The Eternal Debate

Ah, the age-old question, on the one hand so tired and over, but on the other hand, still so much fun! It’s been asked for at least centuries now, and the language changes, the context changes, but since at least as far back as that Rousseau fellow, we’ve been asking some version of this:

How much of what we are is because of our hardware, that we are born to be this way – and how much of it is created through physical and social abuse?

Flat-out, unsupportable abuse aside, how much of it is what we were going to be regardless, and how much of who we are is because if we’re not, some human, from our loving mother on up the line all the way to world leader (but mostly the kids at school) will make our lives a living Hell if we’re not? How much of our personalities are innate and how much are adaptations we make so as not to have the crap kicked out of us by our friends and family? And how much of who we are is because of the times we didn’t avoid it? Does a beating not change you if you agree with it or something? Does it not if you don’t?

Wasn’t the whole point of the beating to change you?

Where are you on the Nature VS Abuse question?

I assume the Nature people will stick to their Nature sticks and stones; I assume also that the Nurture people will stick to their Nurture carrots. You’d think they’d never heard the question before, and I suppose that is somehow possible, and not exactly what you’d call plausible deniability, but some version of it. Maybe we should leave them to think about it for a few minutes.

Then where will you stand? Do you face the abuse, or submit to it?

I want to send this question to all the ivory towers, the evo-psychologists and the old time, blank slate psychologists as well, like how Mohammed sent his challenge to the world leaders, “Will you submit to the will of God?” They all said no, no, no, but submit they did over the centuries, and mostly all in the first or second one. History tells us that was more of a rhetorical question, a formality.

Islam had swords, though, while all I will use is the pen.

I know enough to understand the odds. I know where humanity has stood on this ancient question so far, and our position to date has been we couldn’t even ask the question.

 

Jeff

Feb. 19th., 2019

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About the Abusive Ape Theory

That is not going to be the final name for this idea – but maybe. It does put me ahead of the Aquatic Ape Theory in the dictionary of good ideas that got ignored, so there’s that. The one I really like is Murphy’s Law of Nature, but I’m saving the filename and the title for when I finally get it down in a form that works for anybody. I still like Antisocialization Theory, too – I swear to you, this idea works in all jargons and disciplines, but the Abusive Ape Theory might be the label that most hints at the idea within.

Quite a few of the primates abuse each other, of course. I heard Sapolsky say he would never choose baboons for friends, that they are total jerks, and chimpanzees show the same sort of hierarchical structures with structured lines of abuse to match. Other social predators seem to do this, lions and hyenas and wolves – these self-abusing species are a fearsome list indeed! It may be too soon to suggest it about dolphins and crows perhaps, but there are hints that these creatures may have a dark side for one another too. I can’t speak to social insects, or fish, but folks are studying them, perhaps we will see. I think it’s safe to say that the species who treat one another with violence are not otherwise or generally docile, with the possible exception of the Tasmanian devil, which apparently when plucked from the melee for tagging and health checks by researchers are calm and easily handled. There’s always one, isn’t there? Well, scavengers, not predators, maybe, the devils, but there are probably some social hunters that break my rule.

I don’t care. Rules are rules, the fact that it is possible to break them doesn’t invalidate rules generally, despite what the NRA trolls would have us think. The rule: nasty, dangerous, aggressive social creatures are nasty, dangerous, and aggressive to each other, too.

It would appear the two go together in social animals, predation and abuse. Certainly they both employ the same skillsets and share many of the same rules, and fighting is fighting – and this is where the Abusive Ape Theory would like to direct your attention: abuse is not “prosocial behaviour practiced on in-group members” as opposed to the antisocial behaviours we use on the out-group. Abuse is antisocial behaviours practised on the in-group. Saying, “well, at least you’re not dead,” while it does make the experience of abuse sound relatively benign from some scientific distance, calling a beating “prosocial” is not explanatory. These are antisocial forces at play here.

This is an argument against any who still hold with ideas about group dynamics, that we treat the out-group and strangers badly and treat the in-group well – that is going too far. It may sound like opposites, but this is only a fixed disparity and not an inverse proportion. We treat the in-group badly and the out-group very badly – that is the truth of the function, and those two boats rise and fall together on the same tides. The harder things are at the border, the harder things are at home, and vice versa. This because as all of us good scientists know, this is not Psychology Today after all, there is no nurture; this because as we all know but somehow cannot process, there is abuse.

I expect this line of talk finds some resonance among the psychology-minded people – but I am coming to believe that the evolutionary scientists are blind to it. Punishment is a conscious selective pressure we apply to reach our conscious goals, they say, it wouldn’t be pressure if it didn’t hurt – but I don’t hear any more about the hurt, same as when talking to a parent about spanking. They only care when the hurt is avoided, when the deterrent works and the behaviour is modified – they can’t seem to care about the hurt. This is technology, applied science: the by-products do not interest them.

