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Chapter 8

SOC102 Habits of Inequality Chapter 8

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Habits of Inequality Chapter 8 – War and Destruction - ROBERT OWEN o Believed that equality could be achieved gradually, carefully, and sympathetically, through social and industrial experiments o Underestimated the effects of past inequality on people’s ability to take charge of their own lives o Did not think violence would play a part in social improvement, but it does - People’s opinions vary as to the causes of war o Most popular view is based on evolutionary psychology (and biology)  Defines war as a human extension of animal behaviour, related to instinctive territoriality and competition  People fight to protect their territory and to obtain needed resources  KONRAD LORENZ  Early advocate of this view  Proposed that animals are naturally aggressive, and that this aggression shows up in humans in the form of war (e.g., people make wars because we evolved from aggressive animals)  Increasingly advanced technology heightens the human capacity for destructiveness and self- destruction  Human warfare differs from territorial fights between animals (other than technology)  Not all populations are equally warlike  Social factors and childhood socialization are important in the creation and persistence of warfare  Human aggression may be a universal occurrence, but warfare is not (e.g., wars come and go)  Take longer and more complicated than non-human wars  Take years to complete and require enormous organization and conscious sacrifice o SIGMUND FREUD  Proposed that war is inevitable because people have a destructive instinct, like an instinct for love  To live together in societies, people need to curtail their death instinct, but curtailing the outward expression of aggression creates neurosis  Death instinct  a natural desire for outward aggression  Neurosis  an inward expression of aggression  Conflict between destructive instinct and neurosis represented one of the central, inescapable difficulties in human life  To handle this destructive instinct, nation states channel people’s pent-up aggression outwards, into warfare  Warfare could be reduced if nations were willing to give up some of their sovereignty to an international body like the League of Nations  Destructive urges are deemed to be universal  Explain why humans are warlike in general  Does not explain why some societies are more warlike than others  Does not explain when or how wars occur  Does not explain why some societies engage in war less often than other societies o Aggressive rulers play a part in warfare  Rulers have drawn a reluctant populace into war  HITLER  Used propaganda techniques to goad the German citizenry into war  Blamed the communists, the Jews, and other enemies for Germany’s troubles  Used this as an excuse to invade Poland  Combination of national propaganda and personal charisma pushed Germany into war o Demographic theories about war th  Based on the work of THOMAS MALTHUS (18 century demographer)  Without preventative checks, populations will always increase until they are limited by positive checks  Preventative checks  lower birth rate (e.g., abstinence, postpone marriage)  Positive checks  increase death rate (e.g., war, disease, famine)  Positive checks are more likely to occur in high-fertility countries  Role of expanding populations and diminishing resources as the key causes of armed conflict  Role of young men in war-making  Youth bulge theory  war tends to break out when large youth cohorts (especially male) experience a lack of regular, peaceful job opportunities (e.g., too many young men and too few jobs) o 30-40% of the males of a nation belong to the fighting age cohorts (15-25 years old), especially in high-fertility countries  Used to explain Islamic terrorism o Religions and ideologies are secondary factors that legitimate violence and do not result in violence unless a youth bulge is present to do the fighting  Religions and ideologies only result in violence if there is a large youth population available to act on aggressive ideas  E.g., Lebanon and Gaza Strip have similar religious and ideological profiles, but very different demographic profiles  Lebanon  absence of violence + low level of fertility  Gaza Strip  violence + high level of fertility  Demography drives Islamic violence  Applied to revolutions o Recent political events in Libya, Syria, and Egypt (e.g., Africa, the Middle East) are the result of a youthquake and a corresponding lack of opportunities for young people  Fails to explain the wars begun by more developed, low-fertility countries, without an excess of unemployed young men o Marxist theory  All modern wars are caused by competition for resources and markets between capitalist powers  Wars are a natural result of the free market system  War will disappear only after a world revolution has overthrown the global capitalist class o Bankers cause wars  War is lucrative for banks  Lend governments the money to make war  Lend money to war industries to produce the material needed for war-making  Secretly control central banking systems like the US Federal Reserve  Manipulate the public to believe in an imaginary enemy in order to initiate the war-making process  Limitations  Not all wars are economically profitable, even for capitalists  Many wars have purely strategic motives, rather than economic motives o Rationalist theory  War is a betting game  a game of strategic moves, aimed at achieving strategic political (or geopolitical) goals under conditions of uncertainty  Limitations  Hard to apply cost-benefit calculations to explain the most extreme genocidal cases of war, where no bargain is ever offered (e.g., Rwanda, Kosovo)  Assume the state acts as a unitary individual o Makes sense when analyzing dictatorships or monarchies o Makes less sense when the country’s leader is controlled by a congress or parliament  Assume the actors involved can accurately