Homo Sapiens and Homo Erectus. In the origins of the species we now call human, there is an extraordinary lesson which bears significantly on how we conduct ourselves today.
The large conflicts of our body politic, immigration, gun control, women’s rights, education, food and shelter for the weak and vulnerable, all elements of our social safety net have a single common thread which strings them all together.Homo Sapiens and Homo Erectus.
What are or are not the bounds and responsibilities of one for the other and if none, are the disenfranchised or weak to struggle on their own and fall prey to the biological imprimatur; survival of the fittest.
The history of Homo Sapien and Erectus is, amongst other things, characterized by their use of tools, methods of hunting, (providing for their kith and kin) and with the very disparate outcomes.
Both species arose in the Rift Valley of Southern Africa and both species had well developed the use of the hand axe, the tool triangular in shape, not unlike today’s computer mouse, which edged with a skil developed of chipping, one harder rock on the edge of another, allowed then existing man to develop the roughly sharpened lethal cutting and killing tool easily manipulated by a single hunter. The immediate benefit for both species was the transformation of early man from a nut, berry, vegetarian to a meat eater. The density and portability of protein afforded allowed the first significant migration which headed the then nascent species North to Europe, East to Russia, West to Spain, and from there, to colonize the world.
Two mission critical characteristics distinguished the species ultimately causing the demise of one and the ubiquitous and flourishing success of the other.
Homo Sapien, over time turned the large and sometimes unwieldy hand axe into the increasingly technologicaly efficient tool of a spear. Ultimately, the technology developed such that it was easily made, reasonably affixed to the end of a spear and in time to a bow, as the tip of a lethal arrow. Such efficiency, of size and lethality allowed for a whole new range of hunting skills which included the group skill set of hunters herding and pressing animals of prey into the waiting arrows and spears of the awaiting line of firepower. As such, the need of a group, to undertake the endeavor, and the success of the outcome in pounds of meat and numbers killed or caught dramatically changed the whole of the course of the civilization of this species, from which came the earliest notion of commonwealth, an endeavor in which all depended in one fashion or another on each-other.
Conversely, Homo Erectus continued to use the more cumbersome and unwieldy hand axe which limited his kills and the provision of food to his own innate skill as a hunter, but without any of the added benefit of the skills of the group, the technology as developed by the group and the greater range and accessibility to food supplies. And he ultimately perished.
In these hyper political times of debate, all in some fashion or form related to the question of the social contract, the right or wrong of our collectively taking care of our commonwealth, weak or strong, or the alternative view which obliges the weak, poor, disenfranchised and less strong classes of woman and children to essentially fend for themselves, is there not a two hundred thousand year old lesson here which will foretell the outcome of one choice versus the other.
In the last ten years our country has spent trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect our homeland and make the world and those countries safe for ‘democracy.’
Fundamental to the political rhetoric have been the issues of humanity, the pernicious conditions of poverty despite royal wealth, oil wealth, and the persistent separate and unequal class system which has divided families, oppressed women, withheld education and social mobility on the basis of religious teachings; and institutionalized the second class status of women and children, poverty and helplessness as a god-given and natural way of life.
We have said we will fight wars to protect a woman’s freedom. We speak out in favor of the freedoms to unmask her face, be schooled, prevent stoning, travel outside the home, drive a car and possess at least some modicum of what Western women have come largely to take for granted. We have rhetorically espoused the inalienable right of freedom of religion, travel, health, marriage, education and the protection from corporeal punishment.
Whatever the right or wrong, and whether women are or are not second class citizens and therefore are or are not entitled to special forms of freedom or punishment, what we hold out as a standard to preach or teach or try to at least insinuate in our international relations is in ways a greater standard than that to which even women in the US are entitled.
From birth we enshrine in our young the ‘American dream,’ telling them they can be president and that the ceiling there is glass and not easily shattered. Yet to the women in our country, knowing poverty is the leading indicator of educational success, and education is the leading indicator of teenage pregnancy, unwanted child birth, the destruction of a family unit central to the rise or demise of our culture. We have now thirty three states in which a woman’s right to self determination of her own health and health care, headlined by her right to family planning, including contraception and abortion, is virtually illegal.
Systematically, factually and in a profound cultural statement we have said to the women of the US, “you do not have the intellectual or moral capacity to make such profound judgments about your own health or those questions that relate to childbirth as does the entirety of the male of the species.”