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

It is exactly this non-caring that abuse has been proven repeatedly to produce, basically the most replicable finding in social science – blind to it, completely. I swear, I have asked a few real luminaries, famous science authors, what about the pain, the trauma, and they appear to not understand the question and direct me to read their explanations about modifying behaviour, like any hockey mom. We shouldn’t be allowed to do anything in the world until we’ve had our psychotherapy, and maybe especially we shouldn’t be allowed to direct humanity’s accumulation of knowledge, either as a parent, pundit, or world-changing scientist.

Really, we can bring this conversation right home, right back to the farm where we grew up or the one on television where we think we did, it’s a straight up, old time cliché gender role thing: Mom says you need to learn something, but when Dad is giving it to you in the woodshed, he confides that everything may not be not right about that, but that this will toughen you up.

From what I have been able to glean, biologists are on the Mom side of this ideological rift, behaviour regulation and ignoring the collateral damage, and I am your Dad, telling you the awful truth.

I won’t hit you, though!

Just because it’s the truth doesn’t mean I endorse it. Awful truths need to be changed or destroyed. As I told you all a few weeks ago, you are tough enough, by an order of magnitude. I don’t want to be thickening your calluses or pissing you off any further.

There is an irony, sort of, or it would be if that isn’t just exactly how these things work, that Mom is about the world of surfaces and things, conscious behaviours in this conversation, while Dad is about the psychology, the nurturing, the changing of personalities, whereas in an adult secular conversation we associate nurturing and psychology more with the ladies’ side of life and men with things, money, cars and footballs.

This, I guess, because among the uninitiated, there is nurture, so everything is backwards.

The Abusive Ape Theory is about your Dad’s truth, and it will take up between a quarter and a half of every pie chart showing our knowledge about ourselves, when we get one right, because, one more time, as I said a year ago in one of my favourites,

Abuse is in our DNA.

Maybe that’s the label I’m looking for.

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

That old fave: https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/07/03/biology-buries-the-lead/

I know. I spelled it right in the text, LOL

People of Earth, Part 3, Liberals

So human society is warrior society, and you know it’s true because a toxic masculinity pervades everything and pretty much everyone worships some “strength” that is supposed to save us all from some vague harsh, unsentimental Nature which is really just more of us, because humans are the environment humans need to adapt to in order to survive. Conservatism is the political tendency to make your peace with that situation, the idea that struggle is life.

Capitalism, as stated by Adam Smith, is intended to go with the flow and harness man’s “natural greed” as a force to build and organize society; I am not inventing anything here. The two things, capitalism and conservatism are nearly interchangeable, at least where if you’re facing north, the Pacific Ocean is to your left and the Atlantic to your right. Much of my opining probably needs that caveat, but capitalism was coined and reinforced to be sort of automatic, to work for the way people are, by default, to add a modern term.

This is not an endorsement. I have written extensively about what people are by default, and this is not it.

I am not a conservative, and for the life of me I cannot understand why anything about harsh, unrelenting old Nature requires endorsement from anybody. Wait – I mean I cannot relate to it. The whole point of this series is that I can indeed understand it, and I hope to help others understand it too. My somewhat unique point of view has attributes of a good theory, in that it brings things previously not understood into our body of understanding.

Warrior society, and antisocialization, these concepts explain much.

This bias towards strength in all its forms, this attribute of humans, that we seem to feel we can never be tough enough, this bias must be why the IDW and the Four Horsemen and all the sixteen to twenty-five-year-old biology Tweetsters when they learn enough, when they glimpse something about the warrior society, they all seem to love the horror. It’s all about a fight? Then we must be stronger!

Even Buddhism does it, ‘if you are a soldier, be the best soldier you can be.’

I said I’m not a conservative; I am a liberal.

So, no.

We’ve tried stronger, we tried it all the way to destroying all life on this planet level “stronger,” and sure, you can argue things have gotten better in ways, as Pinker argues, but we all know the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ah! Good segues are so rare for me, I usually just bounce around, as Steven King said, like a drop of water on a hot griddle – I had a feeling about Pinker’s It’s Getting Better All the Time thesis, and it is one with today’s talk about us liberals.

There has surely been some progress over the last several centuries in the long run, I don’t purport to argue with his statistics. All I worry about regarding his book and the whole idea of progress generally is that any success we have had is always in jeopardy, because we don’t seem to know what causes it. I think he said “humanism,” or something to that effect, right? I’ll agree that far, but I think this humanism is a slippery thing, we haven’t really got a grip on it.

I want to define “liberal” as I did “conservative” yesterday, along a vector of the warrior society and this strength meme. I think folks may try to be “liberal,” but without a clear definition, we have too many versions. Liberal has to mean something like ecumenical – international. It has to exist in opposition to the war – even us libtards understand that one side of a war can’t just quit, so being anti-war is being international – because it is all things illiberal that feed the fight, and when we give that up, we have lost it all. Meaning, if you’re in a fight, you are all in and all kindnesses are suspended.

