Twofish's Blog

December 9, 2006

Passion, love and international law

There is an interesting paradox in international law and in law in general. International law is based on the relations between actors such as nation-states whose existence is based on passion and emotion. China exists because there is a community of people that think that they have something in common with each other and have an emotional bond. When those emotional bonds break as in the case of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the nation state disappears. At the same time, when emotional bonds are formed toward organizations, such as corporations, religions, or things like wikipedia, these items suddenly become powerful actors.

But you’ll never read an international lawyer talk about passion, about love, and you will find that they talk very rarely about individual people, even though love, passion, and relationships between individual people are the building blocks by which all of the international actors are founded on.

The thing that I’ve figured out over the last ten years is that the passions, love, and feelings that I have toward people cannot be seen in isolation, but are products of historical processes. In addition, the other thing that I’ve figured out as a physicist is that things that happen at one scale can tell you a lot about what is happening an other scale. If you understand the behavior of particles, you understand more about the behavior of the entire universe, and this applies to social relations. If you start to look deeply at how two people relate with each other, this will tell you a lot about how nations relate. And it works the other way, if you look at how nations relate to each other, you will start to understand how two people relate with each other.

There is a tendency in social science to trivialize feelings. This results from a basic misconception of Darwinian evolution that was used to justify British colonialism and the British class system. The idea was that there are “higher” and “lower” centers of the brain and that “higher” people and “higher” civilizations use “higher” centers of the brain. The parts of the brain that were more recently developed are those involving logic and language.

So using this incorrect interpretation of Darwinism, “higher” people and civilizations use only logic and language, and the older mammalian centers of the brain which are responsible for passion, emotion, sex, hunger, are the preserve of “lower” people, “lower” civilizations. This view has consequences to people’s views on how society should be structured. This incorrect view of Darwinism was used (and is used) to divide people into “thinkers”, “feelers” and “doers” with the “thinkers” obviously getting all of the power.

And when the people at the bottom get angry that they are being used, well anger is an example of emotion and obviously people with emotions are inferior and shouldn’t be allowed to intermix with us thinkers.

The trouble with all of this is that it is *TOTAL RUBBISH*. Darwinism doesn’t work that way, and you can look at the work of Stephen Jay Gould to see how this view of Darwinism as a ladder is incorrect. In truth, the differently evolved areas of the brain complement each other. The anger, hate, and rage I feel integrates with associative centers that are responsible for poetry and partial differential equations. As a physicist and a computer programmer, I don’t *think* about programs and equations, I *feel* them. The model that I use is an integrative model, in which different parts of the brain have different functions, but all of them are necessary for the functioning of the whole and should be treated with respect. This view of how the brain works extends to how I view society as working. People are complex. People do different things. But people all deserve respect and you get amazing things happening when you network different people together, and societies are about networks, about passion, and about love.

This is the fundamental difference between me and the woman I  call the fairy princess. Her model of the world rejects passion. Mine embraces it. Her model of the world involves associating with only the “elite” and then “helping the lower classes.” Mine involves associating with everyone and both helping and being helped.

I think her ideas are incorrect, and incorrect ideas have bad consequences at the large scale level and at the small scale level. If one does not embrace love, if one does not embrace passion, then one denies one of the very foundations of human existence. Love and passion if not directed correctly and respected by the associative centers of the brain will fester and explode. It’s not a coincidence that the nation that has created a class system that is based on these incorrect views of evolution and Darwinism is facing a huge amount of Islamic radicalism, whereas a nation that is fundamentally based on equality and equal dignity of man is not.

I’ve been reading a lot of the work of Ben Kingsbury who is Professor of International Law at New York University, and he makes this fundamental error. He talks about a passionless system of “global adminstrative law” which rejects the passion and emotions of politics. We are being issued orders by the Iraq study group which are emotionless bureaucrats, objectively studying matters without realizing that war is all about passion and love.

This will not work to win the Long War. Wars, nations, and organizations are about passion. They are about love. Any system of international law which ignores this fundamental reality of human existence will create structures that accord with objective reality, and things that do not fit objective reality are doomed and cause unnecessary pain and agony, both at the level of international relations, and at the level of relations between two people.

I’m tired. I’ve been thinking and feeling too much the last week, and my mind and body are near exhaustion. I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m scared, and I think it is going to be worried. But I do think that I’ve broken free of some intellectual chains, of being ashamed of passion, of being unable to speak about love, that the fairy princess and people like her have put on me. I’m free of things that they aren’t, and that may be a good thing. I’m not afraid to challenge. I’m not afraid to fight.

But I am tired.

I want to end with the one thing that drives me. The one passion that I think explains everything in this blog. The one unifying principle that I would like to present.

I don’t like to think. Thinking is hard. Thinking is painful. Thinking will get you in trouble.  Thinking leads to talking, and talking leads to invoking the name of past ghosts that one may wish to forget.  Ghosts like the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward.

But I am utterly terrified by the consequences of being unable or unwilling to think, and I have unhealable wounds that keep me in constant pain, that are the result of what happens when one is unable or unwilling to think.  The consequences of being unable or unwilling to think are horrific, both at the international/global level, and at the personal level.

I’ll talk more later. I need to sleep.

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1 Comment »

  1. I am wondering there is a part of the brain that deals with hunger, sex, and anger. I remenber tht is starts with an a but I sont remember what it is. Please help?

    Comment by Heather Raro — October 7, 2007 @ 6:00 pm


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