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and Civil Violence


  • pg 1
                                  Social Scientific Theory
                                               and Civil Violence
                                                                    Paul WiLhinson

  l V e re al l l ' under st a n d ve r y l i t t l e a b o r r t t h e o r i gi ns and causesof
human v i ol ence i n a l l i t s d a u n t i n g va r i e t v. O n e i s haunt ed by t he
dire warning in Alexander Pope's An E.ssay Man:                       on

   Trace.Science   thcn, w'ith Modest_v guide; th.v
   First strip off all ht:r'equipage Pride;
   Deductwhat is but Vanity or Dress,
   Or Learning'sLuxury or Idleness;
   Or tricks to shou,the stretch human brain,
   Merecur i ouspl east r r e .r i n g r n i o u sp a i n :
   Expungethe whole,or lop th' excrescent                 parrs
   Of all our Viceshavecrcated        Arts;
   Then seeht>rr'   little the rentainin.q      sum,
   lVhich sen'ed past,and must the rirnt'sro cor-nel

   Almost everv scientific discipline has produced some discoveryor
hypothesis relevant to an understarrding of human violence and
aggression.It is a truly Olympian poll'math who can claim to have
untangled and masteredthem all, and rhose who do so, almost in-
evitably invite accusarions follv or charlatanism. And no modern
social scientist can fail to be aware of the serious Popperian ob-
jections against grand theories of human behavior:r they are
inescapablyreduc'tionist.unfalsifiable, historicisr, and coverrly ideo-
l ogi cal .
   Ttrere is no substanrial theoretical literarure in social scienc.c
concerned specifically with terrorist.phenonlena. It can be shown,
however, that sonregeneral theoriesof violence have yielded hypoth-
eses about terrorism which, though hotly dispured, are of con-
siderable academic interest. Some of the more influential of these
theories, and their underlying assumptions, are the subject of the
initial discussion in this essay.We shall then procecd to examine

16                                                                        I'aul trVilhin.sort         .\rxi al   Sti er tti l i c Theorl ,and   (i h,i l l ,i ol enc e

some of the nrore sug.qestive              hvpothesesrelating to the causation of                        ll'err his fellow social Daru'inists were embzrrrassed the                by         exposure
r iv il v ioler r c e rn d te rro ri s m.
                     i                                                                                  .f H aecke l'scr ude t r icks of char lat anism ,f or exam ple, his
                                                                                                                                                                                              suist it u_
    Some of theseattempts at theory turn out to be,on closerinvestiga-                                   ti'n of shark embryos t() representhuman embryos.However,
                                                                                                                                                                                                what is
tion, no more than crude models positing a possible general                                             i rnportant and int er est i'g in t he long r er m is t hat t heseaut hor s
relationship betweenhuman violence and certain arbitrarily defined                                                                                                                                   nor
                                                                                                        o.ly provided ready-madesotrrcebcloksfor Nazi ra<.e                            ,.theory,,,
variables. Others trlrn out to be merely statementsof statistical cor-                                                                                                                               but
                                                                                                        also exerted a deep and lastine appeal for a whole ge.rerario.,
relatesof various kinds of violence, while others only provide useful                                                                                                                                  of
                                                                                                       (icrrnan and Austrian biologists a.d zoologists,
                                                                                                                                                                              of *h,rr,-, the best
c hec k lis t s of p o s s i b l e p re c o n d i ti o n s a n d preci pi tati ng causesof              k',r,''n survivor is Kolrrad Lclrenz.Lorenz has hirnself admitred
violence.2     Such approachesdo not provide anv purchaseon the really                                 ,w'n indebteclness the writings of earlier German social Da^t,inists
big questions about human violence. Whf is man the only species                                        arrd errgenici.sts,T    a'd his own                   influential rnoder. version ol.
that indulges in intraspecific violence on a really massiveand dis-                                                                                   'ery
                                                                                                       instirrctivist theory is perhaps best uncrerstoo<r a direct successor
ruptive scale?       Why does man alone among all creatures                       commit acts          tr rhe "high" social Da^t'inism of Haeckel and Boelsche
of mass murder and promiscuous cruelty and sadism?Llnder what                                          aclapted for the needs of a conremporarr. public, yer nevertheless
conditions and for what reasons men resort to one form of violerrce
                                               do                                                      i'lormed by some ex*aordinarily illuminating and original
rather than another? And why is it that, faced with similar rhreats,                                   i nto ani mal behavior .
conditions, circumstances, or pressures, some individuals react                                             I-orenz' s m ost i. f lue. t ial exposit io' of his inst inct i'ist
                                                                                                                                                                                               t heor y,
violently when others do not? It may well be that such broad                                          ()n Aggression (1g66), argues that human
                                                                                                                                                                        aggression is a basic
questions are inherently unanswerable.rCertainly the mosI that can                                    organic drive or instinct :rs viral for man's basic-physiological
be claimed for any of the scientific theoriesdiscussed                         here is rhar they      as the drives of hunge,r a.d sex. Aggressicl. is, a..,r.di.rg
                                                                                                                                                                                               to this
have aclded     some fresh insights and conceptsto rhe body of knowledge                              th.o.y, phr l,g;eretir.aly'pr.gramed in rna' as parr of
                                                                                                                                                                                   .ur eq.rilr*..,,
about hum an v i o l e n c e .                                                                        I,r .sur'ival. L'renz is irrtere        stedprimarily in inrraspecificaggression
    Evolutionary theory and social Darwinism, it is widely agreed,                                    (i.e., ag.gressirnngai,.st nrernbersof one's orvn
                                                                                                                                                                          specres)       rather tha'
exerted a seminal influence on late nineteenth and early twentieth                                    in interspecific or predatory violence. \{.'hat
                                                                                                                                                                          aie rhe viral sociar
century social rhor-rght.a         Darwinist ideaswere developedand diffused                          f'nctions served by i'tr;rspecific ag.qression                   accordirrg to Lorenz?
not only by authoritative scientific u'riters such as Sir Julian Huxley                              (ilearly' the anthroporogical
                                                                                                                                               and pareontorogicalevidencedoes not
and S ir A r t hu r Ke i th . b u t a l s o b y s o c i a l D a r w i ni sts such as B enj ami n     slrpport the notion thar man has indulged in large
Kidd and Karl Pearson,swho popularized much cruder and more                                          aggression simply for the purposes of obtaining
                                                                                                                                                                                     mates o, fo,
extreme social Darwinist and eugenicistdoctrines.The basicassump-                                    .an' i bal i srn . l- or enzar g. es t hat r na''s aggr essive
                                                                                                                                                                             insr in<t per f or m s
tions of the social Darwinists and the social imperialists who readily                               at            ei ght basic f ur r r . r io. s in t he , t r uggle f or sur vi'al:
                                                                                                           -l east                                                                              ( l) t o
exploited their ideas were: (l) the evolutionary processes natural                   of             defeathis rivals anclensnries; to protect
                                                                                                                                               12)                hli mate; 13;to pr,rtefr'his
selection and the survival of the fittest applied to the development                                \' ()' ng; i 4) t . pr ot ect his cclr . . r r r 'it v ( why
                                                                                                                                                                  t his shour d ber "e'br . t he
of races, nations, and empires; (2) war and violence constituted                                    i ndi ' i drral to l) e. e( ess: ir vf . r hi. per lr . r . al
                                                                                                                                                                    or f anr ir v sr r r . vi'ar ot
necessary     testsor proving grounds of a nation's fitnessto survive;and                           stttts[a.roril,v    ex1;lai'ed b1' Lorenz; hi-srefere.c.es group loyalties
(3) on these assumptions, social Darwinists prescribedthe inculca-                                  ar' ('so va.queas t ' r er cler t henr indist i'. quishablc
                                                                                                                                                                               f r ''r 'any'ot her
tion of warriorlike virtues, physical fitness, and war-readinessas                                  l eel i ngsof alr r uisr . ') ;( 5) r . space
                                                                                                                                                      or r inaividuat s of r h" r p. . i". or , . .
vital conditions for national, racial, or imperial survival.                                        thc avai l ab le habit at ;
                                                                                                                                     16) t o pr <lt ecrhis t er r it or l, ; ( 7) r o er r sur et he
   Social Darwinist influence was also a development of ominous                                    str(' cess    a.d r eader shipr >f t he best ( i. e. , st r ongest )
                                                                                                                                                                                  or r he species
significance in the social thought of Wilhelmine Germany. Among                                                   the rnechanisms narural selection;and (tt1
                                                                                                   tn establ i shi. g a sociarr ank                                            ro assisr     rhereby
the most popular exponents of crude social Darwinism in Ciermany                                                                              o. der , which in t ur n st r en. qt r r ens
                                                                                                   stabilirl', solidarity, a.cl efficiency.                                                    social
were Ernst Haeckel and Wilhelm Boelsche.6                             H;reckel,author of the                                                                Furrherr'ore, Lore'z <:lainrs,
best-sellingDie lVeltriitsel, was actlrally a very cornpetent biologist                            ttlan.'sagg.essivei.stir<:r is
                                                                                                                                             sur:ha pclwerfur basic drive that it musr
who prostituted his talents by sensationalismand journalisticexcess.                               tl tt' r' i tabl yfind a' our le(
                                                                                                                                       e'e' t r ndercondit ions wher e sur 'i'al is
48                                                                  P a u L Wi L k i n s o n   \ 6 c i a l S c i e ttti l i c Th e o r t a n d C i u i l I'i o l e n ce   1S

