A theory of intergroup violence

One of the most destructive beliefs in world history. It is the view that some peoples can be erased or removed or superseded by other peoples and groups, who see themselves as history’s true heirs

A belief and narrative that earlier bondage and persecution and suffering justifies later violence, conquest and destruction in other lands or islands and directed against peoples who had no part in the original bondage and persecutions.

Chosen People
A belief held by a group which claims to be blessed by God or the gods. The view of oneself as chosen is always precarious, because chosenness may be claimed by another group, looking to other gods. It may be felt that people are only chosen for a while, that they may fall into divine disfavour, and God or the gods may elect another people to be sanctioned as chosen. In world history, there is constant competition amongst groups to be chosen and be known as chosen. In The Origins of Violence I explore the importance of the notion of a chosen people in the biblical stories and in Cicero’s Republic, Virgil’s Aeneid and Tacitus’ Agricola and Germania.

Promised land
A concept close to and usually entwined with notions of a chosen people and victimology. In these influential narratives, a people from elsewhere, perhaps having suffered persecution and the agony of wandering and exile, are divinely assisted by a father god, whether monotheistic or polytheistic, to find final refuge by conquest and colonization in another land. This ‘new’ land is promised to them by the father god, even if already occupied and inhabited by indigenous or previous peoples.

Culture bringers
This invaluable concept I have drawn directly and gratefully from Waswo’s The Founding Legend of Western Civilization. It refers to those who come from elsewhere as colonizers and conquerors, who see themselves as culturebearers in possession of what they regard as superior knowledge of agricu ture, cities, law and religion. Such culturebringers regard their presence in a place as more worthy of the support of God or the gods than indigenous peoples or people already inhabiting a land or island, whom they subdue by conquest and colonization, leading, in Lemkin’s terms, to genocide. Yet culture-bringers always see themselves as honourable colonizers, my next category.

Honourable colonization
In possession of a high moral consciousness, honourable colonizers in effect reassure themselves of their own innocence in history. They are aware of the dangers of colonization, especially in the initial stages, in infringing the rights of the colonized and as a threat to their own morality and standing. For this awareness, they are always to be admired in history, whatever the actual long-term consequences of colonization. Instead of colonization being a catastrophe for those facing destruction, as evoked in Herodotus and Thucydides, or in Greek tragedy concerned with the ruining of Troy, or in aspects of Cicero’s Republic, Virgil’s Aeneid and Tacitus’s Agricola, colonization becomes a celebration of the complex, ambivalent, and even anguished moral state of the colonizers.

The Origins of Violence
Religion, History and Genocide
John Docker


Positional power
Also called “legitimate power”, it is the power of an individual because of the relative position and duties of the holder of the position within an organization. Legitimate power is formal authority delegated to the holder of the position. It is usually accompanied by various attributes of power such as uniforms, offices etc. This is the most obvious and also the most important kind of power.

Referent power
Referent power is the power or ability of individuals to attract others and build loyalty. It’s based on the charisma and interpersonal skills of the power holder. A person may be admired because of specific personal trait, and this admiration creates the opportunity for interpersonal influence. Here the person under power desires to identify with these personal qualities, and gains satisfaction from being an accepted follower. Nationalism and patriotism count towards an intangible sort of referent power. For example, soldiers fight in wars to defend the honor of the country. This is the second least obvious power, but the most effective. Advertisers have long used the referent power of sports figures for products endorsements, for example. The charismatic appeal of the sports star supposedly leads to an acceptance of the endorsement, although the individual may have little real credibility outside the sports arena.[19] Referent power can be a big responsibility, because you don’t necessarily have to do anything to earn it. Therefore, it can be abused quite easily. Someone who is likable, but lacks integrity and honesty, may rise to power – and use that power to hurt and alienate people as well as gain personal advantage. Relying on referent power alone is not a good strategy for a leader who wants longevity and respect. When combined with other sources of power, however, it can help you achieve great success.