America is a global empire – so no-one gets coddled, not so much as healthcare. Canada, apparently in step with American interests more than ever, is on the precipice of both evil, capitalist foreign intervention in Venezuela – and, not coincidentally, of losing its healthcare to fascist trends.

Liberals have to stop being strong, because when we worship strength, all of our arguments work for the other guys, because strength is always their stance – in its worst forms. When the people are responding to the hawks’ memes of strength, a liberal should not be joining in, trying to also sound strong.

When the conservatives call us weak, we have to say, “yes, that is what is required, and that is what I am selling. Peace, care of the sick and elderly, all of that weak stuff that compromises the war machine, that is my platform, absolutely. No, I do not “love this country” exclusively, in the sense that I must hate all others; we exist in a larger world.” Peace is weak; peace through strength is the endless cycle of war and détente. You can’t have both, and as long as even liberals have to be “strong,” there can be neither peace nor liberalism. During the supposed Cold War, we were all minutes from either death or from wishing for it.

In warrior society, where everyone must love strength, all you have is hawks and “centrists,” fighters and onlookers.

Liberals need to resist the urge to conform, meaning, in concrete terms, we need to stop supporting the troops. They fooled us there; you can’t be “anti-war” if anyone can make you say, “but I support the warriors.” No, I do not “support the troops” – I don’t know if you noticed, but I looked into it – the troops are the ones doing the warring! What’s the point of protesting “the war” if you’re going to be OK with the “war” part of it?

So, no.

What is missing from the public conversation is what I said before, the conscious idea of the warrior society, and the awareness, missing in us liberals, of our antisocialization. I see the upshot of it has made it out there, among the Left, there is a consciousness that peace at the borders does not come when violence rules at home, but liberals, the blind majority of non-conservatives, are stuck. They want to offer healthcare alongside the “security” offered by strength, by the never-ending defensive war, and they don’t understand that the fear of death and illness are simply more bad things that make us want to be stronger and so reinforce the warrior society. They don’t understand that there is a conflict and that those invested in the endless war are invested in an antisocialized population and do not work to make anyone happy or more comfortable, like by keeping them safe from illness.

It’s really pathetic to see the good, blind folks on Twitter all day long asking, “Don’t they know that hurts people?”

They do. And they know that hurting people makes us “strong,” so it’s all they are interested in. You know who doesn’t know, who keeps asking dumb questions? You. So I’ll ask you: don’t you know? Don’t you know they are hurting people? I mean don’t you know, after forever, that it’s not an accident? You know, a sort of irony in all this is the bad guys sort of know it, like I said yesterday, conservatism is aligned with the warrior society, and the generals know that the abuse of boot camp and life at war only makes us fight harder, that truly, as Larsen said, shake the jar and we will fight. So again.

You know who doesn’t know it, you know which fools keep it all rolling because they really do seem to believe in some good “strength,” though? The nice guys, the liberals, the ladies.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 6th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/04/people-of-earth-part-2-conservatism/

People of Earth, Part 2 – Conservatism

Well, you haven’t exactly been quiet, but you haven’t been @ing me about it, so I’ll take it. If you recall last week’s episode, we were talking about what a tough, stubborn, psychotic hammerhead you are and that if you’re not, it’s all you dream of being anyway, like that’s everybody’s answer for everything and not the whole bloody problem. So this week we’re going to back up one step and go over your stupid head to the whole warrior society.

The fact that you all think this stuff, worship this toughness, that means this is what you are allowed to think, this is what everyone is allowed to think, and in fact it’s assumed: you don’t actually have to articulate it to yourselves, and that is a test for a core belief. With this unarticulated but assumed at your cores, all you have to do to access this meme, to leverage it, is nothing. Passive voice, vague insinuations will lead you to what you believe in your sick heart, and harmless rhetoric turns wordlessly to violence, to the fight. What can you do in the face of a world of threats, known and unknown, but hope to be stronger?

Warrior society is human society, because if one human group goes warrior, the rest go warrior or they’re gone. Many, many peoples are gone, and many not just yet, so qualify it thus if you must: viable human societies are warrior societies.

That is the same idea in different words: if you wish to be a viable human group, in this bunch of groups, you worship toughness and there are no late starters. This is a hard truth for the hawks and the Nazis of the world, the players in the game of theory, or theory of games – but it was only a hard truth in our aboriginal state of much smaller groups, wasn’t it? This is a group-level truth and it represents our limitations, the place where ideas of universality go to die. The warmongers who would convince us of this level of truth are simply making a living off of their insight and stalling human progress towards the global problem solving we need to be doing.

To make it political, I believe this arrangement is what conservatives are defined by conserving; the progressives will say it’s their own power and the conservatives will say it’s institutions and so civilization, but I believe the word is fluid and really references this unconscious or unstated reality of the warrior society. That this is the definition explains why there are two ways for a thing to be, conservative or radical and little room between the two, because fighting is something you either do or don’t do. You warrior or you don’t – and you do, so mostly conservatives rule, with or without free elections. When a socialist or an actual liberal politico says the ultimately vague “do something,” their supporters can insert all manner of compassionate programs – but it’s vague so as to also access what the conservatives mean when they say it.

