United States bombing Japan in the Second World War was a demonstration of psychopathic brutality. It was unnecessary, as Japan was already defeated, but it was meant to send a message to the Soviets. Before the dust had settled from the savagery, the power-mongers among the Allied leadership were already planning for a Third World War (Cold War Ideology and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies), even though the beleaguered Soviets had no interest in more war as they took the brunt of the decimation and death count in defeating the Nazis.
The United States, in particular, having come out wealthier after the war thought that the Soviets would be an easy target to take out and so they sought to kick their former allies while they were still down. The US, in a fit of paranoia and psychosis, was scheming to drop hundreds of atomic bombs on Russia, to eliminate them before they could get the chance to develop their own nuclear weapons. Yet Stalin never planned, much less intended, to attack the West nor did he think they had the capacity to do so. All of the archives that were opened after the Soviet collapse showed that Stalin simply wanted to develop a trading partnership with the West, as he stated was his intention. Through the intervention of spies, the Soviets did start their own nuclear program and then demonstrated their capacity. So, a second nuclear attack by the United States was narrowly averted and the Third World War was downgraded to the Cold War (see article and book at the end of the post).
This topic has come up before in this blog, but let’s come at it from a different angle. Consider General Douglas MacArthur. He was no pacifist or anything close to approximating one. He was a megalomaniac with good PR, a bully and a jerk, an authoritarian and would-be strongman hungering for power and fame. He “publicly lacked introspection. He was also vain, borderline corrupt, ambitious and prone to feuds” (Andrew Fe, Why was General MacArthur called “Dugout Doug?”). Also, he was guilty of insubordination, always certain he was right; and the times that events went well under his command were often because he took credit for other people’s ideas, plans and actions. His arrogance eventually led him to being removed from his position and that ended his career.
He was despised by many who worked with him and served under him. “President Harry Truman considered MacArthur a glory-seeking egomaniac, describing him at one point as “God’s right hand man” ” (Alpha History, Douglas MacArthur). Dwight Eisenhower, who knew him well from years of army service, “disliked MacArthur for his vanity, his penchant for theatrics, and for what Eisenhower perceived as “irrational” behavior” (National Park Service, Most Disliked Contemporaries). MacArthur loved war and had psychopathic level of disregard for the lives of others, sometimes to the extent of seeking victory at any cost. There are two examples that demonstrate this, one before the Second World War and the other following after.
Early in his career with Eisenhower and George S. Patton under his command, there was the infamous attack on the Bonus Army camp, consisting of WWI veterans — along with their families — protesting for payment of the money they were owed by the federal government (Mickey Z., The Bonus Army). He was ordered to remove the protesters but to do so non-violently. Instead, as became a pattern with him, he disobeyed those orders by having the protesters gassed and the camp trampled and torched. This led to the death of several people, including an infant. This was one of his rare PR disasters, to say the least. And trying to sue journalists for libel didn’t help.
The later example was in 1950. In opposition to President Harry Truman, “MacArthur favored waging all-out war against China. He wanted to drop 20 to 30 atomic bombs on Manchuria, lay a “radioactive belt of nuclear-contaminated material” to sever North Korea from China, and use Chinese Nationalist and American forces to annihilate the million or so Communist Chinese troops in North Korea” (Max Boot, He Has Returned). Some feared that, if the General had his way, he might start another world war… or rather maybe the fear was about China not being the preferred enemy some of the ruling elite wanted to target for the next world war.
Certainly, he was not a nice guy nor did he have any respect for democracy, human rights, or any other such liberal values. If he had been born in Germany instead, he would have made not merely a good Nazi but a great Nazi. He was a right-wing reactionary and violent imperialist, as he was raised to be by his military father who modeled imperialist aspirations (Rethinking History, Rating General Douglas MacArthur). He felt no sympathy or pity for enemies. Consider how he was willing to treat his fellow citizens, including some veterans in the Bonus Army who served beside him in the previous world war. His only loyalty was to his own sense of greatness and the military-industry that promoted him into power.
But what did General MacArthur, right-wing authoritarian that he was, think about dropping atomic bombs on an already defeated Japan? He thought it an unnecessary and cruel act toward a helpless civilian population consisting mostly of women, children and the elderly; an opinion he shared with many other military leaders at the time. Besides, as Norman Cousins, consultant to General MacArthur during the occupation of Japan, wrote, “MacArthur… saw no military justification for dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor” (quoted in Cameron Reilly’s The Psychopath Epidemic).
