That’s a change. When I started, I toyed with the other version as my title, my catchphrase, before I settled on Antisocialization Theory, ‘the Abusive Ape Theory,’ like that, like the Aquatic Ape Theory, with the connotations of that theory’s history – and it turns out that it’s the whole point that that isn’t it, that the entire order of operations, the natural order of causality is that the abused ape child precedes its abusive caregivers. At least that’s the change I’m going to make, a rule for AST (antisocialization theory in short) that says the child’s experience precedes and breaking it will mean we have left the bounds of AST.
I plan to proceed as though there were an open marketplace where ideas compete for proximity to reality and therefore usefulness, and try a setup where it doesn’t begin with an adult Adam and Eve, or with the Elders, or with the old man God who we acknowledge as a ritualized symbolic actual old man, the meta-alpha, where it doesn’t begin with full grown humans created or released from some mythical bondage, like the Raven story from around here – unless that place of bondage is childhood, then that metaphor might fit. Origin stories that begin with adults, that’s been tried, AST wants to try the other side of that choice, make sure we haven’t missed something.
It’s a chicken and egg story – the chicken and egg story, the reason we love that story – and the chicken came first. Until that chick was hatched, it was a proto-chicken egg, perhaps an odd looking one, but until the chicken inside came out and started acting strange, there were no chickens. When we arrived in the world, our progenitors, our caregivers were already here and every child’s story begins with that – but our story does not begin with all the characters’ back stories. Our story begins, when we, the child, begin to sense things, less literally, when we open our eyes and start reading it.
Antisocialization Theory intends to take this view, that life’s causality begins when our experience begins, with the experience of receiving abuse, prior to perhaps all understanding of anything, after all, slaps and deterrents exist specifically because the little ones ‘lack language and reason,’ these tools are directed at the lizard brain, directed at parts that predate all of human experience, so that is the start. In terms of uniquely human origins, again, AST starts with uniquely human experiences, meaning not feeding, or predation, or reproduction, things many creatures share, but rather social control, punitive abuse.
I’m not sure how I would respond to an objection that finds ‘human nature’ precedent to the lizard brain, to pain receptors, these things, while classifiable as ‘nature,’ absolutely predate humans. I understand that from a social point of view, on the social measure, our parents’ ideas or something come first, as though they didn’t have parents and as though we can’t simply carry that on back to the beginning . . . which, again, AST posits, insists: the chicken exists first.
In a human life, the child exists first.
Perhaps, all the origin stories themselves are infantile, baby stories of the adults we first saw, upon finding ourselves in this life. Perhaps in this corner of mythology, we never grow up and take the other view, never look with adult eyes instead at our infant selves for origins. If we were looking from our grownup selves, I imagine that is where we would start.
And that is my thesis – that by reaching for strength, by making surviving our group conflict by way of superior violence the goal and reaching only for that, we are forever eating the seed corn, forever eating the first marshmallow. I mean, that was Dr. Strangelove, I think, the entire planet going up in a fight over the first marshmallow, surviving a fight by fighting and winning. We can’t trust each other not to do the stupid thing . . . so we do the stupid thing. What’s a response you can’t explain or control?
Genetics. Specifically, some active gene in the players, specifically, some gene with this version, the fight first version activated – activated by your Momma. By your Dad. Vicariously by all the adults by way of their deflecting children, if not directly by authorized or semi-authorized adults, teachers, preachers, coaches. To say nothing of the professionals, the doctors, the police, the guards.
Your genes, your body knows everyone else is going to take the first marshmallow – the win, and so the fight – when your mom and your dad take the first win – from you. And your genes write the lesson more or less in stone. Isn’t that right? I mean if we as children took the literal marshmallow test and grew out of taking the first one, what have we really learned to trust? Something about that the adults wouldn’t destroy their own test by reneging, perhaps. Something like object permanence, I suppose, in these circumstances, I am probably going to get more marshmallows.
OK, maybe it’s as they say, for individuals, we learn how to wait for the reward.
