Readers Write: Video games foster unthinking acts; Marxism endures in China

Letters to the Editor for the April 15, 2013 weekly print issue: Video games train people to respond without thinking – the same motor memory employed in firing a gun. And in spite of China's capitalist boon, cardinal Marxist axioms are still deeply embedded in Chinese political ideology.

Video games foster unthinking acts

Regarding the Commentary spread in the March 4 issue, "Do video games trigger violence?": In her dueling essay on the connection between video games and gun violence, Kristin M.S. Bezio claims that "playing a video game depicting violence does not necessarily increase the likelihood that a child will engage in violence at that age or later." Ms. Bezio does admit that video games can influence ideology, but that isn't what gives them the kick that makes them so popular.

The power of video games is in training young muscles to respond without thinking in familiar situations. That's why the military uses them to build fast reaction times and fine-motor control. This is no intellectual exercise; it is training our muscles to respond as reflexes in tense situations so that when we see a target, we hit that target without having to think. The same motor memory is employed in playing video games as in firing a gun.

John Sanbonmatsu, whose essay counters Bezio's, clearly wins the debate. His argument is summarized: "Games, weapons, and the military are so entwined that the distinction between real and virtual killing is eroding." Bezio's observation that society once blamed violence in Shakespeare for producing violent acts is beside the point.

Steve Perrin

Bar Harbor, Maine

Marxism's enduring role in China

A sidebar in the March 4 cover story, "Communism: under construction," says that the Chinese Communist Party "long ago discarded the sort of beliefs that Karl Marx espoused." That's not entirely true. Two cardinal Marxist axioms are still deeply embedded in Chinese political ideology. One is the basic Marxist maxim of dictatorship of the proletariat as found in Marx's "Critique of the Gotha Program" (1875).

The other Marxist tenet is the idea that only one ruling party constitutes the "vanguard" that clearly understands "the line of march." This wording appears in the famous Marx-Engels "Communist Manifesto" (1848). These works are still honored and studied in China.

Albert L. Weeks

Sarasota, Fla.

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