everything they could find that reminded people that life didn't have to be so hard, and that greed and selfishness were unnatural and sick.

It continues still, today. We intend to find a way to stop it. Violence and oppression are sickness. Selfishness is sickness. People can unlearn all this patrarchal training and find peace with each other, and better sooner than later.

contratimes said...

Dear Athana,

I am sorry that Morgaine has reduced the discussion to profanity. But my response to her discourtesy is to make something quite clear: I am discussing something analogically. If the absence of war is proof of peace, then the places where war is most absent would be the most peaceful places. Alacatraz, being a place where there is no war or crime, would be a very peaceful place indeed. So, too, a gulag, or solitary confinement. (And as there are gulags for the flesh, there are gulags for the mind: some pacificists are passive because they have neither power nor freedom to be anything else.)

THAT is as logical as logic can be. If Morgaine believes that LOGIC is not sexually-neutral, then all is lost. But since logic is indeed sexually-neutral, and because I have studied logic formally, I am confident in my argument's validity. I am also confident that I am speaking analogically. I am not speaking illogically.

I am not saying that gulags are indeed peaceful, just like I am not saying that the Amish are intrinsically peaceful. I am saying that the absence of war may in fact have a lot to do with outside forces, just like the absence of war in a prison is due to outside forces. If a group is not free to choose war and violence (if they do make such a choice they will be obliterated, or put under full lockdown), that group is not really free (nor is it intrinsically peace-loving). Its peaceful existence is due to extrinsic realities. Taking the Amish as an example, they are indeed in conflict with a world that surges all around them; but they do not have the power, or even the interest, to change that outside world; they're only interested in being left alone to struggle against the materialists they define themselves in contradiction to.

So, Athana, I await your reply re: the genesis of aggression and bellicosity. Morgaine's "Once-upon-a-time" is not particularly satisfactory, since it contradicts your claim that "no one is born" aggressive, bellicose or warrior-like. Either these men that Morgaine cites "learned" their violence from someone else who also did not learn it (which begs the question), or there was a "sudden" revelation from outside of these men that came from, well, who knows where; or there were men in fact born with violent souls.

Thanks for the grace!

Peace,

Bill Gnade

Athana said...

Bill, I don't think any of us ever said that "...the absence of war is proof of peace." Or that "...the peaceful society is the warless society."

I agree with you: Just because a society is warless doesn't mean it's "peaceful." And another very important component is non-violence. The warless and/or the warless/peaceful societies may not be non-violent.

I think pure-Goddess societies are all three. Without sacrificing pleasure, courage, fascination and magic. And therein lies their beauty.

Athana said...

contratimes, Morgaine and I both have to work very hard at not getting FURIOUS at the way we see our "children," the people of the world being mauled, enslaved, tortured, raped and mishandled in countless ways, day after day after day. The evidence is overwhelming that it is you patriarchal warrior-god religions who are responsible for this horror that has become human life on this planet.

As representatives of the Mother Goddess, it is our responsibility to do something about all this horror. You'll have to excuse us if at times we express our anger at those of you who can't yet see the harm you're doing to so many.

I have to hand it to Morgaine that she is able to contain her anger as often as she does.

Anti-Thesis of Reason said...

There has always been violence in one form or another. From the earliest dawnings of man to the present. Warfare is evident in chimpanzee groups (our closest relative on the primate family tree). When territory is at a minimum and stresses are high, if two different groups enter the same territory, they have been known to attack each other.
Chimpanzee's are known to eat meat on occasion, forming hunting parties and hunting down smaller, weaker primates (a form of suppression through violence?).

Human evolution has been a violent process and we learned early on that violence solves alot of problems.

That being said, I believe we can and will evolve past our violent characteristics.

Athana said...

anti-thesis, I beg to differ about violence "always being there."

Have you read about bonobos? These primates are at least as closely related to us as chimps, and yet are entirely non-violent. Google them and see for yourself. Some even say that bonobos are closer to us genetically than chimps are.

And how do you know that "human evolution has been a violent process"?

And "we learned early on that violence solved a lot of problems"? Whoa! I don't think so! Read DeMeo's *Saharasia: the 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence in the Deserts of the Old World*.

Anti-thesis: make love, not war.

Morgaine said...

Excellent, Athana - I was going to mention the Bonobos if you didn't. Isn't it interesting that people are so eager to use chimp behavior to justify human aggression?

The anger we feel is the result of watching rape and murder happen all around us. The rape and murder themselves come from male entitlement, may it die a quick and permanent death.

Anti-Thesis of Reason said...

I don't justify any human violence, if anything I think it is an outdated barbaric form of oppression.

However my example of the chimps was to point out that violence is found in nature and is not a learned act. There are many forms of violence like the lion killing it's next meal or the bear hunting salmon. Couldn't harvesting broccoli be considered a form of violence against the plant?

Violence as a means of survival is natural and instinctive like protecting ones self and family, you can't tell me that if you needed to use violence to protect yourself or your family you wouldn't do it.

Our ancestors where once the hunted and they learned to protect and defend themselves and I'm sure it was sometimes done by a violent act.

Perhaps our own form of violence, rape, war, suppression, etc. has been learned over the years and is a part of the sickness within our society but, I still think violence in one form or another has been with us since the beginning.

Peace and Blessings

Athana said...

anti-thesis, I just don't think "war has always been there," as you put it. Sure, that's what we've been taught. But there's good, new evidence recently that suggests this is not the case. The geographer James DeMeo proves almost beyond doubt that warfare began (loosely) around 4000 BCE. Before that, no war. What caused the change? Rapid desertification over large parts of several continents made some peoples adopt mentally-ill modes of life. It's complicated. Buy DeMeo's book: "Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of ... Warfare...." Or wait for me to post on it (I plan to do that in the next few days, if I can get my act together).

Anti-Thesis of Reason said...

Athana,

I will look up the book it sounds interesting.

I think we misunderstand each other. You are talking warfare and I am talking violence in general in that I am sure violence of some sort has always been there, maybe not the warfare version.

Thanks

Athana said...

anti-thesis, There's excellent evidence that humans used to be almost completely non-violent. Read DeMeo. After violence became institutionalized, codified in a few cultures, these cultures spread like cancer across the globe. That's us today. We are their descendants.

But you can still find a few remaining completely non-violent peoples left if you look hard enough. The peoples the crazies didn't get to. My favorite -- and the ones I know best -- are the Semai of Malaysia. These guys just don't do violence at all. Period. Of any kind. The kids play a game where they hit out at each other with sticks, but the sticks always stop short, inches away from the other kid's body.

Here's another good book: Learning Non-Aggression by Ashley Montagu. It's about seven of the non-violent cultures left in the world.

And there are the ancient high-culture, high-tech, prosperous, complex Minoans. There's still no good evidence that they were violent.

DeMeo shows, however, that we all used to be this way -- until certain non-violent people made the switch to violence -- and somehow this got codified into a permanent way of life that was passed on down through the generations to their descendants.

Ever read Lord of the Flies? Imagine the "culture" on that island becoming the dominant world culture.