I think the entire paragraph, both those scenarios happen in a single person, indeed, in all of us. I think the gene gets programmed as a group function, for an aggressive default response (antisocialization), and the individual can learn the exceptions table, for within their group (pro- or simply socialization). Ah, it’s the same as last week’s blog, isn’t it, the child learns a hard binary from the magical, human only social engineering practice of the child abuse we call “discipline.”
It was my hope, my dream, and even my plan to raise my kids without ever doing that, without ever just winning battles with them, and to see them grow up and escape the marshmallow test metaphor, to see them seek something better than the wins and so the fights, but I have no results to report, of course, the world interfered with my test. I wonder if I am making this complaint now, I wonder if there is some germ of truth to my fantasy of my own mother perhaps having some gentleness with me and I can say these things because the activation of my warrior genes failed, somehow?
Highly unlikely. I’m antisocial, sometimes I lose hope and would burn the whole world down and start over. More likely, these days I think my differences with the world are a spectrum matter, some unnamed neuro-divergence on my part, and anyway there was plenty of abuse in my family. But I think it’s a theoretical possibility, again, I had hoped to arrange that for my children for real, and unabused humans, homo sapiens with the warrior genes dormant – I want to see that.
Don’t we all? I mean, wouldn’t we, if . . . ? Don’t we want to want to see that?
I wasn’t thinking about whether they would grow up “strong,” honestly, I was putting all my hopes in the “good” kind of strong, if they had all the love and support and no abuse at home, they’d be resilient, I was more concerned about their mental capacities, I feel we trade truth and so intelligence for activating the strength genes. My idea was to not threaten them and so not perhaps dull their minds with cortisol and fear, I was pretty sure they’d be brilliant. While the experiment was compromised from the start – Mom had unilateral ideas and methods – it looked like that for a while, the kids had terrific grades and such.
We’re stuck here, as long as strength and security are as high a goal as we are allowed to imagine, with the fantastic, unreachable goal of somehow gaining enough strength to be invulnerable to our own species’ strength, we as a group, lack the capacity to wait for the reward of peace – again, it’s almost the first thing we were taught, is not to, and no-one seems to remember there was ever another option, because spanking, because they didn’t wait for us to learn it in peace and save the relationship, they wanted the marshmallow now and didn’t seem to mind making us hate them over it, like it was all part of the plan or something.
Ouch. Damn, sometimes I feel like Joyce, just rattling off syllables until it hurts.
The spectacular, miraculous looking ways in which the human being can be evil doesn’t require a mad Creator or a plan no human can grasp, it’s genetics. That’s magic enough.
You reach for “strength” for aeons, you will amaze the other creatures with your strength, the giraffes have been reaching for the top branches for how long, a few million years? And honestly, I don’t think they’ve been quite as obsessive about it as we have about our . . . specialty. I always say “strength” – but today, it seems like “courage” would fit better.
Because I have the Wizard of Oz playing in my head.
Genetics! What makes the aurochs into a cow?
Genetics! What makes the chimpanzee human now?
Genetics! What makes the giraffe as tall as a tree or makes the salmon traverse the whole sea?
Genetics! What makes the bear smell the falling leaf?
Genetics! What makes the tiny coral a reef?
Genetics! What makes your poor belly sore? What puts the “ape” in apex predator? What do I got it, but I want more?
I am sorry, for what it’s worth. Ha.
It can and does look bloody miraculous, have you seen what human dog partnerships can do, the speed of the viper strike, the hi-tech looking visual and colour displays of so many creatures, birds, fish, insects? One wants to declare that anything is possible, anything at all, simply from what we can observe today!
So I’m thinking, considering all this fantastic complexity, why not perhaps something from the dark side, perhaps inabilities that are also nearly magical in their improbability, things we are incapable of that perhaps amaze and surprise us. Honestly, it’s how I feel, combatting the idea of punishment, y’all just haven’t got the software support for “no punishment,” the whole world goes blank, deer in my headlights.
I’m currently reading a scholarly work many steps above my grades and the author seems to be taking on the same thing, breaking down the urge – Achilles’ urge, in the Iliad – to do something when a bad thing has happened. It’s about how grief drives the hero to slaughter, perhaps the Iliad is already an attempt to connect those dots, and this scholar is auditing that effort, but it’s sort of the same as being unable not to punish generally, I think we’re after the same thing, the same glitch in the human code that turns every detected crime into two crimes and turns murder into more murder . . . . and this is my answer.