When a conservative says, “do something,” though, you know you’re in warrior society. You know they are talking about hurting someone. Generally, this is what is meant by “rhetoric,” someone subtly and unindictably leading you to your own warrior instincts. Isn’t it about time someone did something about it?

How would you like it, Trump starts saying somebody needs to do something about you?

I keep bringing myself back to this, through some sort of grammatical algebra, I feel I’ve shown that every verb is a battle and every noun is an enemy: my opponent is never going to do anything! That’s enough, right? You get the picture, or at least the feeling?

So conservative is default, sort of, humans stuck in the very middle of time, fighting their eternal wars, nurturing their eternal genocidal dreams, as God made it, world without end . . . and as such it is self proving and perpetuating, and the fact that so many just  feel it in their bones is exactly the same as so many young men feeling it in their bones to join the army or the police or the skinheads and fight for something. I’m telling you, I know it feels right. I’m saying the fact that it feels right is so wrong, a terrible wrong foisted on all of us and you not least. Please, sixteen to twenty-five is a very volatile time, try to ride it out. Your feelings, those feelings are bad news, “natural” or not. So, conservatism is closer to the human default, the warrior society – humanity 1.0, the basic, proprietary package that comes with your hardware, with rudimentary, bare-bones versions of all the good apps. If it feels right, well, it sort of is what you were made for.

This way of looking at life explains why conservatives seem to be stingy regarding education for the masses, since their platform mirrors the human default mode of operation.

For the rest of us, those who maybe aren’t winning in warrior society, or those who are but remain unsatisfied, that’s just not good enough. We have seen some glimpse, somehow had the insight that things can and must be improved. Some of us would like a rest and to try not doing anything for a change, see what that’s like.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 4th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/06/people-of-earth-part-3-liberals/

AST and Me, an Introduction

I have no education, high school and reading. My family was very into popular psychology and self-help stuff, Alice Miller was all the rage in the years before I had my kids, childhood abuse stuff. We had plenty of abuse ourselves, sexual stuff.

The psychology wasn’t enough for me, I felt like things were simpler or maybe just worse than that mindset seemed to think. I saw no clear line between “punishment” and “abuse” is the main thing; I had an insight, that if they look the same, maybe they are the same, despite that the person doing it said they were completely distinct. Don’t they all, right?

I went into marriage and child-rearing with just that simple view and determined I would not punish or discipline and therefore would not be revisiting my abuse on anyone. It looked very good, for a very long time, it really did seem that things were backwards from the way people talk, that whooping your kids causes the bad behaviour and not the other way around. It was exhausting having toddlers and never taking the short cut of hurting or scaring them, but things only got easier after that and we had no behaviour issues at all. Life looked idyllic.

(Things went bad for me when they were grown, but I think that is a personal psychodrama, stuff aside from discipline or the lack of it.)

When my youngest of the two daughters was seventeen, I read a few Pinker books, the Nurture Assumption, and the Sapolsky book, the Zebra one, basically discovered biology, and it blew my mind, as it can do, as it famously did to Trivers, I like to think. I also like to think, ‘like Einstein,’ I had two streams of info that needed to be reconciled, ‘Blank Slate’ psychology and biology, nurture and nature.

I had spent years defending my ultimately coddling child-rearing and was amazed at how my ideas weren’t getting through to the people around me and the parents online, amazed at how what looked identical to me – discipline and abuse – couldn’t apparently be seen by most people, at all. I argued, don’t do that, because it damages them . . . and at some point, it struck me.

The damage is the point.

What we call crimes and misbehaviours are basically just war behaviours, and all the “negative outcomes” associated with “abuse” would be positives in a war situation. Violence, mostly. You want that in your soldiers. (I don’t want that. Those books were mostly ones that the alt-Right love. I am not with them.)

From a parenting POV, from psychology, all the negative outcomes of abuse are accidents or something, people “losing control,” “going too far,” while the good outcomes are supposed to be from conscious, controlled discipline. Well, the kids can’t always tell the difference, and my biology insight was, their genes and their hormones probably can’t either, and so biologically there is no difference.

So now I think the abuse, and the effects of abuse are the true function, and all the “discipline” talk is one of Trivers’ self deceptions.

We discipline our children, to damage and desensitize them, to make troopers of them. The “accidental” negative outcomes are our biologically evolved strategy to make ourselves tougher, in the arms race of our group conflict. At the extreme end, we abuse and torment to make amok men and berserkers, and at the invisible end, we beat our future accountants to make sure they vote for a “strong” leader.

The biology, of course is our responses to abuse, in real time, as well as some Lamarckian evolution, that we have alleles triggered by abuse – and we pull those triggers ourselves. We also select for them.

