Now that’s a long title, but it’s a great Tweet, isn’t it?
This is convergence, this little essay, for me this is where all the major threads in my mind come together: the ancient classic dialogue, human behaviour, child discipline, and yes – even trolling.
OK, that wasn’t bad, but this is just the bullet point brainstorming stage right now.
- A note about “things”
- A note about the “Nature” thing
- Trolling and narrowing the argument
- The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
- Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation (too late, we already have several)
- Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints
- The “Deep Roots of War” thing
Whups, turned into a Table of Contents. Maybe that’ll work.
4. The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
I asked my self this question, “what is punishment,” or more accurately perhaps, “what is up with this punishment business?” (Side note: I want to say, ‘punishment bullshit,’ because that’s how I talk and how I write, but I didn’t ask myself this aloud. Turns out, my inside thinking voice prefers English. I’m surprised too.) This maybe twenty-five years ago, maybe a few more. For the first two decades or more I was convinced that punishment/discipline/consequences were identical to their illicit cousin, abuse, and that they therefore most likely were responsible for the same sorts of effects – which, yes, I’m still there – but during that period I thought it was some sort of accident, or I blamed cultural things, Leviticus and whatnot, for bringing about this state of affairs.
And I argued with people, in real life while we raised our kids, and for a few years online, while producing the early years of this blog and other blogs where the site has since passed on. The persistence of the normal attitudes around it were frustrating, and that people didn’t seem to have a clear definition of “punishment” at all was also irritating, like the language didn’t exist in which to have the conversation. All this against my background of popular psychology type thinking and very little real education . . . I don’t think I was aware yet that I was stonewalled, that further learning wasn’t forthcoming along this train of thought when some online argument challenged me to read Judith Rich Harris and Steven Pinker.
After a very traumatic reorganization of pretty much everything in my brain rolled out, I was able to bring a little more science to the problem, and by keeping basically the goals of social science in mind and not much else from it, and trying to see both sides of that disciplinary aisle, I have this, the Abusive Ape Theory (not married to the name, but I like the homage to the Aquatic Ape Theory), Antisocialization Theory, and the Consequences Mimic Meme – and I’m delusional, capitalizing my own stuff. But who else is gonna do it?
Really, it’s all there, it’s all out there, there is likely some hundredth monkey thing going on, everyone can know this, today, and I expect many do. All the pieces are out in public view.
The Abusive Ape Theory is the idea that we are an ape that abuses its children, leveraging epigenetic effects to said abuse and so we have created ourselves in the Deep Roots of War image, an ape that systematically desensitizes and traumatizes itself for a group-supporting effect of increased aggression and violence, one that supports our intergroup conflict. Dad says he was toughening us up, Twitler says we will be strong, all of this is the abuse that we feel during the genes’ epigenetically active years, and we adjust our internal configurations accordingly, to be less contented, rougher, and perhaps, as the psychologists say, to continue the pattern.
Antisocialization Theory is simply the apparently dark side of socialization theory, the latter being the idea of us all adapting to our given circumstances and society, learning the rules, customs, taboos, values, etc., of the humans and environment we live in and among. In one sense, it simply refers to the nasty stuff we learn, who to hate, how to fight, but in the more important sense, our antisocialization is the one that matters, because it’s the one with measurable, documented effects. It was Rich Harris who exhaustively laid out the socialization researchers’ hundred year long attempt to prove that parents create traits that they consider desirable in their children, and the near utter failure of it. This, while the mountain of evidence for the less “desirable” traits produced from abuse threatens to block out the sun. Abuse is our lever, the one that does something.
