Saturday, March 24, 2007

Brain Damage and the Neocons

Neurophysiology can be especially interesting, though sad, when it sheds light on characteristic human traits. A recent study begins to decipher some of the brain wiring associated with empathy; a primary component of morals.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and private sources, suggests that an aversion to hurting others is hard-wired into the brain.”

Essentially, it indicates that those people, who conclude that it is acceptable to sacrifice the lives of a few people to save other people, have brain damage. Yes – brain damage. Now one of the theoretical scenarios presented to the participants involved killing one person for the “greater good” of others. People with intact brains have a definite problem with this while people with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex do not. Perhaps it has something to do with "the greater good" since there is often a large ambiguity associated with the idea of the “greater good.”
For instance, consider this 1855 excerpt from the pro-slavery author William John Grayson:

I do not say that Slavery is the best system of labour, but only that it is the best for the negro, in this country.”

William John Grayson and many others supported the institution of slavery for Africans and African-Americans because it was for the “greater good” of both black people and America.

For the “greater good” of the world, the Nazis agreed that all Jews must be destroyed as the “Final Solution.” Here is an excerpt from the diary of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels:

In respect of the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that if they again brought about a world war, they would experience their annihilation in it.” (December 12th, 1941)

And for the “greater good” of the world there was a war on communism with Viet Nam as one of the main battlefields. Here is President Nixon’s tape-recorded comment to Henry Kissinger about concerns over the killing of Vietnamese civilians:

"You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians and I don’t give a damn! I don’t care.”

Therefore, I contend that if you believe that killing civilians is justified because you are bringing them democracy (or communism or religion or whatever you're selling that day) – you have brain damage.

Do you see my point yet? It is much more likely that a person with an intact brain will expend energy on all avenues to avoid war and the death of ANY persons while brain damaged people, and those with a hard-wiring deficiency, will justify many reasons to go to war.

So if you're one of these right-wing neocons, or even a left-wing totalitarianist, you need to seriously re-evaluate your system of ethics because you're not playing with a full deck.
-Just a peasant

Photo of Chinese soldiers executing Tibetan civilians for the "greater good" of the Communist state. I assure you, as later photos showed, they did pull the trigger.