Tag Archives: tension

Carla Drift – Behaviour 3


People accept tensions and feelings of injustice (or perceived injustice) to a certain extend. They adapt themselves to these tensions or (perceived) humiliations. Examples are: those who see their life completely change after a defeat, those who must live within a society that doesn’t fit their needs, those who are dominated by a dictatorial regime that never seems to end.

Very long, people can tolerate this tension and discontent until a breakpoint is reached. Suddenly a tipping point of no return arises. Man revolts [1]

[2]

A situation that was still bearable before the tipping point, suddenly is absurd and unbearable. The social inhibitions, the normal rule of justice and the ethical principles are temporarily abolished. Suddenly everything is permitted to end these tensions and the feelings of (supposed) injustice.

A primary form of extreme rebellion is seen when a man suddenly acts extremely violent whereby all forms of social behaviour, legal norms and common ethics are put aside. Usually family, friends, acquaintances and society have not foreseen this violent action in any way. After the violent act, they try to explain the extreme behaviour – the explanation is usually more meant to restore mutual trust than to clarify this particular flare-up of violence. This primary form of rebellion is found in all times and in all societies. In Indonesia and Malaysia, these unexpected acts of violence – whereby the rebel attacks all and everyone in his way – is indicated by “amok”. In the Western world all amok-rebels, if they survive their deeds, end in a psychiatric asylum where often no apparent mental disorder is found for this murderous behaviour [3]. We see this manner of primary rebellion in persons who start shooting with a firearm at a crowd or within a school without any reason.

Another primary form of extreme revolt is seen in a small group of people who suddenly do not accept their (perceived) injustice. They rebel against their situation. Examples are: lynchings and murders against individuals or small groups that exceed any form of case-law, norms and ethics. In Dutch history an example of this rebellion is the murder of the brothers de Witt by a mob in The Hague [4].

A weakened form of rebellion are rioting by supporters. These riots of supporters are of all times. An example of riots of supporters that eventually culminate in a serious rebellion, is the Nika revolt [5] in Constantinople in 532 A.C. where 30,000 people lost their lives. Small riots during chariot racing occurred often in that time; after these riots convictions of arrested participants followed. In January 532 A.C. two escaped convicts of these riots sought refuge in the sanctuary of a church under protection of a crowd. The position of Emperor Justinian was weakened by political problems. He wanted to assert his authority and the convicts were arrested again. During the next chariot races serious riots broke out in the hippodrome. The Emperor decided to flee, but Empress Theodora said: “It is not important if a woman must say to men to behave brave. One must do what one can in the event of danger. Flight is foolish. Everyone must die once and I have decided to die as Empress” (and not as a refugee). Two generals – with their battle hardened Germanic troops – decided to crush the rebellion. Hereto they lured a part of the rebellions out of the hippodrome with money coins. The remaining 30,000 rebellions were massacred in hippodrome by the troops .

[6]

In the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, I always visit the place for the Empress in the women’s gallery. From her place I see the sanctuary and from the ground floor, I look to the women’s gallery: “Empress for once and for always”.

[7]

A complete society can accept tensions and feelings of (perceived) injustice to a certain degree. Until the tipping point, the situation is seen as perfectly normal. Everyone has a suitable place until the rapid change occurs in society. The outward cause for the tipping point often seems a tiny issue for an outsider.

At the end of the 18th century the Ancient Regime in France was outdated financially, administratively and intellectually. According to a large part of the population it no longer suited the changes in that society. A decline in wages was foreseen and riots broke out. By clumsy interventions of the Government the riots got out of hand and the trust in Government declined further. The storming of the Bastille by armed revolutionaries was the start of a period when social inhibitions disappeared and the sense of justice and ethical awareness declined. The guillotine did overtime and after a very short time the revolutionaries were worse than the Ancient Regime ever was. The French State began its existence with the slogan “Egalité, Fraternité et Liberté”, but it took a long time before it was realised.

[8]

First Napoleon with the French Grande Armee had to retreat from Moscow [9] and afterwards defeated at Leipzig and Waterloo. This revolution caused next to a stream of blood also that militarism became endemic in our society and rationality was shaped inter alia in the meter and the kilogram.

The following post is about my personal life.