So this is my global, grandiose thing.

The damage IS the function, in fact Murphy’s law applies, right? Do something sweet for kids, they won’t grow up how you want, but abuse them, and you will see changes. “Nurture” as a real function, is damage. We can change people – but only in one direction. It’s only positive nurturing that no-one has been able to find.

I’m grandiose, I feel I’ve found nurture when no-one else has, and I feel that if this Murphy’s law of nature is true, then it sort of proves our “innate” selves to be good and kind and our nastiness to be an overlay we apply almost consciously. Or at least enhance almost consciously.

My detail arguments aren’t comprehensive, I know, I only have answers for stuff that was in the Nurture Assumption or such. It’s this overview I feel is something. I have tried to be honest, tried to account for everything I’m aware of in the world, and I think this idea fits into the world generally, I don’t think there are famous scientific principles I’m violating with it . . . on the other hand, such a sweeping thing becomes unprovable for all sorts of other reasons . . .

Where I’m stuck is of course, what to do with this knowledge? It’s rather large to change. Any family that stops it is maybe going to see their kids chewed up and spit out. I am worried about my own kids this way. All I can seem to hope for is to get it out there and hope the world recognizes it and slowly all starts to change.

If it were possible to do anything about it, I would think this idea – I’ve been calling it Antisocialization Theory – would be the first best idea humanity has had, since ideas about evil human nature took hold, at least. I wonder if this isn’t the Fall right here, that we discovered the magic power of abuse.

Jeff

Feb. 3rd., 2019

 

AST – The Part I Forgot to Tell You

 

The Nature VS Nurture debate is settled, or at least fragmented into many smaller, more sensible questions, and it’s pretty much all Nature, I do not wish to argue the point – but I wish to answer the untreated side of the question, the “wrong” side, the nurture assumption. Not just that, though, not only why we make some assumption about influence, but what is it that we do in our attempts to influence. Just because your attempts don’t “succeed,” don’t make your kid love the things you hope they will, doesn’t mean they don’t do something.

Is that implicit in the victory of Nature?

That our nurturing, if it doesn’t make number one son want to take over the store, then must do nothing at all?

That is where abusewithanexcuse.com and “Antisocialization Theory” come in – I don’t think I’m really arguing with anyone, I just think I’m working in this area here, this corner just past “the nurture assumption is wrong,” where everyone turns back. This is where I see that parents and children alike spend all day long trying to influence children and everyone else, by all sorts of means and methods and to suggest that “they’re wrong” to try, because the nurture assumption is wrong is something no-one ever said to any parent anyway, even if we talk about it on paper. I am saying what we do all day in the attempt matters and that is where the helpful science would be.

This is where the book by that name had left me: the nurture assumption isn’t true, people spend all day every day working away at an assumption that isn’t true . . . for nothing? Thousands of years, and no-one noticed, no exhausted parents noticed, all that work and it’s for nothing?

I accept the negative expression of it, with caveats: parents do not create the traits they say they are trying to create in their children. I do not accept that their trying all day simply does nothing and doesn’t require a positive explanation, what it does do, why we do in fact do it. This is the question I am answering, the question Antisocialization Theory answers. I didn’t know I was looking at one of the smaller, more sensible debates around Nature VS Nurture, I hadn’t heard terms like “directed evolution,” or “conscious evolution.” Those couple of alt-Right science bibles I read were still laughing at Lamarck – which, come to think of it, sounds very close to just laughing at evolution now, doesn’t it?

Both those expressions go too far. Directed by whom? Conscious – a whole species, this one? But it’s close. I think I am a sub-category of the Directed Evo crowd, maybe.

 

Jeff

Jan. 29th., 2019

“Codified”

It’s a self-deception, where we tell ourselves one thing while doing quite another, Boston Strangler style, or just a matter of the situation deconstructualism has described, that we only think things the mind can see, ideas that we have a line to, like sight, and many thoughts are out of reach behind something or over the horizon and never come into view – but it’s not as clear as it seems: our rules aren’t the point.

The point is simply that we have them. Not in the usual, conservative headmaster speech sort of a way; I’m agin’ them, but we have them and like it or not, that is a point, specifically, my point, today.

The Ten Commandments really weren’t the point. It wasn’t the rules that were codified that way, so much as the penalties, and more so, the idea of penalties. Doesn’t “codified” have an aspect of hiding the message, of code? Well, the rules themselves, they are not coded, they are explicit. What is coded, perhaps, is the rule behind the rule, that the rule is a reason to hurt someone. Punishment is assumed. We may debate the rules, change them from time to time, explicit modifications of discrete  wordings.

“What should the rule be?” is open for debate sometimes.

“What should the penalty be?” is also a debatable, adjustable thing, a topic for talk.

But these questions require specific, concrete answers, and one answer, “nothing,” seems to be behind something or over the horizon. It’s a rule, that we have rules and penalties. That’s what you codify, the rules that are not up for debate or modification.

