Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Curse that is Ruthlessness

Many animals, typically the males of the species, sham-fight. Well known examples are deer and seals. Only if absolutely necessary do they actually engage in combat; usually for territory or access to females. The sham posturing is usually sufficient to establish who the victor would be if push came to shove and even bite. The objective is thus achieved without risking grievous injury to either party.

Boys in the school playground exhibit the same behaviour. It begins with shoulder-barging accompanied by cries and answering cries of  "Ye?"  ( pronounced as 'yes' but without the 's' sound) from the protagonists. If neither calls off the engagement at this stage, it tends to move on to blows to the arms and body. Only if this doesn't result in a capitulation, does it become a real playground fight inside a human ring formed by the other children. Admittedly the school-fight protocol that I have described might be somewhat outdated. My direct experience of this corner of human behaviour harks back to the 1950s. It is eminently possible that bollock-blows, eye gouging and knives are concepts relevant to the contemporary version.

But I suggest that the top fighter in the school , and the one most feared by all, isn't necessarily the biggest boy, the strongest boy or the best fighter No.It is the boy that ignores the fighting protocol and starts proceedings with a kick to the goolies or a similarly ruthless piece of aggression. You may remember that such tactics have been accurately portrayed by Joe Pesci is several of his screen roles. The key word here is 'ruthless' and many bastard, autocratic dictators have adopted the same strategy to achieve and maintain their political power.

Just as sham-fights tend to be a male behaviour, so does ruthlessness. If a country can't achieve democracy, I suggest that the selection of a female leader be encouraged. Fewer bastards and a smoother transition to democracy is likely to be the outcome.

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