What does it say about a woman in the US, who only recently realized the right to vote, to work (although paid a fraction of the pay for the same work and job descriptions as men), and now whose sexual/reproductive rights are subordinate to those interests of men and the state?
We have to ask the question, how is this behavior any different than our century -old, now-unconstitutional predilection for slavery? If we can get to that fundamental understanding – knowing and understanding history is half of the requirement to change the future – then the next and most important question would be ‘why?’
The facts of history clearly support the assertion that this pathology resides not in women, who may or may not be incapable of judicious decisions about their lives and their families, but rather in a dysfunctional, unresolved and profoundly disturbed psyche of the male who, for his own internal weakness, fragmentation or unconsummated manhood, needs, through projection to articulate the problem as the woman’s weakness. By the right of might, man alone can manage and ultimately adjudicate.
Guy Herman (c) All Rights Reserved 2013
A cop killed by an ex-cop triggered a four day manhunt with an accompanying 24-hour, wall-to-wall news extravaganza with as much television coverage provided as during the three days invading Iraq or any presidential election in modern history.
With one of the wounded in the hospital, security included more than 1000 state, local, federal, ATF and FBI law enforcement personnel. Using paramilitary equipment, helicopters, tanks and high tech AWACS units to coordinate this small army, the chase for the would-be assassin combed into the mountains and nearby resort.
When local hospital officials were asked by a news person, “Why are there so many police around the hospital where the officer was shot?” the police spokeswoman replied, “You know, law enforcement take care of their own.’’ Explicit in the reply left the question: “Well, then…who takes care of us?”
Implicit in the question of a culture and society in which ‘law enforcement,’ like ‘congress,’ does indeed take care of its’ own, but not of those it serves, is how come and why? When twenty five people are killed in Chicago on a weekend, the notice in the press is on page 8 and below the fold.
If the twenty five Chicagoans were ‘law enforcement,’ there would be an army large enough to invade Cuba dispatched and it would be the opening story every hour, with side by side live video feed, until resolved.
While 90% of Americans, including ‘law enforcement,’ believe in background checks and assault weapon limits, congress will repay the debt beholden to the NRA, (and the money they provide to themselves), with a ‘no’ vote on gun control, despite the very articulate interests of their constituency and the vast majority of citizens.
How do we come to such an asymmetric care or duty in our social contract? How is it that a job for the congressman, who is voted in and paid for by a constituency, is more important than the social contract ensuring rights for the very constituency who entrusted him with that job?
Inevitably, the question unanswered is this: ‘Who are they (congress, law enforcement, government) supposed to take care of?’ Alternatively, ‘Does taking care of their own mean those who aren’t in the ‘club’ or so entitled, in fact or act, thereby the recipient of a different and too often inferior level of care?’
The patent and automatic answer of any ‘law enforcement’ or ‘congressional chief’ is ‘No, of course not. We are here to serve to people.’ Yet repeatedly, the facts do not support such statements.
Criminality in Wall Street, allowing unwarranted foreclosures and criminal behavior in the streets, thereby resulting in the death of twenty-five residents of one city in one weekend. Criminality in denying abortion, healthcare and food to the needy, and criminality in a society which was founded on rules of a social contract, including equality for all, but which now favors ‘special interests’ repeatedly and predictably violates those inalienable rights.
When a spokeswoman for the manhunt was queried as to why there was such an inordinately large presence, or what would happen next, narrators and spokespeople purposefully use the designation ‘law enforcement’ as distinct from ‘police’, ‘sheriff’ or some other nomenclature like the president or senator, referring to a single person as distinct from a group.
So in the expression ‘law enforcement,’ there is an absolute key to understanding this more than colloquial and now almost idiomatic use of the phrase. Clear in the statement, belonging to the group confers special rights.
The NRA defines the ‘gun control’ debate as one of ‘them and us,’ and it is curiously reminiscent of the Republicans’ ongoing and blanket defiance of Obama passing any law to anyone’s benefit, be it control of Wall Street, which summarily caused the loss of two trillion dollars of private individual wealth and redistributed it to the ‘group’ like ‘law enforcement’ or the ‘Wall Street tribe,’ education, or infrastructure.
There is a law enforcement command post, assets, law enforcement personnel, law enforcement capabilities, law enforcement base camp. No one has asked the obvious question, ‘Well if law enforcement takes care of their own, what about ‘us?’
