The strong feeling that one is in the right (the victim mentality, the feeling of being noble) and that one is fighting against past evil deeds (the desire for revenge) leads people to commit quite atrocious acts indeed; the combination of anger and dogmatism is always an explosive one, no matter its forms. There’s no doubt that the “noble revenge” mentality has both sparked countless acts of violence and has been exploited by ruling classes to gain support for genocidal wars, brutal repressions and oppressive laws. Terrorism, both from the Occidental and Middle-Eastern factions, could not exist without the ideology of “noble revenge.”
“Noble revenge” is very much linked to all the concepts I’ve been discussing lately (the control mentality, the faggot mentality, the manichean worldview, hierarchies, and so on) but must, unlike these other concepts, be triggered by an act of (perceived or real) aggression. For a human being to sanely and calmly engage in a violent act against his fellows, he must first see himself or his group as a victim (of circumstances, of society, of past violent acts, of exploitation or oppression).
The feeling of “noble revenge” is a spark that unleashes all the pent-up frustrations, insecurities and anger in the individual’s worldview. The mindset that ensues from its emergence is an extremely hateful one which digs into the very worse of the control mentality, the faggot mentality and the manichean worldview, all mixed together.
Let me give you a concrete example I copied from a message board I frequent. Please note that I removed identifying marks for the sake of keeping the message board, topic and person anonymous: I want to concentrate solely on the content, not the context.
I feel no Pity for these Evil… Bastards! They are truly the “Lowest-Of-Low-Life [sic] ever was placed on this earth, in Human Form! There is NOTHING that is too Bad or too Cruel of a Punishment that anyone can bestow on these…. Evil-Heartless-Unfeeling-Diabolical-Maniac-Creatures! They are ALL “The Devil In Human Skin!” They deserve any or every amount of torture that could be given to them!… They are not even Human, these… Creeps! They are ALL Totally Worthless, and ALL need to be completely illiminated [sic] off from the face of this entire earth! And I assure you that, they are an “Abomination to ALL Man-Kind!”… They deserve to be “Disintegrated” (reduced to pieces).
This is a universal response that, I think, all of us recognize immediately. We have perhaps all had such thoughts at some point about someone or some group, although probably not with such vivid imagery. If you read carefully, you will observe instances of emotional detachment, desire to punish and even destroy (two aspects of the control mentality), demonization- literally!- and affirmation of Other-status (two aspects of the manichean worldview). There is no machoism in there, however, which is a refreshing change (some examples of this would be “they’re not real men” or talking about how they have no honour, things of the sort).
Incidentally, a short time after that post, someone else objected to this callous attitude and said:
Revenge and hatred are very curious things and can motivate us to wish all sorts of medieval treatment on our enemies. That’s human nature – it’s who we are.
A pointed answer. Sure, the impulse to think of revenge when we are wronged, and to wish a bad end to those we want revenge against, is part of human nature. Flashes of anger will happen to anyone. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll necessarily act on them.
Now look at how our society deals with crime. What is punishment for crimes but a form of “noble revenge”? The individual feels that the “criminal” has wronged his society and therefore feels angry and demands that the “criminal” be punished. No punishment is hard enough against those who transgress the rules.
But this is how we are taught to deal with transgressors with the established rules, from the time we are old enough to get stuffed in a crib, screamed at or slapped. The primacy of punishment as treatment is enforced by disapproval, threats and then containment, by parents, then schools, then the State. Police presence is a constant and habitual threat of violence. We are conditioned to be submissive and obedient to authority, we are indoctrinated to believe that punishment is the only appropriate response, and we are taught that the only discussion left within the margins is whether to reform the prison system or make the sentences higher.
We apply the same attitude towards “criminals” (not actual criminals, but people who break the State’s arbitrary laws): emotional detachment (justice is blind, letter of the law), desire to punish and destroy (all the way to the death penalty), demonization (the “criminal” as a deviant, a monster, a non-human) and affirmation of Other-status (in the belief that “criminals” are morally corrupt, have set themselves against society by their actions, and have no rights). Therefore criminals deserve the worst punishments one can devise.
I do not share this position. I believe no individual deserves to be punished, no matter how evil they are to us. There is no doubt that we can identify actions which break our innate moral rules and which we can label criminal in a rational sense.
But there’s no inherent reason to punish criminal behaviour. The purpose of judicial punishment is to reinforce the power of the law and reinforce the hierarchy between the “criminal” and the State authorities. The State stuffs millions of people in prisons and jails in order to affirm its power over the disobedient, discourage disobedience from others, and exploit prisoners for profit. Prison is the ultimate self-contained control apparatus, where pretty much any abuse can happen without becoming known to the wider world. None of these are things we want.
The takeover of justice by the State, and its imposition of punishment as the only means to deal with disobedience, has indoctrinated people to believe that punishment is necessary for justice. But the purpose of justice in any sane society must be to leave society in a better state than it was before the crime, and to prevent crimes in the future. Punishment mostly fails these standards: it leaves the victim, the accused and society as a whole in a worse state, and it does not prevent reoffending, except obviously for the death penalty which nevertheless is murder in cold blood and therefore a crime in and of itself.