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.
5. Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation
More and more, I worry about what I’m doing here.
The way we don’t trust prisoners with writing implements, belts, or shoelaces, you can’t trust people with certain technologies. Case in point, how’d you find me? Social mass media must be one of our greatest mistakes, considering that social stress is the bane of all primates, shortens all our lives as it is. Also, guns, I guess.
I wanted to help the world, I saw something that seemed hurtful and harmful and I figured it out, what was going on, but I’m worried that these things are not meant to be seen and should I affect the world at all, I fear that when the movie gets made they’ll be casting Jesse Eisenberg for my role. Who else but the guy who did such a good job with Lex Luthor and Mark Zuckerberg? Yes, I was the one who saw the emasculation of modern urban men and took it viral, gave it an anti-steroid boost. I was the one who decided that in order to be good, humanity needed to be weak, I am the man who castrated the world. I want to say something about how easy it is for us to slide that intense looking actor with a Jewish name into that cast type, and I want to co-opt the image for myself with a joke, ‘I am Solomon Grundy’ or some crap, so . . . so it all fits, I guess.
I don’t believe any stuff about evil Jews taking over the world, no more than evil Bible people of all sorts, and if Jesse’s somehow perfect in my mind for evil genius roles and it sells movies in the culture generally, then I am a racist, anti-Semitic member of a racist and anti-Semitic society, and I’m sorry, I’m working on it. I wasn’t after any divisive ‘ism’ there at all, the point is, I identify with the evil villain – and so too I identify with Jewish folks, as a not quite white guy, someone who at first glance should be enjoying his membership among the dominant social group but perhaps isn’t. Someone with a grudge forced upon him, someone who deserves some sort of comeuppance and so must never get the upper hand, or even justice, which would be a chance at it.
I mean, I got some bitterness. No more than the average super-villain, but yeah, enough that I might just be trying to destroy the world and someone probably should keep an eye on me. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on here, saving the world and/or destroying it, I don’t think I can do this renovation while worrying about the damage I’m causing, you better protect yourself, keep your gloves up. I can’t do that for you too, I can’t do everything – this is your heads-up here. Honestly, the deep roots of war ape doesn’t need to be told to protect itself, far from it, but I just want it on record that I gave you every chance, publicly, consciously, and out loud. Every chance to put the gun down, put your dick away and talk to me. It isn’t going to be easy, when I spell it out, what I think of you. So far, it’s been innuendo and sound bites in the press, I’ve been meting it out, drip by drip, you might have to have read everything by me to know the true extent of my misanthropy, but here is my indictment. Everybody chill?
We’re a species of child abusers, and it’s what makes us different, the core, not of what we are, we are animals with a large non-human biology, but absolutely the core of what makes us different, the core of our “humanity.” It’s no accident, no new development, and it’s not rare. The fact that we think it’s rare means we spend all day long creating it, we think it’s lacking in the world, so it’s basically all we do.
It’s not for nothing, though.
As in all matters biological, it’s a survival thing. I do not have or represent a high opinion of humanity at the moment, but even from this hole I’ve dug myself, so deep I can see the stars at noon, even now, on the precipice of the Trump administration ‘finding its stride,’ I don’t imagine we would do that for nothing. It’s about security. It’s not complex, and I don’t know if it gets addressed by game theory, but abuse makes you many sorts of tough, because it motivates, one wants to be tough – oops, already writing and still undergoing revelation again! That is punishment, I think I have finally just answered my lifelong question, ‘what is punishment?’
It doesn’t make you self-motivated to obey the rule in question; we still want what we want, it only overpowers our self-interest, you may want that, but do you want this? sort of thing, as we all know, it’s meant to force a cost/benefit analysis. But it gives us self-motivation on the other vector, on the most mission critical thing in life: violence. We will strive to be tough, and the tribe will be tough, because we all feel that if we are tough enough, we are safe, both on the personal level and at the group level. Abuse makes us strong, so, again, we don’t abuse our kids for nothing, it’s to make sure we all grow up “strong,” it’s our security from the other groups. I’m spending time on philosophy podcasts these days, I know it shows, so here’s a thought experiment.
Mom may punish a boy for taking an extra piece of toast off of his brother’s breakfast plate, then take him to hockey practice where the coach may punish the boy for not taking the puck or some real estate on the ice from another boy. Now, how is the boy to learn the first lesson in the face of the second? How to learn the second while retaining the first? Of course, we learn our different contexts, we may solve the apparent conundrum – or we may not, but on a more visceral level, both scenes are the same: boy gets punished, and his solution for the common aspects will be the same: some aspect of toughening him up, from the simple learned experience of surviving pain, desensitization or a dampening of the initial fears to an “aggressive” unloading of it onto someone else. We like to say it’s supposed to be that other boy with the puck, but again, pain, abuse, these are not teaching tools, they change you, is the point.
