The Fight

“Just once, can’t we try something else?”

Spoiler alert, re: The Expanse. Sorry.

I was shocked when this line was spoken in the final episode of the first iteration of The Expanse. That author and I are on the same page. Those eight words are the eight I have managed leave out of my last million or so, at least with such clarity. My cap is off for the person who said that. That is pretty much everything, those words; to me, at least. Still under the spoiler alert, “something else” meant something else besides attack, something else besides a fight.

Just once! We might like it! You never know until you try.

Everything is a fight.

We got ninety-nine problems, and a fight is every one of them, but we can’t fight the fighting. If we don’t pick a side, they all need to fight us. If we ask them not to fight, we’re working for the other side; art of war, warrior code says we must be treated as such. It’s a fractal of paranoia, and in fascist or authoritarian times the fighting side of life feeds back on itself and it gets away from us, closer and closer people start to qualify as enemies and there is less and less room to do anything else except fight. In more balanced times, though, still, everything is a fight, and fight is all we know how to do. Pick an issue, any issue – air pollution, climate change.

If I’m a driver, if I trade petroleum for wages, I’m invested in air pollution, it feeds my children, I love my children, etc., if I own the oil company, I will probably choose to say it’s the same, feeds my kids (and great grand-kids). So when I see the protesters, a blockade, I am threatened, my kids are threatened. The protesters are trying to show me a problem – the climate, the environment – but I, human being who evolved for nothing but a fight, only see the protester. Humans are what we have evolved to fight, not accumulations of toxins and such. It’s clear, seemingly, it’s right in front of you – generally, forever, a bunch of humans is often as not, everybody’s worst nightmare. I’m suggesting, in this much, some of the EP, game theory stuff is not all wrong, and we have probably evolved always knowing our priority problem is that bunch of people shouting at us. Today’s problem over tomorrow’s, kind of thing, but not only that.

As for the oil execs, CEOs – the guy owns the world, he’s still looking for a fight, fighting his enemies – poor environmental protesters! Or worse, the indigenous, poor environmental protesters with nowhere else to go! – still seems like his job to him, not just a privilege, but an obligation, “for his children,” – evolution didn’t account for his wealth. If he can convince himself there’s a threat, then it’s just a human fight, team suit and team tie-dye, right? Again, if he “feels threatened,” he’s lying – but maybe his drivers, etc., feel threatened for real, wage dependent and all, and they also being human, when under threat, tend to focus on the human threat in front of them first – so tensions are highest among the poorest, at the blockade.

Of course, the protesters too all share this evolution and are all subject to and sometimes guilty of this . . . conflation also, of conflating the problem with the people in front of them. Sure, the driver is “part of the problem” and the CEO is not there to take the abuse, but the driver’s share of actual responsibility in the matter is less than almost anything that might happen to him should an actual fight break out – “part” is a word we use to create conflations and start fights, as all “parts” are not equal but share the same name. Of course if our driver wins his portion of the battle, that too is a step of violence above his pay scale and previous share of the responsibility, he’s a bigger part of the problem if he fights and makes himself one.

I think our dedication to fighting creates all sorts of conflations, the purpose of which seems to be to convert logical problems into fights, words into actions instead (see also in my blog, this same function in regard to conspiracy theories, to turn what should be a public debate into a fight).

In ways like this, every issue, everything that should be a rational debate, a discussion about the way for humanity to move forward, becomes an argument, a scuffle, a riot, a fight, clashes of ideas descend into clashes of the groups of people who hold these ideas instead. One faction wants war, one wants peace – so now we have a civil war! Warriors VS the peaceniks, team crew-cut VS team tie-dye – when a man’s blood is up, and you say “I don’t want to fight,” he says, “Oh yeah? You wanna fight about it?” And you should probably get ready.

Come to think of it, sounds like one of my exes too, so, fighters of both of the classic big two genders do that, so I assume it’s a “fighter” thing, not a gender thing, and this bit of science predicts that none of the less obvious genders are free of this conundrum either. If we can’t oppose the fighting, the fighting, no matter which human triumphs, the fighting always wins. This is not an endorsement.

I’m sick about it. I hate. It’s always going to be the wrong person.

I’m talking about evolution and evolved things, but this is not offered as “proof” that this is simply who we are – that would be deterministic, a creationist view, “the way we’re made,” another conflation, not as foundational as the main one here, but not small. No, evolution means once it’s not advantageous, we evolve in the other direction. The selective forces are us, we control that. We could select for something else. More evolution, not less, is what is indicated. But we need to stop always selecting first for the fight.

