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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #50

Worldview Theme #46B: Military Backers                                   Worldview Theme #47B: Pacifism / Non-violence

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: military conduct and discipline, military education and training, military spending, war and its origins, nuclear weapons

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: pacifism , pacifism--types of,
non-violence, civil resistance, deterence 

aggression, origin and types of -- an offensive action, either physical act, verbal assault, bodily attack, display of hostility, or threat. If directed against an individual, it can do physical or psychological damage, reduce fitness, and limit freedom. The attack can be unprovoked and seemingly senseless, or it can be motivated by frustration, fear, or a desire to induce fear -- perhaps even flight -- in others. If the aggression is verbal, nothing more than a strong desire to advance one’s ideas, position or interests may be behind it. Or its origin may be rooted in a special situation or circumstances. Some of these types of aggression have been named, including 1) altruistic aggression -- aggression to protect others, 2) displaced aggression -- aggression directed at a person other than the person directly responsible for the grievance, 3) maternal aggression -- aggression by a mother to protect her children, 4) territorial aggression -- aggression to protect one’s territory.

arms control--refers to efforts to restrict development,  production, spread, stockpiling, and usage of weapons.  At the family level it may mean encouraging fathers to keep hunting rifles in locked cabinets; nationally it connects with pushing for gun control laws; internationally to both technological and diplomatic efforts to control weapons of mass destruction.

bellicose--quarrelsome, aggressive, warlike

brotherhood -- an idealized situation in which people treat each other in a highly considerate way as if they were members of the same family (brothers or sisters)

capital punishment–the government legitimized ending the life of a someone who committed a particularly serious crime based on a verdict sanctioned by the criminal justice system.    

chain of command / command hierarchy—within an organizational power structure this represents the order in which commands are issued and executed. For example, in a military chain of command leaders give orders only to those directly below them and receive orders only from those directly above them.

civil disobedience–refers to a citizen’s non-violent refusal to obey a law. Howard Zinn defined it as "the deliberate violation of a law in pursuit of some social goal." Thoreau, who in the summer of 1846 spent a night in jail for his refusal to pay taxes as a protest against the US  war with Mexico, wrote a famous essay with this title.    

civil resistancepolitical action undertaken by an organized  group involving nonviolent means to  resist and challenge the authority and legitimacy of  the power(s) deemed to be in the way of sought after goal(s). Examples include demonstrations, petition drives, teach-ins, strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, vigils, occupations, actions with symbolic not real world effect, etc.. See also above entry. 

conscientious objector--one who refuses to bear arms / go to war given the religious or moral principles he or she holds.  

defencism--conditional pacifism that accepts wars for defensive purposes but rejects wars of aggression

dehumanizing before killing -- based on the idea that it is easier to kill people who are seen as less than human, before such killing a dehumanizing process must take place. This may begin with discriminating, perhaps tagging with derogatory epithet, scapegoating, and lead to generally “psychically numbing” oneself to the reality that the intended victims are fellow human beings.

deterrenceAccording to Wikipedia, “Deterrence is a strategy intended to dissuade an adversary from taking an action not yet stated by means of threat of reprisal.”  Threat of reprisal could foster an expectation  that the attacker would be hurt as bad or worse than the side attacked. Examples: 1) a bear eyes two humans standing together looking big and belligerent and decides not to attack them; 2) A big nation with lots of nuclear weapons eyes a smaller one with just a few—but nonetheless decides that the risk those few weapons could not all be destroyed in a first strike and that surviving ones could inflict unacceptable horror is too great to even contemplate offensive action.  

diplomacy--refers to 1) the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations, or 2) tactful, polite, skillful, non-confrontational  handling of affairs so as not to arouse hostility

ethnocentrism -- adopting the social standards of one’s own culture or ethnic group as the basis for evaluating the social practices, customs, beliefs, etc. of another culture -- and doing so because you believe your society’s values and way of living are superior to those of other cultures. 

