KC: Chapters 4-6
Chapter 4: Anti-Civilian Ideologies
The term “genocidal thinking” was kind of a big thing in this chapter as well. It’s just arguments that sound genocidal; arguments and thoughts that might “lead you down a genocidal road”. There are ways to look out for these kinds of arguments, and some specific thoughts or ideas that could lead to genocidal thinking or genocidal war (this very long sentence was incredibly repetitive and I will edit later):
- Purity is typically a red flag; when someone starts to talk about “purification” or making an area homogeneous (think Holocaust; Hitler’s desire to “purify” and exterminate all Jews so that only one race (Aryan) would remain. Purity and eugenics. Yikes.
- People commit genocide because it works as a military strategy. If people recognize that it works as a military strategy then they don’t really have to acknowledge that it’s a really shitty thing to do
- The ends justify the means; utility. If the goal is a worthy goal then however you get to that goal is justified and totally okay and dandy. (I disagree with this so hard. Honestly, triggered. I’m ready to fight.)
- REVENGE: people strike back because they were stricken first and they strike harder than how they were hit before so that they’re not hurt again
- If you’re not with us, then you’re against us. (Fun example: former U.S. President George W. Bush who argued that if you’re not with us you’re literally with the terrorists- solid argument, dude. Sad to see you go)
- Social Darwinism! Everyone is fighting against each other in order to survive; it’s you or me. Fighting is justified because everyone is in competition and only the winners will survive.
- Necessity: we have to do it (another argument I don’t like; it’s like your parents telling you “because I said so” which, however valid because of their status as life-givers, is infuriating and gives no information whatsoever)
- Profit: We make money from it (and yet another I hate, as much as I love money. No, money doesn’t solve problems, but it sure doesn’t make life any harder. That said, though, there’s no way that that’s any kind of valid justification for killing people)
Chapter 5: Civilian Ambiguity
What’s a citizen? (This isn’t in chapter 5, it’s in chapter 1, but “there’s a category of people who must somehow be set apart from the fury of battle… In modern times, this category of protected people has come to be known as civilians– a term which seeks to emphasize a stark contrast between ordinary unarmed people and the military forces that either defend or attack them… Civilian is the word we now rely on to cradle and preserve the ancient idea that mercy, restraint and protection should have a place in war” (1)
Slim argues (with ideologies of other thinkers that I conveniently can’t remember and didn’t take notes on) that It’s impossible to label as someone as entirely innocent- one can lose his or her status as a civilian if they do x, y, or z.
I know it’s bad practice to not take a concrete stance– we learned this in 10th grade when writing persuasive essays– but I have a hard time with this view. At first I took the concrete stance that anyone who is not actively working for the military (or whoever it is that’s directly involved in the actual attacks or defense) is a civilian. But then I read about ways you can lose your civilian status:
- social ambiguity
- economic support for terrorism
- if someone shares the same ideological views as the person who is seen as the enemy
- military ambiguity
I’m going to define ambiguity here, partly for convenience because it’s used so much here that maybe it’d be nice to have an easily-accessed definition, and partly because I keep forgetting what it means. Ambiguity: the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.
Okay, so I guess I agree with some of those ideas. In today’s current events, for example, I think I consider anyone who has Nazist ideas or anyone contributing (in any way: socially, ideologically, economically) to the Nazi agenda a personal enemy. Maybe not an enemy of the state, or even a current threat, per say, but whoever actively agrees with everything that happened in Charlottesville I would definitely not consider innocent. So then there’s that line between Civilian-status and innocence. I guess, since they’re not directly involved and rioting in the streets supporting white supremacy, they’re a civilian. But they’re not sacred and they definitely should not be shown mercy.
It’s difficult to say that “if you’re unarmed then you’re a civilian”- you can’t really draw a constant line between when you’re fighting and when you’re supposed to be fought against; Maybe just when the dictator or the person in charge decides your status as a civilian. This reminds me of playing tag, as a kid- specifically the “time-out” aspect of the game. “Time-Out” was supposed to be a sort of break for everyone so we could all get a drink of water or a way to call a temporary truce while a problem was being addressed (like who tagged who or if Jimmy was actually “it”). The way I experienced it, however, was Tyler (my last-best-friend) calling “T” whenever she was about to get tagged or when she needed to catch her breath. It’s fine, I’m not still bitter about her cheating at the entire game and being a bully. She played tag until she was about to lose, which was when she “timed-out” and decided she was no longer playing- until, of course, she was safe to play again. Again, I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.
But yeah, that’s just a fun way to illustrate this blurry line between Tyler and terrorists.
Chapter 6: How you transform into a killer
I don’t have a whole lot to write about here so I’ll keep it simple. Well, I’ll try.
The power of authority and/or authority figures is incredibly powerful and very famous (see Milgram Experiment and This The Atlantic Article about Hitler as an authority figure (mostly about Milgram, because he’s real famous, but Hitler too because he’s another fun example of a manipulative authority figure))
Case studies of how you motivate killing in particular: 80% of people will commit violent acts if they’re put in the right psychological conditions to do so
Someone might go into war thinking that they won’t be a straight-up murderer but then changes into that person once they’re in the actual situation
Authority, obedience, and conformity
Posted on KC: Chapter 2-3