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.