Chris,

My POV, which I believe to be the Buddha's perspective, is that
'conditions' may help or hinder, but compassionate or harmful behaviors
have their origins in intentions and motivations in the human mind.

The Darwinian perspective asserts that humans and human groups seek to
enhance their own survivability and prosperity - at the expense of other
persons and groups if necessary.

See below.

--ED


http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/27/eu.turkey
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/27/eu.turkey>
The Turks haven't learned the British way of denying past atrocities
It is not illegal to discuss the millions who were killed under our
empire. So why do so few people know about them?

...  the EU have found a more effective means of suppression. Without
legal coercion, without the use of baying mobs to drive writers from
their homes, we have developed an almost infinite capacity to forget our
own atrocities.

Atrocities? Which atrocities? When a Turkish writer uses that word,
everyone in Turkey knows what he is talking about, even if they deny it
vehemently. But most British people will stare at you blankly. So let me
give you two examples, both of which are as well documented as the
Armenian genocide.

In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis
tells the story of famines that killed between 12 and 29 million
Indians.

These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy.
When an El NiƱo drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau
in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India.

But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its
export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at the height of the famine, grain
merchants exported a record 6.4m hundredweight of wheat.

As the peasants began to starve, officials were ordered "to discourage
relief works in every possible way". The Anti-Charitable Contributions
Act of 1877 prohibited "at the pain of imprisonment private relief
donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain
prices".

The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which
anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. In the labour
camps, the workers were given less food than inmates of Buchenwald. In
1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of
94%.

As millions died, the imperial government launched "a militarised
campaign to collect the tax arrears accumulated during the drought".

The money, which ruined those who might otherwise have survived the
famine, was used by Lytton to fund his war in Afghanistan.

Even in places that had produced a crop surplus, the government's export
policies, like Stalin's in Ukraine, manufactured hunger. In the
north-western provinces, Oud and the Punjab, which had brought in record
harvests in the preceeding three years, at least 1.25m died.

<snip>



--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, Chris Austin-Lane <ch...@...> wrote:
>
> Well, the interesting thing in Guns, Germs and Steel is that the
conditions
> of power arose from other more picayune conditions to do with the
> distribution of seed sizes and domesticable animals and the
orientation of
> continents. It really wasn't an innate lust for power either, just a
simple
> randomness as to which group of humans would develop technology first,
> assuming all the groups are pretty similar in intelligence and
motivations
> and behavior.
>
> --Chris



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