There was no reason, in his mind, to destroy a country when it was already defeated and instead could serve the purposes of the American Empire. For all of his love of war and violence, he showed no interest in vengeance or public humiliation toward the Japanese people. After the war, he was essentially made an imperial administrator and colonial governor of Japan, and he ruled with paternalistic care and fair-minded understanding. War was one thing and ruling another. Even an authoritarian should be able to tell the difference between these two.
It made no sense, the reasons given for incinerating two large cities and their populations in a country that couldn’t have fought back at that point even if the leadership had wanted to. What MacArthur understood was that the Japanese simply wanted to save face as much as possible while coming to terms with defeat and negotiating their surrender. Further violence was simply psychopathic brutality. There is no way of getting around that ugly truth. So, why have Americans been lied to and indoctrinated to believe otherwise for generations since? Well, because the real reasons couldn’t be given.
The atomic bombing wasn’t an act to end a war but to start another one, this time against the Soviets. To honestly and openly declare a new war before the last war had even ended would not have gone over well with the American people. And once this action was taken it could never be revealed, not even when all those involved had long been dead. Propaganda narratives, once sustained long enough, take on a life of their own. The tide is slowly turning, though. As each generation passes, fewer and fewer remain who believe it was justified, from 85 percent in 1945 to 56 percent in 2015.
When the last generation raised on WWII propaganda dies, that percentage will finally drop below the 50 percent mark and maybe we will then have an honest discussion about the devastating results of moral failure that didn’t end with those atomic bombs but have been repeated in so many ways since then. The crimes against humanity in bombing of Japan were echoed in the travesty of the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. Millions upon millions dead over the decades from various military actions by the Pentagon and covert operations by the CIA combined with sanctions that are considered declarations of war. Sanctions, by the way, were what incited the Japanese to attack the United States. In enforcing sanctions against a foreign government, the United States entered the war of its own volition by effectively declaring war against Japan and then acted surprised when they defended themselves.
All combined, through direct and indirect means, that possibly adds up into hundreds of millions in body count of innocents sacrificed so far since American imperial aspirations began. This easily matches the levels of atrocity seen in the most brutal regimes of the past (Investing in Violence and Death, Endless Outrage, Evil Empire, & State and Non-State Violence Compared). The costs are high. When will there be a moral accounting?
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Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Spies Who Kept a Criminal US with a Nuclear Monopoly from Making More of Them
by Dave Lindorff
It was the start of the nuclear age. Both bombs dropped on Japan were war crimes of the first order, particularly because we now know that the Japanese government, which at that time was having all its major cities destroyed by incendiary bombs that turned their mostly wooden structures into towering firestorms, was even before Aug. 6, desperately trying to surrender via entreaties through the Swiss government.
The Big Lie is that the bomb was dropped to save US troops from having to invade Japan. In fact, there was no need to invade. Japan was finished, surrounded, the Russians attacking finally from the north, its air force and navy destroyed, and its cities being systematically torched.
Actually, the US didn’t want Japan to surrender yet though.Washington and President Harry Truman wanted to test their two new super weapons on real urban targets, and even more importantly, wanted to send a stark message to the Soviet Union, the supposed World War II ally which US war strategists and national security staff actually viewed all through the conflict as America’s next existential enemy.
As authors Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod, two theoretical physicists, wrote in their frightening, disturbing and well researched book To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans (South End Press, 1987), the US began treacherously planning to use its newly developed super weapon, the atom bomb, against the war-ravaged Soviet Union, even before the war had ended in Europe. Indeed a first plan, to drop 20-30 Hiroshima-sized bombs on 20 Russian Cities, code named JIC 329/1, was intended to be launched in December 1945. Fortunately that never happened because at that point the US only had two atomic bombs in its “stockpile.”
The describe how as the production of new bombs sped up, with 9 nuclear devices by June 1946, 35 by March 1948 and 150 by January 1949, new plans with such creepy names as Operations Pincher, Broiler, Bushwacker, Sizzle and Dropshot were developed, and the number of Soviet cities to be vaporized grew from 20 to 200.
