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Updated 11 Feb 2007

This project is beginning to illuminate the basic human ills that we and our children face. If it looks like it will take generations to banish terror from earth, that is all the more reason why we need to get on with it.

"Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures." John F. Kennedy

Fifty years on we could not agree more.

Background information:
  • Ashutosh Varshney illustrated one direction: ethnic integration into all levels and branches of society the world over would bring a calmer atmosphere.
  • Jessica Stern dramatically illustrated the mechanism of radicalization in our times.
  • John Dean stikes decisive chords as he fits the the authoritarian behavior pattern to numerous officials (Neocons) in government, beginning with Nixon and Watergate through Gingrich to DeLay's molding of the House of Representatives into the first dictatorship in the United States. [A Democratic congressional majority came just in time to stop the creation of a tri-partite dictatorhip where the presidency would be first among not-so-equals. Until most recently, the media stood by. Maybe some didn't get it; some were perhaps all for it; shame on them, and shame on the rest too for not coming to our rescue--well some did. Ed.]
  • Hubris, arrogance, superstition, and naive gullibility make us susceptible to creating and believing propaganda as Dick Taverne, Peter Huber, and Irshad Manji point out.
  • Moves to politicize science illustrate the shallowness of our thinking as Walter Gratzer, Peter Huber, and Dick Taverne discuss at length.
  • Barbara Tuchman, Coleen Rowley, Jessica Stern and Melissa Boyl Mahle, illustrate well how mistakes occur again and again at the highest levels of governance and diplomacy.
  • Mahmood Mamdani analyzed Rwandan genocide, illustrated vividly how European colonialism introduced racism into Rwandan culture that led to escalated terrorism and ultimately to genocide. He incisively describes the various roles politics, ethnicity and racism played. Uganda played an important role that sealed the fates of countless unfortunate and innocent people.
  • Dallaire and Barnett critique the UN for its behavior over Rwanda from polar-opposite vantage points.
  • Umutesi spins drama out of the Rwandan refugee tragedy.
  • Suskin provides a more recent view of an authoritarian government where Cheney calls the tunes that Bush dances.

The findings of Varshney, Stern, and Dean in particular follow directly or indirectly from the researches by:

  • Adorno, who first identified the authoritarian personality in the German populace after WWII;
  • Milgram, who showed unequivocally that authoritarins walk among us Americans;
  • Zimbardo, in dramatic style observed behavior in North American college males that foretold Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and
  • Altemeyer, demonstrated beyond statistical doubt that Anglo-North-American politicians are infected with the authoritarian virus.

Each contributed by identifying and/or characterizing the Authoritarian Personality that is latent in most of us.

Martha Stout added a further very disquiting note that four percent of all of us are sociopathic in behavior and unlikely to change. Sociopaths are the extreme of the extreme authoritarian personalities. They hijack entire sectors of humanity--politics, business, and religion only to leave wreakage in their wake. They rely on charisma, deception, and above all upon a compulsion to win--win at any cost, often with no thought of their own safety. They have played and continue to play an out-sized role in history.

Taken together, all the foregoing makes a more-than-compelling case: authoritarians have hijacked not just the Republican party and the right wing fundamentalists, but the US government as well. The authoritarians achieved the latter by hijacking the Republican organizations in so many states, that moderates no longer can run for and win a congressional seat. Their gerrymandering robs the rest of us of our votes, and ultimately with that, our freedom and liberty. The Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Barry Goldwater no longer exists as an effective political force. This movement has been growing steadily ever since Nixon's time; Dean believes its aim is to destroy democracy as we know it. We can only agree.

That so many events since Nixon's time fit the authoritarian pattern is in itself a scientific proof. Not only is the probablilty of these events being random extremely remote, but an explanation, as good science requires, is there in the works of Adorn, Milgram, Zimbardo and Altemeyer. Adorno and Altemeyer included politicians in their studies. What each found is arresting to say the least. The authoritarian threat is both broad and deep; it resides in humanity as a whole. It cries out to be studied and countered for our very future depends on controlling our individual and societal potentials for violence.

Our research tends to support and explain the main tenents of the above authors. There are a number of things that world societies must do. Some follow:

International: Bring cultures in conflict into dialogue on ways to find peace. Imperialism, in all its forms, belongs in the dustbin of history.

  • Educate all citizens: Vividly render the origins of authoritarians. Dramatize their behaviors, and the means for dampening same by implementing external and internal loci of control in proper order, much as the Japanese and other peaceful oriental nations do. Finally, teach each child how to recognize the sociopathic personality.
  • From the earliest possible time, recognize those who are sociopathic. Research the nature/nurture of the condition and move toward fixing it or restrain such individuals from harming others in humanitarian ways.
  • Inure governments from take-over by sociopathic elements. While democracy was a huge advance over feudalism, our times in particular have shown just how fragile democracy is. Children must be taught the values of citizenship and active participation in governing themsleves.
  • Sensitize all citizens to the signs of authoritarianism: Recognize the means and ends of propaganda for what they are.
  • Prevent nuclear holocaust: Update and implement Baruch Plan for controlling nuclear activities in the world. This one requires all nations to be united on this issue with a foolproof governance system.
  • Remove important causes of terror: Eliminate humiliation from within and among cultures. Ethnic integration in all levels and aspects of society would be a start.
  • Increase ability to integrate all societies: Update, internationalize and expand the Peace Corp.
  • Effectively cap terror: Make the UN an effective world government that efficiently works to stabilize and modernize rogue states while preserving the best of what each culture has to offer.
  • Excise Extremism: Societal reformation to remove radicalizing conditions while preserving the best of what each culture has to offer.
  • Limit Energy Use: Finite sources, are, well finite. Learn to live with what is available from the sun, wind, water and the atom.
  • Limit Population Growth: There is NO CHOICE but to limit the birthrate of all humanity. If we do not, we shall all die as microbes in a fermenting wine bottle as sugar gives out and they drown in their own effluent. The "weapon of the womb" has a place in Evolution. But humankind is now in control of its own destiny, as well as that of Evolution. We have only about a half century to accomplish this. Otherwise, the historical solution (the classic approach that includes genocide) will surely wipe entire societies off the face of the earth, if not humanity itself.

