Vengeance, one of the five basic human passions

Via good Mr. Schneier, who always has such fascinating things to say...

Mr. Schneier pointed out some interesting comments on Vengeance as a driving force in an article in the New Yorker (seemingly on an entirely unrelated topic!), and I highly recommend clicking through for that alone, but it particularly struck me that the author juxtaposed Vengeance beside four other human passions: love, anger, grief and fear. It is interesting to me, first, to consider vengeance as a seperate passion from anger. But more interesting to me was that the other four passions are, as the article's author points out, at least considered to be morality-neutral by most societies, now. They can be good and they can be good. They have a definite social purpose. But, we think of vengeance as having no social purpose whatsoever - it's a wicked, primitive urge that we don't pay attention to. But, then, on the other hand, we play off it all the time in society - we use it as a uniting force, for instance, when we start a war - 'Remember the Alamo' was really just a thinly veiled way to see 'get those b****s who shot our folks back'. I'm not sure what this means, that we're more primitive than we imagine, or that we as a culture need to learn more enlightened ways to understand vengeance. I just don't know.