The Aggression Systems
Human Aggression - Introduction Page 6

Table of Contents


Preface Pages 1 - 2


Human aggression - introduction Pages 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8


Evolution of aggression - introduction Pages  9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14


Brain mechanisms of aggression - introduction Pages 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20


Dynamics of aggression - introduction Pages 21 - 22 - 23


Myths and misconceptions about the causes of war and other social evils are not just academic questions. but they have profound social consequences. They may be "self-fulfilling prophecies," which perpetuate the very problems that they are concerned with. This is demonstrated by the next article: "The Myth That War Is Intrinsic to Human Nature Discourages Action for Peace by Young People." As the title suggests, those young people who come to believe in the myth that war is instinctual also come to believe that they can do nothing to change society and abolish war. As a result, they are less likely to take part in anti-war activities.

What is the historical origin of these myths? It is not possible to answer this question here in great detail. but a start can be made. The myths are not universal, but are related to our particular historical situation in the United States today. In the early history of America, just as in many other cultures--for example, the culture described in the Old Testament--anger was seen as a positive emotion. The change from such earlier views to today's negative assessment of anger by the educational system and popular culture has been traced in detail in the book Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History, by Carol and Peter Stearns (1989).

The United States has come to oppose individual angry behavior as it has changed from a revolutionary society to a counter-revolutionary society. When the U.S. was a revolutionary society, the anger of individual citizens was understood to be a justifiable and useful motivation for social change, both to gain freedom from the British colonial empire and to reorganize the social relations in a new and developing society. In the Twentieth Century, however, the U.S. has become a counter-revolutionary society. The military-industrial-media complex sends marines and bombs countries (Libya, Panama, Grenada, Iraq, etc.) who are considered to "threaten American interests" (i.e., those of big corporations), and they oppose social reform at home, as for example, in the continuing attacks upon trade union organizing within the U.S.

Two brief examples may serve to illustrate how the counter- revolutionary ideology of today's American ruling class translated into the perpetuation of myths about the causation of war and other social evils. The first example concerns the mass media and the second concerns the scientific establishment.

(Continued on next page)

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