[1] See also: Camus, Albert, De Mens in Opstand. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1974

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rebel_(book) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_de_Witt

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots and Cotterell, Arthur, Chariot – From chariot to tank, the astounding rise and fall of the world’s first war machine.” New York: The Overlook Press, 2004, p, 280 – 288

[6] Remnants of the hypodrome in Istanbul. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne_(embleem)

[9] See also: Zamoyski, Adam, 1812 – Napoleons fatale veldtocht naar Moskou. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2005

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Carla Drift – Behaviour 1


The recovery of my tropical disease took a long time. I noticed with my body that a European was not created for the tropics. I received good medical care and the residual effects of the disease disappeared after a recovery of many, many months.

These months I used to write my report of my first study trip. In the second part of this report, I described my findings about the influence of individual behaviour of offenders, rulers and opinion leaders on genocide [1].

Sreaming drill sergeant [2]

To date, genocide was never committed by an individual. An individual had not been capable to do so. This will change in the future, because the weapons of mass destruction [3] have acquired an apocalyptic destruction and operation of these weapons can take place by an individual or a small group of people operating together. Several films already give a forecast of this possibility [4].

Hiroshima Nakajima area [5]

Hiroshima Nakajima area in ruins [6]

In Central Africa few heavy weapons are present. A good deployable air force is lacking. The few available tanks are poorly maintained and there is a lack of personnel for operating this weaponry. Usually these weapons have only a symbolic value for enhancing the status of the owner/ruler.

On the other hand, there are many automatic rifles and machine guns available in this area. These weapons can afflict great slaughter among the local people when used by a limited group of soldiers, by revolutionaries, by armed gangs and by raiders. A larger group can also afflict genocide with hand weapons such as machetes.

Based on my findings I concluded in my report that in Central Africa sufficient resources – small arms, light and medium automatic rifles and machine guns – were present for a genocide. These weapons were delivered by several rich nations to perpetuate or enhance their position by supporting local groups. These weapons raise – just like the possession of spears in the past – the respect of a warrior/soldier. In reality, these weapons are usually used for deterrence or threat against opponents.

The first providers of the light and medium automatic rifles and machine guns are often countries outside Africa who want to enhance or perpetuate their influence in the politics. The first recipients are often local leaders or groups who distribute the weapons to settle or defend their influence. The individual receivers are often young men who want to establish their position within the group as a warrior or soldier: the need to receive respect in the pyramid of Maslow [7]. This respect gives next to a position in the group also opportunities for female partner choice and eventually self-respect. Sometimes older men want to defend their interests: the need to safety in the Maslow’s pyramid.

Individual people are or become part of a group. Through initiation rites [8] they are accepted in a group. Warriors often may carry a weapon after their initiation rites – they become part of their warriors group or army. The group gives the individual an identity and the mutual relationships between the individuals give a group/army an identity and a culture. In peacetime, groups of warriors should be kept busy. Traditional activities for groups of warriors in peacetime are: maintenance of equipment and skills, hunting and conquests far away from home.

Congolese soldiers with automatic weapons [9]

Most of the time the people of Central Africa coexist as good neighbours. They practise a comprehensive form of hospitality that exceeds the habits in Netherlands. People take their time to have mutual contact. For most people the material prosperity is rather low. Much attention is given to clothing, appearance and eating; other forms of prosperity are scarce. Just like in many societies and large corporations, the top layer of the society usurps the most of the limited material prosperity. This top layer has control over the distribution of food and prosperity over the entire group. If the groups are in balance internally and externally, then there still is a great inequality within and between groups, but possible tensions are dampened or smothered in many ways. Everything and everyone lives together in a more or less pleasant way.

Ashanti Yam Ceremony 1812 [10]

Literature and the findings during my research show that during internal conflicts and in conflicts between tribes, neighbours perceive each other in a radically different way. Within a fraction of a second, people distinguish between foreigners and members of their own group. When tensions arise, the own good qualities are exaggerated and the own bad characteristics are overlooked. In strangers, the bad qualities are seen a characteristic for the group and the good characteristics are neglected. The group pressure is often so great that the opinions are compulsorily imposed to the group members – otherwise forms of exclusion will follow [11].