I don’t want to fight. I want to argue. I want words to matter when they approach reality and matter less when they stray from it. If this had been the case up until now, we wouldn’t have soiled the bed so badly, “accidentally” destroyed our environment. I know that sounds obvious, too obvious to say, but I tell you here and now, in my experience, people do not grasp that, people do not seem to understand when we wish to argue with them. They either cannot imagine a different viewpoint or something and assume we’re all in agreement, or they understand there is a disagreement and get ready for a fight – and accuse one another of “fighting,” like there is no room between disagreement and battle, no freedom. “Friends” agree, apparently, they do not try to teach each other. I want what is true and correct to win in the world, we require a “tournament of truth,”  not the usual, literal kind of tournament, but there is something else we are selecting ourselves for, rational debate remains a sort of pipe dream. The person who wins the fight wins the argument, because we think fighting is more important than truth and reality.

Or the swine who wins the fights thinks so, and we must all agree or suffer his purges.

This morning I am seeing what some philosophers have, that without power, words are nothing, that without power, there is no voice, I see it – I see a blue sky too, but I know it is not a real, discrete thing; I don’t believe in it. It must have been Nietzsche most famously, right? Warrior societies have a way of making their awful maxims come true. If the people in charge didn’t believe and push it, it wouldn’t be true. Wait – “without power” – like having power over others is some normal, default condition and it’s our fault if we didn’t take our share, that’s no way to talk. Well, it’s one way, one awfully specific way to talk, fascistese, or baboonese, depending how you look at things, “taking power,” or deflecting abuse.

I look at it as deflecting abuse – but it is not the baboons that need to be corrected about their worldviews.

It’s more direct to say it in inverse, and they do: with power, you can lie and they have to accept it. Of course this is the current figurehead, of course if he were powerless no-one would believe a word and he’d be homeless or institutionalized. Or he’d change his ways, maybe.

I’m finding it stupid that we can apply these brains to amazing levels of chemistry and physics, etc., but are still possessed of no self control, still basically preverbal about what it is we’re up to in the world. We can get you to the bloody moon but we can’t stop ourselves from eating the seed corn. We have burned the planet, used anything and everything for our conflicts, split the atom for our conflicts, every new thing in the world is created or assimilated for the conflicts . . . but we still love the conflicts.

Ask a scientist what made us so smart, what with all this math and such, and they’ll tell you – the conflicts!

Right, destroyed the only environment doing this thing that makes you so smart, don’t you all just feel the truth of it in your bones – fights and threats and abuse and war and persecution just making you smarter and better all day long? How many millennia? We will surely reach some intellectual singularity any minute, as long as we stay the course and don’t let up now! Not just “smart,” either. Made us super moral and altruistic too, apparently!

Never mind “altruism” is defined as conspiracy for gang murder, as volunteering for some risk in order to reduce the risk of all the conspirators. Sometimes a science requires its own specialized language, huh.

I’m getting angry about the narrative, does it show? Everything is awful in this paradigm, and the “thinkers” this narrative credits are as responsible for our ongoing false state of original sin, as much as are the famous conquerors it lauds, or blames, depending on the work. If it suborns itself to the fight, it’s with the fighters. Everything and everyone within the paradigm/episteme/this side of the deconstructionist horizon, however you look at that situation where you can’t think that from here.

I saw the bare bones principle of it as a young person, that language could not add truth to the world, only approach it, and so the function of language must be to introduce errors, fictions, distortions, lies, at least one function of it. I try very hard not to lie in these ramblings, I feel I’ve typed a million words that can only be wrong, by “design,” sort of, limits of language, but are designed to get us all to a truth, to describe the shape of it with a barrage of near misses, like throwing paint at some invisible monster when you don’t even know its scope, where to aim the paint.

If I seem not to be saying anything at all sometimes, that seems the preferable mistake to me, to saying too much and accidentally lying.

The world has not been destroyed “for money,” money is an abstraction for a fight, for the ability to win a fight, or “power,” I guess. Resources. Food for your army. All the great nations’ rich have money already, but life is problems and problems are fights – you’ve heard the rhetoric of the rich: if there’s no enemy and no fight, you’re “not doing anything.” I have read in the world of aging male punditry on this topic that men will go on the war march from boredom, or from a desire for glory and honour, and I rejected it as rubbish, biology requires better explanations – but perhaps it only needed this bit of nuance, that rich men send poor ones to war for boredom, or honour or glory – this I can manage to cram into my head without too much trouble. Still, the biology is probably the more important, and since the fight is what we’ve all evolved with, rich or not, safe or not, he may only feel like he’s “doing something” when he’s got someone to fight, whether “glory” is in his lexicon or not.