To bring reforms such as these into effect will require grass-roots movements as well as statesmanship on the part of governors. Peace and harmony simply must transcend violence as a common goal. International controls with teeth seem vital to control the nuclear genie.

National: Recognize History.

  • Reduce ethnic conflict; Remove conditions that tend to radicalize individuals.
  • Teach young people about how the authoritarian personality arises and how to mute its expression while directing it along useful lines.
  • Implement ethnic integration in all aspects of society: The option is war and more war.
  • Create Universal Religious Tolerance: The option is war and more war.
  • Ensure Equal Educational Opportunity: The option is war and more war.
  • Ensure Equal Economic Opportunity: The option is war and more war.
  • Maintain Effective Separation of Church and State: The option is poor governance and endless conflict over whose god is God.
  • Maintain Strong Economy: The alternative is to continue enriching the already-rich while spending money borrowed from other nations and ultimately fail at what we are best at--economic growth for individual well-being.
  • Understand That A Single Nation Can No Longer Police The World: Enlist all willing nations and alliances to help in a multi-polar world.

Individual: Prepare ourselves for bigger and better things.

  • Employ Dialogue: Provides effective communication.
  • Educate Ourselves: Study the five great disciplines. Learn what forces drive and work against evolution, history and progress?
    • Natural History: Physics begets chemistry begets life via continuous evolution and survival of the most-fit species.
    • Human History: Connectedness with all biota / Evolution of species and human society.
    • Study Philosophy Broadly: What might be beyond the frontiers of science and what we know.
    • Study World Religions: What to make of the need humanity has for religion and the marked association of monotheism with violence.
    • Sciences: Develop Individuality:
  • Educate Our Children:
    • Socialize the future generations by paying close attention to External Locus of Control during the pre-teen years; teach team-work and dialogue.
    • Encourage Internal Locus of Control during teen years and beyond; encourage individuality and creativity.
    • Emphasize and encourage moral behavior in all walks of life from pre-school to the grave as a society.
    • Teach our children how to recognize the sociopathic personalities and how to deal with them.
  • Know and Understand Ourselves:
  • Learn to Live in Harmony With Nature:
  • Control Our Destiny:
    • Understand: Chemistry / Physics / Biology / Genetics / Bio Engineering / Mendel's Laws / Environmental Limits

Find The Road Ahead

Although there are many unknowns in the roads ahead, there are a number of things we can do to explore with the same confidence and hopes that guided Vasco Da Gama, Magellan, the Wright brothers, Watson and Krick.

All questions, except for the metaphysical, can be answered one way or another by the scientific method. To be sure, that is not as simple as it sounds, especially when people are involved. Every scientific breakthrough took time to accomplish--they were difficult conceptually. There were many obstacles and false leads in the ways of the pioneers above, but they persevered. And so must we.

Apply Scientific Methods to Answer or Expand Upon Some Outstanding Questions:

  • What features contribute to making Tokyo the most-peaceful large metro-area on earth? Why are most Asian countries internally peaceful?
  • What are the reasons why Honolulu and El Paso are tens of times more peaceful than Washington DC, Baltimore, or Detroit?
  • Why is America more violent than Norway or Portugal?
  • Why does China have the oldest, least expansionistic, society on earth? How have the Chinese societies maintained it over the millennia?
  • What are the effects of population pressures on violence?
  • How can the world population be stabilized at a level safely without endangering the biosphere?
  • Where on the human genome are the genes for fierceness, dominance and herding that correlate with authoritarianism?
  • Why do Nordic countries have high suicide rates?
  • Why do sparsely populated areas in the US have high suicide rates?
  • Why does monotheism correlate so strongly with war, terror and limited education at the elementary and intermediate levels? Are there any other co-factors that disturb the peace?
  • What can be done about the sociopaths, extremists on the right or left, conservative or liberal, monotheism or atheism and their potential for violence?
  • How can we implement findings from new research?

Follow Up

  • Implementing answers from the above questions effectively will surely lead humankind toward cohesion instead of the explosive divisiveness now ascending.
  • Following up new leads should neither displace nor await implementation of things known to work. Like Rome, peace cannot be built in a day. Societies do not, indeed cannot, be changed instantly.
  • Terror is ubiquitous, and so our response should be.
  • Dialogues among cultures now in conflict at the grass roots level offer an immediate means for getting to know our neighbors who share this fragile biosphere with us.
  • Our responses to terror must be to the point. They must illuminate root causes of terror. They must address those root causes with action, as firmly as necessary to effect their removal.
  • How can we implement findings from new research?
  • At the same time, extreme care must be taken to prevent problems replacing problems as is the want of too many politicians, extremists and fundamentalists.

Further References:

Build our Future | Hope | Locus of Control | Solutions