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On Violence

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Violence, the saying goes, is the language of those that are not right. The saying is completely correct in that, if you are not wrong, you do not need to recourse to violence. The strength of your actions and statements are enough.
Or would be if the saying would go on and expand a bit more. Because violence may be the language of those that are not right but violence is very effective. It is a universal language, easily understood by everybody ever since in that apocryphal scene in 2001 SPACE ODDISEY, the hominid with the femur of a dead animal smashes the skull of the other quarreling ape. The proposition ME (insert your statement here) OR YOU DEAD is not only easily understood by the monkey being threatened, the monkeys witnessing the scene also very quickly understand the logical sequence of events.
We currently live in the most peaceful era of all times. Steven Pinker’s THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE and Michael Schermer’s THE MORAL ARC make a definite study on that fact. After the World Wars of the beginning and middle of the XXth century, the world has been in a remarkable state of peace. Watching the news does not give that impression and it is the reason that Pinker and Schermer need 696 and 495 pages respectively to make their case, but they pretty much settle it. We live in peaceful times.
However, peace might be a little bit like entropy. Maybe it tends to increase in an inevitable way and perfume the entire human universe, but like entropy, there might be pockets where it is defeated. For entropy, there might be pockets of order and sophistication (for which we must be thankful) and for peace, sadly, there might be pockets where violence (and femur wielding apes) reign.
The thoughts are easy to come by for a citizen of Venezuela, my native country, as we see our society degenerating into barbarism. Mind you, I must admit that Venezuela was never a symbol of civility and decorum, a place where human rights and the respect for other were paramount. I grew up in a country where the National Guard and the Armed Forces were seen with distrust and fear. My fellow teenagers and young men referred to them as URKO’s, the Chief Law Enforcer of the Ape Council in the movie Planet of the Apes (70’s version). By this we meant that these armed men were the equivalent of an armed monkey, allowing me here to circle back to the APE PLUS FEMUR metaphor. Nothing was scarier in those days (and at that age) than being stopped by such a hominid in the street and being asked for papers (you could be arrested by not having them, under a dubious law that immediately classified you as ‘vagrant’).
But the violence that one sees nowadays has reached new levels, and I must here apologize for my citizenship and acknowledge that we are not alone in such sad company. Russia is a country where journalism has become some sort of extreme-sport practice; reporters and free thinkers run considerable risks working there today. ISIS has shown depravity too extreme to be described. North Korea too, and the rise of some “Strong Men”, clearly endorsing violence as a valid means to an end, does not stop there. In Venezuela, the case here mentioned, violence has been seen in street action where the deplorable URKO’s , filmed by the ubiquitous smart phone, have beaten up women, older men, and of course, their favorite target, unarmed students. The violation of all laws and rules has been witnessed repeatedly by the world, with barely an eyebrow raised by outside forces.
Because one thing that the world seems to fail to understand is how the mechanism of violence works. In another movie (a lousy one so there is no need to mention it by name), the tough hero orders six hoodlums to walk on towards the police. One of the smart alecks tells him “You can’t shoot all of us” to which the hero responds by shooting him and coolly replies “No, but I will get an A for effort” (the hero is, of course, Americanizedly armed with a huge gun). The scene is sad not only because of the cheesy dialogue but because it glorifies one point of violence: you don’t need to club to death ALL the apes; you only need to club one and then make it public.
Such tactics are regular tools of the violent ones, and keep an entire population at bay effectively. And when external forces call for “dialogue and talks” what they fail to realize is that violence, irrational violence, cannot be answered by a call to dialogue (rational violence is called LAW ENFORCEMENT). When you are in a narrow alley and another person holds a gun (and you don’t), it is no longer YOUR Rolex. Unless a supra-violent being intervenes, there is no dialogue possible. The gun or weapon has rendered that road impossible to travel.
The days in which foreign nations intervened in such matters with forceful assistance (i.e. providing the weak with weapons) are over. Long gone are the days in which France would arm the Americans rebelling against the English Crown. No longer do the Americans arm revolutions in Afghanistan or Nicaragua. Nowadays, some sanctions are applied and the people are called to “dialogue”. But violence is immune to that. The small pockets of retrograde violence in the world (and the not so small) remain sure that club in hand they remain safely in power. And it will take a New World Order to make sure that the ape with the femur can’t anymore smash the other ape’s skull. And remain safely in power.

I can only hope this entire piece is wrong.

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Updated 08-15-2017 at 08:13 AM by ponchi101