Professors Kaku and Axelrod write that Pentagon strategists were reluctant to go forward with these early planned attacks not because of any unwillingness to launch an unprovoked war, but out of a fear that the destruction of Soviet targets would be inadequate to prevent the Soviet’s still powerful and battle-tested Red Army from responding by over-running war-ravaged Europe in response to such an attack—a counterattack the US would not have been able to prevent. These strategists recommended that no attack be made until the US military had at least 300 nukes at its disposal (remember, at this time there were no hydrogen bombs, and the size of fission bomb was constrained by the small size of the core’s critical mass). It was felt, in fact, that the bombs were so limited in power that it could take two or three to decimate a city like Moscow or Leningrad.
So the plan for wiping out the Soviet Union was gradually deferred to January 1953, by which time it was estimated that there would be 400 larger Nagasaki bombs available, and that even if only 100 of these 25-50 kiloton weapons hit their targets it could “implement the concept of ‘killing a nation.’”
The reason this epic US holocaust never came to pass is now clear: to the astonishment of US planners and even many of the US nuclear scientists who had worked so hard in the Manhattan Project to invent and produce the atomic bomb (two types of atomic bomb, really), in August 29, 1949 the Soviets exploded their own bomb, the “First Lightning”: an almost exact replica of the “Fat Man” Plutonium bomb that destroyed Nagasaki four years earlier.
And the reason the Soviet scientists, brilliant as they were but financially strapped by the massive destruction the country had suffered during the war, had been able to create their bomb in roughly the same amount of time that the hugely funded Manhattan Project had done was primarily the information provided by a pair of scientists working at Los Alamos who offered detailed plans, secrets about how to work with the very tricky and unpredictable element Plutonium, and how to get a Plutonium core to explode in a colossal fireball instead of just producing a pathetic “fizzle.”
The Psychopath Epidemic
by Cameron Reilly
Another of my favorite examples of the power of brainwashing by the military-industrial complex is that of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in 1945. Within the first two to four months of the attacks, the acute effects killed 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The vast majority of the casualties were civilians.
In the seventy-three years that have passed since Hiroshima, poll after poll has shown that most Americans think that the bombings were wholly justified. According to a survey in 2015, fifty-six percent of Americans agreed that the attacks were justified, significantly less than the 85 percent who agreed in 1945 but still high considering the facts don’t support the conclusion.
The reasons most Americans cite for the justification of the bombings is that they stopped the war with Japan; that Japan started the war with the attack on Pearl Harbor and deserved punishment; and that the attacks prevented Americans from having to invade Japan causing more deaths on both sides. These “facts” are so deeply ingrained in most American minds that they believe them to be fundamental truths. Unfortunately, they don’t stand up to history.
The truth is that the United States started the war with Japan when it froze Japanese assets in the United States and embargoed the sale of oil the country needed. Economic sanctions then, as now, are considered acts of war.
As for using the bombings to end war, the U.S. was well aware in the middle 1945 that the Japanese were prepared to surrender and expected it would happen when the USSR entered the war against them in August 1945, as pre-arranged between Truman and Stalin. The primary sticking point for the Japanese was the status of Emperor Hirohito. He was considered a god by his people, and it was impossible for them to hand him over for execution by their enemies. It would be like American Christians handing over Jesus, or Italian Catholics handing over the pope. The Allies refused to clarify what Hirohito’s status would be post-surrender. In the end, they left him in place as emperor anyway.
One American who didn’t think using the atom bomb was necessary was Dwight Eisenhower, future president and, at the time, the supreme allied commander in Europe. He believed:
Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and… the use of a weapon whose employment was, I though, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”…
Admiral William Leahy, chief of staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, agreed.
It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to maek war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins wrote that
MacArthur… saw no military justification for dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.
If General Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral William Leahy all believed dropping atom bombs on Japan was unnecessary, why do so many American civilians still today think it was?
Probably because they have been told to think that, repeatedly, in a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign, enforced by the military-industrial complex (that Eisenhower tried to warn us about), that has run continuously since 1945.
As recently as 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Smithsonian Institute was forced to censor its retrospective on the attacks under fierce pressure from Congress and the media because it contained “text that would have raised questions about the morality of the decision to drop the bomb.”
On August 15, 1945, about a week after the bombing of Nagasaki, Truman tasked the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the aerial attacks on Japan, both conventional and atomic. Did they affect the Japanese surrender?
The survey team included hundreds of American officers, civilians, and enlisted men, based in Japan. They interviewed 700 Japanese military, government, and industry officials and had access to hundreds of Japanese wartime documents.
