Military Solutions to Address “Psychopathic” Ideologies:
I want to ensure I tread carefully here: I am eternally grateful that real threats like Nazism were defeated.*
I am in total agreement that there are psychopathic ideologies that espouse and engage in violence, and we need to effectively neutralize any threats those groups present-preferably before they become major threats.
What are “Psychopathic” Ideologies?
The behaviors of Nazis (and innumerable other groups of people driven to oppress and wage war) were reprehensible. They stemmed from psycho-pathologies in the cultural level norms, values, assumptions, and (importantly) un processed fears people held stemming from those cultural level norms, values and assumptions.
These cultural norms allowed, encouraged and coerced normal people to become so ill with cultural psycho-pathologies (and/or fear) that that they either did not stop the madness at earlier levels, or they participated in it. And this same dynamic is also true currently. Cultural ideologies we see as threatening in nations states are born of pathologies of culture, which I argue are in large part created by and from trauma responses.
Thinking in terms of Cultural PTSD is an attempt to illuminate cultural level assumptions behind how we -as humans living in varied cultures and with varying ideologies- approach many cultural level situations.
The political philosopher Hannah Arendt -along with countless others- was shocked to find the people who the committed atrocities of Nazi Germany, whose policies directly led to the deaths of millions, did not appear to be monsters devoid of human emotions. In fact, they appeared to be pretty well adjusted in many ways, they loved their families, they cared about their immediate communities, they had normal hobbies, including deeply felt loves of nature and art. German soldiers were incredibly inhumane, but they also loved their families and immediate communities. That both of these things could co exist is a clear sign that some of the underlying assumptions, values and norms of those cultural constructs were quite problematic.
How Extreme Ideologies Are Currently Handled
How we currently handle groups of people trying to advance extreme ideologies is ineffective. We are using the same extraordinarily outdated methods that Roman soldiers used. Our governments still use military solutions.
In other words we still use violent means to address what are essentially psychological problems on cultural levels.
This is a survival strategy whose time has come and gone. The use of violence is an artifact from a primitive past, from times when we didn’t know better. It was effective for those times. But it is a large part of the problem today. We are still perpetuating violence. At the risk of offending some, I will state it bluntly: To keep using such tools as if they are helping is the equivalent of using leeches to cure cancer.
We need to use effective psychological treatments to address what are essentially psychological problems.
*And to communicate that succinctly, I will go ahead and state it that way, using concepts and words that militaries would use. What I’d like to say is: “ I am eternally grateful that the grave psychopathology of Nazism was cured.” Except it’s not true that Nazism was cured. We did a great job of eradicating the immediate threats, but we did not do a good job of eradicating the illness at the root of how it came to power. Indeed, we did not even fully understand or recognize what the illness was, nor what caused it.