2.2 Corruption and Terrorism revised/edited 12/2017

2.2.1 Corruption and discrimination
2.2.2 Forms and causes of terrorism
2.2.3 Terrorism, guerrilla warfare and conventional warfare
2.2.4 Domestic violence
2.2.5 Violence and preventable premature deaths that may be compared to victimization by terrorism

2.2.1 Corruption and discrimination

Corruption, illegal preferential treatment of friends or family, preferential treatment of individuals or interest groups in exchange for favors, and evasion of laws, is particularly problematic in anonymous societies and complex organizations. It is often exacerbated by the coalescing of Western and tribal political structures. Primitive societies, as our primate relatives, are not egalitarian and typically treat their relatives preferentially and sometimes cheat, bribe, or deceive others. There are also more or less obvious hierarchies. Corruption is realted to and may lead to violence, organized crime, and terrorism. Corruption and Terrorism in Modern Societies has many causes.

People naturally feel much closer to family, friends, and strangers with whom they have much in common, and, in a position of power, they are likely to favor them. Hiring a person one knows feels safer than employing a stranger, and when there has already been a relationship, the employer expects loyalty; however, not advertising a position, not giving other job seekers a chance, may be considered corruption and illegal discrimination. There is hardly “justice”, but, in simple societies, there are often compensating mechanisms and problems seem limited and often temporary. In complex organizations, anonymity encourages extraordinary egotism and unethical actions that are hard to track. When an institution reaches a certain level of power, it may abuse legal institutions, military, paramilitary groups and/or organized crime to advance its goals.

Major corruption is less likely to develop if basic political and economic units are small and if centralized institutions have relatively little power. Having outsiders as leaders further decreases the likelihood of corruption, as proposed elsewhere in this document. However, discrimination may not be influenced by the size of an institution. Some “injustices” are unavoidable within families and small political or economic entities: people are, to a large degree, judged subjectively, and applicants personally known to an employer may be more likely to be hired than strangers or a prejudice related to the distant past may decrease a known job applicant’s chance to be considered. However, in small communities where everybody is known, the disadvantaged are given more chances and are usually taken care of.

2.2.2 Forms and causes of terrorism

The principal reasons that terrorism occurs are:

  • the human potential for ruthless violence without empathy when seeing victims as “others” and the coincidence of factors such as pathological cultures, addiction to wealth and power, and psychologically vulnerable states in individuals, usually with parasuicidal or suicidal thinking and a lack of positive directedness.
  • There are many forms and discernible sources of terrorism:
  • There is political and economic terrorism, in which known individuals or groups are singled out for mistreatment, in order to intimidate people: employers, public prosecutors, politicians, and proponents of the dominant social group often use “examples” to scare people into compliance and to reinforce their power. A victim’s family may be economically ruined; suspects of crimes may be mistreated, tortured, and executed without ‘proof’ of a crime and proper legal procedures; demonstrators may be treated as criminals; citizens’ groups may lynch a minority individual without legal action being taken. It also constitutes terrorism if governments punish families, often destroying their homes and livelihoods, because their child joined a guerilla or terrorist group.
  • Powerful institutions, such as local, national, and foreign governments, interest groups, and corporations, often use paramilitary units to terrorize local people who may in some way interfere with their interests; in order to stay obscure and hard to track, they often target journalists.
  • Terrorist actions are frequent during warfare, guerrilla and conventional: violence with no strategic purpose is often perpetrated against large numbers of people who are not known to the perpetrators1. Terrorist actions are used to demoralize armies and their leaders or to punish a nation.
  • Terrorist acts during wars also consist in opportunistic crimes, essentially for pleasure, as a pass-time, and to humiliate enemy societies; they typically include random violence, theft, sexual assaults, and destruction of civilians’ livelihood (through most of history, such crimes were condoned, considered normal or encouraged by leaders2).
  • Gangs of disenfranchised teens and organized crime groups may perpetrate warlike violence against other gangs, kidnap people and assault random victims.
  • Individuals and groups who feel disenfranchised or consider themselves political dissidents (often adult males with psychological problems who are isolated from their family) sometimes perpetrate acts of violence. These may be specific and targeted, with symbolic significance, and/or random

2.2.3 Terrorism, guerrilla warfare and conventional warfare

Distinctions between terrorism, guerrilla warfare and conventional wars are generally vague. Graffiti in Zurich, Switzerland, 2003, stated “war is terrorism with a large budget”. In extreme political actions, including guerrilla warfare, people often risk their lives and may commit suicidal acts of war. Individuals and powerless organizations often feel they have no choice but fighting for their cause outside of legal and other established institutions. Terrorist activities, intending to scare members of specific groups through unexpected, unjustifiable violence, are usually acts of last resort.