In one of his works [12] Jean Paul Sartre described how an individual/stranger is robbed from her/his innocence and freedom of action by two mechanisms. By the mechanism of the “bad faith”, group members will reduce a stranger to an object with a very limited number of qualities – the stranger is robbed from all her/his other qualities. In line with the “bad faith”, Jean Paul Sartre describes the theory of “look” – Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen called this the “look of hate” [13]. The actions of a stranger are captured in a stigmatising look. Hereby the stranger is deprived from her/his ability to change and from his humanity; she/he is reduced to a thing.

 
[1] See for genocide: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide
[2] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Drill_sergeant_screams.jpg
[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernwapen en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon
[4] E.g.: Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick – see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Strangelove
[5] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HiroshimaNakajimaArea.jpg.
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HiroshimaNakajimaAreaInRuins.jpg
[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs
[8] See brief overview in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiation
[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Congo_War
[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_(vegetable)
[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment
[12] Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness. New York: Washington square press: 1977 – See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Nothingness
[13] Luijpen, W., Nieuwe inleiding tot de existentiële fenomenologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum, 1976 p. 284 – 285

Carla Drift – Travelling


After submitting my thesis on the subject “Preventing Excesses during Change and Conflicts”, I gave a presentation on this topic two weeks later. The attendees asked critical questions about the need for defence of property. They were sceptical about the possibility of words – ultimately chats do not fill gaps caused by tensions and stress. During the examination, fundamental questions were asked about the balance between the races of developments of the material prosperity and the development of the arms industry that has produced devastating instruments including atom bombs. Luckily, I had an example available on the transition from the Bronze Age [1] into the Iron Age in Greece and Asia Minor around 1200 BC. At that time, many cities were destroyed by sacking and fire. Until recently, this destruction was attributed to drifting people – the so-called Sea People [2]. Now there is more nuanced thought about this period. It is believed that the improved military technology and population growth – by use of iron agricultural tools – made it possible to sack cities and defeat  classic armies equipped with bronze weapons and chariots.

After the exam and the diploma ceremony, there was my graduation party – a beautiful party. Everyone who was important in my life, was present. My father beamed, my mother and sisters were happy for me, childhood friends from South Limburg wished me luck, but they warned me for the dangers of the human world. They asked when I would come back home and they had taken vacancies of posts at the Municipality and the Province. My student friends asked what my plans were: a post – or a journey around the world. Also my former great love was present – the magic between us was gone. I saw him as an ordinary beautiful nice young man, who easily falls in love with women – not my type. We gave each other kisses on the cheeks and promised to keep in touch with each other. Not much came of it. Through acquaintances I occasionally heard something about his life.

After receiving my Masters, I had no interest in PhD. Then I should specialize too much during the investigation and an academic career did not attract me with its hairs-splitting including a strong competition with other scientists. Before I might accept a post, I preferred to see parts of the world. I prepared a world tour of about a year. I disposed of many of my belongings and I left the special items at my family, friends and acquaintances. I only owned the contents of my backpack: 10 kilogram or two sets of spare clothes and a little more.

Backpack with belongings [3]

I planned to go to India to first. The overland journey was too dangerous with the war going on between Iran and Iraq and uncertainty about Afghanistan.

During the elaborating of this plan, I received an invitation for a paid study trip to Central Africa. A human rights organisation wished to investigate excesses in a dictatorial governed country in Africa. Before I participated in the research, I could make a three weeks tourist journey at my own expense in parks in Kenya and Central Africa.

On this tourist travel I met many dear, nice and helpful people. Their hospitality exceeds far beyond the good hospitality in South Limburg. In this environment men still know – according to the first college philosophy by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen – the art of half an hour work for eight hours sitting in the sun. An art that I could only acquire during short periods much later in my life. I was open and people were open. They protected me – as one of their small children – for the dangers of the environment and for dangers of robbery and worse.

Savanne in Africa [4]

In Central Africa I noticed remnants of former cities. I was reminded of the ancient cities in Asia Minor during the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Several hundred years ago, this continent had undergone a similar forced revolution by the invasion and colonization of a more advanced civilisation from Europe.

City wall in Zimbabwe [5]

All the maritime countries of Europe tried to take possession of a part of Africa to assert their influence and to acquire riches. According to an old saying, a crime is underlying each possession. This occupation was accompanied by violence against the original inhabitants and with violence between the maritime countries themselves. Around 1885, Congo still had to be divided between the high-profile countries in Europe. In 1885 during the Conference in Berlin, Congo was awarded to King Leopold II of Belgium: he made Congo his personal property and named it ‘Congo Free State’. For the original inhabitants of this part of Africa it was certainly no Free State.

