This chapter addresses the causes of cruelty. It covers a continuum of explanations from the banality of evil to automaton-like behaviour in bureaucracies, from pleasures derived from sadism to the cruelties fostered by selfishness. The banality thesis identifies widespread acceptance of cruelties if legitimized by states, their governments, their policies and/or by other powerful institutions. Analysis of conditioned behaviour refers largely to operators of state and non-state organizations who keep the wheels of cruelty turning, yet such personnel usually remain invisible, inaccessible, and non-accountable. Completing the cruelty puzzles requires accounts of sadistic behaviour, which is embedded as much in cultures of violence as in the pathology of any one person. The explanations overlap but have distinct characteristics. The chapter also considers cruelty driven by managerial demands for efficiency, a powerfully addictive notion which is not value neutral, and looks at the civil war between Colombian government forces and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in Colombia.
Policy Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.