evil, the problem of -- this problem has plagued philosophers at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Epicurus (341-270 BC) appears to be the first to consider it at some length. Simply put, it has two aspects, one religious, one secular, that can themselves be stated as questions, First, why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow evil to exist in the world? Second, how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts -- won’t fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc) just result in more evil? Those who embrace non-violence, forgiveness, and oppose capital punishment basically feel that good can not come out of evil. Others argue that if evil is left unchecked and unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.

fear–a strong, primary emotion associated with unpleasant anticipation of danger and pain.                                                                

Geneva Conventions--from an 1864 beginning, to major revisions / additions of 1949, and including subsequent amendments, these international agreements form the basis for humanitarian treatment of prisoners and non-combatants during war.  Among other things, they outlaw intentional killing and torture, and along with other agreements define war crimes.

gun control--proponents advocate bans on certain weapons (including military style semi-automatic rifles, handguns), restrictions on gun purchases, and registration of all guns.  While typically not contesting legitimate gun use for hunting, they cite studies that connect firearm availability with increased domestic violence and homicides. 

gun rights–in the USA, advocates argue that the 2nd Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Many argue that self defense is a basic right, and that guns deter crime.  Some feel that even firearm registration requirements are an infringement of their rights (including privacy).  Many gun enthusiasts are hunters.

gun ownership and violence—while analysis of data does not unequivocally link  higher rates of gun ownership with higher rates of homicides—nor suggest that mentally ill people with guns are any more dangerous than mentally healthy people are-- it does strongly support that higher rates of gun ownership are linked to higher rates of suicide.

Hobbesian view of human nature -- According to 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, human beings were selfish, aggressive, fiercely competitive, highly acquisitive creatures who were incapable of self restraint. With this dim view of human nature, he felt that authoritarian state offered the only way to keep human beings from killing each other in constant warfare and destroying civilization.

humility -- or being humble. According to Alan Morinis this involves “limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others. Weaving humility into relating to other people means valuing an orientation that proclaims, “I don't have all the answers and I want your contribution.” Embracing humility, according to Gary Zukov, means embracing the “harmlessness of one who treasures and honors and reveres life in all its forms”.

International Criminal Court–an international "court of last resort" set up in 2002 to prosecute people who have committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.   

intractable conflicts -- conflicts that are particularly difficult to resolve because they involve complex issues, communication difficulties, and deep-seated, often unacknowledged differences in worldviews. The people on opposing sides often feel threatened by the other side -- indeed they may feel that their sense of identity, cherished beliefs or way of life is being attacked. Besides involving conflicting worldviews, typically such conflicts also involve material goods, resources, or involve some concrete real or potential impacts on people and their environment -- impacts that are threatening. 

jihad–an Islamic term, linked to religious duty, which seemingly has two meanings: 1) spiritual (greater) jihad: refers to striving in the way of Allah, promoting Islam, fighting injustice, and nonviolent religious struggle;     2) (lesser) jihad of the sword: holy war  against the enemies of Islam aimed at defending and expanding the Islamic state.

karma -- from the Hindu sacred text the Bhagavad Gita, “Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.” Western classical physics (in the form of Newton’s 3rd Law) includes the principle that for action (or force acting) there is a reaction (a reaction force, equal in strength but oppositely directed). An eastern version of this -- a “Law of Karma” -- might be cast as “Whatever you give to the world you receive back from the world”.

martinet--a very strict disciplinarian, often found in a military setting 

militarism generally thought of as 1) belief that a people or government that the nation should maintain a strong military and not hesitate to use it to further its national goals, 2) glorification of the military, including its rituals, values, etc. This has historically been an important part of colonialism / territorial expansionist policies. The word militarism generally has negative connotations --especially in places like Japan where critics charge that militarists hijacked the country during World War II and led to its ruin. 

military conduct and discipline--fundamentally involves obeying orders and consequences for not doing so.  While it includes military courtesy (formal address, salutes, standing at attention, etc), ultimately military training seeks to instill unquestioned obedience, reinforce discipline and respect for the chain of command. (See that entry.) 


