How to Understand the Problems of Violence and Injustice in North American Societal Manifestation?


Our Culture of Human Development and its Perceptions

Societal development is a complex and challenging phenomenon encompassing social, moral, intellectual, economic, legal, humanitarian, psychological and political factors to clarify its manifestations.  All human societies go through the turbulent changes, socio-economic and political chaos to attain clarity of purpose for a better world. Societies are structured on the basis of needs and wants, and depravity of these needs and wants are linked to means and ends.  Having material, physical, and other resources enhances the capacity of an individual to fulfill his or her needs and wants.[1]  Thus, such a person may enjoy a higher social status and exert power of some sort over others who lack those resources.[2]  The quest for power and control leads to discrimination in society and social inequality.[3]

Since the beginning of human history, people have tried to gain power and control over others.  In order to legitimize this control, they compartmentalize society leading to some people in society being treated unequally.[4]  Inequality is often based on our birth in specific groups marked by class, gender, race, and ethnicity.  Although inequality exists in many spheres of life, the focus of this research is on how human behavior is shaped and what leads to the perception of injustice and inequality across North America or the larger world.  I’ll also delve into the primal elements and major themes which correlate with crime, violence, and other social problems.[5]

Sociology emphasises that people’s thoughts, actions, and even their intentions shape a variety of social situations.  This would suggest that there is an infinite plasticity in human behavior.[6]  This dispels any illusion that human nature, wherein we concern ourselves only with biological perspectives of the mind and body manifestations, resulted in the diversity of human societies.  Leahy quotes from Haramlambos and Holborn to state that to a large degree, culture determines how members of a society think and feel.  It, culture, directs their actions and defines their outlook on life.  The impression is that the human species can think about and desire anything at all completely randomly, culturally variable, and via a historically determined process.[7]  Although these desires may be rooted in bio-neurological responses, they are largely subject to cultural influences.  It is generalized to conclude that it is always culture which is the most dominant element shaping human societies.  Leahy writes that if biology were more important in shaping human behavior, humans would be governed by biological programmes linked to defined actions.  Thus, if the hallmark and signature of culture is diversity and variety, then the signature of biological influence must be sameness.[8]

In socio-biology, human behavior is explained by two distinct arguments.  One of these arguments is that the evolutionary process of adaptation accounts for complex social activities that appear to be learned.  Thus, this process consequentially resulted in the triumph of reason, science, and order.[9]  Were it otherwise, the outcome would have been irrationality and violence.  It is in fact the development of culture, which then brought about advanced societies that consequentially resulted in the triumph of knowledge and reason over ignorance, and science over superstition, and that of law and order over chaos.  Some of this development may be explained by way of conflict perspectives, wherein groups in societies are engaged in some form of conflict, such as in politics, litigation, family, or other resources in order to shape and influence social life.[10]  In social philosophy, Marx and Weber were those who contributed to this perspective.  Another sociological way to explain complex social activities and ultimately the triumph of knowledge and reason over ignorance and violence is by way of the functionalist perspective.

How to Better Understand our Societal Interrelated Configurations

A society comprises of interrelated parts, each of which serves and contributes to the overall stability of society.  Societies developed social structures or institutions in order to survive.  These institutions include family, education, government, religion, economy, and healthcare.[11]  The other argument in socio-biology is that genetic regularities were responsible for particular forms of behavior.  This means that repetitive and characteristic behavior must be a manifestation of the actions of genes which code for that behavior.[12]  The sociological view is that in order to survive, societies needed rules about civility and tolerance towards others.  We are not born knowing how to express kindness or hatred toward others.  Unlike animals, humans do not have instincts.  What is believed to be our instinctive behavior is in fact rooted within reflexes and drives.  Human behavior, though, is not determined by reflexes and drives.  In fact, even the expression of these biological characteristics is influenced by culture.[13]

A predominant opinion in sociology is that cultural life is created by culture itself.  Although human nature has the capacity to be imprinted by culture, by itself, human nature itself is an empty vessel and thus devoid of prejudice, bias, and other preferences which relate to cultural influence.[14]  The features of culture are not given shape or content by human biology.  The argued position of the author, and a dominant theory, would be that in fact human nature consists of drives and capacities which are common to human beings.  These psychological mechanisms must have a biological component and therefore shape human behavior.  This is an important insight in understanding my thesis.  Nearly all human social development happens by way of social factors which influence and shape human behavior.  Factors which relate to biological determinism and further our chances of reproducing and surviving may influence behavior to a lesser extent.  Human nature, which consists of drives and reflexes and is biological in function, is largely subject to the influence of culture and society.[15]

Most sociological theories about crime highlight large cultural or environmental factors, but some models look inside the heads of criminals for answers.  Jack Katz studied the biographies of convicted criminals and concluded that the causes of crime are constructed by the offenders themselves.  The self-creation of narratives about their own lives tells us a lot about the causes of the crime.  Imagining and telling stories about their lives which appeal to the primal elements of machismo, aggression, and emotionality create life-narratives that reinforce and justify their criminal choices.  The four major themes found in criminal narratives are humiliation, righteousness, Hardman, and hedonism.  Katz describes humiliation as a profound loss of control over one’s identity or soul that must be revenged in order to maintain one’s self-identity.  Many convicted criminals engage in constant revenge fantasies as a source of psychological motivation.  Criminals will sometimes act out these fantasies in real life if opportunity arises.  A common process of transcending humiliation is by expressing rage, even though such expressions are potentially humiliating to themselves.

