Love Denied: The Psychology Of Materialism, Violence And War
By Robert J. Burrowes
25 May, 2013
Violence is simply an extreme form of attention-seeking behaviour.
The individual who uses violence does so because they are very frightened
that one or more of their vital needs will not be met. In virtually all
cases, the needs that the individual fears will not be met are emotional
ones (including the needs for listening, understanding and love) and the
violence is simply a dysfunctional attempt to have these needs met.
The individual who uses violence is never aware of these deep emotional
needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met which,
admittedly, is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love
are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied
these needs. Moreover, because the emotional needs are 'hidden' from the
individual, the individual (particularly one who lives in a materialist
culture) often projects that the need they want met is, in fact, a
This projection occurs because children who are crying, angry or
frightened are often scared into not expressing their feelings and offered
material items – such as a toy or food - to distract them. The distractive
items become addictive drugs. This is why most violence is overtly
directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources.
The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate
replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need. And, because the
material resource cannot 'work' to meet an emotional need, the individual
is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain
control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile
attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs.
This is the reason why individuals such as Carlos Slim Helu, Bill Gates,
Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett and the world's other billionaires and
millionaires seek material wealth, and are willing to do so by taking
advantage of structures of exploitation held in place by the US military.
They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are
emotional voids and each of them justly deserves the appellation 'poor
little rich boy' (or girl).
If this was not the case, their conscience, their compassion, their
empathy, their sympathy and, indeed, their love would compel them to
disperse their wealth in ways that would alleviate world poverty (which
starves to death 50,000 children in the Third World each day) and nurture
restoration of the ancient, just and ecologically sustainable economy:
local self-reliance. See 'The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth' -
Of course, it is not just the billionaires and millionaires of the
corporate elite who have suffered this fate. Those intellectuals in
universities and think tanks who accept payment to 'justify' the worldwide
system of violence and exploitation, those politicians, bureaucrats and
ordinary businesspeople who accept payment to manage it, those judges and
lawyers who accept payment to act as its legal (but immoral) guardians,
those media editors and journalists who accept payment to obscure the
truth, as well as the many middle and working class people who perform
other roles to defend it (such as those in the military, police and prison
systems), are either emotionally void or just too frightened to resist
violence. Of course, it takes courage to resist this violent world order.
But underlying courage is a sense of responsibility towards one’s fellows
and the future.
Governments that use military violence to gain control of material
resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this
dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that
promote materialism. Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage
this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material
acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally.
This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military
violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing
exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and
In summary, the individual who has all of its emotional needs met requires
only the intellectual and few material resources necessary to maintain
this fulfilling life: anything beyond this is not only useless, it is a
What can we do? We need to recognize that several generations of people
who were extremely badly emotionally damaged created the world as it is
and that their successors now maintain the political, economic and social
structures that allow ruthless exploitation of the rest of us and the
Earth itself. We also need to recognize that the Earth's ecological limits
are now being breached. And if we are to successfully resist these
emotionally damaged individuals, their structures of exploitation and
their violence, then we need a comprehensive strategy for doing so. If you
wish to participate in this strategy you are welcome to sign online 'The
People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending
human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to
understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist
since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?'
http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is email@example.com
and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com
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