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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

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People who live a life which is unnatural beyond a
point are likely to be filled with envy, malice and all
uncharitableness. They may develop strains of cruelty,
or, on the other hand, they may so completely lose
all joy in life that they have no longer any capacity for
effort. This latter result has been observed among
savages brought suddenly in contact with modern
civilization. Anthropologists have described how
Papuan head hunters, deprived by white authority of
their habitual sport, lose all zest, and are no longer
able to be interested in anything, I do not wish to
infer that they should have been allowed to go on
hunting heads, but I do mean that it would have been
worth while if psychologists had taken some trouble
to find some innocent substitute activity. Civilized
Man everywhere is, to some degree, in the position
of the Papuan victims of virtue. We have all kinds of
aggressive impulses, and also creative impulses,
which society forbids us to indulge, and the alterna-
tives that it supplies in the shape of football matches
and all-in wrestling are hardly adequate. Anyone who
hopes that in time it may be possible to abolish war
should give serious thought to the problem of satis-
fying harmlessly the instincts that we inherit from
long generations of savages. For my part I find a
sufficient outlet in detective stories, where I alterna-
tively identify myself with the murderer and the
huntsman-detective, but I know there are those to
whom this vicarious outlet is too mild, and for them
something stronger should be provided.