why must ISIS be destroyed but not violent cultural tribes?

in the following Ted Talk, Steven Pinker shows through data that the indigenous tribes we tend to think of as “peaceful and noble” are actually quite violent, with about 20 to 70% of the male population dying through murder from fellow tribe members or rival tribes:

Given the above facts, I have a few questions for anyone willing to discuss:

  1. Should violent cultural tribes be allowed to continue to exist? If yes, and you also believe that terrorist groups like ISIS should be destroyed, what is the distinguishing factor between the two?

  2. I will assume that one of the arguments against ISIS their intent to harm outsiders. If ISIS swore off outside violence and only ran their operation internally, would you be okay with their existence?

  3. If political legitimacy is a qualm, would you be okay with their existence if they legitimately gained power and control of a Middle Eastern country?

A problem here is that the distinction between religion and culture is mostly artificial and subjective, so your categories are awkward. But I would answer that

  1. Violent tribes should be allowed to exist, but their violent actions should not be excused to the extent that it’s practical and helpful to be involved. This is generally the same standard I hold Isis and other violent groups to.

  2. Isis couldn’t swear off violence against outsiders even if they conquered the whole world, because outsiders would continually be born in their midsts - freethinkers, LGBTQ, etc. Isis’s oppressive character would never cease as long as they were meaningfully Isis.

  3. I’m not exactly ok with the governments of Middle Eastern states now, so I doubt Isis getting some legal legitimacy would sway me much. Again, as long as they are meaningfully Isis, they will be oppressive on a scale and in a place that simply demands some kind of opposition.

  1. ISIS is fucking crazy. When civilized man who are integrated with the global community acts that way, it is a danger to us all. When tribes in the deep Brazilian Amazon do so, its sucks to be them, but meh.
  1. By “continue to exist” do you mean the tribes, or just their violent cultural practices? Because “Yes” if you intend genocide, “No” if you mean just stop their violence.
  2. Nope
  3. Nope

Simply because those violent tribal cultures are not a threat to us.

Who are these “violent tribes”? How do they compare to ISIL? That is, are they trying to take over whole countries or territories? Do these territories have any oil? (Yes, that is sadly true. We care much, much more about countries with oil because we don’t want the production of that commodity to be in danger.)

Your link appears to be to a video. Please give a better summary than in the OP for those of us unable to listen.


And are they deliberately persecuting and killing/raping/pillaging other peoples or religions/cultures or is this basically just inter-tribal rivalries that doesn’t really affect anyone outside of that culture? Because that’s the real reason why ISIS is being fought but some violent tribe in, say, the Amazon isn’t and won’t be.

I didn’t listen to the video, but I’ve read a lot of Pinker’s stuff, and when he talks about this topic, it’s usually in reference to the distant past. That is, Hunter/Gatherers are often viewed as peaceful folk, but in fact when most of humanity was living at that stage, there was a higher incidence of homicides and inter-group violence than there is today. You’d be hard pressed to find any actual hunter/gatherers today.

Starting at the bottom, throughout history military conquest has been considered legitimate.
on up, what evidence do you have that they are out to damage outsiders? The journalists that they killed went thereto their territory, they didn’t go out after them.
We have no reason, nor even an excuse to go after them just because they exist.

How would ISIS be a threat to us if we stay out of their territory?

Been watching the news lately?

No. I’m not “okay” with murderous fanatics as a general rule. The question is what can be done about them and how, and that’s a complex problem.

I’ll link to this again.

For the sake of discussion I hope those who are disgusted by ISIS can clarify why they are okay allowing violent cultural tribes to continue to exist.

It sounds like people are mainly concerned about violence towards outsiders, so take me up on my second question and let me know if you would be okay with ISIS if they didn’t harm outsiders.

I know this is a speculation, and I know it’s not the current situation, but we’re allowed to do that for the sake of discussion :slight_smile:

ISIS isn’t a tribe. They’re an army that wants to conquer territory, expand their holdings, and govern. If they weren’t those things, they wouldn’t be ISIS. I think other people already covered this point.

I guess the answer is, if ISIS was like the tribes we ignore, we’d ignore them.

Because it’s an apples to oranges comparison. As an analogy, if you want to smother yourself in jello and masturbate to old Jerry Lewis movies in the privacy of your own home then that’s your affair. So to speak. :stuck_out_tongue: If you want to do that in Time Square at noon, however, then it becomes a wider issue.

Same here. No one is saying that supposed cultural and tribal violence is a good thing. But when we are talking about international intervention, the bar is a bit higher (and should be). What ISIS/ISIL is and has been doing clearly is over the line or above the bar and rises to the level where the international community (or some parts of it anyway) feel intervention is justified. While what some tribes do in remote parts of the world that affect no one but themselves and maybe other tribes in their area doesn’t clear that bar, usually. Simple as that really.

Strawman. No one is saying they would be ok with ISIS or anyone else doing bad things. But you asked about why nation states are willing to militarily intervene against ISIS but not against some tribes in remote areas. Those are two different questions.

That downplays the idea of an immediate, direct, violent threat. They are a still a long term threat for many reasons, they are an indirect threat by fomenting war with other nations in the area, and they are a non-violent threat because they can negatively impact the oil supply. On top of that we have different ideas than they do about what the extent of their territory is.

None of that means that I think we should destroy ISIS.

If nothing else, I think there’s a pretty big gap between a group of people who have joined together with violent intent and a tribe that one is born into. Regardless of how similar or not the activities of either group may be, the tribe will have a subset of people who don’t participate or have been coerced into participating.

Although I concede that there could be some ISIS members who were coerced into joining. I have no idea if that’s the case or not.

Take a look at the question Dingoelgringo asked. Yes, there are many reasons to be concerned about ISIS and try to find ways to stop what they’re doing. At present it’s very hard to call them a threat to the US, and they’re trying very hard to suck the country into their conflict.