Thug Culture

The beliefs that we’ve been discussing – that most bad behavior is caused by society, and that we only think a behavior is bad because it has been criminalized – have created the progressive trend of excusing those who act antisocially, even when those actions are horrific. Because of this progressive social trend to sympathize with those traditionally seen as evildoers, human evil and barbarism are less recognized and therefore inadequately suppressed or channeled. A license to be bad leads to more bad behavior.

Males, if they are not civilized into men, tend toward barbarism.

Thug culture starts to thrive when human primitivism is not being channeled or suppressed.  Human thuggery is an eternal problem because it is eternal in human nature – especially male nature. Males, if they are not civilized into men, tend toward barbarism. Americanism successfully civilized boys into men for centuries. It is the height of foolishness to tamper with that successful male-civilizing process. But civilizing young males is an uneasy and unnatural process, and as Americanism has weakened, thug culture has reemerged.

thug culture n : a social pattern characterized by the inherent tendency, especially in males, toward seeking social status based on violence, the maintenance of face, and primitive behavior

Thug culture, whether today or in the distant past, is about being respected rather than meeting standards of behavior. In a cross-cultural and historical study including records from over 700 years ago, more than half of all male-on-male homicides were connected to competition for status and the maintenance of face.  This pattern of human male violence is the same as that of other polygynous primates.* As Martin Daly and Margo Wilson write in their book Homicide, the reputation of a man in most societies hinges on his maintaining a believable threat of violence.  This believable threat is obscured in today’s world because the government has a established a monopoly on the lawful use of force.  But when that monopoly weakens, society-wide or in a violent sub-culture, the usefulness of that believable threat is again clear.**

…men universally compete for social status and for the control of resources which sustain reproduction.  Throughout preindustrial societies, nearly one in three young men are killed during this competition, and those who have killed have gained a definite social asset in many or most prestate cultures.

As David Geary points out in his book Male, Female, this inherent male barbarism is not concentrated in any particular ethnicity. In fact, men universally compete for social status and for the control of resources which sustain reproduction.  Throughout preindustrial societies, nearly one in three young men are killed during this competition, and those who have killed have gained a definite social asset in many or most prestate cultures. For instance, about two out of five men in the Yanomamo tribe have murdered at least one person, and have thus achieved a higher social status and more wives and children than the non-murderers.*** In other possible examples, the homicide rates in England, Amsterdam and Stockholm in the 15th and 16th centuries were very high, about equal to the most murderous cities in America during the 1980s and early 1990s – which were at the time the most violent places in the industrial  world.****

While this murderous behavior is found among different ethnicities, the same is not true of gender.  These were mostly male crimes – relatively few women committed grave acts of violence.†  Thug culture affects everyone, but in its origins it is essentially a male phenomenon.

These modern studies of preindustrial (traditional Americans would say pre-civilization) societies are reminiscent of the traditional American view of preindustrial Indian society described by McMaster in his 1901 children’s history book: “No young Indian was of any importance till he had killed an enemy and brought home the scalp; and the more scalps he brought home, the greater ‘brave’ he was thought to be.”‡ Pre-civilized societies, regardless of ethnicity, typically had very high rates of male barbarism and murder. Post-civilized societies such as the most murderous American cities of the 1980s and early 1990s – which are, not coincidentally, centers of progressive culture – are likely to suffer the same problem.

* David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), p. 318.

** Martin Daly & Margo Wilson, Homicide, ( New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988), p.128.

*** David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), pp. 317-318.

****Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen, The Civilization of Crime, (University of Illinois Press, 1996), p. 8.

† Jan Sundin, “Crime and Local Justice in Preindustrial Sweden”, Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen, The Civilization of Crime, (University of Illinois Press, 1996), p. 189.

‡ John Bach McMaster, A Primary History of the United States, (American Book Company, 1901), p. 20.

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A Progressive Belief: Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoer.

Traditional Americans believed that people were always susceptible to bad behavior and had to choose to walk the “straight and narrow” path of good behavior. If they behaved badly, they had no one to blame but themselves. However, newthink offers a plethora of rationalizations for “antisocial” behavior – so much so that progressive sympathy often goes to the traditional evildoer rather than his victim.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

  • Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
  • Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
  • Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.
  • Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoer until they break.

WorldviewTree_p034

The unconscious logic of this belief’s single entailment is:

  • We must excuse those who act antisocially because it’s not their fault.

One of the most difficult tasks for the legal system is to sort out willful wickedness from mental disease. If a woman drowns her five children in a bathtub, is she evil or insane or some mixture of the two?

Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.

Newthinkers tend to reject the idea of evil. As God is absent under their universe metaphor, so is the devil. They tend to place the blame for antisocial behavior on gradations of mental illness, from maladjustment to a full-on psychosis. Progressive language again tips us off: the word “antisocial” focuses on acts against society, not acts that are inherently bad or unprincipled. Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.

Next consider the phrase “criminalized populations” – so common that it generated nearly a million hits on Google – which implicitly characterizes felons as blameless, passive victims of criminalization. To criminalize means to turn a person into a criminal by making their activities illegal. In other words, crime is society’s fault for defining it as such.

Newthinkers sympathize with those who behave badly. Progressive sympathy often goes more to traditional evildoers than their victims because newthink tends to see traditional evildoers as damaged goods – inherently noble beings damaged or corrupted by society. They are tragic figures; the victims are just props in their drama. Taken to an extreme, this belief in socially-caused misbehavior leads to the idea that no punitive action should be taken against those traditionally considered to be evildoers. Murderers shouldn’t be executed; terrorists should be released.  It is a cold sympathy which forgets the victims.

A Progressive Belief: Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.

Americans traditionally adopted demanding standards of behavior because they believed that people, not inherently good, needed moral guidelines and laws to prevent bad behavior and encourage good behavior. In contrast, progressives tend to believe that demanding behavioral standards are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t live up to them.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
• Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.

Newthinkers believe that humans are inherently noble. Because of this belief, they often fail to strive for an ideal standard of behavior. It’s unnecessary; they’re already filled with built-in merit. Virtue is much easier to achieve without behavioral ideals. Besides, nobody can live up to all the traditional “shoulds.” Before newthink, the inevitably unfavorable comparison between the ideal and oneself led to a healthy humility. But newthink posits that ideals of behavior are damaging to the human psyche and offers an alternative reaction to that uncomfortable comparison: the rejection of the “shoulds.” For instance, the popular ideal of a non-obese body is thought to be damaging because it hurts the feelings of the obese. In progressive France, they considered making it a crime to promote thinness.*

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• If you espouse an ideal behavioral standard that you don’t live up to, you’re a hypocrite.
• It’s better to avoid hypocrisy by not having unattainable standards of behavior.

Newthinkers believe human virtue is inherent; traditional Americans believed it was earned. To newthinkers, espousing a behavior that you can’t live up to is hypocritical because you either inherently behave that way or not. If you don’t meet the mark, you’re a pretender. Newthinkers tend to believe it’s better to dispose of unattainable standards of behavior and avoid hypocrisy.

For instance, devout newthinkers often believe the traditional ideal of monogamy is damaging. Say you hold the ideal that one should never commit adultery. If you then have an affair, progressives will consider you a hypocrite. However, a hypocrite is defined as “one who affects virtues or qualities he does not have.”** Newthinkers aren’t hearing the complete message of traditional Americans: “One should never commit adultery and I, a flawed or sinful person, will try to live up to that standard.” A traditional American who breaks his marriage vows is not a hypocrite because of his act of adultery. He has simply failed to live up to his ideal of faithfulness to his spouse. If he then pretends to be faithful, that makes him a hypocrite. To traditional Americans, acknowledging one’s failure to live up to an ideal is the act of a normal, flawed human being; pretending one lives up to an ideal when one doesn’t is the act of a hypocrite. Therefore, the newthink sub-belief “If you espouse an ideal behavior standard that you don’t live up to, you’re a hypocrite.” is only true if you don’t believe that normal human beings are flawed.

The moral path of progressivism leads ever downward because, without a felt obligation toward a standard of personal good behavior, we revert to the barbarian mean of moral anarchy.

Newthinkers believe that their virtuous qualities are inherent, not earned; that demanding standards of behavior are damaging; and that failing to meet an ideal equals hypocrisy. Because of these beliefs, progressive culture suffers from a dearth of behavioral ideals. Nihilism has set in. The moral path of progressivism leads ever downward because, without a felt obligation toward a standard of personal good behavior, we revert to the barbarian mean of moral anarchy.

That is, unless the newthinkers are correct about the nobility of humanity.

* Molly Moore and Corinne Gavard, “France Takes Aim at Cult Of Thinness,” The Washington Post, April 16, 2008.

** Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, (G. & C. Merriam, 1977).

Progression: The Progressive Social Improvement Process

The unending large-scale social improvement process of newthinkers is progression.

progression n : 1 the progressive social improvement process <the schools have become an instrument of progression.> 2 progressive do-goodery

progress vb : to improve society through large-scale change

One form of progression is youth indoctrination into newthink through public school instruction. One shouldn’t judge newthinkers too harshly for indoctrinating their youth; all cultures do that. But one also shouldn’t pretend that indoctrination isn’t happening. The difference between newthink and traditional American cultural indoctrination is in the content.

John Bach McMaster (1852-1932), Litt. D. (hon....

John Bach McMaster (1852-1932), Litt. D. (hon.) 1894 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to know what a culture truly believes, look at what it is teaching its children. For instance, children’s history books’ descriptions of native Americans have changed dramatically over the last century. A Primary History of the United States (1901) by John Bach McMaster describes the Indian resistance toward European settlement in the Great Lakes area like this:

The British held the forts along the Great Lakes, traded with the savages, and sold them guns and powder. With guns and powder so obtained, the Indians tried to drive out the people who were settling north of the Ohio. Concealed in the woods along the banks, the redskins attacked the boats as they floated by; they even put out in canoes and climbed on board to massacre the immigrants. Sometimes when a boat was seen coming down the Ohio, the Indians would force a white prisoner to stand by the water’s edge and beg piteously to be taken on board; and when the immigrants stopped to help him, the savages would kill every man, woman and child on the boat. When the whites in return attacked the Indians and burned their towns, a war broke out and raged for six years.*

Notice that the native Americans were called, among other things, “savages.” This was not accidental, nor was it gratuitous derogation. As we will see later when discussing the society metaphor, traditional Americans did see the natives as uncivilized and savage. Also notice that the Indians and the European immigrants are frankly described as being at war, and that the traditional American teachers’ focus was on the violent savagery of the native Americans. Male native Americans were described like this:

The duty of the Indian man, or ‘brave,’ was to hunt, fish, and fight. He would make arrows, bows, canoes, and stone tools, but he thought any other kind of work was beneath him. No young Indian was of any importance till he had killed an enemy and brought home the scalp; and the more scalps he brought home, the greater ‘brave’ he was thought to be. As the scalp was the proof of victory, each warrior wore a scalp lock as a challenge to his enemies, and defended it with his life. The lock was made by shaving the hair close except on the crown of the head, where it was allowed to grow long, and was ornamented with feathers. The Indian’s way of fighting was to the white man dishonorable. The fair and open fight had no charm for the redskins. To their minds it was the height of folly to kill an enemy at the risk of their own lives, when they might shoot the foe from behind a tree, or waylay him in ambush as he hurried along a forest trail, or at the dead of night rouse their sleeping victims with the hideous war whoop and kill them in cold blood. The Indians were very skillful in laying an ambush, that is, in hiding themselves so that they could attack the enemy when he did not expect it.**

In contrast, newthinkers, from a more removed distance in time, paint for their children a more progressively enlightened picture of native Americans than did traditional Americans. Newthinkers tend to focus on what they see as the genocide of American Indians by European immigrants and the dishonorable treatment the Indians received from them. Howard Zinn in his book A Young People’s History of the United States (2007) describes how white America repeatedly swindled and mistreated the Indians.*** Zinn characterizes native American culture as communal, with shared property and power.****

A more objective observer might point out the commonalities between native American tribal cultures and European tribal cultures before Christianity and capitalism.

Traditional Americans acknowledged their own immigration into Indian lands and the war between their cultures; further, they, by their own accounts, often viewed native Americans as uncivilized, dishonorable and savage. Newthinkers have a completely different view of Indians: their societies sound like idyllic communes, with land, work, food and power shared equally among everyone. In progressive accounts, the dishonorable behavior seems to come almost solely from the European immigrants. A more objective observer might point out the commonalities between native American tribal cultures and European tribal cultures before Christianity and capitalism. Whatever the truth of the matter, the point here is that each culture indoctrinates its youth in its core beliefs and values in a very revealing way. From the excerpts of adults of each worldview educating their children, we see clearly into the hearts and minds of the teachers.

Education is, to newthinkers, a primary avenue for progression. Since all cultures teach their children their beliefs, that should be no surprise. With a new worldview comes a new culture; with a new culture comes new types of indoctrination. What do you expect progressives to do? Walkers walk. Talkers talk. Progressives progress.

* John Bach McMaster, A Primary History of the United States, (American Book Company, 1901), pp. 162-163.

** Ibid., p.20.

*** Howard Zinn, A Young People’s History of the United States, Vol. 1, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007) pp. 73-75.

****Ibid., pp. 16-17.