In further describing the manhunt, the spokeswoman for ‘law enforcement’ described the scene as “like a war zone…..our deputies are heroes…they walked into raging fire and all placed their lives at incredible risk.” What about the kids in Chicago? Isn’t this what law enforcement does?
At the press conference, one senior member from each of the branches of law enforcement (FBI, ATF, Border Patrol, sheriff, state police, local militia) counted in excess of one-thousand soldiers, leaders in stars and stripes, full honors dress, gold insignias, ties, formal hats and bangles, military crew high-and-tights, all brothers in arms. All appeared to speak to their respective responsibilities and their unwavering commitment to ‘get the villain,’ concluding with “Thank-you all for coming to our press conference.” The general with stars and gold stripes repeated the sentiment, but there was no mention of Chicago or the twenty-five kids that had been shot in one weekend.
So, we know the question.
Why are there two classes of people in the US?
There are wealthy and poor, and an ever growing disparity in between.
There is law enforcement, and the kids in the Chicago streets with little sight for improvement.
There are congressmen and the kids at Newtown and the pressure to take the NRA handouts to get re-elected, subsidized largely by gun manufacturers who, like cigarette companies, care more about their product sales than the health or wellbeing of the populace
More than the terrible price of congress taking care of themselves first, or of law enforcement caring for it’s own, but willing to let the rest of the world cannibalize each other, is the humiliation of our people, us, thinking we have voted for representatives to represent us, and in fact we have been duped.
As a people, if we have mafiosos as leaders, or a Kim Jung Un of North Korea or Saddam Hussein, who admit freely that they have no real cares in the world but their own, we could reasonably decide between two dictators or two rogues……there are many facets to slavery. And if we are to be poisoned, there is nothing wrong with at least having the choice of hemlock or the blue juice of suicide.
With 5% of the world’s population, the budget of the United States Military and Defense represents 100% of the absolute dollar value of the 13 largest countries of the world and 47% of the budget of the entire 190 nations of the world Military.
It is no mistake these numbers are statistically significant and the consequences of such armament, similarly predictable.
In the last 50 years, United States has been responsible for the most incidences, in number and cost, of war. In the last 50 years, the United States, directly or through our armaments and munitions has been responsible for the greatest cost of lives and treasure and the United States has armed virtually all of the indirect conflicts, in whole or part, whether our involvement, clandestine or a result of a formal declaration of war.
Acknowledging there are no mistakes in our collective behaviors, these instance of cultural war or human hand gun homicide are no more or less than the artifacts of our own idiosyncratic, conscious or unconscious, intent. We must admit, therefore beyond the pain and hardship of war obvious to all, there has to be something reinforcing, some benefit in this for some one, few or many of us.
Whether the pride of the soldier, the plans of the bureaucrat or the wealth of the plutocrat arising from the production of waste and expensive expendable military hardware, we only do, historically and prospectively what feels good, makes sense or creates profit or gain which if not universally known is recognized by one or another of the special interests group which speaks the loudest or makes the largest campaign contributions to the various members of congress or the relevant governing body.
In social scientists speak, the only difference between ontogenetic and phylogenetic behavior is the exponential differential recognized of a whole population acting in accord versus the one individual, acting alone.
We can take a Cat-scan of the Crips and Bloods, the culture of Chicago with 500 individual gun deaths in a year, or the battlefield of Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and from 30,000 ft, the behavior of the latter is not, manifestly much different than the acts originated by or upon housemates, family members or strangers in the gun violence which plagues our cities, elementary schools, theatres and population at large.
It is true the founders, in our 2nd amendment establishment of rights clearly articulated the appropriate constitutionality of civil disobedience, a hard-won lesson learned from our English forbears and the tyranny of the Crown, however it is also true they never imagined nor could they today reasoning which would allow civilian armaments, assault weapons, cannon, armed battleships, weapons of mass destruction as a right and entitlement of any and all, military and non military, in a largely and purposefully unregulated society devoted to both individual and communal rights.
The question any student of social science or human behavior must ask, simply, is why?
What is the strand of DNA, the original or proximate cause of the extent of the aberrance of our behavior and or what is the original behavior from which the secondary autonomy devolved as does a mutant strain of metastasized cancer. The answer here, whatever it may be and beyond any moral ethic or dilemma will inform the discussion and solution, should we want one, for its alteration or cessation.