assess their likelihood of success or failure o Ignores the role of irrational prejudices, fears, hopes, and fantasies War and inequality - The connection between inequality and violence may seem simple [↑ frustration = ↑ inequality = ↑ aggression = ↑ violence] o ROBERT MACCULLOCH  Surveyed a 0.25 million randomly sampled individuals in various countries  Found that more people express a preference for revolt when their nation is highly unequal  Argues that “1 SD increase in the Gini coefficient explains up to 38% of the SD in revolutionary support”  Argues that reductions in inequality will reduce people’s support for revolution - The connection between inequality and violence is not as simple o Inequality may make people angry, but will they go to war? o JOHN DOLLARD and NEAL MILLER  Frustration-aggression hypothesis  aggression results when a person’s efforts to attain a goal are blocked or frustrated (e.g., frustration leads to aggression) o However, psychological and anthropological research shows that frustration expresses itself in many different ways, not merely as outward aggression  People do not always act on aggressive impulses (e.g., frustration does not always lead to aggression)  Direct aggression against one’s oppressor(s) is not always an option  When the source of the frustration cannot be challenged, the victim directs (or displaces) the aggression onto an innocent target, or even channels it into dreams  J.W.M. WHITING and I.L. CHILD  Aggression displacement can be seen in dreams and fears of witchcraft in highly repressive societies  Among men, frustration expressed as aggression against wives and children  Among women and children, frustration expressed in suicide and psychosomatic illness  Frustration does not guarantee aggression, and the expression of aggression does not guarantee warfare - Many elements go into the translation of frustration into political violence (e.g., culture, belief, ideology, leadership, resources) o WALTER GOLDFRANK  Studied inequality and revolution in rural Mexico 1) Inequality and oppression do not produce revolt 2) False to argue that the greater the inequality, the greater the rebelliousness 3) Activities of the dominant rural class are crucial to the analysis of inequality and revolution 4) Government’s ability to suppress rebellion was most limited in the areas where rebellion was most likely  No linear correlation between inequality and discontent, or between discontent and revolt  Revolution cannot be the only conclusive indicator of dissensus o Depends on opportunities, resources, and expectations  Few opportunities or resources to express discontent  rebellions are unlikely (even if the inequality is more severe)  High expectations + more opportunities and resources to express discontent  rebellions are likely (even in the inequality is less severe) o Rebellious behaviour depends the direction of movement  If things are getting better, or people think things are getting better, then people are less likely to rebel  This is why globalization has reduced political protest throughout the world  MILLS o Globalization  exporting manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries  Reduced inequality in developing economies  quell rebellious behaviour  Increased inequality in industrialized countries  stimulate rebellious behaviour  Revolutionary potential of developed countries depends on: o What people expect o What they think is happening o How they explain their declining conditions  In the most developed societies, people tend to hope for the best o Conditions of economic decline and growing income inequality produce violence and armed rebellion  Failed states  states without a strong tradition of good government  Economic regress and political decay bring about relative deprivation by influential social groups of injustice arising from a growing discrepancy between what they expect and get  Some societies are able to develop effective ways of channeling conflict peacefully, despite inequality  The Whitehall Papers o Despite rising levels of inequality, the number of armed conflict has declined o Due to the increasing ability of some societies to develop mechanisms for peaceful resolution of distributional conflicts  Spread of democratic political system  Strong tradition of rule of law and honest government  High confidence in public institutions and “way of life” o Latin America  high economic inequality, but more peaceful and stable in recent decades o Somalia  problems remain in this failed state o Northern Ireland  problem remains because economic deprivation combined with strong ethno-nationalist traditions o CRAMER  Economic inequality plays a part in war and civil conflict  The link between inequality and conflict is not direct  The link between inequality and conflict is conditional on other factors  Different kinds of inequalities have different mechanisms that turn inequality into violent conflict - The link between economic (class-based) inequality and violence (e.g., taste for revolt) o The link between inequality and violence is easiest to see in rural, pre-industrial societies  Most severe violence between landlords and landless people occurs at intermediate levels of land inequality 1) Rebellion is most likely when the peasantry has risen above abject poverty but is still far from equitable-land sharing 2) Rebellion is driven by expectations that are rising more quickly than the rate of social improvement (e.g., actual change in well-being) 3) Transition from old to new ways unleashes aggression that was kept in check when the old ways seemed permanent o ROSEMARY GARTNER  Femicide  homicidal violence by men against women  Most common in societies in the midst of a changeover from traditional to modern ways  Violence against women is prevalent where women’s status is lower than men’s  Violence against women is even more prevalent where women’s status is starting to rise (e.g., threatening men’s traditional standing in the society) o Key factors in the expression