Torture as an instrument of policy

Many human rights activists are fighting to gain accountability and compensation for the abuse of individuals which was conducted by, or in proxy for, the United States in their campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. These accountability campaigns are worthy causes.


However, the larger fight is in the correction of human psychology which has throughout history lead humans to engage in torture. This tendency to torture may be the single factor which differentiates us from the rest of the animal world. Millions of people have been tortured through history, in every country in the world. Many have been tortured by government proxy, many others by private individuals and groups. There are probably very few people who have not to some degree, engaged in some form of torture. Children torture commonly, so do spouses. Sometimes the practice is an expression of fear sometimes of retribution, and sometimes of impotence. In every case the underlying requirement is to validate the lust for power and the current structure of that power.


Why can’t we break out of this pattern of validating our existence only by causing pain and death to others? The lust for power is like a recessive gene stuck in our DNA programming. Almost all of our human leaders exhibit it to some degree. It is the single thread which binds them all. On an individual basis a lust for power would seem irrational, however in the biologic imperative of imprinting and continuing a genetic tree there is some sense. Dr. Darwin would have approved. I find that the practice and promotion of torture is evidence that the practitioner subconsciously recognizes his own incompetence. Therefore, torture is the ultimate expression of  ‘The Peter Principle’.


The nomination and acceptance of leaders who promote torture may well be a symptom of the health of our particular tribe.


2 responses to “Torture as an instrument of policy

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