Less than a year later, they published their conclusion—that Japan would likely have surrendered in 1945 without the Soviet declaration of war and without an American invasion: “It cannot be said that the atomic bomb convinced the leaders who effected the peace of the necessity of surrender. The decision to surrender, influenced in part by knowledge of the low state of popular morale, had been taken at least as early as 26 June at a meeting of the Supreme War Guidance Council in the presence of the Emperor.”
June 26 was six weeks before the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The emperor wanted to surrender and had been trying to open up discussions with the Soviets, the only country with whom they still had diplomatic relations.
According to many scholars, the final straw would have come on August 15 when the Soviet Union, as agreed months previously with the Truman administration, were planning to declare they were entering the war with Japan.
But instead of waiting, Truman dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan on August 6.
The proposed American invasion of the home islands wasn’t scheduled until November.
13 thoughts on “Most Americans Don’t Know Real Reason Japan Was Bombed”
This post reminds me of when Nixon got drunk with Kissinger and suggested that they drop nukes on Vietnam to help with his election.
In an Australian study, around 30% of CEOs were found to be psychopaths. I imagine it’s even higher in the United States and even higher still among the ruling class. For comparison, the rate of psychopaths in prisons is around 12-25% and in the general population only 1%.
Here is a thought I was contemplating recently. In traditional societies, psychopaths aren’t tolerated which means either banishment or death. The Inuit, for example, would make sure psycopaths had accidents such as falling into icy water.
We are far too tolerant of psychopaths but not only tolerant for it seems we’ve come to idealize them as being the ultimate successful individual. So, here is the question. What percentage of psychopaths does there have to be among the economic and political elite before society collapses or explodes into violence? Is it 35% or 40% or what?
There has to be a breaking point.
I don’t think it is that simple. Psychology is still a developing study with the precursor to our modern understanding, in essence, being the lobotomy of tens of thousands of people with qualities from a range of mental illnesses. Obviously that practice has stopped since the mid 1900s and the field has grown tremendously. However it is still far from perfect, or even reliable in many instances.
The culture surrounding people with psychopathy is one that has been romanticized by the news, movies, books, etc. They are made out to be genius serial killers or brilliant CEOs or shrewd politicians, as you said the ultimate successful individual. This is a misconception and the idea that those with psychopathy are emotionless, single-minded, driven, power hungry individuals is simply not the case.
Are there examples of people with parts of their brain functioning improperly? Yes.
Do all psychopaths have faulty brains? Of course not. Its as much of a different way of seeing the world as an atheist vs a deist. In the case of psychopathy it is often less of a choice though.
Its all about perspective and perception.
You do not have to have a mental disorder to brutally kill someone or to monopolize an industry. Anyone is capable of that, humans aren’t so great a species that it takes a “monster” to carry out cruel deeds.
One of the biggest causes of mental disorders is traumatic events, usually in childhood and unfortunately very often involves sexual abuse.
Most everything about psychology is really one breakthrough away from altering the understanding of a particular belief. The DSM-5(Diagnostic and statistical analysis of mental disorders) is one of the foremost primary authorities on what defines, characterizes, diagnoses and reports mental disorders. Their definitions change frequently and is unreliable in many instances. It is sort of a metaphor for our understanding of these things. We simply don’t know everything and any judgement risks error.
To say that 30% of CEOs in Australia have psychopath disorder is questionable as most people, let alone CEOs of major businesses haven’t been screened by a professional psychologist so that number is unreliable, as well as the number in prisons and in the general population. It’s simply illogical to look at someone and their actions and diagnose them with a mental disorder, there is a lot more at play and it comes down to personal bias.
As for the Inuit and Yoruba and other cultures that had words we can equate as psychopathy it is unfair to say that those people that accidentally fell in ice were psychopaths. They could have been, or they could have been unhappy with the status quo, or wronged by one of the other tribesman, or simply had different views and beliefs. Any story like that is one sided as we don’t hear it from the side of the supposed psychopath.
I think it boils down to misunderstanding and mistreatment and so many other societal problems, but placing blame on damaged humans going through mental issues such as depression, schizophrenia, psychopathy, borderline, bipolar, etc. etc.
is the wrong approach. Though maybe I am bias because of my own psychopathy. I hope this comment doesn’t come across as aggressive or anything of the sort, its just my experience and understanding of the subject.