no way endangered. Lorenz's model has hence been dubbed                                        ro rhe problem of human agg;ression.      The gloomy diagnosis of neo-
"hydraulic" bv his critics becauseit envisagesa bottled up florv of                            instinctivism is that man may be irreparably warped or wild: we may
aggression constantly rvelling up within the individual or group,                              l>eon a suicide course,but there is nothing that we can do about it.
demanding expressiort.and spilling over into aggressive                        behavior.           Robert Ardrey has, in several recent works,8 presented his own
Moreover, he suggeststhat it is extremely                    unhealthy for human de-           l'ariant of neoinstinctivist theory, drau'ing heavily on social Dar-
velopment if atternptsare made to suppressor sublimate this aggres-                            r,vinistideasand Lorenz's ethological studies.He arguesthat human
sive instinct, for to do so would be to destroy the wellsprings of                             2ggression is partly rooted in struggles for identity, security, and
human creativity and competitive progress(the price for eliminating                            stimulation, but that the dominant source of all human aggression
or r educ ing c o n fl i c tt.                                                                 is what he terms the "territorial imperative," the human instinct
   ln On Aggression, L,orenz implies that man was an aggressrve                                to defend one's territory. This emphasis is considerably at variance
creatureeven in the primitive foodgathering, hunting, and nomadic                              rvith Lorenz's theory, but as Ardrey's work has been so widely pub-
phasesof human evolutior-r.           More recently,he has revisedthis account                 licized and discussed,  his variant of neoinstinctivism will be briefly
to suggest that it was in the Neolithic Revolution, between about                              coveredin the critical discussion of instinctivism that follows.
g000and 7000B.c., when permanent setrlements                        based agriculture
                                                                           on                      We must begin by questioning the utility of the concept of aggres-
were first established,that man becamedangerouslyaggressive.                        But'       sion, for in Lorenz's usageit is so vagueand ambiguous that it invites
according to neoinstincrivisr rheory, it was the invention, diffusion,                         even more confusion than the difficult concept of violence that we
and use of deadly weap()rlsthat finally broke down the inhibitions                             disctrssedearlier. Much aggression in both animal and human
that had previously tended to contain or limit intraspecific aggres-                           behavior is shown by warning signals, cotnbatant postures, fierce
sion. Rifles and guns made it possible for individuals to kill each                            expressions,                             the
                                                                                                              and cries.In many cases, show of aggression       doesnot
other at great distances and hence the killer u'as trnable to see                              give rise to physical attack on the opponent: in Lorenz's terms it
 suffering in the eyes or facesof his victims. Moreover, r'r'henman                            remai nsar t he sym bolicor r it ual level.But how is one t o dist inguish
 becameable to manufacture deadly weapons' he was no longer con-                               aggressionfrom mere expressionsof anger, annoyance, or frdstra-
 strained by the physical self-restraints inhibitions, which Lorenz
                                                         or                                    tion? Does verbal conflict count as a manifestation of human
 suggestsare inherent in bttdily struggle with an opponent. Lorenz                             aggression?   Lorenz appearsto interpret the term so broadly that even
 does not seriousl-v      consider, however, the far more tangible sources                     a baby's exploration of its mother or a businessman's     thrusting style
 of culturally imposed inhibition against intraspecific aggression.                            of competition could be counted as aggressive.       Surely we need to
 Clearly uncontrolled intraspecific killing or maiming in even the                             make a basic distinction between displays of aggressivefeeling or
 most primitive agricglturalist settlementscould be self-destructive                           rntent and the actual infliction of violence. But how are we to deal
 as a result of depleting the available manpower for production of                             with the case of violence in self-defense     against an act of violent
 food and necessities        and for communal defense.               Also, on the eugeni-      aggression?Surely there is an important sensein the discourseof
 cists' own assumptions,          unrestrained intraspecific violence would                    politics, law, and diplomacy, in which the term "aggressor" is re-
 "program" the breeding clf the fiercesthumans and hence ultimately                            servedfor he who strikes the first blow. Her-rce, the context of
 endanger the survival <-rf speciesthrough fratricidal strife.
                                  the                                                          collectivehuman violence,Erich Fromm's conceprof benign aggres-
    It is becauseLorenz beliel'esthat intraspecific human aggression                           sione appears to be a contradiction in terms. A victim of aggression
 has "gone wild" and becomea danger to man's survival that he lays                             may respond by a display of aggressionor by counrerarrack,       but such
 great stresson the need to <.hannt'laggressioninto what william                               aggressionis hardly benign in its intentions or. its possible effects
 ju*.r termed "moral eqr.rivaletlts u'ar." As human aggression
                                                     lor                                       tl pon the opponenr . M uch inst incr ivistand psychopat hological    dis-
                                                                                               cttssionof violence is seriously skewed by its neglect of acts of pure
 demands an outlet, it must be relcasedor exprcssedin adventure,
                                                                                               self-clefensc,  u'hich may indeed have an instinctual basis lfor: ex-
 sport, or conresrs9r divclted ilto ritlalizecl clr symbolic aggresston,
                                                                                               ample, the use of one's limbs or a convenient objecr ro ward off an
 whi< : h will n o t h a rn r o r < l i s l u p t th c s p er:i es. espi tefrequent refcr-
                                  of aggressitlr.t       occurrins in a1it.nll behayior,       attacker's blows) and rvhich it rvould be parently absurd ro term
 en(es to the ritualizatitttr                                                                  "aggressive.
 Lorepz [ipcls pt> rcassurittgt'videnr:ethat it will prgvide a s11lrttiolr                                   "
,0                                                                       Paul 11/ilkinson          S6cialScientific Theory and Ch'il l/iolence                              ,1

     Fromm is surely right to draw attention to the instinctivists' failure                        Turnbullr? to show that many tribal communities (such as the
r o dis r ingui s h b e rw e e na g g re s s i o nc o rn mi tted i n the course o[ i n-            Arapesh of New Guinea, the Lepochas of Sikkim, and the Zuni
dividual, family, or communal protection, or for the purposes of                                   Indians of the southwest United States) have establishedentirely
defeating rivals or gaining territory, from purely destructiveacts of                              ocacef and cooperativemodesof life in which intraspecificviolence
violence lacking any apparent il)strumental motivation' Fromm                                      is altlost unknown. There is no anthropological evidenceto support
designatesthis form of purely destructivehuman violetlce "malig-                                   the Hobbesian and instinctivist assumption that for man the stateof
nant aggression" and, in his fascinating clinical casestudies of the                               nature must inevitably be the state of war.
psychopathology of sadismand necrophilia,t0he makesan extremely                                       Ardrey's theory that human conflict stemsmainly from an instinct
convincing case that promiscuous acts of cruelty and sadism have                                   to acquire and hold territory is also falsified by the sociological
their roots not in instinct but in personality disorders.                                          evidence.NIan is an intensely gregarious creature and does not ap-
     The instinctivists' neglect of the differencesbetweenanimals and                              parently require or seek(assome birds and mammals appear to do) a
hurnans-their willful dismissal of the hurnan psyche,personality,                                  nrir.rirnal  ratio of indil'idtrals to land areaor a designatedterritory in
passions,and character traits-naturally renders their approach in-                                 order to survive. Indeed, the processesof industrialization and
capable of dealing adequately with pathological violence. More                                     modernization have been accompanied universally by a tendency
damagingly, however, it also accounts for the cmde reductionism                                    rowards larger urban conglomerations. Nor is life in the densely
of neoinstinctivism's "ethological" approach to explaining normal                                  populated cities of, for example, Holland, Belgium, or Britain
 human violence and aggression.Lorenz admits that mat.t is one of                                  necessarilycharacterizedby increasedaggressionand violence among
 the leastinstinct-dominated creatures,                    that man is peculiarly "open"           the general population. It is not crowding or population density per
 or malleable to the        influences o[ acquired behavior. Yet the instinc-                      se that appears to be correlated with high levels of violence.Rather
 tivisrs neglecr the rich and growing research literature on child                                 it is pressure on scarce resources,the intensification of relative
 development, learning, and socialization. Instead, Lorenz and his                                 deprivation, or sudden crisesbringing economic or political disrup-
 followers depend almost exclusively on analogies with animal be-                                  tion. The territorial imperative theory is also falsified in terms of
 havior (in particular the behavior of geese                      and apes).It is one thrng        its own instinctivist premises.If human behavior is to be understood
 to hypothesizeabout the importance in animal behavior of the right                                as merely another speciesof animal behavior, then the territorial
 stimulus arising ar the appropriate rime to provoke the requisite                                 instinct mtrst be common to both. But among many species           there is,
 innate response;it is close to charlatanism to apply such hypotheses                              in fact, great flexibility exercisedin regard to territorial boundaries
 in crude reductionist fashion to all the complex and subtle varia-                                and access.    And, in any case,the more rigid observance territory
  t ions ol ht tn ra n b e h a v i o r.                                                            by certain species     tends to have the function of avoiding or reducirrg
      Neoinstinctivism has beenpowerfully challenged,even on its own                               conflict rertherthan of increasing it. Perhaps the most damaging
  terrain. as a theory of animal behal'ior. Recent researchfindings in                             evidenceagainst Ardrey's theory, however, is the researchfinding
  the neurological sciencesindicate that animal and human brains                                   that the binding of a male to its own terrirory is not instinctual, but
 have built-in neural mechanisms r'vhich, in response to attacks                                   l earned.t3
  threatening indil,idual survival, may trigger responses either self'          of.                   A l l of the above cr it icism s seem t o m e lo consr ir ut e an ovcr -
 c lef ens e fl i g h t fro m th e a tta c k e r.rrl t i s thereforequi te arbi trary
              or                                                                                   w hel mi ng ar gum enr againstinst incr ivistand neoinst inct ivist"t heo-
                                                                         instinct"; as Fromm          "
 of the instinctivists to focuson man's "aggressive                                                lY It is my contention that Lorenz's accounr of aggressionis fatally
  has pointeclout, one might as rvell propound a theorv basedon man's                              flawed ancl that it has nothing to tell us about the nature, origins,
  instinct to flee. Moreover, Lorenz's hydraulic theory of dammed-up                               or implications of the large-scalehuman violence that has been
  aggression dernanding outlet is falsified by the field studies of                                employed by man since the beginnings of recordeclhistory as an
  ani..ral behavior generally. Even the fiercestpredatorsdo not exhibit                            rnstrument for achieving political ends.It yields neither insights nor
  s ut h c ont i n rra l a n c l i n tt' n s e a g g rt' s s i o nei ther i n the u i l d or i n   hypotheses to aid us in our str-rdies the violence of conquest,
  c apt iv it y .                                                                                  repression,ernancipation struggles, rebellion, or revolution. Why,
      And, so far as prirnitive human societiesare concerned' there rs                             then, does it continue to be influential in the popular cr-rlture?    The
  abundant evidencein the studies o[ Bcr.reclict,                       Mead, Mtrrdtlck, and       most likely reasons for its successare, first, its aura of scientific
j2                                                                 paul l V i l hi nson
                                                                                           SocialScientilic Theory and Ciuil Violence                                 5)

