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I have, of late, been examining root causes of beliefs. It seems to me that there exists a decidely observable cleave in fundamental belief systems which drive societal, civil and political thought. This cleave centers around the fundamental question of man's nature. Is man inherently good and driven to evil by his environment or is man inherently evil and is his baser impulses civilized? Without god are all things permissable or are bad influence eliminated?

This question continues to bounce to the forefront of my thoughts most recently as I thought about London. The good-man theory may seek to blame poverty, oppression and as Ken Livingston does "misguidance" for the attack. A few have gone as far as to blame Bush and Blair for decisions concerning Iraq for the attacks. The evil man-theorists, less nuanced to be sure, simply blame terrorists and the lack of moral and civil boundaries which failed to check their baser desires.

Taken to a more philosophical extreme is the Utopic vs anarchic viewpoints. Do armies create war or do lack of armies create opportunities for those who have them?

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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."

Just a thought while working late....

Beer me please, Gwen. My head hurts.
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