Maybe I didn’t explain my thoughts well, as there is always a large background of info and previous writings. I was keeping it simple to focus in on an important issue. But in some ways, I do think it’s that simple. It seems to me that we’ve overcomplicated things to rationalize why psycopaths rule our society, to comfort ourselves that maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. Yet, there is a more complicated side to it, even if the basic point remains simple. I’m not arguing for the killing, much less lobotomizing, psycopaths. My point is more basic, that as with traditional societies we should take seriously the need for strong communities and cultures of trust and to not dismiss that which harms them.
This fits into my general theorizing lately. I doubt psycopathy is genetically-determined. Rather, probably there is something about our society that is promoting psycopathy, maybe similar to my theory of the agricultural mind. I’d take it as maldevelopment. The possible contributing and causal factors: environmental toxins (lead, mercury, glyphosate, etc), food additives (glutamate, propionate, etc), high-carb diet, increase of addictive substances from drugs and diet (opium, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, sugar cane, wheat, etc), social stress from high inequality, breakdown of traditional communities with mass urbanization, etc. From my perspective, psycopathy shouldn’t be demonized in opposition to the tendency of ideallization, as it appears to have become quite common in our society.
The greater fear is the normalization of it as mere individualism. In the way that I argue we are all reactionaries now in this reactionary age, maybe all of us in the modern industrialized world show increasing traits of psycopathy, which could be thought of as merely one extreme form of hyper-individualism. As I suggest, it’s not only that psychopaths are not being killed and instead are being allowed to rule our society. I suspect the rate of psycopathy is increasing in general, as with the rate of psychosis and mood disorders and much else — something abnormal is going on. The suggestion is that there are more psychopaths having such a negative impact partly because there are more of them around. If that is true, it would be important to know why that is happening. Our society might hit a breaking point when the rate becomes high enough not only in positions of power but in the population as a whole.
People are acting crazier than before, in so many ways, far from being limited to psycopathy. Traumatic events (ACEs) in childhood, especially when recurrent, do contribute to issues in psychological, social and neurocognitive development. The same is true of many of the other possible factors I mentioned above. But I’d argue that something about our society is more traumatizing and generally damaging than in the past. It relates to the rise of addiction and depression, as two obvious examples that are written about by Johann Hari in Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections. But inequality is another major factor explored by Keith Payne’s The Broken Ladder along with Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s The Spirit Level, demonstrating how a wide variety of psychological and social problems can be correlated to this one factor. And research has shown that psychosis is increasing among the young generations, specifically among urban youth, as mass urbanization moves toward greater population density.
So, what do all these psychiatric disorders have in common? Obviously, it’s some kind of population-wide disruption of normal functioning at multiple levels and involving multiple aspects, including the brain but also the nervous system, hormonal system, and several gut-brain links. Furthermore, many more people are noting how inflammation is found in nearly every major health condition: metabolic syndrome, depression, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc. Inflammation shows up in many parts of the body but also in the brain. This is one of the explanations for what has been misunderstood about cholesterol. Instead of cholesterol being the cause of artherosclerosis, it appears to be a defense system of the cholesterol serving the purpose of a scab over damaged cells. Blaming cholesterol for that damage is like blaming fireman for fires, simply because the two are seen together. The more important question is what is causing the damage in the first place. Social stress, overwork and sleep deprivation? Oxidative stress from industrial seed oils high in omega-6s? Or what? Probably a combination of many things.
It’s not about blaming a particular group, much less scapegoating the victims of this society-wide dysfunction and decline. Rather, it’s about understanding what we so far have been afraid to understand because it indicts our entire society, not only the psychopaths. Any judgment risks error. But avoiding judgment in denying and dismissing the overwhelming evidence also risks error. That is what we’ve been doing for a long time, ignoring some of the most intriguing and damning evidence that shows up again and again. We’ve ignored it because it doesn’t fit the dominant paradigm as seen in mainstream psychiatry, healthcare, nutrition studies, corporate news reporting, and political rhetoric. But we’ve also ignored it because it makes us uncomfortable, forces us to question ourselves and the society we are part of.
As for your last points, you misunderstood the evidence I was pointing to. The 30% of Australian CEOs as psychopaths were studied directly using professional psychiatric testing. They were participants in a study. The same is true of the prison population. These are people who have been screened and, in the case of the prison population, often treated by professional psychologists. This is not non-professional speculation based on observing behavior from a distance. That is my main point. We are so far beyond mere speculation, even as no doubt speculation is involved. It’s similar to how we are beginning to understand the biological mechanisms and dietary factors behind autism and its increase, also explored in my post about the agricultural mind.
