By Robert J. Burrowes
28 January 2020
As we approach the 72nd anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi on 30 January 1948, it is worth reflecting on one simple fact that he did not realize. His efforts to teach humanity that conflict, including violent conflict, could be resolved without violence were based on one fundamentally flawed assumption: that at least some humans were interested in, and committed to, seeking out and using nonviolent strategies for dealing with conflict in each and every context.
Unfortunately, as his own experience taught him and he showed clear signs of realizing towards the end of his life, the fundamental truth is that humans love violence and it is this love of violence that will ensure the extinction of Homo sapiens in the near term absent a profound response that shows no sign of emerging yet. See ‘Human Extinction Now Imminent and Inevitable? A Report on the State of Planet Earth’.
This love of violence, reinforced by the enormous fear associated with resisting it, is generated by the violent parenting and education models that we have long been using and which inflict enormous ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence on all young people throughout their childhood and adolescence in the name of ‘socialization’. See ‘Why Violence?’, ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’
These violently dysfunctional parenting and education models ensure that virtually every child emerges into adulthood as an unconsciously terrified, self-hating and powerless individual. This individual has been terrorized into surrendering their unique Self and accepting the ‘socially constructed delusional identity’ they have been given to participate in society as a submissive student, worker/soldier and citizen. ‘Powerful’ is not a word that can be used to describe the typical human being.
This ‘individual’, among a vast range of other violent and dysfunctional behaviors, chronically over-consumes (as they have been taught to do) to compensate for their inability to feel their deeply suppressed feelings including their fear, (emotional) pain, anger, sadness, love and joy. Unfortunately, of course, this over-consumption cannot make someone psychologically whole and that is why virtually all humans who are in the circumstances to do so, chronically over-consume and chronically accumulate in an endless but futile attempt to satisfy deep but unmet emotional needs. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
As a result of this socially-approved psychological dysfunctionality, we are now confronted with an interrelated series of military, nuclear, ecological, economic, geoengineering, 5G, biodiversity and climate crises that are not being contained in any way because virtually everyone is deluding themselves about the drivers of these interrelated crises – on two distinct levels – and what must be done about them.
Most fundamentally, as briefly identified above and elaborated in the references cited, to the extent that some humans are even interested in tackling this multifaceted crisis in our biosphere, they are failing to identify their own psychological dysfunctionality and its causes as the primary driver of this crisis. And secondly, therefore, they are attempting to resolve the crisis without understanding its cause.
As a result, virtually all people end up powerlessly begging the insane global elite – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – or its compliant government agents, to fix this crisis for them rather than taking the necessary strategic action (in one or more of a range of ways) themselves.
This was classically illustrated at the recent World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, which had no problem co-opting the usual range of concerned high-profile individuals to participate in (and thus add a veneer of legitimacy to) its annual forum despite its extensively documented role in killing and exploiting fellow human beings and plundering the Earth while obscuring and ‘greenwashing’ its violence using the corporate media. See the WEF’s delusional ‘How to Save the Planet’ which obviously does not even mention the wars, grotesque inequality – see ‘5 shocking facts about extreme global inequality and how to even it up’ – and other violence it helps to generate and maintain, let alone mention what is actually necessary if we are to tackle this multifaceted crisis and avert human extinction. For one brief exposé of the World Economic Forum’s central role in elite violence, exploitation and destruction, see ‘Exposing the Giants: The Global Power Elite’. For more detail, see Giants: The Global Power Elite.
Needless to say, the co-opted individuals are politically naïve, to put it mildly, and have no understanding of how the world actually works. For a brief outline of this latter point, see ‘Why Activists Fail’.
So what are the functions of elite-sponsored gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos?
In essence, its functions are to deflect attention from elite violence, exploitation and destruction and to delude people into believing that its intention is to act in the best interests of humanity and the biosphere. This is done so that people continue to focus their efforts on lobbying the elite (and their government agents) rather than taking effective action themselves. How is this done?
At elite fora of this nature, there are always two agendas. The public agenda is designed to delude the gullible public: it is designed to pay lip service to selected problems at a superficial level using a panel of high profile speakers to distract our attention. But the deep agenda is undeclared and is only discussed by key groups of elite individuals who meet secretly to plan, organize and strike deals regarding their ongoing violence, exploitation and destruction. Some of these individuals might even appear at the public forum so that their presence is noted; many will not be seen at all. But none of them is paying attention to what is spoken at the public gatherings because it is irrelevant to them.