Violence against presumably innocent civilians is considered part of the definition of political terrorism (although it is “normal” in warfare). Such violence is considered particularly abhorrent. In autocratically ruled countries, it makes sense to consider civilians innocent. In a democracy with a strong militia, every young citizen is a potential or future combatant, and its elected leaders are people’s legitimate representatives. The citizens share responsibility and guilt if electing an as grossly unethical considered government. If feeling mistreated by the democratic institutions or by these institutions’ protected entities, violence against civilians may be considered a rational, though desperate, way of countering the established institutions’ damaging engagements and dominance and to achieve some sense of justice. Targeted violence may focus on civilians who are instrumental in the hostile government, work for its police force or military, or represent a country’s economic dominance.

The destruction of the World Trade Center (9/11/2001) was not random violence, it targeted an institution at the core of Third World grievances; it was hardly an act of terrorism that killed innocent civilians arbitrarily; it was in fact not the first attack. It was not an act of conventional “war” either since no government was directly involved, even though Saudi Arabia played a central role in the spreading of the violent Islamic sect that has been recruiting ‘jihad’ fighters. The attack may be interpreted as guerilla warfare of a loosely united force of many Third World countries that want to halt the overwhelming impact of Western nations with their as destructive perceived influence on Islamic cultures. U.S. politicians’ talk of “war on terror” or “war on drugs” is a misuse of the term and misguided. There are many unethical decisions involved in terrorist acts and acts of guerilla warfare, but the misuse of the term “war” only causes confusion and prejudices. Individuals involved in terrorist actions, leaders and people who instigate and execute the violations, should be considered unethical and usually criminal, but designating some ‘enemy’ political parties and governments terrorist organizations or supporters of terrorism is hardly helpful. By most definitions, many actions of militaries and law enforcement institutions of the USA and several of its allies are terrorist in essence and grossly unethical, Saudi Arabia and Israel being major offenders.

2.2.4 Domestic violence

In the USA, the most pervasive form of terrorism is domestic violence. Thousands of women are killed each year by their boyfriend, husband or former partners3. Weaker family members are abused in many ways, live continuously in fear, and sometimes the violence results in their deaths. Chaotic life situations may lead to random abuse perpetrated by any family member.

Domestic violence fits the definition of terrorism in that its intent is to effect continuous fear and a sense of worthlessness in family members. Brutally beating a wife or child is usually a message to all family members as well as neighbors and relatives. Occasionally violent men demonstrate what they threaten to do to a child or wife by cruelly killing a loved pet; sadistic feelings may be involved. The violence is partly random in that similar ‘offenses’ are at other times ignored and the punished ‘offense’ can never justify the cruel acts perpetrated by abusive men. If women are abusive to children or husbands or if children abuse siblings, the actions are usually not severely damaging; if severe, abuses are usually spontaneous, not a pattern of intimidation. Rarely women and older siblings engage in recurring violence similar to that of abusive men, for instance if a women or older child is emotionally unable to accept and love an infant, be that a natural family member, a step or a foster child.

Cultures have often encouraged men’s assumption that they have the right to, at their own will, cruelly punish female partners, stepchildren and their own children. Men have also assumed to have a right to act out unspecific rage and frustration within their nuclear family. In most cultures, men abusing their spouses has not been illegal and considered to be a private matter; in many places, the killing of a wife or child has usually been ignored and covered up as accident. Even in 19th century Europe and the USA, children have been widely considered property of men without any rights; orphans have been institutionalized, often held prisoner in ‘work houses,’ or turned over to relatives and strangers who had the right to treat them like slaves.

Attempts to estimate the problem of violence against wives and children in the Third World have been made and published by UNICEF. In many cultures, male aggression against women is deeply ingrained, goes along with discrimination and has the apparent purpose to keep women submissive; many Third World women accept such cultural norms believing a husband has a right to physically punish them; many perceive themselves and their children as being basically property of their husbands. Even today, legal systems generally avoid getting involved in domestic violence. Much has been changing but even in most advanced civilizations, violence against women continues to be frequent.

A most important factor contributing to domestic violence is that many boys do not learn to be compassionately empathic towards girls, whom they perceive as very different ‘others,’ and towards weaker beings in general. Isolation of nuclear families and living very densely may aggravate the danger of violence. Natural inhibitions against harming children appear also inadequate, particularly if families are isolated, live in poor, dense settlements and experience inordinate stress. Child abuse, occasionally with lethal consequences, is frequent. As in our primate relatives, a new partner of a mother sometimes abuses and kills her infant from a previous relationship.