authority, and, second,the fact that neoinstinctivism providesa com-                       r:ally rraining the dog to associate the ringing of a bell with the pre-
forting soporific against the problems of modern life and the fear                         senrarion   of food. After a lengthy period of training the dog, Pavlov
that humanity might destroyitself. For if man's inhibitions against                        discovered that the ringing of the bell evoked the conditioned
intraspecific aggression really have irreparably broken down, as                           responsc of salivation even when the additional stimulus of the
Lorenz suggests,then the hope that this aggressionmav be diverted                          appearanceof food was omitted from the sequence.
into harmless channels is clearly in vain. Where is the deus ex                               Arnerican behaviorist psychology has contributed the major work
machina that will bring about the diversion? The messa!ie neo-                of           in the field of instrumental conditioning.ta This form of condition-
instinctivist theory is one of hopelessresignation: eat. aggress,and                       ing is accomplished by systematically compelling an animal to
be merry, for tomorrow we die.                                                             chooseor perform a desiredaction among a limited number of alter-
   Behaviorist theory approachesthe phenomenon of human aggres-                            nativesb-vthe use of rewards and punishments. The most recentand
sion from an entirelv different viewpoint. T'his powerful movement                         sophisticated   American research conditioning has beenconducted
in modern psychology developedfrom the rvork of J. B. Watson, L                            bv B. F. Skinner. He has developed   and refined the third rype,operanr
Pavlov, and B. F. Skinner and has tr.r'o                             in
                                                      main features con-rmon     with      conditioning, which involves the useof a more permissive,but never-
instinctivism: the claim to the absolute certainty, authority, and                         thelesshighly structured, laboratory environment. Here the animal
predictive power of scienceand the application of a crude positivist                       is left to "accidentally" perform an action (e.g., pushing a button),
reductionism to the study of human behavior. It is important to                            which is then rewarded by the experimenter. Skinner and his col-
clarify at the outset the rather specialmeaning it gives to "behavior."                    leaguesdiscoveredthat by increasingly discriminating use of positive
Behaviorism's sole interest is in observablephysical behavior and                          and negative reinforcement, animals could "teach themselves" to
not in the subjective feelings or mental life of the individual. Con-                      perform quite complex sequencesof behavior, for example, rhe
ceptssuch as "personality" and "mind" are redundant in behaviorist                         sinrulation of table tennis by pigeons. A crucial part of the operant
language.The human brain is conceivedas being a mechanism that                             conditioning process developed by Skinner is the successivere-
has the function of triggering and coordinating learned or acquired                        warding of the animal's partial performancesof the desiredresponse
behavioral responses specific stimuli. Behaviorism does not con-
                             to                                                            until, finally, the action is perfectly performed.
cern itself with the social or biological origins of particular traits                        Behavioristwork on conditioning has extremely interesting appli-
or featuresof human behavior beyond simply taking for granted the                          cations and implications concerning the problem of human aggres-
variability of individual geneticendowment. Its model or doctrine of                       sion. Skinner and his school are quite certain that operant
man is therefore absurdly simple: man is basically a hedonistic                            conditioning techniquesare just as valid and practicablefor humans
machine attempting to adapt itself to a hostile environment. Because                       as thev are lor animals.
the individual will inevitably seek to maximize pleasure (rewards)
and minimize pain (punishments),it is possibleto condition or train                          Beh;rviorwhich operatesupon the environmentto producecon-
him to adopt particular desiredbehavior patterns through manipu-                             sequences ("operant"behavior) be studied arrangingenviron-
                                                                                                                           can             by
lating the contingenciesor environmental influences that determlne                           mentsln which specificconsequences contingentupon it. The
                                                                                             <:ontinsenciesunder investigation have becomesteadilymore com-
t hem .
                                                                                             plex, and one by one theyare taking over the explanatory
   There are three main kinds of conditioning discussed in the                                                                                          functions
                                                                                             pre'iouslyassigned personalities,
                                                                                                                to                    .f'rincl, feeli'gs,traitsof
psychological literature, though each has beenfrequently misunder'                           character,purposes, intentions.
                                                                                                                and             The seconcl resultis practical:
stood or confused by critics of behaviorism. Classical conditioning                          environment be manipulated. is true that nran's
                                                                                                          can                It                   genetic endou,-
occurs when an animal links a responseto a specific stimulus with                            mellt can be chaneedonly l,ery slowly, but changes
                                                                                                                                                in the environment
which it had not previously been "connected." This happens when                              ot the individual have quick and dramatic
                                                                                                                                          effects.A technology of
an animal recurrently experiencesa stimulus followed a sufficient                            operant behavior is, as we shall
                                                                                                                              see,alreadywell advanced,  and ii-may
 number of times by the stimulus that evokesa specific response.                  An         prove to be commensurate
                                                                                                                         u'ith our problems.r5
 ex am ple of th i s i s th e rv e l l -k n o w n w o rk of the R ussi anpsychol ogi st'
 Pavlov, who "trained" or conditioned the salivary reflex response                                     envisages that human violence and :rggression, like other
                                                         -fhis was done bv systemati'      ,^_Skinn:i
                                                                                           tornts of disruptive
 in dogs to the stimulus of a ringing bell.                                                                     or socially damaging behavior, can be ultimatelv
54                                                       P aul l V i l hi nson   Sot'i al S ti e nti f i c Theon   attd C i t' i l l ' i ol enc e   ts

