Still having problems finding a way into AST for folks, this will be attempt number I don’t know any more, another series, I suppose. The plan is to keep them short and manageable, hope to make the point with a barrage from many angles. I’ll start with the definition for AST – here’s the first, it means Antisocialization Theory – and then how it alters the narrative of a number of topics.
AST redefines everything, but we’ll try to show how, specifically, for this list of ideas:
Oh, forgot some (and this will be a feature):
trauma and healing, psychology
Redefinitions – 2. Social Life
AST, a definition:
AST is the theory of our hurt, the human science of not deterrent and socialization, but of abuse, punitive and otherwise, and our antisocialization, which long word means exactly what it sounds like it means: to have been made antisocial. It is about the dark side of our social control, the stuff we supposedly don’t want to happen, beyond that the person maybe did what they were bloody well told.
The AST Theory of Conflict states that the failures and ostensibly unintended consequences of our rough control are deeply and vastly consequential in human life, and its author can get very expansive, imagining it to be the post powerful and destructive force driving us.
The central idea is that structures and ways of being within the human social group – laws and punishments, ordeals, etc., – add up to pain and trauma for the individual, while laws prohibit simple reactive violence and simple revenge, and so the individual is “charged” with bad feelings, antisocialized and looking for a fight they are allowed to have. The group’s leadership – administrators of the law – can then exploit this reservoir of anger, point it at someone and allow the citizens the “freedom,” not an accident and not irony, we are always seeing this, to deflect and unload their frustrations.
AST asks you to note, that our own people frustrate us, and exploit our frustrations at will in this system, using us to abuse some Other, some human group in a war or a pogrom, or an apartheid. That is what I call the AST theory of Conflict, weaponized by our own, to be discharged in some group conflict.
Hmm. Not sure if that will be the one I use every time, but I like it for our first few entries:
On the one hand, I am a contrarian and everything rings wrong to me, and no-one will say the thing I try to debunk, things unsaid are more difficult to disprove. In this light, knowing it’s weak at this stage of our lessons, I say: we think “social,” means the positive thing, perhaps “prosocial.” It’s the generic word, it encompasses all things, prosocial things, antisocial things, and neutral things, I suppose, asocial stuff, but you might not pick that up in casual conversation.
Antisocial is a problem, prosocial is rarely spoken, we use “social,” for that, social, in it’s street level, social sort of use and meaning, means positive interaction, our social world is our community, friends and family, like that. Being social is interchangeable with being sociable, generally. Again, it is always my sense, my interpretation of a social meme that I am forever trying to critique, and I lose everyone right there, I think, no-one will take the responsibility for a conflation like this, not enough to defend it, and certainly no-one can promise to change such a vague thing.
Will you allow it, may I continue, making my case against “we think “social” is all good?”
LOL – it’s the court of the internet, silence indicates assent and I’m not listening, Princess Bride meme.
But there’s the dark side to being social, we are prosocial to our friends and antisocial to enemies and probably strangers. To “be social” is to draw the line and arrange people on one side of it or the other. It is to choose, to . . . loaded word, discriminate, meant literally and technically, generically, not the specific meaning today in our current conversations about racism and hate. The sorting function. I mean, it’s the thing, the same thing, the very thing, and if we could stop it all, we’d stop that too.
There is another conflation, a smaller one I need to mention, about the term, “social creature,” and variants. I think when we talk about the wildebeest or a herd animal, it means the positive thing, “social creature” for herds seems to mean they all get along, except you know, for the rut and whatnot. For us, it’s all of it, we are more properly a “group social” creature, perhaps, get along with some, in conflict with others. For the group social animal, “social,” means all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Cool?
We are having trouble separating things, our social life is structured with the group problems, structured around the situation, the conflict, and our lifestyle now requires the out-group, the enemy, and our best prosocial morality is predicated on an evil, antisocial Other. The movie trope is true: lacking a real enemy, like after Cyrus’ foes were all assimilated, not sure he did this, but we do – we create them, out of thin air. Every moral lesson needs a bad guy.
In this sense, it is AST’s position that our rough controls, the rules (threats) and punishments make us more antisocial, better adapted for a life of conflict. AST is ironic, or rather life without it is, in that the deterrents we apply to make us “good,” are weak, virtual things, while the threat and abuse of actual punishments make us “bad,” all day long, antisocial. I think the social consensus no-one has to defend is that yes, this is what we do, to be strong, to defend from other nations, yes, this means life and that is our foundation for our morality.
I get it.
But they tell the same story. Yours is a one-group morality and has zero control on war. Causes them all, in point of fact. Look how in its extreme versions, it shows up as a death cult instead.
There’s a genetic component, environmental control of genes that help in the event of an abusive environment, so called fighting genes or something similar. AST’s position is that we have hacked these genes, providing the environment to control the genetic choice – through discipline, through the ritualized abuse we call spanking.
This looks like a positive feedback loop to me, select a gene, activate it, select it again . . . which I worry is also the AST Theory of Conflict, that this feedback loop goes to thermal runaway in the world every ninety years or so. Ouch. Sorry.
April 29th., 2022