This book examines the origins of genocide and mass murder in the everyday conflicts of ordinary people, exacerbated by special interests. We examine cases harming people simply because they are considered unworthy and undeserving—for instance, if they are dehumanized. We confine our attention to genocide, mass murder, large-scale killing motivated by hate or desire for gain, and fascism as an ideology since it usually advocates and leads to such killing. The book draws on social psychology, especially recent work on the psychology of prejudice. Much new information on the psychology of fear, hate, intolerance, and violence has appeared in recent years. The world has also learned more on the funding of dehumanization by giant corporations via “dark money,” and on the psychology of genocidal leaders. This allows us to construct a much more detailed back story of why people erupt into mass killing of minorities and vulnerable populations. We thus go on to deal with the whole “problem of evil” (or at least apparently irrational killing) in general, broadening the perspective to include politics, economics, and society at large. We draw on psychology, sociology, economics, political science, public health, anthropology, and biology in a uniquely cross-disciplinary work.
E. N. Anderson is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.
Barbara A. Anderson is professor emerita of nursing at Frontier Nursing University.
Chapter 1. Definitions
Chapter 2. Human Constants: Evolution and Conflict
Chapter 3. Histories
Chapter 4. Performing and Projecting Evil
Chapter 5. Evil into Politics
Chapter 6. Moralities
Chapter 7. Sustaining Social Harmony
Genocide researchers E. N. Anderson and Barbara A. Anderson examine the sociological underpinnings of genocide. They analyze factors that motivate groups to deem people undesirable and subhuman while blaming them for societal misfortunes. Incorporating recent studies in psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and public health, the authors explore the roles of greed, hate, fear, and intolerance in a community's acceptance of genocide. They point specifically to the recent rise of right-wing authoritarianism and corporate interests as alarming triggers leading to an increase of hate and intolerance directed at minority and vulnerable groups. The authors again draw on the “wolf you feed” metaphor from their previous work, which argues that good or evil outcomes depend on whether society approaches its problems with tolerance and understanding or hate and blame. They conclude with practical solutions. This book complements the authors’ other works on genocide: Warning Signs of Genocide (CH, May'13, 50-5061), Halting Genocide in America (2017), and Complying with Geocide: The Wolf You Feed (CH, Sep'21, 59-0170). Together, these studies offer a needed broad, multidisciplinary synthesis of the literature on the psychology and sociology of hate, prejudice, mass killings, and genocide. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty.
Grounded in the progressive spirit of tolerance and humanism, Sustaining Social Conflict calls attention to the woes of dehumanization and collective violence, and reminds the reader of the virtues of altruism and empathy, and their evolutionary roles in the reinforcement of group solidarity among humans above all other social animals. In its compelling case for the embodiment of the proverbial good wolf within us, this book incisively categorizes evil that we may better recognize its influence over and mobilization of its enactors, particularly those who are well-meaning. The authors provide an overview of the ecology of human ethics—and their breakdown—across the span of the human timeline, fusing the frameworks of seminal social scientists such as Khaldun with perspectives reflective of and applicable to the time of Covid.
Insightful, wide-ranging, and engaging, Sustaining Social Conflict grapples with a critical issue: the interwoven origins of violence, hate, and evil. The authors offer not just explanation, but also solutions—as well as moral considerations the reader will continue to ponder long after finishing the book.