controlled, reduced, or even eliminated by the correct use of a tech-            ilstability in thosewho have beendeeplyaffectedby the literature."te
nology o[ operant behavior. He would retain an important role for                   ln Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner candidly declareshis
traditional forms of punishment'                                                 belief that the ideasof human freedom,free will, and moral responsi-
                                                                                 bility are obsolete. They are "prescientific." It is impossible, ac-
     Punishable behavior can be minimized by creating circumstances in           cording to Skinner, to have rational objections or arguments against
     which it is not likely to occur     Aggressive behavior which is            rhe "cont.rolling practices" (a euphemism for repression) of a
             uncontrollable suppressed putting a person solitary
     otherwise             is             by                                     behaviorist-controlledsociety.There is the authentic ring of totali-
     confinement,where there is no one to aggress                                rarianism in his insistencethat participation in the opposition would
                                                                                 stem solely frotn psychosis or instability and that the literature of
(This implies an extraordinarily naive view of the functioning of the            freedom is inherently subversive.
penal system and the potentialities for aggressive behavior and                     -fhere are a number of seriousclbjections, my view quite funda-
uiol".r.. within the prison system. Perhaps Skinner has not read                 mental, against the underlying         assumptions, principles, and
George Jackson's soledad Brother?) However, traditional forms of                 methods of the behaviorist approach to the problem of aggJressive
punishment need ro be augmented by operant technology to "break                  and violence. First, behaviorism fails to give an adequate account
up the contingencies under which punished behavior is reinforced . . .           of the sources  and nature of aggressionand violence because terms
aggressivebehavior is attenuated by making sure that nothing is                  of referencelimit it, in the realm of aggressivebehavior, to the in-
gained by it."rz Skinner prescribes   severaltechniquesfor suppressing                                                            to
                                                                                 vestigationof aggressive violent responses external stimuli and
punishable (undesirable) behavior. For example' one may arrange                  "contingencies." Thus, behaviorist theory entirely neglects those
circumstances under which the undesired behavior may occur                       manifestationsof aggressionthat areself-inducedrather than learned
without being punished-presumably in some place where it can do                  and that seem to stem from some inner malaise or passion. Second,
no harm to society (an interesting echo of the instinctivists' ideas             the behaviorists'analogy from the controlled and simplified elrviron-
for alternate safety valves for the release of aggressive behavior).             ment of the animal laboratory is entirely specious and flies in the
"Punishable behavior can also be suppressed strongly reinforcing
                                                 by                              fare of all the evidencefrom human history, sociology,and Iiterature.
any behavior which      displaces it."rB Suppose these techniques fail?          Man's social life is not a tabula rasa u'hich the behaviorist can
Then Skinner is prepared to countenance, if all else fails, "changing            redesign from scratch. The facts of human conflict, oppression,
physiological conditions," for example, using surgery (lobotomy)                 greed, exploitation, envy, and suffering mock Skinner's simplistic
to "control" violence and drugs to control aggression'                           utopianism. Can behaviorism offer any insights into the large-scale
   In his concern for the scientific design of a "better culture for man,        problems of political violence and terror? Ironically, as scientific
skinner fuses rhe uropian fantasy of.his walden Two ( 1948)with the              theory, i t is of no avail.
aggressivesuperconfident positivism of behaviorist technology' He                   And what of the pl-rilosophical difficulties raised by the ultra-
apparently believesthat the "intentional design" of a human culture              determinism of the behaviorists? a form of grand theory it is, like
is both pracricable and desirable and that human communities can                 Marxist dialectical materialism. inherentlv nonfalsifiable. For its
be made into vast benevolent laboratories for domesticating the                  explanations of human action are always ex post facto and, faced
human animal. To be fair, he does seem to recognize that his theory              with its apparenr failure to predict numer()us political and cultural
implies despotic power for the culture designeror experimenter,and               changesand innovations, behaviorism falls back on familiar special
 thit there is no guarantee rhar the "science and technology of be-              pleading: the behavioral processes    and the laws that determine them
 havior" would be used for the good of man. But Skinner does not                 are only just beginnin.q to be undersrood,and furthermore, rhey (rhe
 allow that this is a sufficient reasonfor abandoning the theory' What           experimenters)are having to struggle to develop the new science
 most concerns him is the possibility that the whole venture of a                agalnst the strong rearguard action of trnreasoning opposition,
                        cuhure might be sabotaged the persistentand
                                                    by                           supcrstition, and prejuclice. Yet clespite behaviorists' claims ro
                                                                                  scientific purity and value-freedom,their model of man and their
 dangerously subversiveliterature of freedom, "which may inspire a
                                                                                  blueprints for a scientifically designedculture, complete with "con-
 sufficiently fanatical opposition to controlling practices to generate
                                                                                  trol rnechanisms" and techniques of conditioning, have a dan-
 a neurotic if not psychotic response.There are signs of emotional
56                                                      Paul llilhinson             Scientilic Theory and Ciuil Violence
                                                                             .Sot:ial                                                             57

gerously close resemblanceto the black scienceof totalitarian state          sadism, or what Fromm terms "malignant aggression," are by no
control. There is clearly no guarantee whatsoever that attempts to           means always instigated by frustration. And many of the more
harnesssuch a technology of behavioral control to political practice         spontaneous aggressiveacts may be responsesto noxious stimuli
would take those forms of benevolentdespotism implicitly favored             12rherthan to frustration. Frustration is a confusing and ambiguous
by Skinner. Indeed, one horrifying potentiality of ultrabehaviorist          rerm. Ir can mean simply denial or deprivation of some "good"
scienceis that in malevolent hands it could develop antihuman tech-          desired by an individual or group; but this usage is misleading be-
niques to add to Skinner's repertoireof control mechanisms:technol-          cause it implies that there is some psychological state in common
ogies of persecution, terrorization, and liquidation. The history of         berweenthose who are deprived of or denied different kinds of desired
Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism, the refinements of their terror          "good." But there is clearly a world of differencebetweenthe feelings
apparats, and recent developments in Soviet psychiatry indicate that         of, say,a nationalist who finds the demand for national independence
a black scienceof behaviorism is already with us. The liberal theorist       rejectedand those of a motorist who is deprived of gasoline by a
can therefore clearly recognize in behaviorism, the Janus-headed             tanker-drivers' strike. It is not clear what there is to be gained by
nature of scientific positivism. It is true that the literature of Ameri-    rhe use of such undiscriminating terms in theory building. Dollard's
can behaviorism, as it stands, exudes a kind of cozy hedonism. It            frustration-aggression syndrome may be more relevant to the some-
assumesa comfortable, relatively anxiety-free, hygienic, and orderly         what rarer type of frustration experienced when an on-going goal-
existence safe in the cocoon of an environment designed and con-             directedactivity is interrupted. But, evenamong membersof the same
trolled by behavioral technology. It has little to tell us about the         family or community, responses to denials or deprivations of the
origins or nature of collective human violence and terror. Yet once          same desired good vary enormously in nature and intensity. As
scienceis prepared to dispensewith the classicalliberal doctrine of          Fromm argues,22 kind of frustration an individual experiences,
man as an autonomous, morally responsiblepersol.t,        once one is pre-   and the likelihood and nature of any aggressivebehavior induced
pared to believe that all human actions are determined and therefore         thereby, will depend considerably on individual personality dif-
potentially manipulable, once the very ideasof freedom and dignity           ferences. In a crude way, when we recognize wide differences in
are held to be subversive, society no longer has any means of self-          individual capacities for patience and tolerance, we are admitting the
defenseagainst tyranny. The literature of behaviorism is a sharp             empirical variability of individual thresholds for aggressive re-
reminder to the liberal that those who profess to be developing a            sponses.
"value-free" scienceof human behavior are actually engaged in an                A further basic objection against frustration-aggressiontheory is
enterprise potentiallf inimical to human frt'edom.There is a rvorm           its imprecision in the use of the concepr of aggression,criticized
in t he bud of b e l ta v i o ri s m .                                       earlier in relation to instinctivist theory. Even if we accept that
   The early behavioristsdid not primarily concern themselves        with    aggressivebehavior is frequently precededby frustration (without
developing a general theory of the causesof aggression. However, in          for a minute conceding that frustration alutays leadsto aggression),
1939,J. Dollard and co-workerspresented        what came to be known as      surely it is important to known what
                                                                                                                     forms and intensitles of frustra-
the frustration-aggression theory. This theory soon becameaccepted           tron are linked ro what            and intensities of aggression. In the
by a majority of social psychologistsand was later taken up by other         context of political violence, we need to know what particular forms
social scientistswho used its basic assumptions in the development           and intensities of collectively perceiveddeprivation lead to riot, re-
of the influential deprivation theory of violence and aggression.zo          bellion, terrorism, revolurion, and civil war. And why is it that large-
Dollard's frustration-aggression       hypotheseswere devastatinglysim-      scalecollectivedeprivations (e.g.,thoseof famine, economic
ple: (l)  "aggressive behavior always presupposesthe existenceof             or defeatin war) sometimeslead to massiveactsof political
                                                                             yet sometimes fail to do so? Frustration-aggression
frustration," and (2) "the existence frustration always leadsto some
                                        of                                                                                          theory as such has
           aggression." Miller, one of Dollard's co-authors, later           not seriously grappled with these problems.
form of                                                                                                                            However, relative
retracted2r the second part of the theory on the grounds that aggres-                        theory, which derivessome of its basicassumptionsfrom
                                                               that could    trustration-aggression
sion was only one of a whole range of alternativeresponses                                             theoristssuch as Dolland and Berkowitz. does
be triggered by frustration. However, there are other possibleobjec-         1pP."1.    to offer conceprsand insights of more direct applicability to
                                                                             pol i ri cal violence.
tions to the initial hypothesis. Acts of promiscuous cruelty and
58                                                                                 Paul tr\tilhinson     SocialScientific Theory and Cittil Violence                          59

