Why violence should be completely eradicated

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We can say with certainty that violence has no place in society and human relationships and should be eradicated, as it leads to way too many negative consequences, including the risk of potential global catastrophe. But in order to be motivated to turn such an initiative into reality, we need to understand what exactly these consequences are. Based on the theory of the violence inhibition mechanism, we can clearly define violence as a pathological form of behavior, which allows us to develop therapeutic methods for its eradication. But it will also be very useful for us to examine violence in terms of its impact on society, as well as taking into account specificities of our highly scientifically developed civilization and the era of the technological progress in which we live.

To begin with, it is worth noting that we are not considering only the problem of private violence, as this phenomenon needs to be looked at more broadly. Obviously, violent crimes lead to human casualties, a decrease in human well-being, and an increase in the level of stress in society, which worsens the quality of life for everyone, even for those who are not direct victims. But structural violence has the same impact on society. In many ways, our society is built on it, and in general, the emergence of the states themselves is well described by the theory of a stationary bandit, according to which this initially happened not by the voluntary consent of people to create power but because of their submission to power under the threat of violence [1]. Of course, the institution of statehood is considered to be very important for solving problems and achieving certain objectives in society, but our own goal now is not going to be to dispute the function of states, as our conversation will be purely about the methods they resort to in their activities.

The most important thing that we need to understand is that there is no huge difference between people who commit acts of violence as part of their official duties (i.e., on the orders of their "superiors") and those who commit them willingly on their own (i.e., out of their own free will). What unites them all is a reduced, suppressed, or even completely absent ability to experience an aversion and resistance to violence. Contrary to common misconceptions, it is extremely difficult for the average and healthy individual to commit violence, even if circumstances force them to do so. Archival data from the Milgram experiment shows that most of the subjects actually failed to intentionally hurt another person, and according to military data, 98% of soldiers have a strong inner resistance to killing other people [2][3].

Accordingly, violence cannot be divided into acceptable and unacceptable, as all violence has the same root, and all of it leads to the same negative consequences. Violent actions require capable people who will not be limited by any natural inhibitors and therefore may well use them as an acceptable tool in the fulfillment of any of their aspirations or duties, if possible.

But until people treat all violence as a definitely negative social phenomenon and justify some of its forms (even if they, for the most part, would not commit it themselves), it will not be possible to solve the problem of violence. Understanding the theory of the violence inhibition mechanism makes it absolutely absurd to justify this phenomenon since this means justifying behavior that has disproportionately negative effects on society while being the result of a pathological disorder. Therefore, it is necessary to strive for the complete eradication of violence, not looking for its acceptable forms, and, of course, stop justifying it since this will only delay the solution of the problem.

Now we can go directly to the consequences of violence. As mentioned earlier, violence increases the level of stress in society, which interferes with the full life and productive activities of people and generally leads to human casualties, even lethal ones. One example is how violent individuals with violence inhibitor dysfunction make their partners experience psychological trauma. As one Canadian study of victims of abuse in heterosexual relationships shows, up to 30% of abusers meet the criteria for psychopathy, and it is these people who are the strongest predictor of long-term violence in a relationship. Also, due to a dysfunctional violence inhibitor, they easily ignore distress cues (expressions of sadness and fear) from their partners unless they can use it for their own manipulative purposes. For example, by manipulating fear, they can intimidate their partner, force them to have sexual contact, or take substances. And what is the main conclusion of the study – it is psychopathic abusers that have the worst effect on the mental health of their partners, leaving them with post-traumatic stress disorder [4].

This also applies to structural violence because throughout history, "stationary bandits" and especially their power structures often abused their position, restricting people's freedom. While under some regimes (the most obvious example being the Nazi Germany), mass violence against certain categories of citizens was generally legitimized. Yet one should not expect that under democratic regimes violence will suddenly become a limited and beneficial tool for society because even in an ideal direct democracy, the executors of forceful measures will still be the absolute minority of people, having their own interests and the ability to impose them on society by force. Even if all decisions are made directly by citizens, they would still not directly participate in their implementation. Therefore, the problem of states is not in the very structure of their political system but in the use of coercion in their activities.

From an economic point of view, an act of violence is a forced decrease of the victims' well-being, often along with an increase in that of the aggressor. If robberies become regular, time preferences increase – this means that people, due to the inability to accumulate significant funds for the future, will begin to spend more of them now on goods for short-term consumption. Labor productivity will also decrease as the markets begin to focus on the primitive production of short-term goods, and long-term investment simply will not bring profit because robbed people do not have the opportunity to purchase high-tech and expensive goods. The economic, scientific, technical, and industrial development of society will slow down. The cost of violence is also expressed in the fact that because of it a significant part of the time and funds have to be invested in ensuring security rather than directly in productive activities [5].