What it does is stress us out, make us angrier and more violent, and the only way to release stress is to spread it around. When a person is so stressed and damaged from too much or too chaotic abuse that they cannot function well in the private sector, the military is waiting for them, and that is as near the aboriginal function of antisocialization as you can get. I think also, though, modern armies don’t need every able bodied (and disabled-minded) male, a smallish percentage is enough – but we are all engaging in the function, and I haven’t repeated this for a year maybe – most of our pre-configured ready-made soldiers are just out there walking our streets, not some enemy’s, getting themselves and all of us into trouble. Yes, we’ve been socialized, both prosocialized and antisocialized, but just like in the movie series, it’s the dark side that has the power. It’s something like irony, to be sure, but if the definition of “nurture” in the context of ‘as opposed to “nature”’ is something the parents do to induce a trait in a child, then it’s a misnomer, because the traits we are able to actually effect are not the traits one induces with any “positive” “nurturing.”
I’m sorry to say, but the proof of the Nurture Assumption’s true underpinnings is that we can indeed modify a child’s development – just not in a “positive” way, and not in positive language. These days, it seems the biologists want to tell us all that there is no “nurture,” that it’s all “nature” – and for some reason, the profundity of real and documented negative effects is another conversation or something, parents can’t “affect” their kids. Abuse is somebody else’s job. The upshot, maybe I’ve never actually said it before, or for a long time –
We can’t teach a child mathematics by beating him and then teach him history the same way. You teach math by teaching math, you teach history by teaching history, and you teach beatings by teaching beatings. You cannot beat a child while expounding about history and pretend he won’t learn the beating – this stuff, this is maybe the worst of the blank slate magical sort of thinking there ever was, the idea that we can. Tell you something else too, Dr. Pinker – it predates Rousseau and all this blank slate atheism, this ‘beatings to produce nearly every imaginable and so often even mutually exclusive effects’ idea. This magic, one size fits all tool idea about abuse, this exists in inverse proportion to your dad’s idea behind the shed, though.
On the other side of our split personalities, we know what we’re doing, Dad knows he’s toughening us up. Certainly, the abuse of boot camp shows that the army knows that the purpose of abuse and discomfort isn’t to make us more peaceful. This brings us to the Mimic Meme.
Mom seems to think that when she whoops you, you’re supposed to get more peaceful, doesn’t she?
So, antisocialization, that is beating a child to grow him up as a soldier, while let’s call it the “consequences” idea – that’s beating a child to turn him into . . . whatever Mom wants, is that right? Obedient soldier, for starters, I guess, and then obedient everything else after that? Obedient concert pianist, obedient foot masseur? Of course, it’s “good” child, “good” grandchild, student, soldier.
Both these memes, both these functions are out there, we beat ourselves violent and perhaps don’t know it, and we fail to beat ourselves into excellence and maybe don’t see that either . . . point is, we mean two completely different things by that one word, “good.” In half of life it means good about everything, good piano playing, good food, etc., but in the other context “good” means violence.
A mimic meme – a term I’m surely stealing and perverting – I will define by example. It’s when we tell a child, “Don’t make faces or one day, your face will freeze in that position.” We don’t believe the explanation, but if the child does, he stops making faces at the family at the next table, no bench-clearing family fights ensue at Applebee’s, peace is maintained – a real life benefit from a false meme, the idea that sometimes, peoples’ faces just freeze in mid expression, permanently. This is what the “consequences” idea is, one of these useful lies.
We tell a kid not to touch the lamp, he touches the lamp, we whoop his ass, maybe he never breaks the lamp, maybe he does, but he’s learned his beating, and we didn’t “abuse him to make a soldier of him,” we only taught him not to touch the lamp. That’s the consequences mimic meme, we can beat a kid for years, kids all live under this threat, so they are absolutely intractably antisocialized by it – but we have done nothing to propagate violence or war, we are simply teaching them how to live indoors and not break our stuff, right? And a house full of unbroken stuff sure looks like peace and civilization, so who’s to argue? Your face didn’t freeze like that did it?
It’s a good thing you listened to me then.
. . . (surprisingly) to be continued.
(I thought I’d lost the will for a bit there.)
Jan. 5th., 2018