So, the control begins early, and it’s a slippery slope from bite the teat, lose the teat to bite the teat, take a nip or a slap, and by toddlerhood the parents have slid down it, and “spanking” is for two year-olds, because they aren’t talking and reasoning yet but they are starting to get loud and also to get up and run.
This is where I have more questions than answers, I’m afraid. I try to imagine this age and how we deal with the kids in early stages of human prehistory, and I don’t have much luck, there are many blind alleys provided by my own random logos: first, I thought we would get strict around the fire, but of course long before that we and our babies lived high in the trees, with danger always even closer. The still wild primates, they hang onto the kids until the kids are old enough to understand, is that right?
Then I think, maybe things changed when we built the fence, the village wall? Maybe the kids could roam a little before they understood anything and not get predated for it? Then Mom’s hands start doing other things and the time formerly spent carrying them about until they understood language and dangers got reallocated and a “more efficient” sort of control crept into our lives? Ha – I never hate these just so stories when I first jot them down, this one seems reasonable at the moment – but it doesn’t matter, just so stories don’t matter however reasonable they seem.
I want to quit trying to draw this picture. Frankly, these stories hurt more than they help, these are myths, aren’t they, and if we say they happened in our deep past – the Before Time, same thing – then they gain the respectability of tradition and necessity. I am not looking for a “reason” we beat our children, not a reason that the world can just decide is a good reason, or a good enough one.
Somewhere along the line, we started this behaviour. My attempts to uncover the evolutionary accident that made it a selected for behaviour jumps past an answer to get to a question – we need to think of it as a selected for behaviour, rather than a logical and inevitable one, that’s not the same thing. I often try to make the point that how is a thing inevitable for only one of a million species? But I end up seeing the sense the other way about, from why would it be selected for, why would the effects of child abuse be selected for, and when the effects of horrific, illicit abuse are considered, then the effects are clearly what a moralist might call “bad” effects, anger, frustration, madness, aggression, poor cognition.
So the question is now, why that would be selected for, and I’m afraid there is some crossover with the EP boys and their game theory, but that would be selected for the same reason those twelve angry, mad, aggressive lads in the Dirty Dozen were – the fight, war, conflict.
Again, a reason perhaps – not a good reason. I don’t push my just so stories, or I try not to, but I do imagine that the two behaviours are one and that spanking coincides with more organized group conflict than the chimpanzees engage in, that the two phenomena arose together. The accident has to have been that someone discovered the magic, that a tough life at home makes for a tough adult on a raid, somehow, somewhere, somewhen. After that I fear it’s just drift, the sort of behaviour that takes over the species.
But there are more meaningful questions than what exactly brought about the First Spanking (another just so I have tried is that it was simply failed infanticide, why not, but again, doesn’t matter), like what does “modern” Indigenous or aboriginal child rearing look like?
In the purely WEIRD books I have cracked, I see Chagnon’s portrayal of Yanomami childhood, a warrior society in childhood, and I know and don’t disagree with the criticisms of the tone of it all, the apparent bias. I don’t take that as what “traditional childhood” is or was, or not necessarily, and I think if children live that way, the adults are guilty of not fixing this situation.
Maybe, though. It was a little that way when I went to school too. So maybe all his awful portrayals are real but limiting them to brown people in the forest was the lie. I must admit, from what I see of humanity today, it seems likely to be the dominant thing today in the world that kids are tempered into adults by either peer violence or adult violence. But today seems like everything has gone terribly wrong.
Could it really have been this way for a million years or whatever?
It sounds nightmarish, dystopian forever.
A huge dream of mine, of this project’s is to discover the childrearing that was perhaps hinted at in the Chalice and the Blade, the childrearing before the age of wars, to discover a version of human childrearing that does not send them straight to war and conflict.
I saw Tweets from somewhere in Africa recently that called the system of child abuse a colonial thing, suggesting things were different there and that perhaps they know how. I imagine the Indigenous all over feel that way, and it’s true to a huge degree – but to what degree, and what is the other model, if there is one – I’ve asked before, if any reader has an idea, please, tell me.
Chagnon’s – Meade’s? – story would seem to serve a purpose like the Clovis People rules about human habitation in the Americas – to lie and say there was nothing good we replaced with our awful systems, the cursed terra nullius. So I’m still looking. It’s possible that Chagnon has thrown out the baby of Indigenous childrearing wisdom with the bathwater of his colonial bullshit and documenting warrior behaviour is what you are going to document when you invade to do it. They may not have been living that way until the threat of us came along, we document their natural immune response to our invasion and call them savages for defending themselves.
Ah, I learn as I talk, sorry.
So I would like to think there is another way, but OTOH I think we activate warrior genes with this behaviour and we wouldn’t have just gotten those yesterday or anything. – So again, his racist mistake perhaps wasn’t in describing this lifestyle – it was the boys growing up fighting and any boy who wouldn’t fight would be goaded until he did or died – or even ascribing it to unindustrialized, brown people, but in not including us all, if he suggested our boys don’t do that and we are not a warrior society also.
But I would like to learn that I am being the same negative cynical bastard he maybe was and both things are true, it’s everywhere, but it’s only everywhere because war makes it that way, that child abuse exists as much as a response to a state of war as a prerequisite for it that we always carry with us. Again, suggested already, they go together, hand in hand, child abuse and conflict, as of course do chickens and their eggs, neither is really “first.” It seems the nature of evolution that as an environmental hazard’s likelihood increases, a creature has a mechanism to activate its genetic options to evade it – it’s just really sad that we are caught up making genetic adjustments for a growing hazard – war – which, also us.
Maybe that’s a chapter.
Jeff Nov. 19th., 2021