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Robert J. Burrowes's blog
Understanding human conflict requires us to understand human psychology. And it is only when we understand the psychology that drives conflict that we can take intelligent steps to address it.
In a recent letter to US President Barack Obama twelve Nobel Peace laureates declared their support for the long history of US elite violence against Native Americans and enslaved Africans, as well as the US imperial violence around the world that has butchered tens of millions of people over the past 200 years. See ‘US: An End to Torture: Twelve Nobel Peace Prize laureates write to President Barack Obama asking the US to close the dark chapter on torture once and for all. Obama responds’.
There is much that is revolting about the current world and Andre Vltchek, Christopher Black and Peter Koenig are well placed to document it, which they have done in their new book The World Order and Revolution! Essays from the Resistance.
Using a combination of political, legal and economic analyses, Vltchek, Black and Koenig carefully strip away the façade that the corporate media presents to us, and which the imperial elite wants us to believe, so that we can see some of the ugly, underlying truth about our world.
I routinely come across efforts to change an individual’s attitude, belief and/or value by using education to teach the ‘right’ one. This is most usually intended to lead to a better behavioural outcome, such as someone who is not sexist, racist or violent. I would like to explain why education cannot achieve such a change, except in the most superficial of circumstances, as the evidence clearly demonstrates.
For the sake of this article, an attitude is a settled way of thinking about someone or something, a belief is an acceptance that something is true and a value is a principle in relation to something judged to be important in life.
I have just read Andre Vltchek’s new book Exposing Lies of the Empire. Let me tell you something about this book of 800 pages.
Vltchek writes with passion and poetry, describing the true horror experienced by the world at large, living at the gunpoint of the imperial powers, while also describing and drawing you into a world of progress, culture and refinement that exists in some places and, so we are tantalised, might exist elsewhere too and even, perhaps, one day for us all.
I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’. See, for example, ‘The more civilians US drones kill in the Mideast, the more radicals they create’.
If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of, and the relationships among, direct, structural and cultural violence and how one peace studies scholar suggests we use the integrative power of nonviolence to address violence constructively, then I suggest you read the new book by historian, playwright and novelist Professor Timothy Braatz called Peace Lessons.
As the world continues to engage in various commemorations in relation to World War I, Australia approaches the centenary anniversary of a defining event in the nation’s history: ANZAC Day. On 25 April 1915, and for many days after, Australia suffered savage losses at Gallipoli in Turkey.
Sometimes when we reflect on war, we talk about sacrifice for a good cause. Other times, we talk about the cost, in lives or liberties lost. Occasionally, we talk about the horror. Sometimes we talk about the gains, nationally or internationally, for freedom and democracy. And rarely, we analyse the causes of war and lament that one day we might end it.
On 15 April 1912, the Titanic, the largest ship afloat at the time it entered service, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. The large and unnecessary death toll – more than 1,500 passengers and crew – was the result of many factors.
Understanding the psychology that underpins these factors teaches us why so many people died in the Titanic disaster. This, in turn, gives us insight into how we might be able to improve our chances of averting the sinking of the Good Ship Earth and losing most of its passengers in the years now immediately ahead.
Why does nonviolent action work? And how good was Mohandas K. Gandhi as a nonviolent strategist? If you want high quality evidence in your search for answers to these two questions then I encourage you to read Professor Mary E. King’s latest book on the struggle against untouchability, unapproachability and unseeability in the south Indian village of Vykom during the 1920s. See ‘Gandhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924–25 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change’.
With the passing of another International Women’s Day, during which much attention around the world has again been focused on tackling violence against women, I would like to explain why none of the initiatives currently being proposed will achieve anything unless we acknowledge, and act on, the cause of this violence.
So let me briefly explain the fundamental cause of violence in our world, including the cause of violence against women, and invite you to do something very personal and effective about it.
Guest post: Anita McKone
If you have ever asked ‘Why?... How could they do this?’ in response to the latest report of terrorism, then Confessions of a Terrorist is the novel for you. But only if you genuinely want to find out the answers.
Have you ever noticed your own inclination, or that of other people, to believe what you/they are told by someone seen to be in authority?
For example, did you know that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the 911 destruction of the World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 and 7 was a false flag operation? That is, 911 was organised by the US and/or Israeli elite(s) and their agents in order to enable them to manipulate public opinion to support their subsequently initiated perpetual war in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The usual definition of a ‘terrorist’ is simple: a person who uses violence in the pursuit of a political objective.