It is the "stationary bandits" that commit such robberies. The violent potential that they possess in comparison with ordinary citizens gives them the opportunity to engage in economic abuses. People's funds are forcibly withdrawn through taxation, and they can be spent without any account. Governments make decisions that enrich only themselves and the monopoly companies associated with them to the detriment of ordinary citizens and private companies. And people often can't do anything about it. Even if they are somehow lucky to change the political system, because of maintaining the power structures and violent potential, the new system will only become another "stationary bandit". In such conditions, one should not be surprised by the constant economic crises.

Before addressing the last topic – the catastrophic consequences of violence, I would like to say a few words about what alternatives can be offered to violent methods of suppressing offenders. Since we start from the need to eradicate violence as a pathological form of behavior, resorting to therapeutic methods aimed at restoring inhibitory control over aggression in violent offenders (and generally in people who are capable of committing violence), we only need to understand what to do with non-violent offenders. It is quite clear that in the case of the eradication of violence, only non-violent methods of suppression of non-violent crimes are possible. They can be reduced to reputational or financial sanctions, perhaps even to a complete refusal to cooperate in certain types of social and economic relations (i.e., ostracism). We can come up with a large number of measures to influence violators of the norms and orders established in society that do not require any forcible coercion.

We have already briefly considered the negative social and economic consequences of violence. However, you can often live with them somehow. But violent aspirations may not end only with a decrease in the well-being of people and individual casualties. In the modern high-tech world, they can even lead to catastrophic consequences. Of course, one can immediately imagine the scenario of a full-scale war between states with the massive use of nuclear weapons. But this scenario is extremely unlikely, given that nuclear weapons are in the hands of a limited circle of people and are extremely difficult to produce.

However, scientific and technological progress does not stand still, and new variants of weapons of mass destruction may appear. Currently, the potentially most affordable option is to use rapidly developing biotechnologies. Even 20 years ago, sequencing one human genome cost $100 million, 10 years ago it cost $1 million, and now it costs $1,000. Cheap DNA/RNA synthesizers are becoming more affordable, as some models can be bought for several tens of thousands of dollars, and it can be expected that with the passage of time, they will only become cheaper.

A scientific work published in 2018 by a group of Canadian researchers on the recreation of the horsepox virus, closely related to the smallpox virus – one of the deadliest diseases in human history, is an illustrative example of how affordable the creation of biological weapons might be [6]. The cost of this project was estimated at approximately $100,000. The researchers sought to create a new, even safer vaccine against smallpox. However, a significant part of the scientific community was critical of this study and accused the scientific journal PLOS One of allowing the publication of a work that could help terrorists create bioweapons. Back in 2011, virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka conducted experiments to create a flu vaccine. He tried to recreate the strain of the virus that preceded the 2009-2010 epidemic to see how the virus had changed over the course of 4 years. As a result, he modified it so that it became resistant to human immunity [7]. Of course, his work began to be criticized since humanity would be powerless if the virus leaked from the laboratory.

It is not known what other dangerous means will become more affordable in the future. But what is known for sure is that people and groups of people with violent aspirations may well try to use the dangerous achievements of progress, which may end up with a global catastrophe and self-destruction of mankind, or at least the destruction of the civilized world and throwing back the development of mankind into the distant past. And, of course, one cannot abandon scientific and technological progress, especially considering that this is the only hope of mankind for survival in the long term. Therefore, it is necessary to get rid of the root of such a threat – the problem of violence in society and human relationships. Perhaps it is violence that is the very factor of the "Great Filter" that can lead civilization to extinction before it can go beyond the borders of its native planet and begin space colonization?

No violence

References:

1. Olson, M. (1993). Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development;

2. Dolan, E. W. (2019). Unpublished data from Stanley Milgram’s experiments cast doubt on his claims about obedience. Social Psychology;

3. Grossman, D. (1995). On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston: Little, Brown;

4. Humeny, C., Forth, A., Logan, J. (2022). Psychopathic traits predict the severity of post-traumatic stress in survivors of intimate partner abuse. Personality and Individual Differences. Volume 193. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2022.111611;

5. Hoppe, H.-H. (2001). On Time Preference, Government, and the Process of Decivilization (In Democracy: The God That Failed);

6. Soucheray, S. (2017). Canadian group creates poxvirus, prompting dual-use discussion. CIDRAP News;

7. Farberov, S. (2014). Is this wise? Controversial scientist recreates pandemic flu virus that killed 500,000 people... except it's WORSE. Dailymail.co.uk.


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