Genetics! What’s a response you can’t explain or control?
Genetics! When is an individual only playing a role?
Now, I know how we hear this, and no, I’m not telling you this is what you are, because of your programming, because of all that came before, I’m saying this is what you are because this is what you want to be right now, and if you’re having second thoughts, think maybe we ought to be something else, I’m telling you: go for it! All you have to do is want it – well, maybe to want the right things, we need to understand some things too. But don’t follow your heart, not this creature’s heart – that’s what we’re doing now! Don’t practice selection and epigenetic activation for the job you have, practice selection and epigenetic activation for the job youwant!
So not a static genetics, not a “you’re born that way,” genetics, and not even a “you still have the chimpanzee in you,” genetics either.
That talk is the very opposite of evolution, it tries to say nothing changes, ever, when of course chimpanzees aren’t and weren’t ever the problem, it’s us, the new guys, and our new genetics that are responsible for the world we have today. Those are evolutionary Satanic Verses, when evolution becomes some evil Nature from the past again, our narcissism gaslighting us about the old world with the new words we taught it. Evolution as “human nature,” that is a reversal, that sort of discourse never learned evolution at all, hasn’t really processed it.
No, the point is, the giraffe has been actively reaching, not remotely simply existing in some sort of conformity with its Nature. The bear’s nose brain has been growing probably since the entire creature was smaller than that part of its brain now. Evolution means time plus desire make magic. We too have been active, have been actively chasing something, wanting something too, something it seems that chimpanzees lacked, and I think popular science is all in agreement, that something was group conflict, or rather, success in/survival from group conflict, and we have chased it perhaps from Lucy the Australopithecus to today’s human being, I wanted to say to the Universal Soldier.
I’m saying the one that wins/survives the group conflict, we want to be that; we are that because that is the goal. I feel that’s what evolution means, that if a thing exists, it’s because someone wanted it, someone chose it from the options available to them. I’m saying when you want to be the warrior, you get the war; and I’m saying, the things we want get us it – again, though, there’s a disconnect, of course, a complication, in that we are not fully conscious of what we want or why we want it.
No, it isn’t new or interesting or helpful to use the new words and talk about inherence or natures or any such old thing, but to say that because it is evolution it is no-one but us, we that are in control of our changes, we that choose from options presented to us when the environment changes. We may have used it badly, that is my thesis, but it is a transformative miracle, evolution, even selection, and it has brought us to this unlikely possible ending and so it can take us elsewhere also, anywhere. Again, it looks like magic, it can take a creature anywhere, given a desire, that is perhaps better to call a direction, and time. I mean, sure, we could take more responsibility, analyse and own our desires better. The giraffes had only that, a direction – up – and they changed radically to get there, several innovations. I don’t think we can say for sure that they didn’t have other options, a change of diet or something and that they didn’t actively also choose reaching higher over other paths. Why assume creatures fight evolution, kicking and screaming into the future? Perhaps the giraffes are as proud and as “I meant to do that” about their stature as we are about our dominance.
Or, more to my sort of point, perhaps they aren’t, perhaps it is a bit of an unconscious goal, perhaps they have an unstated, limitless goal of height that none of them ever feel they live up to, not so much a point of pride as a universally experienced failure – like us and our always reached for and never fully realized “strength.” That’s how a direction feels, a journey with no destination, right?
I sort of think our short term wants destroy our long term wishes, maybe that’s why the manipulative marshmallow test struck such a chord with us, we are stuck there in a much bigger way; it’s not a demonstration of a developmental stage for a child, but a metaphor for the human condition in this sense, that as a group we tend to eat the marshmallow in front of us and do not so much engage in long term trust projects?
More about an arrested stage of societal development than individual development.
I think this next section is a digression, even a derailment of this talk, but somehow unavoidable. Wish me luck, I hope to see you on the other side.