So it’s a rule that penalties are levied, while the rules themselves are somewhat fluid . . . so no rule is “hard,” even “Thou shalt not kill,” is suspended when said killing is now a penalty and not an offence. But that penalties are levied, this is “hard,” this is unquestionable. Anybody feeling this? Feeling what is the constant in this equation? The punishment is unquestionable, no-one debates, “punishment, yes or no?” – this rule is unwritten and therefore un-editable. Almost no-one, anyways. It’s visible, if you look. I hope I just made you look – you see it now, right?

Unfortunately, if a couple of big, musky hominids like you and I can see it, there is probably more to it than that too. At this level it’s still the headmaster’s bastions of civilization speech, right, rules sort of are civilization? The very best sort of lie is a “hidden truth,” by way of some Tom Sawyer-style duplicitousness, and the only essential part of this rule is that somebody gets hurt. I’m sure there is another layer to this onion, but this layer is novel to us. Let’s stop and have a look around, we don’t even know where the next layer after this is yet. We need to spend some time, get oriented and acclimatized to a world where everything they told us we do to control our animal selves controls our animal selves in exactly the wrong direction.

Rules, those are written down explicitly, and litigated endlessly.

Abuse is what has been encoded in our sacred texts and our lives, and what we are thus unable to litigate. Hmmm. In lieu of an actual objective, maybe short and sweet is the best thing I can add at this point.

Cheers,

 

 

Jeff,

Jan. 19th., 2019

People of Earth

We have to talk.

OK, I have to talk. You have to shut up, I heard you already.

Your friends don’t tell you to shut up, your friends support you, look after you, try to keep you feeling good about yourself. That is not me, I’m not like that. I’m not worried about your feelings. You can trust me to tell you the truth; I hate you. Now shut up and listen.

You’re tough enough.

You’re way too tough, you are ‘step across this line and I will destroy all life on this planet’ tough. You’re a mutant psychopath that hates the world of life that spawned it. You are Rand’s sick hero, destroying everything just to prove you don’t give a fuck, no-one can hurt you. When it’s all gone, perhaps someone will remain to admire what a tough, fearless motherfucker you were, but probably not. Maybe sometime long after, some alien archaeologist is going to remove his Tilley hat in respect and whisper, “these tough bastards didn’t back down, did they?” – but probably not.

You are tough enough, but in typical fashion, it’s never enough for you. Getting tougher is all you care about, toughness is the goal, if you can ever be tough enough, then you’ll be safe from all these other tough bastards – but you’re not one of them. For you, this is defense. You are a super tough moron, is the thing – but I’m not some elitist IQ fetishist, we’re going to try not to focus on your stupidity today, I think the two things are in direct proportion and if we can affect your obsession with strength and toughness, the other thing will improve too.

Just stop it already, the violence and the . . . worship of it.

If you’re not engaged in literal war, then it’s “sports,” which is not “metaphorical” war as we pretend, but actual war training, and the skillset is always toughness. Why the Hell would every schoolboy have to acquire football skills when they are mostly staying home working on the farm or spending their life in an office? Just in case something goes terribly wrong in world politics and a giant international football game breaks out, I suppose?

Every few years, some luminary makes a beautiful speech about peace, but all day every day, your son needs to be more aggressive about taking that quarterback the fuck out. All day long, kids nowadays don’t have it tough enough.

It’s the only game in town, I get that, I do. Your kid needs to be tough or he’ll be eaten alive, I know, I was one of you once.

You are the motherfuckers setting it up, and you don’t get that.

I know, we have to be tough because of the enemy, the Islamists, the Russians. I’m talking to all of them. You Islamist warriors, you Russian strategists, you Canadian hockey moms, I’m talking to you all. You are all tough enough, cut it out already. We all have to lay down our weapons at the same time, that’s how peace works, the rare, special times that it does.

Stop with the endless “strength” rhetoric, please. It’s like listening to Charlie Sheen wax on about the joys of cocaine and prostitution. You have a problem. A see it from space, life consuming and destroying problem, and it is the very “strength” and toughness that is the only solution you ever tried and the only thing you care about that is the problem.

We’ve quite given up, in case you thought anyone was working for world peace, no, that isn’t what’s happening. I mean some are, many wonderful organizations, but basically governments have settled into endless war. Man is aggressive, it is a good life if you don’t weaken, and there will always be someone starting trouble – war is an organizing principle for society . . . they hope to control it, they hope it doesn’t go to the nuclear winter, but basically, war is a part of human life. No serious person thinks that is going to change, I don’t think. I think we’re pretty sure détente is as good as it gets.

And for that, you have to be tough and ready, so in what should seem ironic to us but somehow does not, the only peace we are able to realistically imagine requires that we all can never be tough enough.

I’m not asking people to lay down their arms before an enemy that won’t reciprocate. I’m only asking that we continue the conversation, that just because there is always some swine who’s “heard enough talk” and starts shooting doesn’t mean that some of us can’t keep talking, try to work through to the next bit of logic: OK, so it’s not possible to disarm ourselves one at a time, then how is gradually disarming us all simultaneously going to work?

