Re: Oppressed Minorities (was: Social Engineering)

PioneerTom (
14 Feb 1995 17:05:24 -0500

Rick Cook wrote:

<<I think you may underestimate the extent to which gangs such as the
Medellin may actually operate as an organic component of the rural
community. To see them as completely cynical autonomous agents is, I
suspect, an oversimplification.>>

>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.

I would accept this organic description quite willingly, though I would
still contend that the violence and co-dependent economic situation they
do maintain is deleterious to the long-term growth of even these poor
peasant communities. The cultural disintegration was also noted by
Gerold Firl, as he writes:

<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
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. >

But then Gerold goes on to say:

<The high rates of crime seen in american urban areas, particularly among
blacks, could be seen as a consequence of _integration_; as blacks make
the transition from a specifically black culture, the product of
segregation, to a multi-racial integrated american culture, some of the
restraints on selfish exploitative behavior may be lost _before_ new
regulatory mechanisms are adopted>

Here I would have to disagree that it was, for certain, racial
integration, specifically, that would cause that cultural disintegration,
since there is another level of cultural change that took place almost
simultaneously with integration. That change was the movement from a
rural, agrarian, stagnant technology, communications inhibited environment
to an environment that I have described before as an increasingly
communications intensive, technological, industrial environment. Many of
the groups that made that move, from east european jews, to italians, to
blacks, to the non-urban indochinese, to Irish have all shown RELATIVELY
high crime rates during the first several decades of that transition.

This seems to indicate that we should look at the transition from the old
cultures (adapted to the old environment) to cultures adapted to an
industrial environment as a large causative agent in the cultural
disintegration that then causes the violence, criminality, etc. Racial
differences in culture may have far less of an effect in the transition
than what a culture can carry over into the new environment(an industrial
environment) smoothly and productively.

I'll admit, finding out what those cultural components might be is an
awesome task. I didn't say this view made things easy.

Tom Billings