   The insights that popular satisfactionsand discontents are of a                                       Gurr's basic premise is that the necessary      precondition for violent
relatiue nature, and that feelings of injustice can be intensified by                                    civil conflict is relative deprivation (RD), defined as the actors' per-
a r ev olut ion o f ri s i n g e x p e c ta ti o n s r e x a cerbated a suddencri si s,
                                                   o                by                                   ception of discrepancy between their value expectations and their
were familiar to earlier !Tenerations social analysts.Marx notes:
                                                      of                                                 environment's value capabilities. In Why Men Rebel (1970),Gurr
"Our desiresand pleasuresspring from society;we measure them,                                            defines RD as the perceiveddiscrepancy between men's value expecta-
therefore, by society and not by the objects which servefor their satis-                                 tions and their value capabilities. "Value expectationsare the goods
faction. Becausethey are of a social nature, they are of a relative                                      and conditions of life to which people believethey are rightfully en-
nature."23   And there is a vivid perception in Durkheim of the extent                                   titled. Value capabilities are the goodsand conditions they think they
to which the hierarchic distribution of rewards of society is sanc-                                      are capableof getting and keeping."zTHe usesa threefold classifica-
tioned and legitimated by moral beliefs.                                                                 tion of types of values: welfare, power, and interpersonal. Inter-
                                                                                                         oersonalvaluesare further subdivided into status,communality, and
     At everymoment of history there is a dim perception,in the moral                                    ideational coherence,but this does not help us very much because
     consciousness societies, the respective
                    of           of              value of different social                               Gurr does not adequately explain these terms. Gurr's axioms are
     services, relativerewarddue to each,and the consequent
              the                                               degree of                                interesting but rather too loosely drawn to offer any theoretical pur-
     comfort appropriateon theaverage workersin eachoccupation.
                                       to                            The                                 chaseon the problem of political violence. For example: "the more
     different functions are gradedin public opinion and a certaincoeffi-                                intensely people are motivated toward a goal or committed to an
     cient of well-being assignedto each, according to its place in the                                  attained level of values,the more sharply is interferenceresented     and
                                                                                                         the greater the consequent instigation to aggression."28        The term
                                                                                                         "instigation" is itself unsatisfactorybecauseit is not clear whether
   Clearly, it is an important truth that low levels of poverty or                                       Gurr means the goal-seekerwill simply be further incited to civil
deprivation do not automatically breed responsesof aggression and                                        violence or whether violence will actually be brought about. More-
violence. Hence, the poorest masses the Third World are unavail-
                                      of                                                                 over, surely the nature of the goals and values involved is crucially
able and unprepared for revolutionary mobilization or indeed any                                         important. What if the goal-seekers religious or pacifistic?May
political participation: they are simply engagedin a daily struggle to                                   they not interpret the interferenceas an incitement to turn the other
keep alive. They lack both energyand resources organize political
                                                 to                                                      cheek? Moreover, this "axiom" illustrates another grave flaw in
parties or movements of 'their own. Envy, on the other hand, is                                          Gurr's relative deprivation theory of Why Men Rebel. Gurr con-
universal, though its sociology has been almost totally neglected.                                       stantly generalizes about intensities of motivation, anger, and
Hence, even in an affluent community in which all the population                                         resentmentand about lihelihoods andmagnitudes of civil violence;
share to some degreein the prosperity, there will be those who covet                                     yet nowhere does he explain how these things can be scientifically
their neighbors' goods or who envy othersfor their knowledge, skills,                                    measured.
status, or political power.                                                                                 Some of Gurr's generalizationshave a surfaceappearanceof com-
   Modern theorists of the relative deprivation school of aggression                                     mon senseunril one begins to test them against historical realities.
have been preoccupied with exploring the implications of frustra-                                        For example: "The likelihood and magnitude of civil violence tend
tion-aggression theory for the analysis of civil violence. According                                     to vary inversely with the availability of institutional mechanisms
to this theory, at the individual level, perception of frustration                                       tnat permit the expressionof nonviolent hostility."zs 11ol" can that
arousesanger, which then functions as a drive.25    Gurr argues that                                     assertion stand up in the light of the American Civil War, or the
the implication   of this theory is                                                                      endemic civil violence in postcolonial India, or the intensity
                                                                                                         violence in Northern Ireland? We should note,
                                                                                                                                                              also. that Gurr does
     t h a t c i v i l vio le n ce a lm o st a lwa ys h a s a str ong appeti ti ve sensati onal          not explain how or why some aggression is mediated
                                                                                                                                                                       into actual
     b a s e a n d t ha t th e m a g n itu d e o f its e ffe cts on the soci al system i s sub-          violence. For this reason,
                                                                                                                                      Why Me:n Rebel can be more accurately
     s t a n t i a l l y d e p e n d e n t o n h o w wid e sp r e a d a nd i ntense anger i s among      dcscribedas the presentation
                                                                                                                                          of a model rather than a theory.
     t h o s e i t m o b ilize s. . . . If a n g e r im p lie s th e p r esence o[ frustrati on, there
     i s c o m p e l l i ng e vid e n ce th a t fr u str a tio n is al l but uni versal l y charac-        ,,Finally. and perhaps mosr damaging of all, Gurr's theory doesnor
                                                                                                         atlow for the phenomena
     t e r i s t i c o f p a r ticip a n ts in civil str ife .2 6
                                                                                                                                     of elite-initiated and elite-directedviolence
50                                                                                       Paul Wilkinson           \ocial Scientific Theory and Ciuil Violence                                                                       61

in whic h m a s s p a rti c i p a n ts a re u n d e r authori tari an, mi l i tary or                             a monocausal theory of revolution. In comparison, the confident
paramilitary control. In such cit.cumstances, no meansunfalniliarby                                               seneralizationsof James C. Davies, the contemporary exponent of
in internal      wars, mass participants' perceptions o[ relative depriva-                                        T-ctrrve theory of relative deprivation, are based on a narrow and
tion are utterly irrelevant to explaining the causesof the violence.                                              dogttrati. reductionism.
Gurr's point that elite groups themselves                  sometimesresort to aggres-
sion as a consequence the frustration-asqressiotr
                             of                                        syndrome is a fair                              Revolutionis most likely to takeplacewhen a prolonged  periodof
one. However, it would be a distorted view of history that saw all                                                                        anclrising grarifications follou'edby a shorr
                                                                                                                       risirrg rxpectations                       is
aggressive      wars as being induced by elite frustration and omitted all                                             pcriodof sharpreversal,during rvhichthe gap bttn'eenexpectations
consideration of wars as acts of policy or as expressions dynastic            of                                       l ptl gra ti fi c ati ons qui c k l y w i dens z rl rd bec omes i ntol erabl e. The frus -
or national self-assertion!                                                                                            trati on bc c omes foc us s ed on thc gov ernment, the v i ol enc e bec omes c o-
                                                                                                                       ht'rcnt a nd di rec ti onal . If the frus trati on i s s uffi c i entl v w i des pread,
     In this analysis,criticisms of relativedeprivation theory of violence
                                                                                                                       i l rtt'nsc, and foc us s ed on the gov ernment, the v i ol enc e rv i l l bec ome a
hal'e thus far beendirectedat the work of Gurr.'fhis is to someextent
                                                                                                                       rcr ol ttti on       .32
justified by the fact that he is the most prolific and widely known
exponent of this theoretical approach. His trenchant remarks on
                                                                                                                     Nlarx and Engels made the rnost influential classiccontriburion
everything from revolution and riot to the crime rate are avidly noted
                                                                                                                  to exploring the implications of model (3) in their theory of the roles
by commissionsand experts.Nevertheless,                       there are other influential
                                                                                                                  of rnajor economic crises and the gradual immiserization of the
contributors to this school who have explored more fully than Curr
                                                                                                                  proletariat as contributory causes r'evolutionand civil conflict. But
the political implications of four basic models of relativedeprivation
                                                                                                                  again their theoriesof revolution are infinitely more subtle and com-
                                    or                    (l)
of social groups, classes, societies:30 the revolution of rising
                                                                                                                  plex than the so-called empirical theories of the modern relative
expectations ir-rwhich social expectations and aspirations rise at a
                                                                                                                  deprivation school. Marx and Engels went beyond the evidence     when
rnuch fasterrate than capabilities, (2) the so-calledJ-curve situation
                                                                                                                  thev claimed that differences their ideologies,beliefs,and expecta-
when capabilitiesincrease           and keep pacewith rising expectationsfor
                                                                                                                  tions of the various social classes invariably a reflection of rheir
a short period and then suddenlysuffera sharp decline,(3) the serious                                             relationship ro the means of production. Nevertheless,Marxist
crisis or malaise that causes reduction in capabilitieswhile expecta-
                                      a                                                                           theorv of revolution does possessa historical sweep and a wealth of
                                                                                                                                             possess                  p            It h
 t ions r em ain c o n s ta n t,a n d (4 ) s i tr.ra ti o n is w hi ch expectati ons
                                                              n                      and                          tnsights that moclern relative deprivation theory cannot begin to
aspirations increasewhile value capabilities remain constant.                                                     ntatch. Marxist theory does take into account the phenomenon of
     It is, of course,true that none of thesemodels rvasinvented by con-                                          the rrnawakened exploited class that has nor yet recognized either the
temporary relative deprivation theorists. All are deployed and dis-                                               injustice of its situation or its revolurionary porential. Marxist rheory
cussedin the somewhat more elegant literature of nineteenth century                                               therefore lays great emphasis on the revolutionary movement's re-
social theory. For example, Alexis de Tocqueville delineated situa-                                               spctnsibility for equipping the proletariat with revolurionary con-
t ions ( l) and (2 ) a s c o n tri b u to ry c a u s e so f the French R evol uti on.                             s ( r ( r l r s r ) e ss,ca d e r sh i p , a r .r d th e co r r e ct r e vo l u ti o n a r y th e o r y. It ca n
He brilliantly discerned the crucial r<-rle changing expectations                                                 bc arguecl that alrhough Marx macle somewhat crude
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and unsup-
in the prerevolutionary period.                                                                                   p o t t c d a s su m p r i o n s a b o u t th e n a r u r e o f b o u r g e o i s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                r a ti o n a l i ty, h e
                                                                                                                  did rrclt make the mistake of assuming that the working-class
     The evilswhich wereenduredu'ith patiencc long as thcy werein-
                                            so                                                                    wert all efficient rarional maximizers who would
                                                                                                                                                                                                             be able, unaided
     e v i t a b l e s e e m in to le la b le a s so o n :r s a h o pe cal r bc cntertai ned of                   as it rvcre, to arrive ar an aclequate
                                                                                                                                                                                      understanding of the nature ancl
     e s c e r p i n g f r t> m th e m . T h e a b u se s r vh ich a r c renr<tvt-tlset'nt to l ay bare           ( i l u s . e so [
                                                                                                                                        tl r ci r o p p r e ssi o n a n d th e n l e a r ) s o f th e i r e m a n ci p a ti o n . In
     t h o s e w h i c h r cn ta in , a n d to r e tr d e r th t' se n s e of thttm more actttc; the              t h c l a \ t l e s( ) r 't, N Ia r x's
     e r . ' i l h a s d e c rcu r se d , is tr u e , b tr t th e p e r ce lttion of thc cvi l i s rnorekeen.
                                        it                                                                                                                     r cvo l u ti o n :r r .v th e o r y d o e s n o t r e l yo n sp o n -
                                                                                                                  tatreity or the natural
     F t : u d a l i s m in a ll its str e n g th h a d n o t in sp ir e d as rrrut h aversi on i n the                                                      evolution of revolutionary cons<.iousness.                           Marx
                                                                                                                  and l-ngels were among
     F r e n c h a s i t d id o n th c cve o f its d isa p p e a r an<e.3r                                                                                         the first social theorists to recognize the
                                                                                                                                               o[ popular iderologies ar-rd beliefs in Iegitimiiing,                                 ex-
Dt'Tocqueville,             h o u ' e ve r ,   wa s ca r e ftr l n o t to cl evate hi s i nsi ghts        i nto                           su p p o r r i n g , cr i ti ci zi r r g , o r d e n o u n ci n g sp e ci fi c s'o ci a l
                                                     Paul Wilkin.son
62                                                                        Sotial Scientific Theory and Ciuil VioLence                              6J