My first answer is, toughness needs to be taken off its stupid, brutal pedestal and seen for the necessary evil that it has always been. I mean, you look like such a moron, fawning over the type of hammerhead whose great skill is the ability to cut you down with a stroke of his sword. That sort of strength should be admired from a safe distance, like how we admire it in a bear or a lion, it shouldn’t be brought into our homes and nurtured.

 

Jeff,

Jan. 14th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/04/people-of-earth-part-2-conservatism/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/06/people-of-earth-part-3-liberals/

Psychology as Abuse, Part #3 – Some Sort of Progress

. . . in my personal antisocialization, I mean.

I think I finally got some bit of therapy, finally heard something, and funny story, it wasn’t my therapy, in fact it was historical therapy, or maybe even historical fictional therapy. It was the film, Jimmy P: Psychoanalysis of a Plains Indian, and what I think was supposed to be a turning point for Jimmy, when the therapist tells him, excitedly, “You can’t fight with women!” – I think that may be my problem too.

Don’t anybody tell the ladies on Twitter, OK?

Needing to fight more with women, that is not going to play well over there. But I’m the sort that lets them kill me instead, and I’m sure they’re not going to love me for making killers of them either, are they? Like I have sort of let my ex take so much of my life away, and I let her use my daughters to do it? Surely, I have failed in my responsibilities as a father to see such a thing happen on my watch. I mean, I begged for fair treatment, but that doesn’t work with the Americans and doesn’t seem to work with anyone. It’s a good life if you don’t weaken and I dropped the ball for everyone by weakening, I get it. I sort of get it. I get it, but I disagree.

I tried to live as a pacifist, I did live that way, but pacifists learn quickly, people do not automatically reciprocate for that. You’re supposed to be a strong pacifist, peace is supposed to start with no-one being allowed to abuse us ourselves first. You hear this? Abased, pathetic game theory? You all remember from five seconds ago, I’m talking about my loved ones, the ladies who had been my wife and daughters? It’s a good life if you don’t weaken with them too?

Twisters, sisters of Twitter, I am not advocating for aggression, I am talking about a choice and/or inability I have about rising to the level of self-defence.

I’m going through some medical stuff about hyperthyroidism, and had some bloodwork, part of which was looking at testosterone, and I was nervous. I mean, I know things aren’t so simple, if I needed testosterone, it wasn’t going to be Jekyll and Hyde, I wasn’t going to get super aggressive, but I worried about it. The endocrinologist offered therapy for it, but she also said that I’m in the normal range, the bottom third of the normal range she said, and I don’t know if she thinks that’s bad, I guess, because she’s talking injections, but it sounds OK to me. I’m still very sad and still gaslit to oblivion and not really seeing my way back to any real world yet and the last thing I want to do is start skin-popping testosterone. Good Lord. “Not that simple” isn’t quite the same as “not true,” is it?

I have fought back in life, I have gone on the offense, mostly inappropriate jokes, trying to be shocking and outside of the box, all largely unconscious until pretty recently. Anything I do consciously, anything I advocate for has all been feminism and pacifism, but I confess, I am an open wound, and I have been touchy and hurt and I do often feel under attack. The Not All Men urge is strong with this one, because I feel I have tried so hard, structured my life around it. When a feminist or just a female soldier in this war of the sexes gives me the dirty look or comment about what a pig I am or probably am, I have in the past tensed up terribly, felt awful, not known what to do, basically been reduced to some early childhood humiliation reaction . . . and pretty much always gotten over it and gone back for more, always and forever, me, begging to be seen as not that.

So let me tell you about last evening.

It’s about a friend and his lady, and when I quit Facebook just the other day, I gave them my Twitter handle and this blogsite, so I’ll forgo my usual love of the dysphemism and not try to bludgeon anyone with anything, but I know my Twisters will get it. Power was out here yesterday, all over, bit of a hurricane. I went out for dinner and got myself invited to my buddy’s place (with power) for the hockey game and went home to the dark afterwards. It was the first time I’d met his lady of maybe a year now.

I mentioned the proportional representation referendum we just had here in BC and that I was sad it hadn’t passed, and she responded that she had just put the package straight into the recycle bucket, that she didn’t care about that sort of stuff – and this is where I would tense up, normally. I had just told her I cared, I was sad, and her answer was, “I don’t.” At this point I’ll allow she’s talking about politics, not addressing me saying I care about it, just she doesn’t care about politics. Yes, we’re all white folks.

I normally would have started some internal conversation with myself and begun the process of tensing up, leading to sadness, but maybe I forgot myself, I had just met this person, but I just calmly said, “I mad at you, now.” Accidental outside voice, maybe.

