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Old January 6th, 2017, 10:45 AM   #1
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Why in communitarian tribalist cultures they chant praises at someone's sacrifices?


Years ago I remember reading about how after a Palestinian young man got into a firefight with Israeli soldiers and got killed from M16 rounds, his family began to shout out in joy how the young man gave his life up for the community and proceeded to have a festival. They were GLAD to see their eldest son DIE!

At first I thought it was a non-Western mentality because in addition to Middle Eastern terrorists, I remember Japanese mothers rather than weeping were simply calm and happy after the news of their sons death took out an American battleship during World War II. Indeed there are many cases of treating it calmly as Japanese men were dying by the tens of thousands while their wives, mothers, and lovers were simply drinking tea at home and smiling as they invited the mailman, military official, or whoever arrived to send the news to drink tea in the living room.

However..... I remember in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett was worried that Ashley was in one of the most dangerous PoW camps that he might die, Melanie responded she was proud to know Ashley will die for the Southern cause. Scarlett who was in love with Ashley could not understand how Melanie-who was Ashley's wife and claims to have loved him with all her heart as a good wife should- is not in terror that he might not come back alive.

In Medieval literature,a common theme is when knights go off to fight pagans such as in the Song of Roland, rather than being in dread, their fathers and mothers remain calm and stoic at the possibility of death. Once news arrive after a battle that Sir Lancelot had fallen in battle, they begin to prepare a big party for the event of the death of the young knight and the parents begin to sing out a song they just came up in an instant to praise the dead knight. Which as their echoes get heard throughout the castle, other servants from the king's personal generals to a spearman to peasants who clean the latrine, they begin to join on singing the song. The parents who are the lords of this castle actually end the song out with a chant "he gave his life for the name of defending God!" or something akin to this. Which has scary parallels towards the Palestinian man who got killed in a firefight and his Muslim family having a grand feast afterwards.

Basically showing this isn't exclusive to Eastern cultures but was once a part of the Western mentality.
But I am curious why do people not only in "backwards" non-Western cultures (pre-WWII Japan and most Arabic countries as examples) but also even in Western cultures before the rise of modern secularism and democracy have this psychology? Of rather than weeping they treat it like its a great thing their sons have died for a cause?

Even the comparatively more civilized Ancient Greeks and Romans (when compared to their Medieval European counterparts) who valued democracy as a basic ideal treated the dying of young men for their city states (in the case of Greece) or the Roman Republic and later Empire as something to take joy in and celebrate about.

Where as modern cultures starting in the 1700s weeping and sadness is now considered the norm. Anyone who thinks its a great thing to send their son to Vietnam and than appear smiling and boasting in public that Bobby came back in a bodybag especially at the funeral would be seen as cruel, if not outright insane. Even deaths of fellow friends in the modern battlefield of the 21st centuries while guns are shooting and artillery shells are landing around can make even the toughest special forces weep in the middle of battle (even if he still continues to fight despite tears streaming)
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I mean to read in the Songs of El Cid about a knight just calmly maintaining formation without either tears oar anger and even stoically being proud he saw his dearest childhood peasant friend get beheaded is just CHILLING and makes me see the knights in this poems as terrorists on the level of Bin Laden in ruthlessness rather than defenders of civilization and freedom.

What is the logic behind this mentality? What exactly happened in Western culture that removed this backward savage "songs of joy" after the death of a beloved member who sacrificed his life for the cause?

And why do many cultures on outside of the West still maintain this mindset despite vast changes in technology and to a degree social structure? As seen in many African and Middle Eastern countries?
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Old January 8th, 2017, 03:11 PM   #2

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Provide proof for your claims and generalizations. There's not much point to discussing mere speculation.

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As seen in many African and Middle Eastern countries?
Have you ever even been anywhere beyond North Carolina?
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Old January 8th, 2017, 07:01 PM   #3

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The last time I check, US politicians cheer on the soldiers who died in Vietnam and erected a stupid monument or something so lets say it's a common thing.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 05:49 AM   #4
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Culture itself can be seen as struggles to balance and unbalance the intuitive and the counter-intuitive.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 05:57 AM   #5

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Originally Posted by A Vietnamese View Post
The last time I check, US politicians cheer on the soldiers who died in Vietnam and erected a stupid monument or something so lets say it's a common thing.
Agreed, but to my own impression of which, those who give sacrifices for their nation are more heralded in dictatorial regime because there is no way to object to it. In democracies, while the American government create monument for them, but these suppose war heroes were subject of criticism by those who do not want it like the leftists or socialists in the US the way they marched in Washington DC before the American troops were completely withdrawn in Vietnam. You don't see that in totalitarian regime and the last time I learn of such phenomenon was the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In totalitarian and dictatorial regimes like communists countries there is greater adulation of them because no on can manifest objection. Those are part of government propaganda of communists and that must be awesome. Not in democracies by reason of freedom of expression.
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Old January 10th, 2017, 09:25 PM   #6
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In Durkhemian terms, those "communitarian" or "tribal structures" are governed by a "collective conscience," and such societies are held together by what Durkheim calls "mechanical" solidarity. In simpler words, it means that the society puts greater value in what is supposed to be the collective good, and this importance of collective good overwhelms any individual opinions or differences. As a result, such societies greatly appreciate the individual sacrifices made for what is supposed to be the collective good. However, as society progresses towards the modern industrial era, it sees a great degree of stratification and specialisation (in socio-economic terms), and the old bonds of "mechanical" solidarity now become "organic." Now, the individual is dominant over the "collective conscience," and comes to be true fundamental unit of society. Such a society, itself, is held together simply due to the socio-economic interdependence between the individual units. Modern societies, especially those of the West, are mostly integrated on the basis of "organic" solidarity, especially in the urban regions. The individual plays much more significant socio-economic role in such societies than in "tribalist structures," and a notion of the collective good isn't taken that seriously.

Last edited by Bhrigu; January 10th, 2017 at 09:36 PM.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 08:37 AM   #7

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In Western, "civilized' societies we do the same. if someone works 18 hours a day, that's not a zombie. That's a hard working man who's doing what it takes! Amazing grit! Etc.
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