The very existence of rhetoric proves we’re bent in one direction, you say something general and you know they will all understand something specific, it proves the supremacy of the fight over  our minds, over truth and with little concern as to the actual content in question, it proves what I said at the outset here, that we are biased to deal with all problems as though they can be solved by a battle with the people in front of us. I think it was Larsonius? “Shake the jar and see if they’ll fight”? Come on, the man is a classic, and wise beyond this age.

Imagine the power of this, if you knew this and had the power to move people about, to decide who winds up in whose face. Imagine the awful power of that.

We are letting this happen, making it happen, we are selecting for it – because evolution, everything is selected for. There is no credible argument that “human nature” is not selected for and what is the argument that something other than ourselves are making the selections? The only wrinkle is, there is the not small matter of knowledge, of what is knowable, of what we want to know, of what is conscious and what less so. I don’t think anyone seriously points to other selective forces besides ourselves, except perhaps our microbes, which, I think we have to own that, that counts as us, part of us, sure, on the less conscious side. Seriously, that’s something remarkable, so I will – the only possible opposing “selective force” we are “subject to,” or blaming here if it isn’t us is the bronze age God. At least the version of human nature he came with.

Sorry, but what else? It looks like maybe only the first phase of introducing evolution to an evolved-for-religion audience. We know it exists, but we still think the other thing does too.

This innateness, all the EP, all this biology that says we’re so moral one minute and worse than the chimpanzees the next, the selective forces are what? The battles, the same thing that grew that cranium? Do I need to say it? Yes, I need to say it – the conflicts, that was us, more importantly, that is us. Evolution isn’t something that happened in the Before Time and doesn’t happen anymore, nor is it something that happened to “someone else.” It’s an erroneous conclusion that I used to parrot myself, that when we brought the environment under our control, evolution stopped – maybe “natural” selection stopped, but natural or organic isn’t the point – selection doesn’t stop, does it?

I can’t be breaking this news, that if we are still breeding and dying in any particular way that selection is still occurring for us?

In fact, perhaps my whole theory could be called the Problem of Unnatural Selection. We’ve been the main force on ourselves for quite awhile already, I do think of it that way, this is exactly what I’m saying, we need to stop unnaturally selecting for a thing or two. I mean, I’m advocating for a change in our unnatural selection criteria. I think our criteria that helps us survive one another is ending by killing us all together, that we select for the fight and we’ve burned the planet down for materials for our weapons, for the war effort.

You are the only selective force I am subject to, and vice versa.

I know that we are talking about that, we are starting to talk about our infantile looking skeletons and talking about self-domestication – add it to my list: all that conflict made us brilliant, moral – and tame, docile. New angle, same paradigm, please, tell us again just what is so darned right about us, won’t you?

Such a moral and altruistic surprise that in a world supposedly dominated by evolutionary science, it just becomes the new way we were “created,” and we still are not expected to be responsible for our own natures. I suppose it will take a few hundred more years for evolution to really sink in, as I’ve suggested already.

I kid, or I lie; I don’t think time will solve this one, or it should have by now, we are not brand new and shiny – plus we are out of time anyway. I think it’s one of those things we don’t want to know. Worse, we think our damned lives depend on not knowing it, as everything anyone gets paid for is some fractal of the fight – market economy lists “competition” as a virtue, it’s only a synonym for “fight,” some might say that is a description of anarchy, no system at all – and if your job wasn’t evil and dangerous, they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it. We are all that fellow who can never understand due to his employment, unfortunately.

At some point, some of us got some time to think and take up other hobbies like that, they say, but work, serious business has always been a fight. This has been true to date, and yes, a self-fulfilling sort of truth, but I worry that we are missing an opportunity to get past it, an opportunity we have always had and always missed to get beyond it, to be sure, but then we always had another generation, another century, the endless future before us, and it’s always been like the best part of the dinner that we’ve been saving for last. It seemed like we would get there some day, that there was always something to hope for.

But now that it seems like now or never, now that time is not on our side – time is evolution’s friend – now it seems still rather far off. Twenty generations ago would have been best, to adapt a proverb, but there’s my answer, that proverb addresses exactly this point, hope. Things always look  their worst when we conflate the present with the end of history, or the end of time – but now is good too. Now is always good too.

Deep breaths.

 

Jeff

April 17th., 2020

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