We transmit to you the study “Some clues for non-violence” by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:
1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.
In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: : Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.
Here is the fourth chapter:
Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
One might ask why this question should be asked when violence is raging across the globe. According to some experts[i], humanity is on the right track; violence is decreasing on the planet, as the study of the historical process shows.
I assume that the sociologists and scientists who have analysed the issue are acting in good faith and that this is neither an excess of naïve and carefree optimism on their part, nor a call for calm and relativisation of criticisms about the causes of violence.
Having said that, in examining the various studies on the subject, I have observed that those who claim that there is less violence than in the past refer essentially to physical violence and do not take sufficient account of the growing complexity of the phenomenon and the qualitative leap that human beings have made in recent decades, which is manifested in greater sensitivity and awareness, condemning certain forms of violence that were previously considered normal.
The very fashionable American Steven Pinker, for example, in his voluminous book The Angels Inside Us[ii], provides very rich and interesting historical information, but practically ignores non-physical types of violence. Moreover, he argues his theory on the basis of a proportional calculation between violence and population density: thus, the violence of the Roman Empire was, according to him, greater than todays, because it claimed more victims in proportion to the number of citizens at the time. This view may seem naïve or ill-intentioned if one thinks of the genocides and the number of armed conflicts that have taken place around the world since the last world war, not to mention the nuclear risk, a veritable sword of Damocles hanging permanently over our heads and which can be qualified as a crime against humanity in advance, in the hope that it will never happen.
In any case, the fact that we are increasingly informed about the different forms of expression of violence, not only physical but also economic, racial, religious, sexual, psychological, moral, structural or institutional, shows us and makes us feel that there is more violence than before and that there is still much to be done to humanise society.
François Cusset is one of those who contradicts the idea that there is less and less violence than before. In his book Le déchaînement du monde (The Unleashing of the World) he talks about the changing forms and logics of violence, which is less visible than in the past, but more constant.
It is less important to compare or quantify than to understand the new logic of irruption: violence has not receded as much as it has changed its forms. It has not stopped, but has been banned, on the one hand, and systematised, on the other, within social structures and emotional dispositions[iii].
For Simon Lemoine, “the world has not been pacified, as one might think, by dint of progress; on the contrary, today’s violence is all the more effective because it is largely imperceptible… Micro-violence is polymorphous, it repeats itself and combines itself. Little by little it moulds us, governs our behaviour and frames our possible discourses, acts and ways of being[iv]”.
In any case, if you ask, the vast majority of people think that the world is more violent than before, and this is a recurring theme that worries everyone.
The main source of violence in the world today, economic violence, seems to be at its peak. The legitimacy of violence has been reinforced over time by making money the main, if not the only real power on the entire planet, far above any other value, generating a world in which greed occupies all minds. Money has become the centre of gravity of humanity, which thus relies on an ephemeral value that is at the root of all our ills. The myth of money has taken hold, allowing all sorts of mystifications: “the arms market guarantees peace, poverty is inevitable, money makes people happy…”. The brains of capitalism invent theories that announce that the market economy is a natural, universal and above all highly moral principle. The most outlandish statements are taken very seriously, such as that of the former and not at all strange president Trump who in 2020 proclaimed: “Space is not mankind’s heritage, we are going to appropriate it”.
Here is the great universal truth: money is everything. Money is government, it is law, it is power. It is, basically, subsistence. But it is also art, philosophy and religion. Nothing is done without money; nothing can be done without money. There are no personal relationships without money. There is no intimacy without money and even quiet solitude depends on money. But the relationship to this universal truth is contradictory. The majorities do not want this state of affairs. We are thus faced with the tyranny of money. A tyranny that is not abstract because it has a name, representatives, executors and undeniable procedures[v].
Economic violence is the breeding ground for all other forms of violence. It contaminates all areas of social life. In addition to the injustice, misery and physical violence it generates, it underlies racial discrimination, underpins religious powers, accompanies sexual monstrosities, serves as pressure in psychological manipulations, is directly responsible for environmental damage, corrupts institutions and their representatives who come to legislate under pressure from financial powers. Economic violence has not only been normalised in society, it has been trivialised, which contributes to its acceptance.
On 22 March 2019, neuro-economists from the University of Zurich published the study “Morality or interest? How do we make our decisions?” Their conclusions were clear: “Morality comes first… as long as there is no money involved[vi]” .
In the next chapter we will see how we enter the vortex of violence, how difficult it is to get out of it and how to break free.
[i] Among them, the German sociologist Norber Elias, the French historian Robert Muchembled and the Canadian researcher Jocelyn Coulon.
[ii] The Angels Inside Us, Ediciones Paidós, 2018, Steven Pinker, prominent American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist and popular writer.
[iii] Le déchaînement du monde (The Unbridling of the World), La découverte, 2018, p.15. François Cusset, French historian, professor at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre, author of numerous books, including The Decade (2006).
[iv] Revue Neon, October-November 2018, Simon Lemoine, professor at the University of Poitiers and researcher at the German Laboratory of Metaphysics and Practical Philosophy, author of Micro-violences, le régime du pouvoir au quotidien (Micro-violences, the everyday regime of power), CNRS Éditions, 2017.
[v] Sixth letter to my friends, Silo, Winged Lion Editions, 2019 (© 1993), p. 87.
[vi] Neuroblog : https://neuro.santelog.com/2019/03/22/morale-ou-interet-comment-prenons-nous-nos-decisions/