Of course, the elite-owned and controlled corporate media will dutifully report the public gatherings with high profile speakers begging the elite to take some form of action to address one or other of our crises. But the corporate media well understands that it must make no reference to the many secretive gatherings held throughout the forum where the real action takes place. A fine outcome for everyone involved: the concerned public is deluded into believing that because its spokespeople have spoken (and been given prominent media attention) that their concerns have been heard, and the elite has deflected all attention from the further violence, exploitation and destruction it has planned.
So this charade, played out routinely throughout the year in a variety of elite-controlled fora where it is intended – but in stark contrast to the strict secrecy surrounding other elite gatherings such as those involving the Group of Thirty and the extended executive committee of the Trilateral Commission which perform the core policy-planning for the global elite – masks the most fundamental problem of all.
Which, in essence, is this: Who wants to address their own psychological dysfunctionalities and/or who wants to reduce their own consumption? It is far easier to delude oneself about the cause (anything but our own psychological dysfunctionalities and over-consumption), blame someone or something else (such as capitalism) and beg someone else (such as elites and their governments) to fix it. And then powerlessly complain when nothing happens.
This is why the obvious lack of interest in even understanding, fundamentally, what is driving violence in each and every context is such a glaring omission from the scholarly literature. Of course, there are plenty of attempts to explain violence in particular contexts, ranging from those supposedly explaining the cause of domestic violence to those supposedly explaining the cause of war or the climate catastrophe, but these are always incredibly simplistic because they do not understand what is causing violence per se (and hence driving it in each and every context). And if we do not understand the fundamental cause of violence – see ‘Why Violence?’ – then it cannot be addressed, as our incredibly violent world – with humans now on the brink of precipitating their own extinction – clearly demonstrates. (Of course, as more than 50 years of experience has taught me, there is neither funding to undertake research to understand violence nor any funding to work to end it: Obvious symptoms of our love of violence.)
So let me illustrate just some of the ways, apart from chronic overconsumption and chronic accumulation, in which this human love of violence manifests.
Most obviously, humans love profiting from violence and the larger the scale at which the violence is conducted the better. So, for example, the shareholders, executives and staff of weapons corporations – particularly Lockheed Martin (USA), Boeing (USA), BAE Systems (UK), Raytheon (USA), Northrop Grumman (USA), General Dynamics (USA), Airbus Group (Europe), United Technologies Corporation (USA), Leonardo (Italy), Thales (France), Almaz-Antey (Russia) – make enormous profits or simply earn a salary/wage by manufacturing and selling weapons to kill people all over the world whom they do not even know.
Needless to say, these shareholders, executives and staff are devoid of a conscience or moral compass in any form, as well as the capacities for love, empathy and compassion in any meaningful way. ‘We make weapons to defend our country’, they might claim. Which only proves they are devoid of the capacity for critical analysis as well, given the real reason that military violence is inflicted around the world – see Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and ‘Understanding NATO, Ending War’ – and the myriad ways that conflict can be resolved without violence provided one has the intellectual, emotional and moral capacities to do so. See ‘Human Intelligence or Human Awareness?’ and ‘Challenges for Resolving Complex Conflicts’.
Similarly, shareholders, executives and staff of fossil fuel corporations – see a long list of key corporations in ‘Strategic Aims’ – love profiting from the exploitation of resources that, when burnt, are destroying Earth’s climate. Like their counterparts in the weapons industry, these people are so psychologically damaged that they are simply devoid of capacities such as conscience, love and compassion as well as that for critical analysis too.
But the list of humans who simply love profiting from violence is endless. Consider those involved, from politicians and bureaucrats to military officers and soldiers, who authorize, organize, plan and conduct war as well. Not to mention taxpayers, of course, who happily (or fearfully) pay for it all.
Or consider those in the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries who are intent on destroying our damaged minds even more completely – see ‘Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry’ – or those involved in the many other industries that also profit from inflicting, financing and/or promoting violence in one or more of its myriad forms, whether against humans or the biosphere.
These industries include the following: the major asset management corporations (such as BlackRock and J.P. Morgan Chase), the major banks and their ‘industry groups’ like the International Monetary Conference, the large investment firms, the major financial services companies, the big technology corporations, the major media corporations particularly including the three global news agencies (Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Thomson Reuters), the large marketing and public relations corporations, the major agrochemical giants, the huge biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations, the major mining corporations, the nuclear power corporations, the major food multinationals (selling processed, poisoned, genetically mutilated and/or junk food) and water corporations. For the names of key corporations in each of these industries, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.