You know I’m trying to solve the world’s problems, humanity’s problems, and there’s some guilt I’m not working the food bank, but I have issues, I don’t work well with others, and also the first problem I saw was what I’m always on about, “spanking,” (although anybody would have called what I saw more than that) and I was a kid, I wasn’t going to be working anywhere. The whole thing seemed, I’m sorry, stupid to me, and I have spent my life trying to find smarter thinking, solve it that way.
I must have thought, if I’m five and I can see how dumb these guys are, maybe I can help. Now I’m sixty-one and I think I’ve almost got it, but of course I’m sixty-one and I know no-one wants my answer, maybe any answer.
Too bloody bad, you’re getting it!
Lately, I’ve found a bit of a foil, someone with the skills to argue a large part of my answer, the Human Nature meme, from the dark side so to speak, I mean a bright soul who has seen some things, and there’s an idea I mentioned before but they helped me get another inch along with it.
I’m always on the Human Nature bit, and I’ve suggested before that a baby’s first human is Mom, and her Nature is likely the baby’s first idea of human nature – a schizoid conversation, ‘Natures’ are a Platonic abstraction, not actual things in the real world – but more generically, a baby’s first impression perhaps tells them who people are, who they are . . . OK, ‘first impression’ is a meme of the same age and accuracy as ‘Natures,’ we have had nine months of impressions before the world sees us, I mean ‘early impressions,’ don’t I.
Most of which, hopefully, are prosocializing, loving and nurturing, before what I am suggesting, the trauma of the first slap or something, and it’s also possible a kicking foetus gets a retaliatory blow sometimes, perhaps the first negative impression isn’t after nine whole months either.
But what sort of struck in conversation with my friend, what seemed to bite this time through it, was the idea that the baby’s impression probably really is of something along the lines of a simple binary nature, it’s not a bad working hypothesis for an infant, good/bad, love/hate, life/death, you have to say, the kid seems to have good priorities to form an opinion on the matter. I’ll argue now, after sixty years of life, but with a baby’s data at hand, that is some solid science on their part. Our part, of course.
I would that an education meant correcting the infantile binary ‘natures’ meme.
What hit me so firmly in this conversation was that the baby learns a Nature – from what was, for the mother an entirely contingent act.
It surely happens, that awful episode of M*A*S*H, where we suffocate a baby for silence in the presence of a predator or an enemy – I don’t see how a blow or a denied meal or some such deprivation is ever so necessary. We can say reasoned or compulsive, we can say “it happens,” I don’t think we can ever say it’s not contingent, we can’t ever say it had to be so, when would people die if someone didn’t hit a child. So there is the magic, where the contingent becomes the inherent, caregiver makes a choice, baby learns ‘what a human is.’
I’ve been saying the human nature myth is simply wrong, makes the wrong thing of us, but this made me realize that it’s both, it’s where the lie becomes the truth, where the myth and the truth intersect. The story of baby’s first negative experiences could be read either way, someone “proved” a lie to that baby, and now it thinks the contingent is immutable, or someone showed that baby the truth, I mean it really happened, didn’t it?
Not quite there yet? OK, maybe it’s not ‘the truth’ just because one baby ‘learned’ it, but there is a great assistance from other fallacies, namely consensus. If it really happened to everyone . . . then what? Plato was right, infants are right?
Both these truths?
At the same time, as Elvira Kurt’s mother would say?
This is a blog just to say human social maturity precedes sexual maturity, and we only wish folks like Freud had their finger on it. Honestly, don’t go, ha.
Man, I just couldn’t get anything said a few years ago, I found the one I was looking for, and that was it, but I read it and I got nothing from it, looks like we’re doing it again. Like I was being careful not to offend anyone or something, working hard to not say it – perhaps I have changed.
It starts with a few, I’m going to say facts. Data points.
One, human sexual maturity comes sometime after ten years of age, usually well after, a few years, sometimes seven years after, rarely at nine or younger? Two, after weaning, the children spend their days among children, the older ones raising the younger ones. This seems true to me, I got it from the Nurture Assumption, a tome with a bad point but a lot of information from a lifelong writer of science textbooks and I think her picture of the traditional human situation was pretty normal, she cites well known names, as in part two, among others.