or translation of “taste for revolt” (e.g., rebellion)  Low levels of trust and force by the police and military  A society with a large part of its workforce committed to guarding, policing, soldiering, supervising, prosecuting, and judging is a society with a high potential for rebellion  Strength of forces arrayed against rebellion  Ability of government to respond to flexibly to demands for change  Governments who want to control people’s rebelliousness should avoid violent responses and make clear that people who stay away from rebellion will be spared punishment  Punishment that is disproportionately and carelessly dispensed may encourage rebellion  Threats of military backlash and widespread fear makes rebellion more likely o RICHARD WILKINSON  The “tendency for rates of violent crime and homicide to be higher where there is more inequality” is part of a more general tendency for the quality of social relations to be poorer in more hierarchical societies  Unequal societies are more likely to inspire tastes for violence as well as rebellion - Vertical inequality (between classes)  income, or class based inequalities - Horizontal inequality (between tribes)  ethnic, regional, or religious based inequalities between culturally defined groups o JAMES ROBINSON  Class conflict is not necessarily worse than ethnic conflict  Ethnic conflict is generally worse than class conflict when the distribution of income is more equal  Ethnicity is immutable, while class position is not o MARIE BESANCON  Traditionally deprived identity groups (e.g., tribes) are more likely to engage in conflict under more economically equal conditions  Class or revolutionary wars fall under conditions of greater economic inequality  Must consider genocides (aimed at particular ethnic, tribal, or religious groups) differently from other, equally violent types of civil war and political upheaval  Political and social equalities mitigate ethnic violence  Peace and stability in ethnically divided states require:  The equalization of incomes  The inclusion of all groups within the political agenda and the distribution of public goods - The link between horizontal (culture-based) inequality and violence o For ethnic conflict over horizontal inequalities, we will need to find  Perceived injustice in one or more ethnic communities  Strong communal identity and strong institutional resources for seeking justice o Through the use of geocoding, researchers have concluded that  In highly unequal societies, both rich and poor groups fight more often than middle-class groups  Poorer groups fight because little to lose and a strong motivation to improve their standing  Richer groups fight because more to lose and a strong resource base to wage the battle o Dealing with problems of horizontal inequality using political decentralization  RACHAEL DIPROSE  Political decentralization o Relieved tensions between rich and poor groups o Addressed long-standing intergroup tensions and horizontal inequalities at the local level  Particularly where geographically concentrated ethno-religious groups have previously been marginalized from the government o Created new problems, while solving old ones  Promoted ethnoreligious segregation and migration (e.g., groups relocate themselves for self-protection and self-advancement)  Indonesia  political decentralization have not led to violent conflict  Israel  channeling hostility into peaceful electoral processes o Moderating the conflict between horizontally unequal groups by cross-cutting cleavages  Civil war is more likely (?) in countries where ethnicity is crosscut by socioeconomic class, geographic region, and religion  Canada circa 1950 o Francophone ethnicity was centered in the province of Quebec (region), characterized by Roman Catholicism (religion), and disproportionately absent from the dominant financial, commercial, industrial, and professional classes o Escaped the 1960s and 1970s without a civil war (e.g., no mass uprising) o Led us to conclude that the conditions between Quebec and the rest of Canada were never as dire as the separatists were painting them o The link between horizontal inequality and political violence may work best for less developed societies  Horizontal social inequality predicted the outbreak of conflict, under specific conditions  The interaction between group identity, segregation, institutionalization, and disadvantage creates conflict o The effect of demographic pressure (e.g., population pressure, resource scarcity) on violence risk  Indonesia  in provinces where population growth is high, greater levels of inequality between religious groups appear to increase the violence risk o Processes (e.g., exclusion, social division, class formation) that lead to violent outcomes  PAULINE PETERS  Processes (e.g., commodification, structural adjustment, market liberalization, and globalization) limit or end negotiation and flexibility for certain social groups or categories  Processes of intergroup inequality and violence take place in a highly globalized, capitalized world  GJERMUND SAETHER  Tendency to focus only on internal political causes (e.g., ethnic factors in explaining violent conflict)  Ethnicity cannot be seen as the root cause of conflicts  Major power centres outside the continent is responsible for violent conflict in sub-Saharan Africa  International economic strains increase both the potential and intensity of violent conflicts  Must pay more attention to issues of debt and access to markets in any discussion of violence in developing societies Horizontal inequality and war - FRANCES STEWART o Noticed that every country low on human and economic development were involved in wars, or have been recently o Argued that horizontal inequality is likely to lead to war in less developed societies (e.g., Iraq, Congo, Sri Lanka, Bosnia) o Identified what others have called “failed states” o Acknowledged that wars are extremely complex social events, with a
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