Of course, there are many other industries which do nothing but inflict violence too, such as the police, legal and prison systems. See ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’ and ‘Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive’.
But separately from the manifestations of violence illustrated above, which fall mainly into the domains of direct (biological and physical), institutional (socially endorsed), structural (such as capitalism and imperialism) and ecological violence, there are several other domains of violence each of which has its own manifestations too. These include violence that is labelled cultural (‘those aspects of culture, the symbolic sphere of our existence – exemplified by religion and ideology, language and art, empirical science and formal science (logic, mathematics) – that can be used to justify or legitimize direct or structural violence’ in the words of Professor Johan Galtung) and psychological (‘lies, brainwashing, indoctrination of various kinds, threats, etc. that serve to decrease mental potentialities’), for example. For a fuller discussion of these categories of violence, see ‘Ending Violence, Exploitation, Ecological Destruction and War: Creating a Culture of Peace’.
However, to reiterate what I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the fundamental driver of all of this violence is our violent parenting and education models. See ‘Why Violence?’, ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’ and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’
So, unless we address this fundamental cause of violence, there is no prospect of ending violence generally and human extinction, at our own hand, is inevitable and will now take place in the near term. For further documentation of this point, see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’, ‘Doomsday by 2021?’ and ‘Extinction in 2020?’
So if you share Gandhi’s passion to end violence, then we must do many things.
Most fundamentally, we must nurture children so that they have the capacity to live by their conscience, the intellectual capacity to critique society and the courage necessary to resist elite and other violence strategically and fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties to over-consume. See ‘My Promise to Children’ and ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.
If your own intellectual and/or emotional functionality is the issue and you have the self-awareness to perceive that, and wish to access the conscience and courage that would enable you to act powerfully, try ‘Putting Feelings First’.
If we are to resist elite violence effectively, in a great many contexts, we must campaign strategically to do so. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. And, for example, you can see a basic list of the strategic goals necessary to end war and halt the climate catastrophe in ‘Strategic Aims’.
If you want to know how to non-violently defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault, you will learn how to do so in ‘Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy’.
Given that substantially reducing consumption is imperative if we are to survive, we will also need to become largely self-reliant. You can learn how to to do this in a way that has strategic impact by participating (preferably now using a substantially accelerated timeframe) in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which outlines a simple plan to systematically reduce your consumption by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding your individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas.
And if you want to be part of the worldwide movement committed to ending all violence, consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
Or, if the options above seem too complicated, consider committing to:
The Earth Pledge
Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:
1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
2. I will not travel by plane
3. I will not travel by car
4. I will not eat meat and fish
5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
7. I will not buy rainforest timber
8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.
Human beings love violence. This love of violence is the inevitable outcome of parenting and education models that are designed to destroy the ‘Selfhood’ of each child and turn them into a ‘socially constructed delusional identity’ that readily participates, as a submissive student, worker/soldier and citizen, in their society on the promise that they can over-consume as compensation for surrendering their unique Self.
This over-consumption requires extraordinary levels of violence in its many domains so that the nature and extent of the violence is largely obscured from the attention of most people.
Nevertheless, the simple reality is this: If enough of us reduce our consumption and increase our local self-reliance, capitalism will fade away, wars and other military violence against resource-rich countries (in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Central/South America) to steal resources on our behalf will cease, and the enormous pressure on our biosphere will be decreased. Of course, we can accelerate this outcome by acting strategically on several other fronts at the same time, as noted above.
But we need a global movement – and soon – for this strategy to succeed. Mind you, no other strategy has any prospect of succeeding.
While the global elite is destroying the biosphere to produce the goods we all buy, it does not need to respond to our entreaties no matter what form they take. In essence, if you fly and drive, the elite will make sure the war economy extracts the raw materials to make your aircraft and your vehicle, and the fossil fuels (or equivalent) to fuel them. If you don’t fly and drive, the elite won’t destroy more of the biosphere (often destroying countries, killing people and inflicting other atrocities in the process) to produce these commodities for you. Your personal choice (for good or bad) makes a vital difference, including because of the example you set for others.
As Gandhi, already wearing his own homespun cloth, noted more than 100 years ago: ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need but not for every person’s greed.’ This is something that those attending the World Economic Forum are too psychologically damaged to understand.
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is email@example.com and his website is here.
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