Expert power
Expert power is an individual’s power deriving from the skills or expertise of the person and the organization’s needs for those skills and expertise. Unlike the others, this type of power is usually highly specific and limited to the particular area in which the expert is trained and qualified. When you have knowledge and skills that enable you to understand a situation, suggest solutions, use solid judgment, and generally outperform others, people will have reason to listen to you. When you demonstrate expertise, people tend to trust you and respect what you say. As a subject matter expert, your ideas will have more value, and others will look to you for leadership in that area.

Reward power
Reward power depends on the ability of the power wielder to confer valued material rewards, it refers to the degree to which the individual can give others a reward of some kind such as benefits, time off, desired gifts, promotions or increases in pay or responsibility. This power is obvious but also ineffective if abused. People who abuse reward power can become pushy or became reprimanded for being too forthcoming or ‘moving things too quickly’. If others expect that you’ll reward them for doing what you want, there’s a high probability that they’ll do it. The problem with this basis of power is that you may not have as much control over rewards as you need. Supervisors probably don’t have complete control over salary increases, and managers often can’t control promotions all by themselves. And even a CEO needs permission from the board of directors for some actions. So when you use up available rewards, or the rewards don’t have enough perceived value to others, your power weakens. (One of the frustrations of using rewards is that they often need to be bigger each time if they’re to have the same motivational impact. Even then, if rewards are given frequently, people can become satiated by the reward, such that it loses its effectiveness.)[22]

Coercive power
Coercive power is the application of negative influences. It includes the ability to demote or to withhold other rewards. The desire for valued rewards or the fear of having them withheld that ensures the obedience of those under power. Coercive power tends to be the most obvious but least effective form of power as it builds resentment and resistance from the people who experience it. Threats and punishment are common tools of coercion. Implying or threatening that someone will be fired, demoted, denied privileges, or given undesirable assignments – these are examples of using coercive power. Extensive use of coercive power is rarely appropriate in an organizational setting, and relying on these forms of power alone will result in a very cold, technocratic, impoverished style of leadership.

Informational power
Informational power is based on the potential use of informational resources. This influence can occur through such means as rational argument, persuasion, or factual data. Members of a group can make information into power by giving it to others who need it, by keeping it to themselves, by organizing it in some way, by increasing it, or even by falsifying it.


Professions are valued human specializations: medicine, law, education, science, etc., are all professions that fulfill some good – health, justice, rearing of children, knowledge, etc.

Is there any such good that we aim for as we engage in commerce? Is there a moral virtue that requires us to strive for such a good?

Yes, the virtue of prudence, which requires us all to take reasonably good care of ourselves in life, is just such a moral virtue. The goals to be supported include prosperity, health, and knowledge. The effort to prosper, to seek to profit, is part of what the moral virtue of prudence requires from us. This assumes that our overall task is to do well at living, to flourish and succeed as rational animals here on Earth. It may be, however, that our nature is a divided one. We often assume that part of existence is otherworldly, believing that to live rightly means, in large measure, to prepare for a “life after death.” And then the virtue of prudence will require not only that we conduct our lives well on Earth but also that we strive to live well in the hereafter, to the extent that we can intuit how to do so. A considerable source of consternation in human affairs stems from the attempt to balance what we require in order to live well on Earth and what we require in order to live well after death. In either case, the moral virtue of prudence requires us to be attentive to our well-being and to make an attempt to flourish.

Both commerce, for us all as amateurs, and business, as the professional extension of commerce, specialize in the production of prosperity. They are an institutionalization of certain dimensions of the moral virtue of prudence, at least vis-à-vis the requirements of flourishing on Earth or within the realm of nature, as distinct from within the realm of the supernatural.


A Profession for Human Wealthcare
Tibor R. Machan

Argyros School of Business & Economics
Chapman University, USA


The Communist Manifesto marked a particular moment in time – a time when it seemed that society was rapidly moving towards the resolution of its final crisis, a time when it seemed that the new industries, which perpetually lurched between overproduction and glut, underproduction and recession, must yield to a new socialist order.

