Art Carden  

Cotton, and Slaves, and Arrogance: Honor and Violence, Machismo and Appeasement

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Prohibition: Then versus Now... Jonathan Chait's bizarre idea ...

I generally agree with Bryan that pacifism and appeasement are greatly under-rated in everyday life and especially in international affairs.

While I'm not sure machismo is the fundamental argument against pacifism and appeasement, I'm sure it plays a large role. In honor cultures, you're to do what your role demands, consequences be damned.

This scene from Gone With the Wind is one of my favorites, and I think it illustrates Bryan's point nicely.


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CATEGORIES: moral reasoning



COMMENTS (7 to date)
NZ writes:

OT, but what happened to your Open Borders Bingo post? It seems to be MIA. I also don't see any post giving an explanation for why it was taken down. There was a commenter (#2, if I remember right) who gave you a pretty sound rebuke for posting it. Did that influence the decision to take it down?

NZ writes:

PS. I notice the Bingo card is still up at Scribd, suggesting that whatever reason you had to take it down from EconLog didn't apply in general. Are you still plugging it as a promotion for the last T-shirt?

Lorenzo writes:

“[Pacifism is] ultimately nothing more than a willingness to die, and let others die, at the pleasure of the world’s thugs”.

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Art Carden writes:

@NZ: Thanks for the comments. I took it down for a bit after reading what I thought was a very thoughtful comment from "Anonymous"--I wanted to see if I *really* wanted to leave it up and, after a bit of consultation, decided I would. It's back up. I did decide not to make it a contest, though, and save the shirt contest for something else.

Jeff writes:

Honor cultures probably make sense when there is selection pressure at the group level. An ant colony lives or dies as a group. A group of humans might do the same if, for example, they've built a nice little town or city state on a piece of productive farmland that some other humans envy and may work together to take by force. In that case, creating roles or castes (again, kind of like ants, with workers, foragers, etc) and then binding people to carry out those roles via some code of honor and duty is could be extremely useful or even a necessity.

Thankfully, we are past that now, but in a particular time and place...well, you can kinda see why the Spartans, for example, did what they did.

JKB writes:

Machismo or the honor culture are not arguments against pacifism and appeasement. The guilt culture (predominant in Judeo-Christianity culture) is the argument against.

As we see, and no doubt that scene was replayed in the salons of Europe a century ago, machismo is played for the audience. It also plays for the untested soldiers. However, the honor culture is public and provokes response against induced shame. But wars are fought in the dark, away from the crowd. What keeps a soldier in the fight is the man next to him and guilt the soldier would suffer if he let that man down. The machismo/honor society without the inner guilt culture is why Arab armies historically fold under fire.

Machismo (honor) is to be controlled, measured for it tramples when pacifism might be best. But guilt should temper that pacifism. Can a man of "honor" live with the guilt that creeps into his heart at night over appeasing some monster who then does terrible things?

Mark Bahner writes:

Does anyone know whether the guy who confronted Rhett Butler was shown later in the movie getting his leg amputated without anesthetic, or some similar appropriate outcome?

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