I’ve written about the Amity/Enmity Complex in earlier posts. The term describes the dual nature of the innate human behavioral traits generally associated with morality. Simply put, it describes our tendency to associate other human beings with “in-groups,” which are associated with good, and “out-groups,” which are associated with evil. The moral rules one is expected to observe in interactions with members of ones in-group are generally those we associate with moral good. Completely different rules apply to the out-group, whose members are generally viewed with hostility and can be treated accordingly. Occasionally this takes such extreme forms as mass murder and genocide, as, for example, in the case of the Jews during the Holocaust, or the “bourgeoisie” under Communism. In America, the phenomenon commonly manifests itself as irrational hatred of those with opposing political beliefs, as the “liberals,” or the “tea-baggers.”
For those still having trouble seeing the obvious, the “enmity” side of the Complex is once again on display in Kyrgyzstan, where, at last report, 75,000 members of the Uzbek minority were fleeing their homes, and scores were killed and hundreds injured. It is another data point to add to the many thousands of others that have occurred throughout recorded human history. One would think it had happened enough by now to convince even the most obtuse among us that human morality is a dangerous nostrum to apply in dealing with the relations between nation states, ethnic groups, political parties, and the other types of social groups of unprecedented size that have emerged very recently in human history.
Morality is, inevitably, a two edged sword. For every “good” defended, an “evil” must be identified and defeated. The identification of those who are “evil” is typically arbitrary, and can quickly change to include those who were previously seen as “good.” Consider, for example, the Jews in Israel, who were the darlings of the left, and “good” at the time the movie “Exodus” was made, but have now become “evil” for those of the same political persuasion because they are no longer well suited to play the role of “victims” to be “saved.” Similarly, those who were only considered different a few years ago can quickly be perceived as the evil enemy in response to any number of stimuli in the form of social or political change, heightened competition for resources, ideological and religious propaganda, etc., and, literally overnight, become the victims of bloody witchhunts.
This sort of thing has been going on for a very long time, and is becoming increasingly murderous and destructive. Is it not high time for us to finally learn to know ourselves and climb off the treadmill?