Evolution is important when exploring causes of domestic, sexual and other male violence. Biologically, males are generally stronger than females and evolved to solve conflicts more by use of aggression than negotiation and possibly manipulation. Males can mate with many females but young adult females have an interest in finding a genetically suitable partner; this may be the reason that in chimpanzee groups and human village societies, the female usually leaves her group to find an appropriate mate. Consequently, when settling with a mate in a new group, she is the lowest ranking adult with no allies other than her mate close by.

Sexual emotions readily coalesce with nurturing and caring emotions; in addition, male sexuality contains dominance behaviors, and while in vertebrates female sexuality is generally inhibited by aggressive feelings but not by fear, male sexuality is inhibited by fear but not by aggressiveness4. Winning a fight or contest increases male sex hormones, aggressive feelings and sex drive5. Females may be afraid of and simultaneously attracted to a male; males may feel fondly attracted to a female while also wanting to hurt her. In vertebrates, there is commonly a strong inhibition of male aggression against females6, but even in nonhuman primates, this basic inhibition seems weak, and male aggression against females, including their mates, is not uncommon7. Humans evolved to have no readily perceivable phases of females being receptive (“in heat”); an important function of frequent sex is to bond couples, keeping males around their infants. In addition, males do not have to wait for females to invite sex by going into a submissive position that allows mounting; human males can rape females. Women evolved to keep more child features such as a rounder head, soft skin, little body hair, petite build, etc., which is attractive to men; in addition, particularly around attractive males, adolescent girls tend to act uncertain and may hide their skills and knowledge; and women often enhance physical child features, removing adult body hair, even undergoing plastic surgeries to shorten the nose, etc.

Thus there are many factors that may contribute to domestic violence: genetic, developmental, psychosocial, cultural, etc. Cultures tend to exaggerate natural tendencies towards male dominance behaviors and aggression and often add an expectation that girls are early on compelled to be submissive. Girls are encouraged to pretend that they need male protection. Women’s perceived weaknesses increase male libido and dominance instincts, and, being able to rape, aggressive males without empathy may assume that forceful sex is normal and generally desired. Adding to people’s confusion: men who express apprehension about hurting their virgin partner and regarding anticipated childbirths may be disparaged by girls as they have been taught not to express any fears, particularly not to men and children; a pregnancy is supposed to be an unambiguous reason for her to be happy. There is also a widespread male fantasy that women are masochistic because reproduction-related pain is accepted as meaningful rather than to be avoided at all costs. Evolution is important when exploring causes of domestic, sexual and other male violence. Biologically, males are generally stronger than females and evolved to solve conflicts more by use of aggression than negotiation and possibly manipulation. Males can mate with many females but young adult females have an interest in finding a genetically suitable partner; this may be the reason that in chimpanzee groups and human village societies, the female usually leaves her group to find an appropriate mate. Consequently, when settling with a mate in a new group, she is the lowest ranking adult with no allies other than her mate close by.

A related issue is lesser sexual misconduct, harassment, men groping and exposing themselves to females, etc., without physically injurious violence and/or attempt to rape. Such male behavior is like a minor form of terrorism, inflicting or worsening a sense of powerlessness and often also worthlessness in victims. Usually there is a great social power difference. Lack of empathy and male dominance instincts may be exacerbated by faulty projection and the misapplication of the Golden Rule – he is attracted and would like for her to make sexual advances, he thus feels it is right for him to flirt, fondle her, expose himself, etc., not recognizing feelings are not reciprocal, that she is not interested and that women generally are not as interested in nude males as males are in nude women. The victimized women’s fear and confusion may stimulate his sexual appetites further and sexual violence may ensue. Due to a lack of empathy, that is, sincere attempts to understand the women’s position and emotions, leaves many men oblivious regarding the severe consequences for the women they abuse.

Sexual harassment of adolescents, intimidating and abusing them while imagining that sexual advances by a powerful adult are welcome, may also lead to abusing pubescent and prepubescent children. Pedophilic acts are likely related to perpetrators own insecurity and the sexual attractiveness of child features in adolescents and young women. Most perpetrators were themselves sexually abused as children and they somehow rationalize their behaviors believing that their sexual acts are different, justifiable, educational and probably liked by their victims, maybe in a masochistic way. Perpetrators may also be sadistic, still rationalizing that the victims’ suffering is in some way good for them. Again, there is a lack of empathy, no effort to understand the victim’s perceptions, emotions, etc..

