My theory on brutalisation i.e. increasing violation of local and/or international norms of violence, is a very negative, pessimistic theory on the human condition, effectively stating that any armed conflict or other type of violence tends to go from bad to worse, with little relief in sight. However, this does not mean that I fully believe in the theory or all its facets, certainly not in each and every case. In each case, I seek to falsify, that is to say to disprove or at least test the theory or the validity of one or more of its variables.
Generally, the theory is useful if only because it combines theoretical elements from many disciplines, ranging from cultural anthropology to military psychology. I believe that a broad, multi-disciplinary approach has the best chance to significantly enhance one’s comprehension of armed conflicts and their morally corrosive effects.
Even if the brutalisation theory turns out not to be wholly or even partially valid in many cases, it will have served its purpose of enhancing knowledge about violence. Its partial invalidity may even expose actual and potential ‘de-brutalising’ factors that one then may strengthen through new forms of conflict resolution and management, in order to prevent, limit or curtail violence in the future – in particular brutal violence that grossly violates generally recognised norms, like human rights and the laws of warfare.