RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Jeremy Bradley (
Date: Fri Mar 01 2002 - 12:39:15 GMT

  • Next message: Jeremy Bradley: "Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence"

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    From: Jeremy Bradley <>
    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
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    At 11:43 PM 28/02/02 -0800, you wrote:


    >What were the Serbs and Kosovars fighting about? And the protestants and
    >catholics in Ireland but land? Territory. Gangs in Los Angeles fight over
    >"turf." People do this in every country and every culture.

    Well Grant
    You certainly mount an impressive argument, but you are wrong that these
    conflicts happen in every culture. I grant you that when indigenous peoples
    have been pushed into the bad-lands by invading colonisers they have
    defended their homelands, but in many cases, before the invasion, tribal
    civilisations lived in territories that were defined in ancient custom and
    were so respected that no incursions were made that required defence

    >The song of the bird and the cry of the cougar are both warnings that they
    >have staked out a territory and will defend it. Wolves mark their territory
    >with scent and don't hesitate to defend it against an intruding male wolf.
    >And the sheep they prey on do the same thing by butting heads over the
    >females they decide are "theirs."
    >Have you read Guns, Germs and Steel? Jared Diamond describes pacific
    >islanders doing it. It's a universal trait that has nothing to do with lack
    >of food or social chaos. It's the duty of the alpha male of every mammal
    >species I'm aware of to defend his women and his territory.

    You want it both ways. We can't say that we are superior to other animals
    on the grounds that we think, communicate and solve problems and then
    justify our baser actions as normal because animals behave in some way. As
    a volunteer fire fighter, I have risked my life many times for complete
    strangers, does this make me brain damaged or humane? There is the
    difference, it is human animal instinct to fight or flee in defence of life
    or possessions, but it is humane to rise above the base and achieve a
    collectivist culture where caring and sharing may even take precedence over
    personal wellbeing.
    For example, in this country we have a 'green' energy supplier who produces
    electricity from wind, sun or water. The power costs a little more but I
    pay this extra gladly because I care more for the people who will follow us
    into life on this planet than I do for the few dollars. As a result I can't
    afford a few extra consumer items and that saves energy too.
    I agree with you that I, even as an ageing male, will fight, even to the
    death, to protect my children or my grandchildren, but maybe that's because
    that's because I have been conditioned to think that it is my duty as an
    'alpha' male to do so. Nature or nurture?
    We modern Westerners have an idea, a meme, that human life is sacred and
    should be preserved at all costs; this is not a universal value. Where
    does it fit with the Asian tribe placing the oldest women last when
    crossing a crocodile infested river, or the old Inuit walking out into the
    snow so as to reduce the burden on the group? Early colonists in Australia
    reported that in hard times babies were abandoned in order to save the
    mothers. Human history abounds with cultures in which it was normal to
    sacrifice the rights and/or wellbeing of the individual for the
    preservation of the collective. I think that we have departed from that
    humane norm over the past few thousand years. It could be that modern
    pressures have caused some degree of brain damage which has caused us to
    become more animal.
    As Richard wrote recently, religion provide a set of defaults. The values
    that you suggest are universal human norms may all be found in the Old
    Testament and, whether you are atheist, agnostic or calathumpian, if you
    grew up in a Judao/Christian/Moslem world, those values appear to be normal
    to you.
    And no I havn't read Jared Diamond's book. I thought he was a fiction writer.

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