Similarly, with tribal and traditional communities, it also isn’t mere speculation. We know from testing that the rate of psychopathy is lower in rural areas than in urban areas. Why is that the case? No one is entirely certain. There are two obvious explanations. Something about the inequality, atomization, stress, toxins, etc of urbanization are causing increased psycopathy similar to increases in psychosis, depression, and anxiety. Another possibility is that psychopaths prefer the anonymity of urban life and so seek out cities and suburbs. Part of their motivation might be because psycopathy is less tolerated in close-knit communities where psychopathic behavior stands out as obviously problematic (e.g., a man raping women while the other men are on a hunt). It’s not unfair to say that those deemed psychopathic were made to fall off the ice. Once again, this isn’t speculation. This comes from informants within these tribes who have explained that this is how psychopathy has traditionally been dealt with. Of course, there are complicating factors. Not only psycopaths but any form of what is perceived as extreme deviance might be dealt with similarly. In some tribes, ‘witches’ are treated similarly in being killed and such people might be voice-hearers suffering from schizophrenia or something similar.
So, yeah, there is a lot going on here, but in anthropology anecdotal evidence from informants within a community are taken as important data. Any given kind of evidence must be put into the context of all the other kinds of evidence. It’s not any single piece of information. As I clarified above, I’m talking about a whole slew of information from a wide variety of sources. It’s hard to know what to make of it all, but what is clear is something severely is going wrong with our society and psycopathy is a part of that. We could argue how big of a part, though. I definitely wasn’t arguing it’s more important nor less important than other dysfunctions going on. In the end, I don’t think any of it can easily be disentangled. Yet for the common person who isn’t into complex analysis based on massive evidence in the way I am, narrowing the focus down to a single issue is helpful. That is why so many of the more popular writers about social problems tend to tackle a single factor like inequality or addiction, rather than to look at how dozens or hundreds of possible factors interact systemically.
Maybe the bigger problem is we don’t seem to fundamentally understand what is psychopathy, what it is a result of and response to. But to grapple with that requires us to challenge and question our entire society. That isn’t a discussion most people are prepared to take on.
I hope my above follow-up comment does clarify my position. I’m not merely seeking another position in debates already going on. Those other debates on their own terms don’t necessarily interest me, even as I draw upon some of the evidence I learned from them. So, I have little desire to be pulled into those debates. To my mind, nothing you said contradicts my own view of things. I take it more as some combination of miscommunication and working from separate frameworks. We simply weren’t talking about the same thing. It’s not that we were exactly talking past one another either, but our two views were tangential to a significant degree
I want to have an entirely different debate. But few people are familiar with the terms of that other kind of debate. I’m making a somewhat unique argument here. Though it builds on the ideas, evidence and theories of many others, it’s not a typical take on these issues. This makes it challenging to discuss with those who don’t know my previous writings (and there is no particular reason to expect anyone read all that I’ve written). Many of my posts don’t stand on their own, as there are several ongoing themes to my blog. My argument here is weaving together several of these themes: paleo diet vs agricultural diet, keto low-carb vs non-keto high-carb, psychedelics vs addictive substances, egalitarianism vs high inequality, social trust vs its lack, bundled self-world (animism, bicameralism) vs egoic body-mind (Jaynesian introspective consciousness, hyper-individualism), etc.
As far as I know, no one else has ever made the specific argument I’ve made about the agricultural diet and the agricultural mind in terms of hyper-individualism, mental health epidemic, and moral panic. The main thrust of this argument is about addiction, as opposed to psychedelics, with the use of the one increasing as the use of the other declined. Other elements are also brought in. My recent thoughts about psychopathy are an extension of this line of thought. As Johann Hari concludes addicts are the ultimate individual, I’m now wondering if this also true of the psycopath — two varieties of hyper-individualism. The point being that neither is natural according to the evolutionary norm of the human species nor the historical norm of civilization. This is powerfully shown with anthropology. Furthermore, linguistic relativity, along with studies of metaphor and metonymy, support the power of sociocultural systems as part of political, economic and food systems.
