Surviving Human Nature

Some Topics

Freedom and Capture

One feature of human behavior is the capture and imprisonment of animals and fellow humans. One of the most frightening prospects for a free human is to be captured and imprisoned. Among the worst atrocities that humans commit is the unlawful detention of citizens who are deprived of civil liberties, beaten, raped, forced to work and killed. Legal systems in free, democratic countries attempt to protect citizens from unreasonable imprisonment. Protections include the right to be represented by a lawyer, and the right to appear before a judge for an impartial hearing within days of detention. The capture and imprisonment of animals was part of a transition from nomadic, hunting-foraging lifestyles to more settled and agrarian lifestyles. The domestication of plants and animals provided food surpluses, the basis of wealth and the development of civilizations.

Animals can be captured in traps that are designed to kill or designed for live capture. The hunter kills the animal. The farmer captures and imprisons the animal who is fed, bred, used for labor and then killed and eaten. Imprisonment requires the construction of and maintenance of containers, the supply of food and water, and the removal of wastes. The attitudes, skills and habits that support animal capture also support human capture and imprisonment. Animals can be trapped by offering free food as reward, even with conspicuous devices, if the food offering is tempting enough. The animal approaches the trap with caution; however, not understanding the mechanism of capture, an animal who goes for the food is caught. Humans are skilled at making traps to catch animals and use the same strategies to trap each other.

The program for a trap is:

1. Excite approach behaviors by offering a reward

2. Minimize avoidance behaviors by concealing and disguising danger.

3. Spring the trap suddenly to defeat the attempt to flee.

Since humans are gregarious animals who tend to form herds and follow leaders, the polite imprisonment of human volunteers is a routine feature of all societies. Humans volunteer to enter enclosed spaces and are often controlled as herd animals, by fences, gates, doors, buildings and herders who use rewards and punishments. Understanding human behavior cannot proceed without an understanding of these group dynamics. The most important determinants of human behavior are not the tendencies of individuals acting alone, but individuals interacting with each other.

Unconditional freedom has been described in individual terms: the free and unfettered movement of body and mind and the privilege of self-determination. For most humans most of the time, individual freedom is limited by both voluntary and involuntary capture and imprisonment. The real determinants are group dynamics.


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