On the Destructiveness of Humankind

Eve’s descendants have steadily accumulated the power to destroy each other in an unholy Armageddon and, like sleepwalkers, are shuffling toward a planetary ecological disaster. How could a slight, five-foot-tall, two-legged animal create such sublimity and yet wreak so much havoc in so miniscule an interval of earth’s history?
– Leonard Schlain (Sex, Time and Power)

…man differs from the animal by the fact that he is a killer; he the only primate that kills and tortures members of his own species without any reason, either biological or economic, and who feels satisfaction in doing so. It is this biologically non-adaptive and non-phylogenetically programmed “malignant” aggression that constitutes the real problem and the danger to man’s existence as a species…The most ample – and horrifying – documentation for seemingly spontaneous forms of destructiveness are on the record of civilized history. The history of war is a report of ruthless and indiscriminate killing and torture, whose victims were men, women, and children. Many of these occurrences give the impression of orgies of destruction, in which neither conventional nor genuinely moral factors had any inhibitory effect…There is hardly a destructive act human imagination could think of that has not been acted out again and again
– Erich Fromm (Anatomy of Human Destructiveness)

The major rise in our killing prowess occurred primarily in the last hundred thousand years, with the sharpest spike limited to the last forty thousand. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all its creatures. The soberest conclusion we can make is that the planet is being turned into a vast pit of fertilizer
– Leonard Schlain (Sex, Time and Power)

If the development of civilization has such a far-reaching similarity to the development of the individual and if it employs the same methods, may we not be justified in reaching the diagnosis that, under the influence of cultural urges, some civilizations…possibly the whole of mankind, have become neurotic?
– Sigmund Freud

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