The prosecution has just completed its opening statement, and this is the charge: we, as a species, abuse our children, to incite violence in them. This is “our group’s” strategy to protect the replication of our genes against those of competing human groups.
If we couldn’t speak to those other human groups at all, then this is the situation one would expect, but we can and we do, and so it’s heartbreaking and endlessly frustrating. If I could just agree, and go along, I surely would, and honestly, if I could go back and avoid the entire train of thought, I think I would do that too. The fate of humanity is way above my pay grade, and I’m stuck now, but if I could have seen the size of the problem going in, I surely would have balked. I may have attempted to say this before – I went from wondering if anything could be done or not, an apparent fifty-fifty proposition, to what I think is an understanding, and my estimation of our odds became sort of astronomical. Like the grass, like the leaves on the trees, one in that number.
We basically have no language that isn’t an expression of inherent group conflict and we don’t know what to say or how to speak without an enemy or a war; I tend to globalize, but if I didn’t, all signs still point in one direction, that every verb is based in a fight and every noun is an adapted version of some opponent. Security demands that we approach all problems at this level and nearly all of our strategies are internal group strategies, with the other groups’ sentience unconsidered, because our strategies must “work” even if the other groups are bears, if you cannot talk to them at all. We have a lot of hopes for our communication, but talking isn’t a strategy in itself, it’s just not dependable enough to be an evolved answer to conflict and violence. At least, other things have not yet aligned in such a way at this point in our history. To date, those two things, conflict and violence have been both our questions but also our answer, our violence as a credible response to someone else’s.
It’s practical, no argument there. Also, the war never ends, active battle or détente, so there never is a safe time, but let me just raise my head above the melee for a second here and try to think in the longer term, as soldiers often try to do at my age, is there a way to not have to do this?
It is not the end of any philosophical roads to see that violence, whether an organism lives or dies, is foundational, our first concern. Even the replication of our genes is a happy, recreational thought when the bear is chasing us, or when the humans next door are feeling uh, expansive, so all biologists, talk a little quieter, go talk to Freud, there’s more to life than sex. I understand that Dawkins made the point that it is our genes’ struggle to carry on that drives everything and not some social animal’s “group harmony,” which, OK, I don’t really see harmony as a powerful force in the universe either – shades of Plato – but group conflict has the power to seriously disrupt the well laid plans of the genes of men and mice, doesn’t it? Surely, some would-be immortal genes go down when species go down, when animals get selected out.
It’s interesting, how we can know it and not know it at the same time, but this is our fear, this is our reaction to any un-punished transgression that we see, it’s a missed opportunity to toughen someone up, and we all somehow intuit that it means we’re in trouble the next time the Hun is on the move. The nurture assumption – the idea that we mold our children – is inexplicable in the conversation about socialization that has tried to account for it, but completely covered by antisocialization theory. It is the dark side of what we have known it to be, and it is unacknowledged, unconscious, but the connection has no extra steps, it is rather direct: discipline is security. Tell someone they shouldn’t beat their children and watch the reaction: it’s a survival issue, and not just their kids’ survival. There’s personal fear behind that too.
So, this is me, the fatal mutation, saying, what about crime, what about rape? What about all the people in the millions and more that would like to see a solution to our solution, to violence and hate? It’s all one thing, violence as a strategy, and violent crimes at home are the evil “side effect” of our strength, so we have a problem. Do we carry on, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, our “good,” defensive violence strategy from our wish to live peacefully among our own people, which, at least beginning now is no strategy at all, because abuse changes people, at home and on the battlefield? Or do we simply ignore the downside of our methods, after all we’re still here, aren’t we? The last method has always been our way.
Proud, fierce, and brave, this is our model of a warrior, and pride is privilege, fierceness is violence, and bravery is a prioritization of offense over defense. This is the survival instinct stripped bare, and every rat must feel that way to live as well, it’s a good life if you don’t weaken, so my challenge to us is this: find a better model. Your “hero” is an entitled, murderous narcissist. And we wonder, why all this trouble?
I’ve wondered it anyways, and as near as I can see, this is the conflict. If we stay strong, in this way, our life is abuse in a deal that keeps us alive, or so we think, and we think that if we stop abusing our own, that the competition will abuse us in a more permanent way. Perhaps truly, as long as we cannot talk to the other groups, this is the best we can do, folks who live away from the borders can live in some semblance of peace, most of the violence being non-lethal – but again, we can talk, or almost, so we may have options in this modern world that we didn’t before. I would have said ‘any minute now,’ a few years ago, but it seems the world is going in the other direction at the moment. Sometime, maybe. Here I am, worrying that I may destroy the world in my particular way, but as always, world without end, the good ones worry and the bad ones just get on with it.
Leading from way behind, as usual, I’m
Feb. 12th., 2018