From the West Coast of Africa, many original inhabitants – after being captured – were traded as slaves and deported to South- and North America. Below is a photo of their symbolic gate – called “Point of no Return” – for their forced departure with an excessive unpleasant journey to the “promised” land, where a slave existence awaited. Only much later, after many hardships and strive, they would legally receive an equal status in the United States of America. In practice, the status of many people from Africa is still not equal to people originating from the maritime countries of Europe.

Gate of Point of no return[6]

More than a century ago, Africa was divided by Europe into many parts with artificial borders. The population within these parts was not homogeneous. Coherent groups were divided over different areas. After the Second World War, Europe had no longer the power and influence to keep its colonies in Africa occupied. By negotiation or after a freedom fight, many former colonies received independency along  the former imposed artificial borders. Serious underlying tensions often existed within this new independent parts and between these parts. These tensions found their way in mutual conflicts between tribes and between the new States. A number of new States had great internal tensions to establish a new public administration. Some countries fell into dictatorship with a reign of terror in order to stay in power.

Map of Africa [7]

In Ethiopia in 1974, parts of the skeleton were found of a woman who has lived approximately 3.2 million years. She is called “Lucy” [9].

Australopithecus afarensis or a woman of 3,2 million years old named Lucy [10]

By conducting this paid study, I started a dangerous career. This first paid study focused on the causes and consequences of genocide in Central Africa. I have never been very convinced of the existence of homogeneous people. I think it is better to speak of small or large groups of people with reasonably similar habits and culture. Within these groups, the differences can be significant, but outsiders often focus on the similarities. Based upon this framing, special characteristics are attributed to this group. When tensions arise, certain characteristics are used for stigmatisation of a foreign group; the own group is glorified based upon certain other characteristics. Tensions can pass into conflicts with sometimes fatal consequences and excesses for groups or parts of the group. My study focused on the process and the consequences of this stigmatisation and on the responsibility for excesses.

For the safety of the interviewee, my co-researchers and myself I can give no details about this study.

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age_collapse
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Peoples
[3] Source image: Zie ook:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpack
[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa
[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Zimbabwe_Closeup.jpg
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa
[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_(Australopithecus)
[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus_afarensis
[10] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide

Carla Drift – Changes and Conflicts 2


My last year in Amsterdam I had a beautiful spring, a spring like no other. The solidified time started to flow. Never before I saw more beautiful flowers and blossoms. Nature smelled like life.

Spring flowers blossom[1]

Life beamed and I beamed back. Everything around me still was as intense as in the three years as three centuries, but the icy chill thawed and stiffness disappeared in the warmth of the spring sunshine. I floated in a golden glow. “Life is a continual death of the now” – the sentence during the solidified time – changed in:

For our Self is
making and destroying one
and the same act

Sun shining in a cave

[2]

In the following summer and autumn I resumed my normal life. I still miss the intensity and the endlessness of the here and now.

The thesis for my study Humanities was “Preventing excesses during change and conflict”. The first part dealt with the circumstances in which excesses preferably manifest itself; the second part described the factors that have a damping effect on the occurrence of excesses.

Almost all changes pass silently. These silent changes are like breathing, blinking of the eyes or turning the head. The reason for the change can be reading the newspaper, seeing a picture or hearing a story. Afterwards our world is never the same. This kind of change is as natural as life itself.

The subject of my thesis focused on changes that cause tensions. In this post a few aspects of my thesis.

As starting point for the research I chose seven different perspectives for studying changes.

The first angle covered the scope of the change. The scope of the (directly attributable) impacts of the change – and the tensions it can cause – can vary from one individual, one family, one community, one city, one country, one continent, the world or the universe.

The second angle covered the intensity, strength and intensity of change. The severity and intensity can vary from a small ripple in existence to a tremendous event changing a whole life.

The third angle was the period in which the change took place. The duration can vary from a shock of impact of a large meteor or the explosion of the volcano on the island of Krakatoa in 1883 [3]. The effects of these explosions and impacts are still felt many years later, and can erase societies. Other changes have a long lead time: e.g. the onset of World War II or the introduction of literacy in Western society.