Another name for sexual maturity, is of course, adulthood, and puberty is the end of human socialization, I mean science knows, every year is less important, we are more malleable every year than we will be in the next one. If our teachability is less every year by almost any rate at all, there isn’t much left after an average of twelve or thirteen years. Sure, it can be a lifetime of learning, but you are working and learning some grownup thing, while the kids are still outside teaching each other society.
I think maybe learning doesn’t slow to a trickle after puberty but significantly, perhaps instead teaching ends after puberty, when we age out and leave the children’s group, and then again, when the babies age out of the nest and into the group outside as the cycle rolls on.
To whatever degree any of that is true, human life, human culture is decided and propagated in childhood, and this is important, it seems to me – so it’s pre-pubescent, human society is sexually immature. Freud is wrong that it’s all about sex and whole branches of biology are missing it that it’s all about reproduction, that the violence serves the reproduction of our genes, no, this is not the order of causality, our entire life is written out before sex enters into the conversation. It’s the other thing, like the EP boys say, sort of, except it’s bloody horrible and not at all the way things ought to be – it’s the fighting.
Things that perhaps blur the lines between the unconscious and simply lying or playing silly bugger (a Britishism for feigning stupidity and/or ignorance).
Returning to teaching, Sapolsky said on video that he and his peers are a competitive, alpha wannabe bunch and he talked about the stress of it, and if academia is a tournament of the most aggressive and loudest and scariest, then most jobs and professions are. My thesis here is that the strength tournament of boyhood stays in place for life in all matters – not an endorsement. I confess, if I read someone else saying that, I would assume it was indeed written with weird, violent glee and approval. I feel I must always clarify, I’m saying this is what is wrong, this is what is wrong with the “way it is,” this is what I would change, this is an argument to human life, not just an explanation I’m making – and if this is the case in the place where we think the brainiest little dweebs ought to rule, if that is the dynamic in the place we set aside for rational thought and the development of real knowledge, and if we don’t set it aside for that, then we don’t set it aside for nuthin’, and I mean sex and reproduction and all that too, Freud. The selfish gene.
Sorry to say, humans are historically aware enough of the selfish gene to have invented their solution for it, genocide. If Richard is suggesting humans don’t get human groups, then who has been fighting? Why does every ten year-old with a television know the phrase “you and your whole family?” A bit of a pet peeve of mine, this was some sort of revolution, the science that echoes the world we all see every day anyway? Violence wins again, if there was a fix for violence we wouldn’t be ruled by some version of the bloody Sopranos.
If we are more like an extrapolated bonobo, then maybe sex and breeding win, but we seem more like the other team. It remains to be shown that the bonobo love of loving requires a lot of violence to make it possible, which is what using the selfish gene to defend the patriarchy and a world of conflict is saying. You read all the popular science today, there is no way out, of course things are this way because of this and this and this, sorry about that, we had a good run, didn’t we?
Didn’t a few of us, I mean?
I mean, of course we’d rather talk about sex, there is maybe some point in talking about sex. Violence ends all conversations.
We do talk about sex, of course, bloody endlessly, and there are options, options aplenty – it’s the faux taboo, there is no taboo regarding talking about sex, I mean there are conflicts, we don’t tell everyone what our partners like and such, but even the most conservative societies talk about it enough to have a lot of rules, explicit rules and such. Ha – Dune is back, and honestly, a little bit of Dune stayed with me all these years, specifically, “a feint within a feint,” and maybe a third feint, and this is the context in which talking about sex is a taboo, like what the Hell is telling you you’ll go blind if not talking about sex? Sex is subject to a lot of control and rules, many rightly so, of course, many not, and that requires a lot of talk. Repressing sex is like not thinking of the word banana, you have to keep a filter for the proscribed thing in place twenty-four seven and whether sex is a free thing or not, it is on our minds in one way or another.
You know what we don’t debate all day, what doesn’t have a lot of options?
Fighting. Strength. And of course, the real thing is the thing you can’t even talk about. You hear it everywhere, all day long, I mean far more than you hear exhortations to be heterosexual, or to follow a particular church, or racial prejudices, be strong! Strong for cancer, strong for random massacres, strong to withstand random road crashes that take a whole community’s children.