military education and training--its goal is to prepare individuals for a life of military service. It can begin in private military schools where parents send their young children, become physically demanding in the basic training of new military recruits, and culminate as some become military officers at prestigious national military academies.

military science-- the discipline and scientific study of the principles and practice of warfare / military conflict.

military spending--goes to pay those who serve in the armed forces,  facilities that house them and the machines, materials, etc they depend on, purchases of weapons, equipment, maintenance, and all that supports military operations. In 2019 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the  worldwide total military spending was $1.9 trillion (2.2% of the gross world domestic product). Of this the United States expended  $732 billion (3.4 % of its GDP), China $261billion (1.9 % of its GDP), India $71 billion (2.4 % of its GDP), Russia $65 billion (3.9 % of its GDP), and Saudi Arabia $62 billion (8 % of its GDP). Dividing that total by the world's 7.7 billion people gives roughly $250 per person. 

nationalism, religious vs.  ethnic vs. civic--the first is based on religious affiliation,  beliefs, dogma; the second  builds on hereditary, cultural, and language ties and tends to be exclusive;  the third builds on the voluntary participation of the citizens of a nation state (regardless of ethnicity) and tends to be inclusive.  If an ethnically defined nation is not a nation state, then attaining such politically sovereign status or in general more self determination may be the overriding focus of the associated ethnic nationalism.  The strength and passion of religious nationalist feelings within a country is linked to the extent to which religion has been politicized.  Of course within theocracies, separation of church and state concerns is not an issue, but elsewhere it may be a key limiting factor

nationalism vs. patriotism--both of these involve love of one's country,  but, unlike patriotism, nationalism defines itself by putting down other potential rivals and evoking  "an aggrandizing, tribalistic sentiment" in the words of Benedict Anderson, author of  Imagined Communities.

nationalist -- a person exhibiting extreme loyalty and devotion to a particular nation, who places its interests above interests of other nations.

noble savage view of human nature -- the belief that people, if they lived in a natural state away from the corrupting influence of social institutions, are fundamentally peaceful, co-operative, and altruistically concerned with each other’s well being -- not aggressively greedy, acquisitive, competitive and merely out to advance their own self interest. This view was popularized by 18th century French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.

non-aggression principle--the idea, as expressed by Ayn Rand, that coercive physical force or the threat of such use against person or property should never be used first, and that its only legitimate use is for defensive purposes by individuals or by governments to punish law-breakers.

non-violence-- both a moral philosophy and practical political strategy which rejects the use of violence to bring about social or political change. It provides an alternative to both passivity and violent action, advocating instead other means of popular struggle such as civil disobedience, boycotts, consciousness raising, etc.  Power, according to non-violence theory, depends largely on the co-operation of others. Non-violence recognizes that, ultimately, the power of those in positions of authority depends on the consent and co-operation of those they wield power over. Thus, one strategy employed by non-violent protestors is the deliberate withdrawal of this consent in an effort to invalidate the authority they find oppressive. Great proponents of non-violence include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Cesar Chavez.   See the next entry. 

non-violence and passive resistancenon-violent resistance fundamentally is harmless to people or property but it can involve vigorous action; passive resistance refers to doing nothing..  

nuclear missile defense--the ground, sea or space-based high tech capability of destroying nuclear missiles in flight.  The USA seeks  to extend its current limited system--critics charge it's too expensive and  easily thwarted.

nuclear war, environmental effects of--begin with radiation from the blast and radioactive fallout (some can last for decades), causing mutations and irreversible genetic damage to living things, and conceivably could extend to include the end of human life on Earth.  All out nuclear war–by injecting massive amounts of sunshine-blocking particulate matter into the atmosphere–could produce a "nuclear winter." Agriculture would collapse; extinction of the human species could result.  A 2008 study indicated soot from burning caused by even a small nuclear war could destroy 70% of Earth's protective ozone.

