Friday, May 20, 2011

Violence as a political project (2)

In the postwar years, Norway has had a prosperity unprecedented in history. Along with this development, lifestyle diseases has increased in almost the same pace. Such diseases include, among other things cardiovascular disease, cancer and accidents. What did the authorities about this? There were made political moves which led to a regulation of our way of living through a series of new laws and campaigns. Our lifestyle seems again to have changed, but this time for the better. But even if we now drive our car with seat belts on and we are smoking less than before, there is still a long way to go.

Today we see new dark clouds on the horizon. Lifestyle diseases have been replaced with social diseases. These seem to evolve in the same speed as lifestyle diseases did in the postwar years. Examples of such "diseases" are increasing suicide rates, homicide, and violence. In average, we expect that there are on an average 50 murders in Norway every year, yet Norway is regarded as one of the most peaceful country in the world. In comparison, there are about 25,000 murders in the U.S. each year. One could almost say that the US seems to be at war with itself. Other worrisome conditions in Norway is the fact that 20,000 children are exposed to abuse or neglect each year and 15-20% of all children in Norway live in families with alcohol problems and we see a large increase in the number of injuries due to violence. Common to these examples is that the causes, in my opinion, are be found in our society and can not alone be explained by Freud's theories of intrapsychological processes.

My contention is that much of the reason lies in a serious frustration in modern society which is related to a lack of the ability to take action. What makes us political beings is our ability to act. No other ability, apart from language, separates us from the animal kingdom. The paralysis that affects us today can be shown, in my opinion, through the fact that the power we have over our lives is slipping out of our hands and replaced with violence. A person (or society) who has the power to act does not need to use violence. A person (or society) who uses violence is often characterized by being in a powerless situation.

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