orders and their various distributions of wealth, status,and power:      tion, employment opportunities, and governmental and administra-
they were thus saved,almost in spite of themselves, from falling into
                                                                         tive resourcescannot keep pace with fresh expectationsand needs.
the  trap of their own materialism.                                      For some eroups, capabilities actually decline (for example, peasanrs
   In Why Men Rebel, Gurr disparagesthe notion that ideologies           who :rre made landlessby agricultural modernization programs and
"cause" violence. Yet although ideologies qua abstract doctrine do       who cannot find work in the cities).Huntington observes      thar depri-
not in themselvesdirectly cause violence, ideological mouements,         varion of political capabilities (such as the basic civil liberties and
which define enemies and incite to combat, do frequently instigate       the right to vote) is more likely to lead to civil violence than purely
political violence, wars, and "crusades," with or without benefit of     economic dePrivation.
widely perceived relative deprivation. The work of Gurr and his
colleagues reveals a failure to appreciate the influence of certain         By broadening rangeof politicalparticipation,
                                                                                           the                                 politicalmoderni-
ideologies in creating and legitimating aspirations and expectations                        the
                                                                            zationincreases sropcof civil violence,   unlessbroader  institutional
and equipping militant minorities to act in the name of the masses.         channels peaceful
                                                                                     for           participationalso comeinto being.The com-
Ideologies both define and articulate the senseof deprivation and           bined effectof both social-economic political modernization,
claims of injustice and oppression. Most important of all, for our                   is
                                                                            horvever, to undermine   traditionalpoliticalinstitutions and to make
purposes, they bring powerful influence to bear in determining the          ir most difficult to createbroad-based  political party systemsand
                                                                            orherforms of political institutions.The ideaof "peaceful    change"
kind of response made to frustration and anger by key groups or
                                                                            or "clevelopment   rvithout violence" thus becomes    almost wholly
social strata.If an ideology tends to sanction violence or even to en-      unreal.35
courage and glory in it, then this inevitably strongly influences the
nature of its adherents' collective response to anger, rejection, or         The whole tone of Huntington's discussionis heavy with gloomy
opposition.                                                              realism. He argues that the modernization processeven stimulates
   Relative deprivation theory, then, seriously underrates and mis-      and intensifies traditionally-rooted communal conflicts and that
understandsthe role of ideology in inducing discontent,aggression,       most of the forms of political violence likely to ensuefrom develop-
and conflict. In searching for alternative general causes of civil       ment-praetorian violence, political repression, and communal
violence, certain relative deprivation theoristshave plumped heavily     conflict-are of a destructive and debilitating character. The case
for socioeconomic modernization. I. K. and R. L. Feierabendand           studies and comparative analyses deployed by Huntington are
B. A. Nesvold argue that the modernization processtends to simul-        grounded on an impressiveknowledge of contemporary history and
 taneously intensify modernizing groups' aspirations while chal-         of developing states.Unfortunately, space does not permit a more
lenging the entrenched positions of traditional groups' Hence, the       detailed consideration of Huntington's hypothesesconcerning the
probability of conflicts between "modernizers" and "conservatives"       links betweenmodernization and civil violence.But enough haJeen
is enhancedas socioeconomicdevelopmentaccelerates.      The fasterthe    quoted to enable the reader to learn something of its wide
rate of modernization, they conclude, the greater the degreeof dis-      authority, and interest.
ruption and the conducivenessto civil violence.33     The Feierabend         There are, however, some leading questions and clifficulties to be
and Nesvold hypothesisis strongly reinforced by the work of Samuel       raisedabout the modernization version
                                                                                                                    of relative deprivation theory.
 Huntington3a on political violence in what he terms "transitional"      None of the four general models of relative
                                                                                                                          deprivation discussed    by
 societies, societies that are in the midprocess of modernizaaion.       nuntrngton allows for rhe possibility
                                                                                                                    of declining expecrarions
                                                              relative                                                                            and
 Huntington doesnot question the assumption that increased               asp.iratio.s.Why should
                                                                                                       this be consideredempiiicaliy impossible?
 depriuaiion renders civil    violence more probable. His analysis       ts tt so exc epr ional
                                                                                               f or individuals and gr oups t o act uaily lower r heir
 suggesrs that rapid modernization always involvesintensified relative   expectations or
                                                                                             throw aside long-term aspirations-especially in
 depiivation because widens the gap between the changing aspira-
                       it                                                conditions of
                                                                                          acute crisis such as those.ur-,r.d by naturaidisaster or
 tions  and capabilities of the groups involved: social mobilization,    war? Humanity
                                                                                            in extremis tends to adapt by concentrating on the
 education, and increased opportunities of political participatlon       " tttrteol ?t!pr oblem s of sur vival, clut ching hold of f am ilies and
 enhance aspirations while the already inadequate levels of produc-      Possessions, riding out the srorm. The mass
                                                                                        and                                     of the world's poor
64                                                     Paul l,trtilkinson   SocialScientilic Theory and Citil Violence                         5t

 suffer in passiveresignation. Most are resigned to the fact that their     bcing a unique product of this processof individual development.
conditions are more likely to worsen than to irnprove. When mass            Freud's major discoverywas the role oI the unconsciousimpulses and
despair and fatalism are omitted from the academictheorist'smodel           Drocesses human behavior. In his early works, in particular The
of the u'orld, one suspectsthat the theorist has himself fallen prey        interpretation ol Dreams (1900), he attempted to demonstrate the
 to one or other of the powerful ideologies of modernization cham-          significance of the unconscious by means of carefully documented
pioned by Western aid experts, nationalist elites, and communisl            clinical casestudies.Freudian theory has obviously significant impli-
revolutionaries,all of whom have their own versionsof the gospel.It         (.arionsfor theory of human aggressionand violence, for it suggests
is a cardinal error to confuse elite ideologiesof modernization with        rhat w i thin even t he m ost appar ent ly "r at ional" and "nor m al"
the actual ideologies, beliefs, hopes, and fears of the masses.             individtral, therelurk powerful hitherto unknor.r'nunconsciousurges
   It should be stressed that Huntington's modernization theory only        or i mpulses t o kill.
purports to explain why transitional societiesundergoing rapid                 Freud is perhaps best known for his theory that differencesand
modernization experiencehigh levels of civil violence. He does not          <tanges in indiviclual charactertraits are derived from the energy of
attempt to explain the widespread(and since the late 1960s)   growing       the libido. The conceptsof Freud'slibido theory, such as the Oedipus
incidenr:e of civil violence in the advanced industrial societies.As        complex, penis envy, incestuous wishes, and castration fear, have
Huntington observes,    "There may be violence without development,         become the stock-in-trade of modern psychoanalysis.It is clearly
but there cannot be development without violence."36Can the                 quite possible to deploy Freud's theory of sexuality in attempts to
modernization hypothesis conceivably be extended to cover the               explain individual aggressionand violence. In certain cases,    aggres-
violence of the Black Panthers and the Weathermen in the United             sion could be attributed to a manifestation of the oedipus complex
States?Can it explain the violence in Northern Ireland or on the            (love for one parent and jealous hostility or hared toward the other).
streetsin Watts, Newark, or Tokyo? Do terrorist and other violent           f reud's later theory of narcissism, which postulates the condition
groups active in liberal democraticsocieries really representthe rear-      in which the libido has beenwithdrawn from the external world and
guard of reaction and traditionalism in industrialized societies?    It     has been directed at the ego, may also be utilized to explain indi-
seemsunlikely. And, like all the other attempts at social scientific        r idual aggressiveacts. Narcissistic individuals may respond with
theory included in our brief critical survey, this approach offers no       intenseaggression desirefor vengeance they feel their narcissism
                                                                                                 or                     if
explanation as to how the supposedly civilized industrial statesof          has beenwounded or gravely threatened.3T     Fromm has developedand
Germany and Italy came to descend into the barbarism of fascist             deepenedFreudian theory of narcissismby extending it to groups.38
violence and terror between the world wars or for their current waves       Work basedon classicFreudian theory of sexuality suggests      that the
of terrorism. An adequate liberal theory of political violence and          damagirrg or suppressionof sexuality may causechildhood trauma
terror must come to terms with the historical facts of murder and           and serious personality disorders,which may, under certain condi-
massacre   within the West.                                                 tions, manifest themselves forms of violent behavior.Nevertheless,
   Psychopathological and Freudian theory, the final approachesto           this rvclrk remains entirely in the realm of speculative individual
be included in this survey, do claim to illuminate the dark areasof         psychopathology and cannor be said to provide any rheorericalin-
what Fromm terms "malignant aggression,"the promiscuous forms               sights or leverage in explaining collective and political violence.
of cruelty and sadism,which, for example, characterized behavior
                                                         the                Research    into the psychopathology of violent killers appearsto lend
of many leading Nazis. But what do thesetheoriescontribute to our           strol'rgsupport to the Freudian interpretation rhat such individuals
understanding of the sourcesof malignant aggressionand of acts of           Irequently exhibit schizophrenic or sadistic characteristics.But it
psychopathic violence? And what do they tell us about "normal"              also confirms the view that rhe truly psychoparhic violent killers,
collective or individual acts of violence?                                  those who seeall other personsas objectsexploitable or expendable
   Freud, the founder of modern psychoanalysisand still the most            for their own ends, constirure only a tiny proportion of ti," poptr-
dominant single influence upon it, emphasized the role of per-              l ati on.3e
sonality development as the crucial determinant of individual be-              It was in 19l9-1920,however, in rhe wake of rhe vast collective
havior. Personality, according to Freud, is formed by the interaction       destructionof World War I, that Freud began to develophis theory of
between instincts or impulses and environment, each personality             the death instinct. His biographer speculates  rhar he might havebeen
66                                                          Paul Wilhinson   Social Scientific Theory and Cittil VioLence                               67

