Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wal Mart Stampede

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled in Hobbesian Frenzy by EQ Coach Susan Dunn

I think we have all been stunned to read about the Hobbesian frenzy that killed a Wal-Mart employee today. It might also be called a feeding frenzy. It harkens as well to "The Oxbow Incident."

"A Hobbesian frenzy," refers to the the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death reads the headline in the New York Times article, which refers to a "Hobbesian frenzy" that killed Jdimypai Damour, a 34 y.o. temporary employee, no doubt hired for the Black Friday sale at the New York Wal-Mart, a post-Thanksgiving Day tradition for many. Why is this called a Hobbesian frenzy? Thomas Hobbes wrote: "The condition of man... is a condition of war of everyone against everyone."

From the article:

A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York was trampled to death by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a Hobbesian frenzy.

This article is rapidly making the rounds in emails, sent to me by several people today. Why? Because it is difficult for us to believe that people would break down a door and trample over other people, and trample over the police trying to give CPR to the victim, in order to get to an ipod, a designer sweater, a TV, or whatever else it was that drove them.

And there are still psychologists who claim that emotions aren't contagious??

The article is a nightmare to read.

FEEDING FRENZY, photo taken by Luc Viatour, GFDL/CC, of Carp competing for food at the pond of the Royal Palace Agdal of Marrakech in Morocco.

Says wikipedia about a feeding frenzy, and read the ominous last sentence:

Feeding frenzy is an ecological term used to describe a situation where oversaturation of a supply of food leads to rapid feeding by predatory animals. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks to enter a feeding frenzy.

"Feeding frenzy" is also a metaphor often used in a non-biological sense to describe excited involvement by a group over some focal point of attention. [An] example would be shoppers frantically looking for bargains during a sale.

We do not like to read about the dark side of us all. The greed, the lack of concern for other human beings, the competitiveness and aggression, the total disregard of normal boundaries (like a door)... and the sort of mob behavior Walter Von Tilburg Clark wrote about in THE OXBOW INCIDENT. When ordinary people in a group turn into a mob and do something they would not ordinarily do as an individual. Turn into predators.

David Bordwell uses the phrase "Hobbesian frenzy" in his blog on cinema.


Cheang Pou-soi’s Dog Bite Dog: This tale of a hired killer from Thailand and the raging young cop who pursues him presents a world in Hobbesian frenzy, with all against all. The most unrelentingly violent Hong Kong film I’ve seen in years...

Quotes from Thomas Hobbes


During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), an English philosopher, wrote his book Leviathan in 1651, which, according to wikipedia wikipedia, established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory.

In the article you also read that the police were called away from the scene to go to Best Buys and Circuit City, also having problems.


All this for a laptop? What on earth has happened to our social contracts?


Social contract describes a broad class of republican theories whose subjects are implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social order. Such social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government and other authority in order to receive or jointly preserve social order.(wikipedia)I don't know what to say to conclude this blog entry. I don't think anyone knows what to say. This has to do with emotions and behavior, but perhaps as much to do with values and materialism, and a disrupted economy. I guess. I really don't know what to say.

Comments welcome.

3 comments:

Queen of Wands said...

one more reason NOT TO SHOP AT WAL MART!!!!!!!!!

John personal trainers austin said...

Very sad for the family to die in such a senseless manner. As Walmart has some very deep pockets, I am guessing there are some lawyers out there salivating.

Nancy Fenn said...

this moning they are trying to figure out if some people can be charged as criminally negligible