Why do human beings fear love? That is, why do we fear loving ourselves and others, and why do we fear being fully loved ourselves?
If someone does not receive what they need emotionally as a child, their capacity to give will be limited accordingly. The less of what they need they actually get, the less they will be able to give (and the more they will take for themselves without consideration for others). In order to give, one must have experienced receiving during childhood. If we do not experience love in a way that is truly meaningful, then we will never be able to love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves, we cannot truly love another.
Unfortunately, in many circles, anger has a bad reputation. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that we are scared when people are angry at us, so we try to scare people, especially children, out of being angry. By doing this, we hope to escape responsibility for our dysfunctional behaviour.
Another reason that anger has a bad reputation is because it enables people to defend themselves against violence and other forms of abuse. But if we want obedient and hardworking students, reliable and pliant employees/soldiers and submissive law-abiding citizens, then we must terrorize people out of being angry. Social control is not easy with people who are powerful and you need your anger to be powerful.
If you hadn’t previously heard the expression ‘near term human extinction’, you have now. And you will get used to hearing it soon unless you insulate yourself from reality with greater effectiveness than you are doing by reading this article.
In a recent article, full of insight, Professor Bill Quigley identified ten different illegal actions police often take ‘to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights’ to take nonviolent action to address a grievance. He noted that these police tactics are commonly used by law enforcement agencies in big protests across the US. See ‘10 Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson’.
Several years ago, someone said to me: ‘The victim wouldn’t have it any other way.’ When I first heard this comment, it made no sense to me, largely because I had never appreciated being a victim of violence when I was a child. However, I have since spent considerable time grappling with this comment by analysing what it means to be a victim. And I now agree that, in far more cases than I would like it to be, the victim wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s why.
The United Nations has just issued a report, ‘Why Children’s Protection from Violence should be at the Heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. This is a worthy ideal.
As fascism is being intruded more widely and deeply into key areas of world politics, it is important to identify this trend, to explain the psychology of fascism and to nominate key elements of any strategy to defeat it.
As we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October, the International Day of Nonviolence, we have the chance to reflect on our progress in creating a nonviolent world. Obviously, creating a nonviolent world has many facets and is a long-term work-in-progress. But if we are to regenerate human society in accord with principles of love, nonviolence, justice, equity and sustainability, it is emphatically clear that we need to dramatically recreate much of our culture, particularly in the West, where hatred, violence and injustice are ‘built-in’. How can we do this?
If you like to ask or beg your oppressor to go easy on you, then you do not need to read this article. And if you like to do what makes you feel good at the time, irrespective of its strategic impact, then this article is not for you either. My interest in tackling violence, in whatever form it takes, has always been to take action myself that leaves the perpetrator powerless (but, hopefully, a convert too). I also like to be strategic so that the impact of my action is long-lasting (in fact, preferably permanent) and structurally reduces the violence in our world. Here’s how I work.
As the movement to abolish psychiatry continues to gather momentum – see ‘On Antipsychiatry’ – it is worth reviewing its delusional foundation, the history of its violence and its function as a weapon of elite social control.
The word ‘listening’ has many meanings and the context in which it is done will often determine the level of concentration that is required for one to be considered to be listening.
As my heart bleeds for those of you suffering in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, I want to add my voice to those who are encouraging you to consider revising your strategy of resistance to Israeli occupation. See, for example, ‘Wanted: A new strategy for Palestinian resistance’.
Love is a serious problem in our world. There is too much of it. So I want to explain how we can destroy it systematically. If we can destroy love completely, we can destroy life on Earth.
But first, what is love?
For those of us interested in understanding what is driving the conflict in Ukraine, now seriously complicated by the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet – which has raised the potential of the conflict to explode into a nuclear war with devastating consequences for humanity – it is worth delving into the psychology of key parties to the conflict and particularly those elite individuals and their agents in politics, industry, academia and the media who are driving it.
All nonviolent struggles are conducted simultaneously in the political and strategic spheres, and these spheres, which are distinct, interact throughout. I have discussed this at length elsewhere: see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. Despite this, only rarely have nonviolent struggles been conducted with a conscious awareness of this vitally important relationship. Gandhi’s campaigns were very effective partly because he understood the distinction and relationship between politics and strategy in nonviolent struggle. And the failure of many campaigns can be attributed, in part, to the fact that most activists do not.
Human beings stand at the edge of extinction and yet few of us are mobilized in defense of human existence. Why is this? And what can we do about it?