There are those, many, who see all the strength as patriarchy, strength is the male principle, and sure, there is some of that, but as far as I can tell we are as obsessed with strong women as men, and even strong children, weakness is . . . wow, I’m always hedging, but I think I’m going to say ‘never’ this time, weakness is never encouraged. I mean, they might break you, but we talk about the broken only in terms of strength too. Nobody wants to tell a victim, or hear from one, that they’re weaker now.
Broken and alive we call strong.
They are even talking about the plague that way, ‘survivors’ not sufferers, I mean, ‘they,’ in this case doesn’t necessarily indicate the actual opinions of actual people, but this is all part of it, the propaganda is only a stretch from the dark side of normal, and fascism is only a stretch from the normal primate hierarchy of ‘peacetime.’
Social, all of it, conflict, territory, hierarchy, violence, normally my point is, social and not rational, but today the point is social – not sexual. Again, the Freudian and biology order of operations that puts replication ahead of all as the explanation fails to explain why this could only be the case for a single species among so many – and the standard answer, that we are more complex, social evolution . . . well, everything else is also incredibly complex, isn’t it, like perhaps we didn’t think when we made that argument a hundred years ago.
I suspect the difference with us – and there is one, we have broken the bonds of nature in ways to destroy it all, a thing other creatures have apparently never done, escaped correction and deselection, at least until now – is not based in genes and breeding which is not unique to us, but in the opposite, in the violence, in the advent of our breeding-defeating in-species violence.
But it’s much more fun to talk about sex, or, alternatively, if you can see the violence, to love the horror, like these young monsters of the New Nightmare, and to rave about glory and such garbage. Violent solutions, sure.
But what you are not allowed to do is see it clearly, for what it is.
Here’s me first getting the idea of the human workaround, our system to have more abuse than we might want to give our own children. It starts a bit slow, but since I’m thinking out loud maybe it’s clearer, you can see the steps I often fail to show.
But it’s here below, in short form. Don’t torture yourself.
Variations on the theme . . . not mandatory:
This has the idea in it and an example of ‘workarounds for Nature.’ I’m embarrassed, there’s some stupid petulance in here about a great person, and I’m an idiot. It has more of the foolishness than the good stuff, but the good stuff, unfortunately seems important.
The idea is, folks want to be nice to their kids, but our lifestyle seems to require humans that have learned a lot of hard lessons – so we have institutions, professional teachers and childminders to deliver them. Unrelated adults are utilized for this, allowing many parents to live in line with relatedness theory, bringing a prosocial mix to their children and their childrearing, while still insuring that most people are tempered for the rough purposes of the group. I mean, it’s what the children’s group does too, and it too is many times larger today in many places than in the deep past and full of entirely unrelated kids.
You know, that needs a name.
I have already coined the antisocialization theory of war, this isn’t quite on the same order, let’s see, it’s a workaround to defeat a natural, evolved trait, specifically social theory, so it’s an ‘anti’ again, like antigravity, antidepressants, and surely not antisocial, so it’s anti-relatedness? The antisocialization theory of surrogacy?
Maybe, I don’t hate it immediately. OMG, why do I love these moments, this is my problem, that I love to say the opposite of what everyone wants to hear –
It takes a village – to brutalize a child, when social theory says the parents alone might not have the stomach for it.
– this view of life – mine, not Darwin’s, though his includes mine if anyone knew it – this view of life turns everything upside-down. But put those two things together, this is what you get, all the common wisdom that is supposed to keep us peaceful is all in place, and we are not peaceful, it’s all like this, and means the opposite of what we think it does. Was ‘it takes a village’ supposed to mean it takes that many to control a child? That many to teach empathy? I’m afraid the sad, dark outlook of AST is what explains it, it takes those more unrelated people to abuse, to grow a useful, ‘mature’ human – oops, that’s leaking into part four, that ‘maturity’ for us is a matter of our antisocialization and not really a breeding thing at all.
I say it often, I need to, it’s not happy – but at least things make some sense from here.
I think maybe we’ll go with that accidental segue, the links are long, this was intended as a cliff notes version.