"The lack of something cannot, by definition, be a cause or a motivation to act. Does that make sense?"
It makes sense in that I understand what you are saying, but it is not in accord with common experience. A lack of something can be a motivation to action, and thus a cause in personal behavior. It happens everyday, to both of us. I dare say to everyone.
I will do a little research on Stalin and Mao, as a refresher. I'm not yet prepared to accept your assertion, but willing to accept, depending on a deeper look. Let me simply state that my look at Mao in this regard is that his use of terms like 'gods' was wholly cultural, and meant to influence the Chinese in a general sense. His talk of his own divinity is largely the same matter. He oft times co-opted traits familiar in various Chinese cultures to advance his political ideals. Ancestor worship for example.
"We have learned as a species, and it is inherent in our social system, that it is detrimental."
Detrimental to whom? Certainly to the one being murdered, but perhaps the murderer fares better in his personal experience as a result. You make a blanket statement here. You can in nowise prove this proposition as a universal. As a matter of one situation to the next, one can perhaps judge the cost/benefits of murder, even if after the fact. But the really interesting thing is this... you say society has learned to call murder wrong because it just isn't helpful to society. It is detrimental, you say. But if society is the judge, what have we to say of societies that condone what you and I might label murder? Is murder okay in some societies and wrong in others?
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