2.2.5 Violence and preventable premature deaths that may be compared to victimization by terrorism

Victims of terrorism, in a narrow sense of the term, are relatively rare. Much more frequent are severe injuries and deaths due to other reasons, such as domestic violence, irresponsible, by governments condoned profiteering of corporations, preventable traffic accidents, gun violence and U.S. involvement in foreign wars.
Addictions, including gambling, also cause much more harm than most forms of intentional violence, directly and indirectly. Incentives to provide drugs for the untreated addicts furthers vicious cycles of violence.

As terrorism gun violence causes many to feel threatened and in fear for their loved ones. Gun-violence includes suicides, accidents, random shootings by immature people, violent assaults and armed robberies, gang-related and other gun violence related to criminal groups, and terrorist actions of isolated, suicidal and for some reason enraged individuals who may target specific groups in mass shootings, etc. Guns contribute to the high numbers of suicides: studies indicate that without ready access to a locally customary tool for suicide, many suicides would not occur. Much gun violence is exported: irresponsible gun laws in the USA led to the availability of military-style weapons in Latin-American drug-dealing gangs, other criminal groups, private armies, etc.
Dangerous driving, including driving while enraged, intoxicated, or very tired, and/or driving unnecessarily dangerous vehicles, may be like ‘minor terrorism’: the driver knowingly disregards the safety of others, frightening other users of streets and causing high rates of random injuries and deaths. Occasionally enraged drivers threaten and shoot other drivers.
The government-approved marketing of gambling and addicting, dangerous products resembles organized crime. Susceptible, challenged people are targeted; anguish, suffering, and deaths are knowingly caused while in the corporations decision-making economic profits are the only criterion.
State and federal governments’ gross neglect of young people with educational and emotional needs has effects comparable to terrorism. It leads to the indirect encouragement of dangerous drug use, while there are no serious efforts addressing the shortage or complete lack of appropriate treatments: therapy addressing vulnerability to addiction and crimes and treatment for people who are already engaged in serious abuse behaviors.

Organized crime usually includes grossly unethical and terrorist actions. Crime organizations exploit a market of illegal, unethical, and/or pathological desires, including drug use, loveless and abusive sexual expressions, etc. Young people may be enslaved after parents turn them over to criminals who promise good work opportunities in a distant place, or adolescents decide themselves to follow the criminals. Crime organizations may buy and sell child slave laborers for brothels or industries; abducted children and adolescents may be sold for sadistic sexual exploitation. Organized crime may also serve legal markets e.g. killing abducted children for organ transplant banks.

Governmental and private spy or “intelligence” agencies may use illicit and terroristic techniques in attempts to reach their goals.
Primary prevention of terrorism consists in teaching respect for human rights at all levels of society, and culturally sensitive support of the disadvantaged, suppressed, socially isolated, and emotionally disturbed. Teaching children compassionate empathy and other ethical principles in effective, empirically supported ways, and an early focus on mental health are extremely important though still broadly lacking. Corruption and all forms of terrorism are probably greatly reduced if institutions are decentralized and composed of small sociopolitical and economic units, and if all people’s basic needs are met.

1 Particularly in WWII, many cities with no strategic targets were bombed mercilessly. When the war was essentially won, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were destroyed, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, mainly women, children, and old people.
2 According to some earlier sources, “hurrah” or “hurray”, was believed to be derived from Medieval German, meaning “whores out”, called by plundering soldiers who wanted to rape village women and girls.
3 Domestic violence, particularly against women, is a much more serious problem than most other forms of terrorism. Millions of significant injuries occur annually, and thousands of women are killed in the USA annually. In accordance with a presentation by James, E. Harrell, MD, Governor’s Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Stuart Florida, titled “Domestic Violence: the Physician’s Role,” in Audio Digest Obstetrics/Gynecology, vol. 46, issue 7, 4/1/1999, domestic violence is involved in 25-30% of emergency room visits by women. One person dies of domestic violence every 24 hours in Florida.
4 Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt: Die Biologie des menschlichen Verhaltens, dritte Ÿberarbeitete Ausgabe, Piper 1997, p. 361ff
5 Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt: Wider die Misstrauensgesellschaft, Piper 1995, 97, p. 97ff
6 Konrad Lorenz: Das sogenannte Böse, 1963; On Aggression, 1966, Harcourt Brace, p. 123ff, 151
In mating of animals, the female’s submissive posture rather than male aggression initiates the male’s mounting and his enacting the dominant role.
7 Jane Goodall: Through a Window, 1990, Houghton Miffin, p. 37f, 57, 87f

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