The fourth angle include tensions caused by changes of human needs. Here I used the hierarchy of needs by Maslow [4] where I divided the fifth hierarchy into three separate hierarchies: the need for knowledge, the need for religion and the need for self-realization. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a model for human needs ranging from Self-preservation to Self-realization. Our Odyssey to “Who are you” is a quest for the Self in all its immensity and finiteness – we encounter Maslow’s model at a number of stage during our Odyssey. Tensions can manifest themselves in transitions from one hierarchy to another hierarchy – human growth is often accompanied by shocks. Tensions also occur in regression of needs by changing circumstances such as famine, insecurity, hardened conditions, attacks on the honour and/or obstruction of freedom of speech, of expression, creativity, religion and/or self-actualization.

[4]

The fifth angle included the stage of development of society. Generally a hunter-gatherer society has less resources for extreme violence then a highly developed agricultural/industrial society with a huge reservoir of surplus in people, food, resources and knowledge.

The sixth angle related to the degree of social stratification within a society [5]. With an extremely stratified society, the role of absolute ruler – for example, a pharaoh or emperor – is all decisive. In an oligarchy group, a dynamic process within the small ruling class is decisive. A non-stratified society has its own – for people seemingly chaotic – dynamics. Further analysis shows that this kind dynamics can often be displayed in a few parameters, but around bifurcation-points the outcome is very dependent on tiny trivial coincidences. Many people feel insecure in chaotic processes: quickly a demand for leadership arises.

The seventh angle was the manner in which changes and tensions are handled. This seventh angle represents the response of individuals, groups and/or society to changes/tensions. The reaction can range from ignorance, acceptance, compassion, objection, anger and/or resistance. This seventh angle was mainly covered in the second part of my thesis, where I discussed the factors that had a damping effect on the occurrence of excesses.

A full description and study of these seven angles was not possible within the framework of my thesis. These seven points of view were used in a case study covering the changes and tensions caused by men who only defended their habitat, via an initial growth of mankind – caused by better food – resulting in a surplus of men who temporarily moved around as brethren looking for self-affirmation by conquests, via a second growth of mankind – by further specialization in society – with men living in wandering armies who made fighting their profession, via a third growth – by increasing prosperity – with permanent armed forces endemic embedded in society. Here I examined the consequences for the organization of public order: the armed forces are a power factor in public policy which needs direct access to people (soldiers) and resources (horses, arms, food and feed, housing and room) for its existence. More than 10 years after my thesis, John Keegan has made a very readable study on this subject [6].

[7]

A year ago I read a nice observation on the attenuation of the “Word” in “An Iliad – A Story of War” by Alessandro Baricco [8]. As a footnote to his story of the Iliad, Alessandro noted that under the skin there is always the desire to stop fighting. He noticed this desire in the Iliad in dialogues, discussions and meetings – he calls it the feminine side of the Iliad. The debates and meetings – instead of fighting – go on endless ad nauseam. According to Alessandro, these discussions are a way to delay the fight as long as possible – it is like a dialogue by Scheherazade who survives by telling stories. The word is the weapon that solidifies the time during war. Even if the heroes discuss the way of fighting, they do not fight – thus they stretch their lives. The heroes are doomed to death, but they make the “smoking of their last cigarette, smoking it with the words” as long as possible. If they start fighting, they change into blind fanatics with full dedication to their honour and duty. But first: first there is the solidified time, female, a time of conscious delay and backward looks at the past. A solidification of time, that had similarities with my three years as three centuries.

Through this observation by Alessandro Baricco, we arrive at the consistency of public affairs – with the use of the word, dialogue, legislation, treaties and case law – and war – with its blind fanaticism, anger, hatred, revenge and unfathomable grief. According to Von Clausewitz [9], war is a continuation of politics by other means. John Keegan has noted that war is much older than politics and government.

With this thesis I finished my student’s life in Amsterdam. In autumn I entered everyday life.

 

[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lente
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zonlicht
[3] See also:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krakatoa
[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs
[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_stratification
[6] See also: Keegan, John, A History of Warfare. London: Pimlico – Random House, 2004 and an earlier study on Admiralty: Keegan, John, The Price of Admiralty. London: Penguin Books, 1988
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_organization
[8] Source: Baricco Alessandro, An Iliad. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2007 p. 153 – 154
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz