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  1. Standard member adam warlock
    Baby Gauss
    07 Apr '10 13:24 / 2 edits
    Monsters aren't monsters everyday and monsters aren't monsters to everybody. In fact most monsters are pretty decent human beings (to a pretty restricted set of people that is).

    During the course of History multiple civilizations have come and gone, many conflicts have been waged, many horrendous acts have been committed. We like to think of this horrendous acts as fruits of madmen, as fruits of mad times, and as fruit of others. But in fact those horrendous acts were committed by quite normal people that just happened to see different people as others.

    During the course of History multiple civilizations have come and gone and for the most part of them they referred to themselves with a denomination that could be roughly translated as "People" and referred to other people with words that could be roughly translated as "Others", "Things", "Creatures" making quite clear that they saw themselves as being somewhat superior. This goes out globally and in time to.

    When people look at others as being something akin to other animals, its very likely that they treat those others as being animals: very little respect, very little dignity, very little empathy. Mistreatment follows, exploitation follows, and if necessary murder follows.

    Let's take for instance Stalin. One of the most brutal human beings to ever walk in this planet. By most accounts we was mostly an ok guy before his first wife died, even though a little bit violent prone, but after that he said that "with her died any human feeling in him". By most accounts he truly loved that woman and he is also quoted as saying that other than his mother, Ekaterina Svanidze was the only other person he truly loved.

    With almost everybody else around him Stalin was a callous monster. Still he seemed to enjoy being around some children and a few times he was able to share what seemed to be something very similar to human warmth.
    But most of the time, and to most of the people, Stalin always saw himself as being superior. Stalin saw himself as more apt and more willing. Others were just commodities, insignificant peons that were used and discarded as it fitted his whim.
    The real problem isn't this despicable trend in Stalin's personality. The real problem was that he had power. He had power to exploit and eliminate those he deemed unfit.

    All of us share this trait, I'd guess, and most of us would be aware of the constant double standards that we use in our lives. First it's us, than are those that are close to us (there are several levels of proximity) and then there are the others. People that are different in some way, and are as seen as not being "real" people, but backward people at best.

    Everyone of us has dealt with double standards at one time or another on our lives, but it is hard to admit that we use double standards ourselves. It is hard to admit that we excuse ourselves (or ones that are close to us) from things that we would immediately point our finger to if done by the other. This is called moral disengagement. It allows one to disable the mechanism of self condemnation in order to not apply to ourselves (or ones that are close to us) ethical standards that we'd normally use.

    The so called monsters do have morals (Try to kill a monster's loved one. Try to steal a monster. Try to rape a monster's loved one), even if only applied to a very strict set of people around him, even if applied with high levels of moral disengagement.

    "Monsters" are monsters because they have power in their hands in opportunity in their hands. It isn't just about a set of conflicting values, that the "monster" may aware of or not, it isn't just about dehumanizing the ones that aren't near to you.
    Both of these three factor have to happen in order for a "potential monster" to become a "real monster".

    As soon as people all over the place realize that people all over the place are people all over the place, "monsters" will become rarer and rarer instances in our joint History. Because it is a joint History.

    Why do I care?
    How couldn't I care?
  2. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    07 Apr '10 13:42
    Originally posted by adam warlock
    Monsters aren't monsters everyday and monsters aren't monsters to everybody.[...]
    [b]How couldn't I care?
    [/b]
    Is this some kind of oblique public apology for you thretening to knock another poster's teeth out and put him "in the ground" on another thread recently?
  3. Standard member adam warlock
    Baby Gauss
    07 Apr '10 13:44
    Originally posted by FMF
    Is this some kind of oblique public apology for you thretening to knock another poster's teeth out and put him "in the ground" on another thread recently?
    No.
  4. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    07 Apr '10 13:48
    Originally posted by adam warlock
    No.
    Oh well. I suppose we can wait for that, then.
  5. 07 Apr '10 13:59
    Originally posted by adam warlock
    Monsters aren't monsters everyday and monsters aren't monsters to everybody. In fact most monsters are pretty decent human beings (to a pretty restricted set of people that is).

    During the course of History multiple civilizations have come and gone, many conflicts have been waged, many horrendous acts have been committed. We like to think of this hor ...[text shortened]...
    History.

    Why do I care?
    How couldn't I care?[/b]
    I agree.

    An example would be the political debate here in America between liberals and conservatives, or GOPs or Dems.

    One of the things that prevents both sides from finding common ground and working together to make government work better and more efficiently, is the fact that too many liberals turn conservatives into monsters, and vice versa. And there are some that like to turn BOTH liberals and conservatives alike into monsters. Legions of bloggers and talkshow hosts make a lot of money by creating these monsters and making people as angry and afraid of them as possible.

    Perhaps if we all spent some time "loving our enemies" and "blessing those who curse us", we could settle most of our differences.

    On the other hand, there will always be some people who truly behave like monsters.
  6. Standard member joneschr
    Some guy
    07 Apr '10 17:52 / 3 edits
    Adam, you ramble more than my old college girlfriend. To decode each paragraph for the lazy:

    1 ...
    2 "Monsters" = bigots
    3 There have been lots of groups of people. They all think they're awesome.
    4 People do bad things to people they think aren't awesome.
    5 Stalin (a monster) was an OK guy in the inside.
    6 Stalin thought he was awesome and other people were non-awesome.
    He had power.
    7 All of us think we're awesome.
    Most of us are aware we are meanies to the non-awesome.
    8 We use moral disengagement so we don't feel bad when we are meanies.
    9 Monsters feel bad when they are mean to people they think are awesome.
    10 Monsters = bigots + empowered
    11 Thesis: No monsters if everyone thinks everyone is equal.
    12 Emotional outburst.

    ----------------

    Your thesis is fine, but it seems pretty naive.

    With billions of people on the planet, and all of those people having some degree of bigotry (you acknowledge in #7 that everyone is a bigot in some manner), it's frankly amazing we have as little conflict as we do.

    Yes, we can improve things by calling out injustice and promoting equality (and we do, and should), and I might even agree that this is the biggest factor in avoiding everyday monsters.

    But for tackling the "big" monsters - I think it's more pragmatic to ensure the second part of the monster equation. That potential monsters, and those that promote them, aren't empowered.
  7. 07 Apr '10 18:46
    Originally posted by joneschr
    Adam, you ramble more than my old college girlfriend. To decode each paragraph for the lazy:

    1 ...
    2 "Monsters" = bigots
    3 There have been lots of groups of people. They all think they're awesome.
    4 People do bad things to people they think aren't awesome.
    5 Stalin (a monster) was an OK guy in the inside.
    6 Stalin thought he was awesom ...[text shortened]... er equation. That potential monsters, and those that promote them, aren't empowered.
    LOL

    excellent summation.
  8. Standard member adam warlock
    Baby Gauss
    07 Apr '10 19:19 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by joneschr
    Adam, you ramble more than my old college girlfriend. To decode each paragraph for the lazy:

    1 ...
    2 "Monsters" = bigots
    3 There have been lots of groups of people. They all think they're awesome.
    4 People do bad things to people they think aren't awesome.
    5 Stalin (a monster) was an OK guy in the inside.
    6 Stalin thought he was awesom er equation. That potential monsters, and those that promote them, aren't empowered.
    Your summary is wrong at point 5, wrong at no number and incorrect at point 11. And the overall point of all of this was missed. Or if you got it you didn't mention it.

    With billions of people on the planet, and all of those people having some degree of bigotry (you acknowledge in #7 that everyone is a bigot in some manner), it's frankly amazing we have as little conflict as we do.

    This wasn't in the scope of things I've talked about, but I guess it just depends of your definition of conflict: I never said I was only talking about wars.
  9. 07 Apr '10 20:15
    Originally posted by joneschr
    Adam, you ramble more than my old college girlfriend. To decode each paragraph for the lazy:

    1 ...
    ...
    5 Stalin (a monster) was an OK guy in the inside.

    ...

    quation. That potential monsters, and those that promote them, aren't empowered.
  10. 07 Apr '10 20:17
    Stalin and Mao, both widowers.

    maybe we should ban single marriage.
  11. Standard member joneschr
    Some guy
    07 Apr '10 20:19
    Originally posted by adam warlock
    Your summary is wrong at point 5, wrong at no number and incorrect at point 11. And the overall point of all of this was missed. Or if you got it you didn't mention it.

    [quote]With billions of people on the planet, and all of those people having some degree of bigotry (you acknowledge in #7 that everyone is a bigot in some manner), it's frankly amazi ...[text shortened]... it just depends of your definition of conflict: I never said I was only talking about wars.
    I must admit, I had trouble tying it all together, so I clearly missed the point. Can you concisely state what the point was?

    I wasn't defining conflict as war exclusively, but fine to clarify the point.
  12. Standard member joneschr
    Some guy
    07 Apr '10 20:21
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    Hehe, which part - the empowerment of monsters? Well, maybe we can make some exceptions for you, zeeblebot.
  13. 07 Apr '10 20:27
    the Stalin-had-a-heart-of-gold part.
  14. Standard member joneschr
    Some guy
    07 Apr '10 20:36 / 4 edits
    Ah, yeah, I really wasn't getting the point of that paragraph. It seemed to be something along the lines of "even coldblooded killers have a soft side to the "awesome". I really wasn't getting why he was pointing that out. It doesn't really seem relevant. Perhaps I didn't summarize fairly though.

    But then, as Adam has pointed out, apparently I'm missing the point of the whole essay, so perhaps this is a key paragraph.
  15. Standard member adam warlock
    Baby Gauss
    07 Apr '10 21:19
    Originally posted by joneschr
    Ah, yeah, I really wasn't getting the point of that paragraph. It seemed to be something along the lines of "even coldblooded killers have a soft side to the "awesome". I really wasn't getting why he was pointing that out. It doesn't really seem relevant. Perhaps I didn't summarize fairly though.

    But then, as Adam has pointed out, apparently I'm missing the point of the whole essay, so perhaps this is a key paragraph.
    I must admit, I had trouble tying it all together, so I clearly missed the point.

    I hope this wasn't because of the language I've used because I tried to keep it really clear. Maybe it was because of the structure or something but once again I have to say that my intention was to be as simple and as direct as possible.

    The point of mentioning Stalin was just to say that "monsters" are horrendous persons is simplistic. They do the same things that we all do: moral disengagement, self flattering double standards, in group bias, etc... They might do it at a greater level than most of the rest of people, but the main factor, in my opinion, is that they have some kind of power. That's what makes them actual monsters.

    It is pretty evident that I never said Stalin was an ok guy on the inside. I've said quite the opposite of that actually, and I'm surprised of how that idea came out of what I've written.

    You use the term bigot and I don't know if you think that's what I intended to say or if you were just simplifying, but I can tell you that if you really think that that's what I meant, you're in the wrong direction. Maybe that's why you're missing the point of this.