Fwd: A Victimological Approach to Causes of War [en]

Stefan Merten (merten@dfki.uni-kl.de)
Tue, 03 Dec 1996 11:04:29 +0100



I got this message from one of the German mailing lists I'm currently
on (`Research on peace and conflict'?). Though the contents looks
rather technical, IMHO it clarifies some points, and helps
understanding of conflict structures. Thus, I think it's interesting
to anarchists because we have to manage conflicts in other ways than
the main stream.

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##: X-Sender: creuss@mail.hitline.ch
##: Message-ID: <v01530500aec6885da2d8@[]>
##: Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 20:00:37 +0100
##: Reply-To: Friedens- und Konfliktforschung <FKF-L@rz.uni-karlsruhe.de>
##: Sender: Friedens- und Konfliktforschung <FKF-L@rz.uni-karlsruhe.de>
##: From: Christoph Reuss <creuss@hitline.ch>
##: Subject: Kriegsursachen -- ein viktimologischer Ansatz
##: To: Stefan Merten <merten@dfki.uni-kl.de>

IAC Interdisciplinary Basic Analysis on Causes of Violent Conflicts
Address: IAC, P.O.Box 259, CH-7007 Chur 7, Switzerland
Phone: +41/81/252 25 85 , E-Mail: creuss@hitline.ch

Geschaetzte FKF-Ler

Siegfried Schmitt regte an, dass wir von IAC unsere viktimologische Theorie
kurz auf FKF-L praesentieren. Im Hinblick auf die aktuelle Diskussion ueber
Konfliktfragen entspreche ich diesem Wunsch gern, und freue mich auf eine
angeregte Diskussion. Diese Theorie ist uebrigens ausfuehrlicher auf Papier
in Deutsch [1] und Englisch [2] publiziert, Interessierte koennen die
ausfuehrliche Version elektronisch bei IAC bestellen.

Mit freundlichen Gruessen
Christoph Reuss, IAC

[1] "Kriegsursachen - ein viktimologischer Ansatz", Werkstattpapier,
Stiftung Entwicklung und Frieden (SEF), Bonn, 1992
[2] "A Victimological Approach to Causes of War", Peace Research
(Canada) Vol. 23, 2-3 (1991), pp. 37-48



1. Subjects and Range
This theory principally applies to all levels of sociological entities
(personal, group and country level), to both within the entities and
the relations between the entities (i.e. both intra- and inter-

2. Definitions
VI := victimologically immune
VP := victimologically pre-disposed
E(psi) := psychical energy
C(psi) := psychical capacity
D-state := long-term condition of internal discord
U-state := long-term condition of (relative) unsuccessfulness

3. VI and VP Characteristics, D-/U-state; E(psi) and C(psi)
Typical characteristics of VI are:
High C(psi) and hence usually high E(psi). High level of psychical
flexiblity, frustration tolerance, courage; and in case of situative
adequateness (usually towards VI): patience, "disarming" charme,
friendliness, tolerance, solidarity.

Typical characteristics of VP are:
Low levels of the VI characteristics, or even their opposites.
Common VP characteristics are long-term internal discord (D-state) and
(relative) unsuccessfulness (U-state). There's usually a strong inter-
action ("vicious circle") between D- and U-state: In an unsuccessful
community, there will soon be quarrels (possibly causing groups/
countries to break apart), and a dissensing community will soon lack
success. D- and U-state result in reflexive victimization (see below).
The U-state is relative in time and space: A sociological entity can be
unsuccessful compared to its own past and/or to contemporary entities.

E(psi) is the "currency" of victimization and can vary within minutes,
whereas C(psi) is a largely constant inherent property of each sociol.
entity; in analogy to an electrical capacitor, 0 < E(psi) <= C(psi) .
However, persons may slightly vary C(psi) by training, education etc.;
groups and countries may vary their C(psi) by the exchange of persons,
political changes etc.
If we define the continuous range [0..1] as the range [extremely VP ...
extremely VI], then the psychical capacity C(psi) of a given socio-
logical entity indicates its "value" within this range. Like many
natural quantities, C(psi) is supposed to have a Gaussian Distribution,
so most persons/groups/countries have C(psi) around 0.5, and we can
define C(psi)(VP)<=0.5 and C(psi)(VI)>0.5 .

4. Forms and Mechanisms of Victimization
It is NOT as simple as "VI victimize VP". Instead, VP *directly*
victimize VP (either themselves [-> reflexive victimization] or other
VP [-> transitive victimization]), whereas VI victimize VP "only"
*INdirectly* and in subtle ways (see below). There's a big overlap
between victims and culprits (both VP); VI are usually not, or only
weakly, victimized. In general: The lower C(psi) of a sociological
entity, the higher its probability and intensity of being victimized.

Subtle forms of victimization deprive the victim of E(psi), usually
via "structural violence" and other "compulsions". Stronger forms of
victimization also deprive the victim of money, time, power, health or
even life. Victimization can occur continuously in the background
(usually by VI) or suddenly and acutely (usually by VP).

Collective victimization usually occurs "for the sake of" pretextual
"causes" (religion and the various "-isms") imposed and led by VI.
In case of direct victimization, how does a victimizer "see" whether
a potential victim is VP or VI ? There are some external signs (e.g.
signs of social status and certain behavioral patterns). In addition,
an aggressor often performs "test provocations" to "measure" C(psi),
and then decides according to the reaction of the potential victim
whether to victimize or not.

At personal level, victimization is "total" and may be lethal. At
group level, VI can (in most cases..) leave a VP group, and vice versa,
and extremely VP groups may be disbanded. At country level, it is
rather rare that a country ceases to exist. As a rule, the victimiza-
tion of a country is done to its VP inhabitants. VI inhabitants of VP
countries find ways to protect themselves, or simply move from a
severely victimized country to a country with higher C(psi).

5. Typical Examples
---------------- | Victimization: |
Level | VI | VP | reflexive | transitive |
Person | professor |unskilled worker | addiction | crime |
Group | officers' club |front battle unit| quarrels | org. crime |
Country| Switzerland | Yugoslavia | civil war | war |

6. Conclusions
To achieve absolute peace at all levels, all sociological entities
would have to become VI (i.e. C(psi)>0.5). Given the Gaussian Distri-
bution of C(psi), this is quite improbable (not to say impossible).
What persons, groups and countries (especially the VP) can do is to
try to increase their C(psi), i.e. to become "as VI as possible".


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