Yet the moment passed. Capitalism proved more adept at resolving its contradictions than Marx and Engels had expected, and the workers they urged to unite proved less conscious of their collective interests than the two revolutionaries thought they ought to have been. Instead of political change bringing about a radical redistribution of wealth and power, reform in the modern states simply created ever more complex mechanisms designed to protect and placate individuals and enable the new industrial cities of more than a million inhabitants to continue to function and develop.

And develop they did. The first working internal combustion engine (using gas) came in 1859; at the end of the century the engine was successfully adapted to run on petrol and oil, and Benz and Daimler then applied the technology to the task of making a ‘horseless carriage’. And the invention of the motor car, symbol though it would become of modern society, was only the tangible aspect of a more fundamental technological breakthrough – the new production methods and ‘white-collar’ skills of ‘Fordism’ itself. Henry Ford’s dream of a mass-produced car for the new class of consumers had introduced two new ‘tools’ to the art of making things: ‘time and motion’ studies and the ‘production line’. The first model-Ts were towed around the Detroit works by two men with a rope, each car taking twelve hours to assemble, for an output of 100 vehicles a day. By the end of the first year, with the assembly line completed, production time was down to just an hour and a half, and the factory was turning out 5,000 cars a week.

For the United States especially, with Europe still distracted by the legacy of the futile nationalism of the First World War, the 1920s was the decade of consumer durables – not just cars, but radios, electrical appliances for the home, and new leisure products: jazz music, dances, the movies and, for the first time, organised consumer credit. In 1929 President Hoover even announced that the end of poverty was in sight, and promised a new era of prosperity for all. The announcement was made only just in time, for a year later came the poverty and mass unemployment of the Slump and the Great Depression.

Expansion, it turned out, had been fed on a diet rich in loans and expected future profits – a spiral of credit both within countries and between them. When things began to go wrong, as they inevitably did, the end was swift. By 1932, production had halved in America. The motor car market plummeted to a paltry one-tenth of its 1929 level. One in four workers lost their job. As no one could afford to buy anything, prices fell, and in doing so, made yet more businesses collapse. When F.D. Roosevelt was elected, he inherited an economy that had effectively imploded. Even his dramatic ‘interventionist’ emergency economics could barely stem the decline. Nevertheless, the ‘New Deal’ seemed to offer hope, indeed, the only hope, and his combination of public works and organised poor relief enabled the political structures of the world’s largest democracy to struggle on in search of better times. In Europe, similar economic problems spawned instead a new creed, fascism, which began taking hold in Italy, in Spain – and in Germany.

Fascism is a political throwback, a powerful but ultimately selfdefeating creed, simply because, like communism, it fails to respect human beings as ends in themselves, treating them instead only as a means to an end. Perhaps more importantly, from the point of view of the impersonal forces of history, it also fails to respect economic realities, and the reality of human nature.

Only in China would one totalitarian model, a new form of communism, arise which for a while would manage to combine both of these things. Maoism, although often regarded as just another Marxist demon to be exorcised, particularly by the western transnational companies that dallied so disastrously with Japanese nationalism, should more accurately be understood as a doctrine in its own right. Maoism was the necessary embodiment of peasant power, in a society which had never before accorded this colossal force any recognition. In South America and Africa, the land is, likewise, still the social key.

Under Chairman Mao (as in conventional notions of legal justice), the welfare of the people was to be the measure of the success of the system. For 20 years, at least until the Cultural Revolution, on this criterion, it succeeded. But today it seems likely that although Maoism, and to some extent Russian communism, can raise people above subsistence, neither form can for long hold back from the economic reforms stipulated by the likes of Adam Smith, reforms which have resulted in such prodigious gains in efficiency and productivity – and ultimately wealth – for the nations that have embraced them.

For that reason, the end of the twentieth century has seen a convergence of all societies around a capitalist model that was foreseen much earlier.

Political Philosophy
From Plato to Mao
Martin Cohen