That isn’t to nostalgically romanticize the past or the noble savage. And it isn’t to deny the achievements and benefits of modern civilization. But it is to consider that there might be other kinds of societies that aren’t so dysfunctional and destructive, an important consideration with our facing global crises that are existential threats. Psycopathy is simply one of the more obvious symptoms of a deeper cancerous disease. But even if psycopaths are victims, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. Consider them plague victims of the Wetiko disease and, even when innocent, plague victims are a danger. There is a reason, during past plagues, the sick were isolated while others sought to determine what caused the sickness and how it could be stopped. We are on the edge of catastrophe that could wipe out civilization as we know it.
Psycopathy is not a minor condition but in some ways is definitive or representative of the entire problem we face, the disconnection and dissociation seen in the lack of empathy that is spinning society out of control and sending us toward mass catastrophe. As one of the key symptoms of the larger disease, we should treat it with deadly seriousness and concern. But most definitely we shouldn’t deny compassion to psychopaths, even if they are themselves incapable of returning that compassion. Then again, the Inuits who spoke of killing fellow tribal members for reasons of dangerous psycopathy probably did so with immense sympathy as these were people they had personally known their entire lives. The choice between sympathy for the psycopath and survival of the tribe would not have been made easily and it probably required a repeated pattern of worsening behavior over many years.
I recommend you read my posts on psycopathy. At the end of one of them, I share a traditional story of one of the Buddha’s earlier incarnations as a boddhisatva where he killed someone out of compassion in order to lessen their karma. Compassion does not mean passivity and apathy before great problems. Don’t forget that even MLK carried a gun and was prepared to use it in defense. Our psycopathic system ruled by psychopaths oppresses, harms and kills billions of people worldwide. If you could stop that psycopathy, wouldn’t it be your moral duty to do so? Now we can argue how we stop psycopathy. But I hope we agree it needs to be stopped. Healing it and preventing it would be all the better. Still, one way or another, it needs to be stopped by any means necessary. That is the most compassionate response toward all the suffering in the world.
Okay, yes, I see what your saying on all accounts. That is my bad, I certainly do not have all the context of your argument, position, research so it is unfair of me to comment stuff like that.
From how I understand it so far it does intrigue me enough too read further and see from the beginning of your blog the train of thought and research you took. In that case I will hold back commentary until I have a better grasp on all the data, terminology, history, science, everything.
No, it’s perfectly fine. As I said, there is absolutely no reason you should have to back and read my old posts. You have a perfect right to your opinion. And I didn’t really disagree with the points you were making, even if they were tangential to my own points. You don’t need to hold back. I wasn’t offended by your comment and your points, in a general sense, were perfectly valid.
Part of the problem here is that I think through these issues as I’m writing about them. There are a number of posts where I go into great depth about different aspects. But there is no single location where you will find every point I made above.
That comment directed to you was a synthesis specifically articulated for the present context of our discussion here. I’m throwing a lot out there to see what sticks. Any given part of my view might prove entirely wrong. But what I feel confident about is the questions being asked and the general direction in which to look for the answers.
My views are forever a work in progress. Still, a few of my posts (The Agricultural Mind, Diets and Systems, The Crisis of Identity, “Why are you thinking about this?”, etc) can give you a great sense of how I connect diverse evidence in making an argument. For all my research, I try to hold my views lightly and try to remain open to the views of others.
City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison
Just a little…literary(?) interlude.
Subplot: Hitler’s Germany completed its heavy water experiments before the US. They had the atomic bomb and not us. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I read your comment and then put on a tv show, The Magicians. It is episode 6 from fifth season, “Oops!… I Did It Again”. One of the characters mentioned City on the Edge of Forever. What an odd coincidence!
Have you read PKD’s The Man in the High Castle? Or watched the Amazon adaptation? It is one of the most interesting and compelling alternative histories I’ve come across. I like how it shows Nazi life would become normalized over time.
I love PKD’s work, but have not read The Man in the High Castle…perhaps for the same reason he never completed a sequel to it. I’ll add it to my ever-growing list on your recommendation. Alas, I can’t read nearly as much as I once did.
It was one of his best novels. The feel of it is quite different. He knew Ursula K. LeGuin and he wrote it in response to her criticism that none of his stories had a strong female protagonist. But it also was different from his other writings in other ways. He put into it a lot of his studies on Western and Eastern thought. He decided he couldn’t write any more about the Nazis after that because the research he did took too much out of him.