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So many questions, so little time.....

Do armies create war or do lack of armies create opportunities for those who have them?

In the beginning, what would become the US had no army. There were no real occupying forces and lots of available space for anyone who wanted to live a utopian life in a new world. Within a matter of time the utopian society decided it could do better and then formed the army to repel their oppressors. It can be argued whether or not they acheived the better society or not. But, point being, in the absence of an army, one was formed. Once it was formed, it never went away. I think a better way to look at it is armies don't grow on trees. They are made up of individual people who know exactly what an army is and more often than not the consequences of being in army. In Iraq, although being in the military was mandatory by the government, once push came to shove, quite a few chose not to fight at all. In that case, for the most part, there really was no army. So, bottom line, armies are totally incapable of creating war. Only people can do that.

I am an unabashed "man is evil" sort of guy. Hardwired into my brain I believe are all the anarchic functions; Jealousy, competitiveness, covetousness etc. Only civilization, social mores, religion (for others) keep my home town from becoming thunderdome.

Whether or not you take the discussion to the level of "good vs evil" or not, man is at the bottom of his core, competitive. Whether it's sports or ideological, each man is going to prove his point beyond a doubt. Some know when to fold their cards, some don't.

Only civilization, social mores, religion (for others) keep my home town from becoming thunderdome.

Civilization would still exist in Thunderdome, just differently. The social mores only determine the type of civilization, not whether it exists or not. Most of the Middle East looks like Thunderdome to me. I bet if I went there, most of them would be just as uncomfortable with the mores of rural Kentucky.

I have acquaintances who are "man is good" proponents. Poverty and the "Ism"s (racism, sexism etc... ) generally turn the lamb into the hyena. Social mores are bad. Social conventions presupposes that which is good and that which is bad. This leads to judgement and exclusion and an "ism." The police and the oppression of others by those behaving contrary to their nature cause crime.

I would argue all night with your acquaintances. Man is not good or bad, man is a mix. I have pondered deeply on this topic, check it out if you like. Basic synopsis, man is not that far removed from his primative ancestors who had to rely on instincts to survive. Those different instincts all served a purpose, the hunters and farmers. Today there is no need for the hunters and their instincts drive them differently than what today's mores expect. They can kill without blinking an eye or feeling the least bit guilty about it ( Joseph Duncan III is just the latest example ). These people don't walk around doing bad things all the time, but at any given moment, they might do things that shock the farmers.

The New York Times once had a headline "Record numbers in prison despite drop in crime rate." At the meta level in the man is good world, criminals don't commit crimes of their own volition. If the crime rate drops it is because social conditions have changed eliminating the need for crime. Therefore record prison populations is a reflection of an oppressive judicial system and not as I may believe what would be expected given a crime rate decrease.

The judicial system, after being burned with many headlines of rapists and murderers being freed only to commit more rapes and murders, have started giving out much longer sentences. The problem is that fills the prisons pretty quick. Even if the crime rate is going down, the prisons are still full. We just need to build more prisons.

Consequently the attacks of 9-11, 3-11, 7-7 must drive us to one of two viewpoints. Viewpoint one asserts that we must understand the terroists and create a non-judgemental environment where they are no longer oppressed or victimized, thus eliminating the need for terrorism. America is not hated, as is falsely asserted by the right, but is, as the home of the greatest exploiter of all global capitalism, responsible.

That is the pacifist viewpoint, that we must pacify those we have upset. I really am not aware of how they can come to that conclusion. They say they are jealous of our wealth, but, the person who coordinated the attack has a lot more wealth than anyone on this board using that argument. I heard that a lot immediately following 9/11, but, the conflict with Iraq squelched that argument for the "we were lied to" argument and the "they are mad because we invaded" argument. Regardless, none of the above was the reason given for attacking us in the first place, so I can't really explain it that well.

Viewpoint two asserts that the evil doers are themselves responsible and must be destroyed and that the institutions of civilization must be created in the Islamic world so suicide and other bombings, honor killings and other abuse of women, will be wiped clean by the power of social convention.

The problem here is that the evildoers are usually college educated and some are incredibly wealthy. They made a ideological decision years, if not decades, before 9/11 to follow the path they have chosen. It wasn't some spur of the moment decision to hate the US, most have for a long, long time.

It goes deeper, Theodore Dalrymple, asserts that the breakdown of civil society is caused by utopian social programs removing the onus of responsibility and the accompanying societal demands of accountability from the individual. The left champions the non-judgemental approach and by eliminating the poverty and isms former victims will be free to do as they please which is, according to theory, to lead happy productive lives.

Dalrymple never apparently worked for a mental health system. If he did, he would have seen that kids that led the near utopian youth of being able to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, with no parental involvement or oversite, were more likely to wind up as one of our clients than the middle class kid who had fairly strict parents telling them to clean their rooms, what clothes to wear, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Poor kids, if they had responsible parents, were even less likely to wind up in our system because they could not afford strong drugs. So, I don't agree with Dalrymple that removing challenges and barriers will make people happy and productive. The usual experience is the opposite, without challenges and barriers, there is no struggle. No struggle, nothing to be gained, no reason to be productive.

Usually I hunker down in the middle. It seems though this is an either/or belief system. Perhaps a good litmus test is your response to Bush's "Your either with us or against us."

I'm much more in the middle in that I don't think there's any way to say man is "good or evil". I'm more inclined to follow early Freud theories in that every man is a psychosis. If it were not for myriad of psychosis, there would be no personality. The only thing that seperates each person is which psychosis drives them.

I really expect a beer for having to type all that.

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