Some of the earliest criminology theories were biological arguments about crime.  They attempted to identify criminals as a human sub-species.  The offences set out in the criminal code appear to share certain common elements; however, courts have had a great deal of difficulty in defining what they are.[16]  It is clear that a criminal law includes a prohibition and a punishment if the prohibited act is committed.  The third essential purpose or element has been defined as a typically criminal public purpose.[17]  Violation of these public purposes would form the common elements found in a crime.  Cases demonstrate that typical criminal public purposes include, but are not limited to violations of public peace, order, security, and health and morality.[18]  People often assume that some great principle underlies all of the criminal code, such as harm or evil.[19]  In sociology, this powerful but false assumption of unity is referred to as essentialism.  Essentialism regards criminal acts as inherently wrong or absolutely evil and as partaking in primal violations that do not merely violate society’s norms and rules, but have offended the very laws of nature, science, or God.[20]  Often, this absolute condemnation of crime is fuelled by the consensus of horror.  This form of condemnation of crime can also be dangerous in itself because it may attempt to make an untestable claim akin to religious faith and promote binary thinking.[21]  Defining crime as an act of typically criminal public purpose is not helpful, but, it does not undermine the belief that all the offences set out in the criminal code appear to share certain common elements.

To Revisit the Laws and History of Imperatives for Changes of Social, Moral, and Legal Justice?

Laws, rules, and regulations change over time.  Some acts we do today may become a crime in the future, and other acts we now do might have been a crime in the past.[22]  In his book “Free Culture”, author Lawrence Lessig shows that technologies such as motion pictures, cable TV, VCR”s, and even file sharing were all once considered illegal.[23]  The reason for this is because state laws were shaped by media monopolies that wanted to quash these new inventions.[24]  Laws and regulations then made the worst forms of torture legal and an essential objective in order to secure subordination.[25]  This is significant because it gives us insight into the social-legal principles and elements at the source of policy and law.  Modern morality laws aren’t much different insofar as the elements which go towards the purpose of the law and the concept of beneficence.  With regards to slavery laws, it had much to do with the relationship between master and slave, and securing proper subordination and obedience on part of the slave.

Governments and nation-states throughout history have enacted rules and regulations which forbid and seek to regulate various forms of behaviors and social expression.  Having knowledge of the history of our own policies and regulations in an important part of understanding how contemporary forces influence and regulate social expression, behaviors, work, and sexuality in society.  We’ve learned that since the beginning of human history, people have tried to gain power and control over others.  In order to legitimize this control, they compartmentalized society leading to some people in society being treated unequally.[26]  Inequality is often based on our birth in specific groups marked by class, gender, race, and ethnicity.  Culture and social factors shape human behavior, and this leads to the perception of injustice and inequality. These are not elusive manifestations but observed realities shaping our culture of laws and justice.

Caitlin Johnstone (“Our Entire Civilization Is Fake and Stupid”, Information Clearing House: 9/13/2022), an Australian thought-provoking writer spells out the reality of our contemporary mainstream culture and its inherent problems:

Your eyes probably found this text because you’re the sort of person who’s been trying to make sense of the world in a sea of propaganda and deception, which often results in a growing disgust not just with the power structures which oppress and tyrannize humanity, but with our entire civilization………From the very beginning, human civilization has been built around serving the interests of the powerful………..So mainstream culture presents a fraudulent image of reality. It’s written into the code of everything that’s mass-produced — not just in Prager University lectures on the evils of socialism or propagandistic news stories about weapons of mass destruction, but in sitcoms, in advertisements, in clothing brands, in pop music, in textbooks, in trends. When it’s not constant messaging that capitalism is totally working and the world is ordered in a more or less sane and truth-based way, it’s manipulations designed to shape our values and measures of self-worth to make us into better gear-turners.

Mohammad Momin Khawaja is a Canadian Prisoner and Student (Laurentian University, Canada) pursuing studies in Sociology, Philosophy and Ethics and has a passion in academic research for human change and development and to share some of the logical outcomes of his research with others academics. He is seeking freedom from prolonged incarceration and plans to go for a Law Degree and has recently authored two new books under publication: History of Ancient Women and Philosophy and Ethics.

[1] SOCI2656, “Social Inequality, Gender, Race, Race, Class, and Power”, Laurentian University, 2022, Pg.1

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] SOCI2656, “Introduction to Social Inequality”, Pg.1

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Leahy, T., “The Elephant in the Room”. Current Sociology. V.60., 2012, pp.810-812.

[10] Murray, Linden, Kendall, Sociology in our Times, 2012, pp.12,13.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Leahy, T, pp.810-813.

[13] Leahy, T, pp.807-809.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Leahy, T., pp.806-823.

[16] SOCI 2066, Module 2, “Essentialism”, Laurentian University, 2022, Pg.1.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] SOCI 2066, Module Two, Critical Critiques of Crime, “Crime Across Time”, Laurentian University, 2022, Pg.1.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.


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