nuclear weapons--explosive devices that unleash nuclear energy and thus are typically around one million times more powerful than explosives involving the same amount of mass but based on chemical reactions (like those involving TNT). The first such weapons--atomic bombs involving nuclear fission reactions--were tested and used in 1945 by the United States to help end World War II. By 1954, thermonuclear or hydrogen bombs--involving nuclear fusion reactions--had been tested by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Whereas the former typically are equivalent in explosive power to (at most) hundreds of thousands of tons of TNT, the latter's explosive power can be measured in millions of tons (megatons) of TNT.  Such hydrogen bombs can be delivered by missiles that can strike targets thousands of miles away in less than an hour.  A one megaton bomb striking a major city like New York would immediately kill an estimated four million people; another three to four million would be dead from radiation exposure / fallout after two days. While the U.S. and Russia still have the bulk of the world's nuclear weapons--together possessing around 25,000 warheads--seven other countries have them. See arms control; see the above entry.

pacifism --can 1) generally refer to an attitude or policy of non-resistance / non-violence--which for some includes rejecting even self defense--or 2) specifically being opposed to war as a way to settle disputes.

pacifism, types of --the most basic distinction here is between absolute and conditional pacifism.  The former holds that all killing, all forms of violence, and all war are morally wrong; those of the latter persuasion, while much preferring peace, accept some of these under certain conditions. Examples of conditional pacifism include accepting use of violence to defend one's self or family, embracing capital punishment but opposing all other killing, defencism, and pacificism.  

pacificism--a type of conditional pacifism that accepts wars that are necessary to bring peace.

passivity--a state of being passive, calm, peaceful, and not reacting to some disturbance or provocation 

patriotism -- the love for and devotion to one’s country

pillage--plundering, seizing spoils often as part of war

placate--to appease, pacify, soothe, or conciliate

police—a government department established to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime. The image of USA police department work and those doing it ranges the whole gamut, from smiling easy-going  male and female, racially diverse shirt-sleeved and shorts dressed cops on bicycles joking peacefully with relaxed members of the community, to military style operations (some even are equipped with tanks) and SWAT teams lead by older males in riot gear confronting suspected criminals in tense, often violent situations. Opinions of cops held by those in the communities they operate in span the whole range from mostly good, honest guys, even unselfish public servants, doing what can be a difficult job, to corrupt, inherently violent, trigger happy, bigoted  people—many of whom might otherwise have found themselves on the wrong side of the law but, wanting a sense of power over others, they decided to become cops.  Hopeful—perhaps wishful thinking oriented—people lacking in cynicism felt most cops fit into the first category with only a very few “bad apples”; cynics feared more cops belonged in the second category than the first.  By mid 2020, after a series of highly publicized police operations unfairly and tragically targeted African Americans, USA calls for police reform had never been louder.

public service, tradition of -- instead of selling their services in the private sector to the highest bidder, some people feel called to work in the public sector, perhaps even in an elected position, and to work for the government for lesser pay. There are various reasons why people might choose to do this. For some, such work is based on professional -- and perhaps family -- tradition in which one takes pride in unselfishly serving the public interest.

sectarianism–involving the asserting of rigid sectarian dogmatism and inflexibility–which often leads to conflict between sects (e.g. religions, political parties, factions, etc.)

self control -- generally this refers to exercising restraint over one’s impulses, desires and emotions. Often it can involve deferring a reward or delaying gratification. -- an ability that many cite as a sign of emotional maturity or even intelligence. Some see the process of exhibiting self control as involving a battle between different parts of the mind.

serene--in a state of feeling calm and peaceful, lacking in agitation or feeling disturbed

tranquil--feeling calm, peaceful, serene

United Nations–an organization of over 180 member nations founded in 1945 to promote human rights, international peace and cooperation

war and its origins -- War involves hostility, aggression, attack, and determined struggle, which can broaden to justify its definition  as "armed conflict between nations or states." It typically starts with failure to resolve some intractable conflict with fear turning into hate.  According to E. O. Wilson, “War can be defined as the violent rupture of the intricate and powerful fabric of territorial taboos observed by social groups. The force behind most warlike policies is ethnocentrism, the irrationally exaggerated allegiance of individuals to their kin and fellow tribesmen.”

xenophobia -- a fear of foreigners or strangers


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