to some degree influenced by Fleiss's law of inevitable periodicity             Before proceedingto a fascinating but highly speculative          diagnosis
and Neitzsche's notion of the "eternal recurrence the same." Ernest
                                                 of                          znd etiology of sadismand necrophilia, Fromm gives a tantalizingly
Jones explains:                                                              brief but brilliant analysis of revenge.This discussionis of interest
                                                                             to the student of political violence and terror becausevengeance is
     Freudcame theconclusion
                 to               that thefundamental aim of all instincts   such a universal and deep-seatedpassion underlying so many
                                               And if instincts
     is to revertto an earlierstate, regression.
                                   a                            aimedat      individual and collective acts of violence committed by the ap-
     the past,why should theystop before   reducinga living organismto
                                                                             llarentl),normal. Fromm arguesthat vengeful destn.rction a form of is
     a pre-vitalstate,that of inorganicmatter? the ultimateaim of life
                                              So                             sponraneous      violence in response to "intense and unjustified suf-
     must be death.In this wav rose Freud'scelebrated    conceptof the
                                                                             fering inflicted upon a person or lhe members of the group with
                                                                             n hom he is identified."a3 is not to be confusedwith simple punish-
                                                                             ment because is often of much greater intensity that the injury it
   Freud left himself with the awkward task of accommodating the             is supposedto avenge.Vengeance alrnost invariably "cruel, lustful
phenomena of sexuality within his new theory. He did so by sug-
                                                                             and insatiable," and in many traditional societiesit is regardedas a
gesting that Eros, the life instinct, had the effect of counteracting
                                                                             sacred duty. Fromm frankly admits that desire for vengeanceis a
or indefinitely postponing the goal of the death instinct. Thus, the         charactertrait of extremelyvariable incidenceand intensity. He offers
two basic opposing forces in the mind might temporarily achieve an           a number of interesting hypotheses        that could account for the intense
uneasy balance, even though, he believed, the death instinct was             and deep-rootednature of the passion for vengeance: may be seen it
more powerful and was ultimately inevitably victorious. Sexual               as a form of magical reparation, to "wipe the sheetclean by denying,
instincts, Freud now claimed, could help to postpone death "by               magicalll', that the damage was ever done"aa; perhaps through
diverting the self-destructive tendency outwards against other               rever)ge,   man is plaving the role of an avenging God; it is possible
peopls."+t These ideas were presented more confidently and sys-              that   some acts of revengemay be triggered by the conscience;          finally
tematically in The Ego and the Id (1923). Nevertheless, Freud's
                                                            as               Frornm asks whether vengeful destructiveness             could be a kind of
biographer frankly admits, Freud's theory was not supported by a                                                               of
                                                                             projecting device for deflecting awareness one's o'n'n capacity for
body of physiological and clinical evidencecomparableto that which           destrtrctiveness to others.
he had previously deployed in his studies of sexuality. This lack,              Fromm's diagnosesof sadism and necrophilia provide a glittering
combined with the unwillingness of disciples of his earlier theories         arral' of neo-Freudian speculations,but it is extraordinarily difficult
to follow the master in his radical departuresof l9l9-1920, helps to         to know what weight either Fromm himself, or his highly critical
explain the comparative neglect of Freud's death instinct theory by          scientific colleagues,can attach to his hypotheses.        They certainly do
analysts and neo-Freudian writers.                                           not conform to the canons of scientific theory because they are
   The most recent major attempt to develop Freud's death instinct           based on assumptions about unconscious processesthat are in-
theory has been by Fromm. The Anatomy of Human Destructiueness               hererttlv unfalsifiable. Furthermore, it is not clear r.r,hether to       or
(1974\ contains a valuable summary of his ideas on what he terms             what degree,Fromm rneans to apply his diagnosis of necrophilia.
"malignant aggression." He argues that there are three major kinds           Does he believe that large groups of necrophiliacs exist in all con-
of response to human alienation (awarenessof separateness       from         temporary societies? is one thing to suggesr.in srveepingrerms,
others) that tend to result in malignant acts of violence and destruc-       that modern technical-bureaucratic societies are developing rn-
tion: (l) sadism, by which he means the craving to control others;           creasingly necrophilous characteristicsand hence becoming more
(2) masochism,which is the urge to be controlled by othersand which          destrtrctive; is rather rnore difficult to verify such claims. It is not
is often to be found in combination with (l ) in the sado-masochistic        tnsignificant that Fromrn chooses       two notoriousl_v   pervertedsubjects,
character; and (3) necrophilia, which has been defined as "the               Hirlmler and Hitler, for his clinical casestudiesof saclism         and necro-
passionateattraction to all that is dead, decayed,putrid, sickly; it is      phi l i a respect ively. t is of vit al im por t ance r o dist inguish clear ly
the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive;         Det\\'een   necrophilous tendenciesor potentialities and those whose
to destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all        charactershave becorle necrophiliac in the clinical sense.           Common
that is purely mechanical. It is the passion to tear apart living            exlrerience even in most highly "rechnotronic" societies rvould
structures. "42                                                              suggcstt hat t he incidenceof clinical necr ophilia is ext r enr elvr ar c.
6S                                                                                PauL WiLhin.son                 ScientilicTheoryand Ciuil Violence
                                                                                                             Social                                                                      69