The United States suffers 3000 deaths by handguns monthly, roughly equivalent to our 9/11, which annualized is 30,000 per year.
It is not possible, given our reaction to the Newtown Elementary School slayings or the horror of 9/11 that these events both arise from and reoccur because of our utter indifference, yet they do reoccur and we seem, nationally to be trying to understand why.
In a more natural setting, and Australia is a good example, with a national focus, similar to that which caught Osama Bin Laden or landed a man on the moon, there are examples of countries equally as violent who have made affirmative decisions to change their behavior as a country and we can easily replicate the Australian example, if we so choose.
Critical then and what must be understood to arrive at such a decision is why we do or do not make such a choice; and in this regard, there are two seemingly antithetical forces which appear to nurture each-other and make the apparent resolution of the 3000 lives a day, impossible to reconcile with our’ 2nd amendment rights.
That we have an enormous and profitable gun and rifle industry which can only continue to profit with nearly unregulated sales passing along is not unlike the model of the historical hawkish wing of congress which, in support of and nurtured by the Military Industrial complex came to recognize, especially in times of depression, the benefit of a small war ‘every now and again’.
Unregulated foreign war, much as unregulated sale and distribution of firearms for personal and household use, serves both mistresses of pride and profit.
Whether pride, for one being able to arm themselves from adversity and care for kith and kin, or the reciprocal fear which comes from the uncertainty of one’s manhood or lack of prowess in a modern complex industrialized world, there is a manageable mechanism to salve the need in a fashion which does not put the populace at risk.
Similarly, if we need to assert our collective will, and profit accordingly on the international stage by the promulgation of power and the assertion of indomitable strength, there are countries and cultures who have done this for centuries with humanitarian means which can still project our power and create enormous profits but do not cause the heedless and unnecessary fatality and human misery as does the less complex act of war.
How might knowledge of intent change behavior in a world where action, as Nietzsche says, is largely beyond good and evil.
Assuming then there is no right or wrong to our apparent instinct for violence and the free availability of guns and munitions for homicide or genocide, then to make certain this is a behavior we seek to change we really need only ask, does the political or statutory law reflect, more or less the will of the people.
If this appears true, the second question must be, do we understand what is the ‘will’ of the people, spoken or sub-rosa and does it represent a reflection of a psychological, human, anthropomorphic need which, in the light of day we want to perpetuate and continue to nourish and support.
As it is no mistake a cat purrs when a human clasps it behind the neck and emulates the grasp of its mum, there must be some related behavior or surcease from fear, relief from a moral turpitude or satisfaction of an unstated and perhaps subconscious need which the availability or ownership of guns, or the machines of war, bestow.
If it is fair to assume, as sentient beings there are no mistakes in the manner and way our culture articulates or acts out its wants and needs, then we must reason those who buy guns do so for some reason, benign, malevolent, unwitting, or unnatural. From here it is not a far leap to get to the structure of a society which from the days of our agrarian roots has largely disintegrated, changing so dramatically, there is easily reason, if not explanation for the proliferation of arms and the unintended outcome of 3000 deaths a month from hand guns alone, tens of thousands of deaths from more formal military conflicts and a life of unmitigated terror for any, civilian or military who would fall on the wrong side of the moment when anger, revenge, profit or pride would curtail, in the most horrible way, the most valuable possession of all that is human.
The current prison population of the US is estimated to be nearly 3,000,000.The associated direct costs of incarceration in the United States, rate nearly ten times greater than England, and the highest in the world is estimated to be $100,000,000,000. The indirect costs, though nearly incalculable are clearly some multiple of this One Hundred Billion Dollars. Many of the families related to those incarcerated have no other sources of income but government subsidy, assistance and aid.Few if any currently incarcerated can or do make a significant contribution to themselves or their families; so along with the 100 Billion of direct costs, the several hundred billion of indirect costs associated with all of the ancillary support, families of prisoners need, there is an additional few hundred billion dollars of lost income, wages, work, products and goods, were this population engaged in some constructive undertaking for their families or the commonwealth.
If we add all of the sums and costs, there is more than a half trillion dollars lost on the care, feeding and related losses associated with the populations of prisoners in the US, and none of this accounts for the costs and downstream hardships of the victims, families and businesses.
Like many of the bureaucratic systems in the US, there is a redundancy of service and effort which causes incredible waste and prevents long term allocation of scarce resources to long term good. Continue reading