Re: Oppressed Minorities (was: Social Engineering)

Rick Cook (
Tue, 14 Feb 1995 02:16:20

>>The parallels I see are more with disintergrating cultures. Stable
>>cultures, even very poor ones, do not seem to display the level of random
>>violence we see in some areas. This is true even for cultures noted for
>>their level of violence.
>Stable vs. disintegrating - there does seem to be some validity to that,
>though perhaps not ironclad. What about the yanomamo? Aren't their homicide
>rates far above those of washington d.c.? This doesn't seem to be a result
>of any kind of cultural disintegration, but to be a long-established

First, it's very difficult to know the historic rates of violence in
societies such as the yanomamo. How much of what we are seeing is the
result of Western forces acting, directly or indirectly, on them and how
much is inherent.

More importantly, some stable societies are very violent. The difference is
who gets killed and why. In most of those cultures if you 'broke the rules'
or engaged in certain kinds of activities you were a candidate for
homicide. In a disintergrating society anyone can be a victim. Violence is
more random. I think this describes the situation in our inner cities.
>I think you are right that cultures which are in dissolution will tend to
>have higher rates of crime and violence. After all, one of the functions of
>culture is to regulate human interactions in such a way as to keep the
>society functioning as a viable entity; for most cultures, this means
>minimising violence and conflict within the society. A disintegrating
>culture can lose the ability for such regulation.

I believe this is the case. At its extreme it can lead almost to the
Hobbesian 'war of all against all' because there is no longer a social
contract of any sort. Unfortunately I think we have also exacerbated the
situation in our inner cities by interfering with the kind of social
mechanisms that produce cohesion and the attendant social regulation.