Fromm stumbles into this problem but does not, in rny view, confront                                        nroral responsibility. This view is clearly irreconcilable with the
it squarely. He admits:                                                                                     liberal doctrine of man as a free-willing autonomous moral agent,
                                                                                                            and consequently it is antagonistic to liberal theory of politics and
     it is important to be aware hou' easily purely defcnsiveaggression                                     violence.
     is blended with (nondefensive)destructiveness  and rvith the sadistic
     wish to reversethe situiltion by controlling others iltstt'arl of being
And again he remarks:                                                                                             l. Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientilic Discouery (London,
                                                                                                             \959), The Open Society and its Enemies (London, lg4b), The
     But destructivea(ti()ns are not nccessarilymanilestationsof a destruc-
                                                                                                            Pot,erty of Historicism (London, 1957),and Conjecturesand Refu-
     tive, necrophilous character.lVas Napolcon a ntcrclphile becausehe
                                                                                                            tations: the Grou'th ol Scientific Knowledge (London, 1963).
     never hesitatedto sacrificehis soldiers'lives for his pt'rsonal ambition
                                                                                                                  2. See,for exarnple, I. K. Feierabend,R. L. Feierabend,and B.
     and vanity?a6
                                                                                                             Nesvold, "The Compararive Study of Revoluti<tn and Violence,',
                                                                                                            CornparatiuePolitics 5, 3 (April 1973):393-424.
   The problem raised for the theorist of political v'iolence by these
                                                                                                                  3. Anatol Rapoport, Conflict in Man-Made Ent,ironment (Har-
questions is that if one is primarily concerned rvith the violence
                                                                                                            mondsw o r t h, 1974) , 8.p.
committed by the "normal" and the <'ollectivity, one ought not to
                                                                                                                 '1. V. Gordon Childe, XIan MakesHimsell,4th ed. (London, 1965)
overemphasize the irnportance of the psychopathic minority. The
                                                                                                             ttndS oc' i aEuolut ion ( New Yor k, I 95I ) ; Er nestG ellner , Thought and
po litica l scie nt is t s ' m ain c onc er ns er e pr e c i s e l l r v i t h t h o s e a c t s o f
                                                                                                            (hange (L ondon, 1965) ;and Ashley NI onr agu, Cult ur e and t he
violence that blend F'romm's neat categories of benign and nralignant
                                                                                                            E uol uti on ol XI an ( New Yor k, 1962) .
aggression. It is these very manifestations of violence and their
                                                                                                                 5. See Ber-rjamin Kidd, Social Euolution (London, l8g4), The
perpetrators that are allowed to slip through the net of Fromm's
                                                                                                            Principles ol WesternCiuilization (London, 1902),and The Science
learned and brilliant speculations.
                                                                                                            ctl Potuer (London, l9l8); Karl Pearson,The Chancesof Death and
   I have suggested that much psychoanalytic theory, including
                                                                                                            Other Studtes in Euolutiorz (New York, 1897),The Life of Francis
Fromm's highly original contribution, does not really satisfy the                                           (]al ton (C am br idge,l9l4) ( 4 vols. ) ,O n t he Relat ion
                                                                                                                                                                          ol Healt h t o t he
canons of scientific theory. However, I make no apology for its                                             P.sychicaland Physical Characteristicsof School Chilttren (Cam-
inclusion: tlre approach inevitably holds extraordinary interest for                                        bri dge,19 23) .
the stud en t o f polit ic al v iolenc e bec aus e of i t s i m r n a n e n t c r i t i q u e o f
                                                                                                                 6. See Ernst Haeckel, Anthropogenie od.er Entutichelungsge-
other theories. It has one feature in common rvith all the other                                            schichtedes Menst'hen (Leipzig, 1874),The riddle of the uniueie,
approaches surveyecl here: like them it is r-rltimertelydeterminist. The
                                                                                                            the close ol the lgth centurl          ., trans. Joseph McCabe (London,
Freudians atrd neo-Freudians basically vierv violence as the product                                        1904), and llteltriitsel (Leipzig, 1909); also, Wilhelm Boelsche,
of d;sordered clr tliseased personality. fhis vierv imltlies that the                                       Haechel: his tile and. uorh, trans.
etiology of the cliseasc is predetermined by specific patterns of inter-                                                                              Joseph McCabe (London, 1906)
                                                                                                            and Die Abstammung d,es         Menschez,(Srurrgart, 1922).
action between instinct and environment. If rve assume that Hitler,                                              7. Bruce Chatrvin, "Man the Aggressor" (a report of conversa_
Himmler, and their entourages developed inttt monsters through                                              ttorrsrvirh Lorenz), Sunday Times Magazine,
                                                                                                                                                                   December l, 1g74.
some inescapable t'hcmistry of psychopathology, then the corollary                                               n R,lfr"rt Ardrrv, The Territorial Imperatizre(London,
must b e th at t hc r e \ f as nev er any pos s ibi l i t y t h a t t h e y c : o u l d h a v e
                                                                                                                                                                                  1967) and
                                                                                                            t      -_
                                                                                                            -,nc .\ot i al Conlr at t ( London, 1970t .
avoidcd becoming thc perpetrators of crimes aeainst humanity if they                                             9. [,rich Fromnr, The Anatomy ol Human I)estrttctiuene.is
had made different choiccs or moral decisions abotrt their a(rtions.                                         ,                                                                        (Lon-
                                                                                                            dorr, 1974 ) ,p. 198.
Hitler, acr:ording to this thertry, \\.'as l)()t evil: tre u'as severely                                       10. Ibi i t., p. 330.
rne nta lly ill. Lik e all ot her f or m s of t let e r m i t l i s t r t , l t s y t h o a n a l y s i s        | \' H . M ar k anclF. R. L, r vin,Violence
                                                                                                            .- ]                                               and t he Br ain ( Ner vyor k,
dcnies rneanitrg to the noti<,rns<tI nroral goodttess, r+'ickedness,an<l                                    1970).
70                                                                Paul llilhinson        \ocial Scientilic Theory and CiuiL L'iolence                            /T

  12. R. Benedict, Patterns ol Cultttre (Neu' York, 1959), "The                          in Experimental Psychologrr,ed. L. Berkowitz (New York, 1965),2:
Natural History of War," in An American Anthropologist at Work,                          307   -322.
ed. M. Mead (Boston, 1959); Mead, Co-operation and Competition
                                     M.                                                      26. T. R. Gurr, "Psychological Factorsin Civil Violence," World
Among Primitiue Peoples, rev. ed. (Boston, l96l); G. P. Burdock,                          I' ol i ti cs 20 ( Januar v I 968) : 250.
O ur P r im it iu e C o n te m p o ra ri e s(N e w Yo rk, 1934); . M. Turnbul l ,
                                                                    C                        27. C )ur r , Why illen Rebel, p. 24.
Wayward Seraants, or The Two Worlds ol the Alrican Pygmie.s                                  28. Gurr, "Psychological Factors in Civil Violence," op. cit., p.
(London, 1965).                                                                          257.
   13. N. T in b e rg e r, S o c i a lBe h a u i o r i n Ani mal s (N ew Y ork' 1953).       29. For Gurr's evasion of the problems of "measuring" the in-
   14. See Abram Amsel, "Frustrative Nonrer'l'ardin Partial Rein-                        rensity and scopeof relative deprivation, seeGurr, Why fuIenRebel,
forcement and Discrimination Learning: Some Recent History and                           pp. 59-91. Gurr fails to acknowledge the hazardsof inference from
Theoretical Extension," P sychologic al Reuietl 69:306-328;                  Harry F.    the crude aggregativedata of cross-nationalstudies.Gurr's general-
Harlow,    "The Formation of Learning Sets"'Psychological Reuiew                         ization about the "availability of institutional mechanisms" appears
56: 51- 65;B . F . S k i n n e r, T h e Be h a u i o r ol Organi sms: A n E xperi -      in Gurr, "Psychological Factors in Civil Violence," op. cit., p.257.
mental Analysis(New York, 1938)and Scienceand Human Behautor                                 30. SeeJamesC. f)avies,"Toward a Theory of Revolution," Amer-
( New Y or k , 1 9 5 3 ).                                                                ican Sociological Rez'iew 27 (February I962):5-19;       James C. Davies,
   15. B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Digrtitv (New York' 1972),                      "The J-Curve of Rising and Declining Satisfactionsas a Cause of
pp. l8- 19.                                                                              some Great Revolutions and a Contained Rebellion," in Violence in
   16. I bid, p p . 6 4 -6 5 .                                                           America: HistoricaL and Comparatiue Perspectiues, D. GrahamH.
   17. I bid, p p .6 5 .                                                                 andT. R . Gur r , eds.( New Yor k, 1969)chap. l9; I . K. Feier abendand
   18. I bid.                                                                            L. Feierabend,"Aggressive Behavior within Polities, 1948-1962:          A
   19. I bid, p . 1 6 5 .                                                                Cross-National Study," lournal of Conf LictResolution l0 (Septem-
   20. J. Dollard, N. E. Miller, O. H. Mowrer' G. H. Sears,              and R. R'       ber 1966):249-271; I. K. Feierabend,R. L. Feierabend,and B. A.
Sears,fruslration        and Aggresston (New Haven' 1939).Dollard was                    Nesvold, "Social Change and Political Violence: Cross-National
a product of the American Purposive Psychology School led by                             Comparisons," in Graham and Gurr, eds.,chap. l8; also L K. Feiera-
McDougall and Lloyd Morgan. For explicit acknowledgement of                              bend, R. L,. Feierabend,and B. Nesvold, "The Compararive Study of
Dollard,s influence on Gurr's relative deprivation theory of violence,                   Revolution and Violence," Comparatiue Politics 5, 3 (April 1973):
s eeT . R. Gu rr,l l h y h l e n R e b e l (P ri n c e ton, 1970)'p. 33. It i s note-
worrhy that although Gurr there defines frustration, in Dollard's                            31. Alexis de Tocqueville, On the Stateof Societyin FranceBelore
                                                                                         the ReuoLution of 1789 (L'Ancien Rdgime et la Rdvolution), trans.
 terms (that is, as an interferencewith goal directed behavior), his
                                                                                         H enry R ee ve( London, 1856) ,p. 323.
own theory discardsthis usageand generallyequatesfrustration with
                                                                                             32. Jarn esC. Davies,"The J- Cur ve, " op. cit . , p. 547.
 the nonachievemenrof any desiredgood or condition to which one
                                                                                             33. F-eierabend,     Feierabend, and Nesvold, "social Change and
 believesoneself to be entitled'
                                                                                         P ol i ti cal Violence. " op. cir .
   21. N. E. Miller, "Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis," Psycho'
                                                                                             34. SamLrel Huntington, Political Ortler in Changing Societies
 Logical Reuietr 48:337'342.
                                                                                         (New Haven, 1968)and "Civil Violence and the Process
   22. F r om m , o P. c i t., P. 6 8 .                                                                                                                 of Develor-r-
                                                                                         ment," i n Adelphi Paper No. 83 ( London, lgTl) , pp. l- 15.
   23. Karl Marx, "Wage Labour and Capital" (1847),in Marx and
                                                                                             35. H untingt on, "Civil Violence, " op. cit . , p. 3.
 Engels, SelectedWorhs in 2 I/ols., l:94'
                                                                                             36. rbi d.
   2+. fmite Durkheim, Suicide: A Studv in Sociology, trans' John
                                                                                             37. SeeFromm, op. cit, pp. 200-205.
 A. Spaufding ancl George Simpson (London, 1952)'p' 249'
                                                              Drive"' inAduances             38. Ibi d, pp. 203- 205.
    ZS. f . Berkowitz, "The Concept of Aggressive
72                                                Paul Wilhinson

  39. SeeHans Toch, Violent L[en: An Inquiry into the Psychologv
ol V iolence (Harmondsworth, 1972).
  40. Ernest Jones, The Lile and Worh of Sigmund Freud (Hat-
mondsworth, 1964),pp. 508-509.
   41. I bid.
   42. H. von Hentig, Der Kehrotope Mensch (Stuttgart, 1964).
   43. F r om m, o p . c i t., p .2 7 1 .
   44. I bid. , p .2 7 3 .
   45. Ibid., p. 200.
  46. Ibid., p. 395.

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