She doubled down, of course. “I don’t care about that. It doesn’t matter, they’ll do whatever they’re gonna do.” So now I think she’s gone the next step, I’m sad, nothing, I’m mad, at her, personally, nothing, she doesn’t care about that – and still not meaning me and my thoughts and feelings generally, but maybe any feelings I have about this stupid politics business.

So I have opinions. I know maybe what to talk about and what not to talk about when I go there in the future, but I remained myself, remained calm, didn’t argue, either with her or with myself, and let it go. That’s a good sign, because that every woman on Earth could push my buttons with a word was not a tenable situation, strangers and everything. That was crazy. Me meeting a complacent white woman who doesn’t care about politics shouldn’t be a surprise or a shock, and it wasn’t yesterday, finally.

Meeting one who doesn’t care a damn about me and my ideas and feelings, that shouldn’t have been one all these years either, but it was, every damned time, I’m not sure what to say about that, what the hell it means yet, but . . . it was. It really was.

It really has been.

And yesterday she said to me, straight to my face after I had made a statement of my feelings, “I don’t care about that,” and for once, I don’t care about that, maybe the first time ever. What she cares about and doesn’t care about ain’t right, to my mind, but it’s her, it’s not me. And you know what, maybe it’s been all of them, all my life, and not me always the other times either. Back to psychology, maybe it’s not all women either, just the ones I find myself around, by choice or by inaction. Today, I feel I chose the ex because I couldn’t see she wasn’t ever able to love me, because of the women who raised me who never had a chance at giving or receiving real love – because of abusive men, of course.

We deserve this shit.

But I don’t. Not anymore.

LOL – first time ever, and straight to “not anymore!”

We’ll see if I can do it again, I’ll get back to you.

It felt good, I mean, it didn’t hurt like it usually does, but I never wanted to shut anyone out. I never wanted to hold anyone away like that, “I don’t care about that,” that being whatever another human being cares about, I never wanted to spend my life saying to myself about the people around me, “the hell with her, it doesn’t matter what she thinks,” that doesn’t sound like a life to me. This feels necessary but evil to me. It’s exactly what I talked about in Part One, that I am learning that other people are simply choices, that I made a blind, compulsive choice of a spouse because of not understanding my own childhood and life – and to make better choices in the future, I suppose, by learning to understand that life.

One small step on the road to recovery, on the one hand, I guess.

One step further away from childlike openness, I’m afraid. I’m sorry to report, I didn’t miss the pain and the turmoil with this little conflict, but this is exactly the process that ends up costing us joy, and even if I am enjoying the benefit of this sort of learning right now, it still confirms my Murphy’s Law view of things, that healing, that maturation is nothing but antisocialization, that this is a good life if you don’t weaken, if you don’t let them hurt you, if you don’t sweat the small stuff.

Meaning of course, other people.

I’m sensitive. I have always heard that trope like just exactly that, you tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff” and I will not get involved with you, you have just let it slip, no-one matters to you, and all I have for folks who say that is goodbye. I never had a problem setting that boundary when someone makes as clear a declaration as that. Psychology is subtler, I’m supposed to feel more, have more positive feeling for the people who are blindly or intentionally hurting me or everyone with their own lack of feeling – not “don’t feel,” just “feel along with these unfeeling people.”

I could have framed it positively, like a million other stories of personal discovery, which, well, there’s the joke already, “million” and “personal.” I’m finding my boundaries, my centre, like that, and if that is true, then I have a far better chance of retaining it, if I can rebuild the concept from reality when I forget. I try not to “memorize” anything. If it’s real, you’ll see it in the world and won’t have to carry it around yourself. I may not like it, being antisocialized, learning not to care, but if it’s the only way and the closest thing there is to the truth, then I trust I will settle on it. I have a sort of calm sea in a way, and if it’s true, it will float to the top whether I like it or not. So if it’s good, like the way most folks talk about this stuff, then I’ll be getting the benefit even if I disapprove of the whole stupid game, because I am still a player. My general prognosis will probably improve with this . . . this hardening, and I may need some of that to survive much longer.

Even if it’s a moral failure, which I also think.

It’s not right, to my mind, that it is me making this adjustment, not right that any adjustments be made in this direction, that anyone get tougher, that I get tougher, that I feel less, that I care less, that I learn not to talk about certain things. What would be right, would be changing the abusers of the world, getting them to feel more and care more, stopping the pain at the source. I’m not saying it’s doable, or practical, or that I have a way, but I absolutely am saying that for all those practical reasons we are doing it all completely backwards.

I mean, I understand, it’s only myself I have access to, we have the best chance for change with ourselves . . . but just because this is the part of the tree that you can reach doesn’t mean this is where the apples are! The logic of therapy is like a classic joke, like “I know his father is the psycho and he makes him wear the chicken suit and live in the yard and demands eggs of him, but one hour a week, we’re gonna work on helping him remember he’s a person. The poor, sick fellow thinks he’s a chicken! His father? Oh, he won’t come in, not interested.”

I know there are positive tales, and lots of positive press to match.

There is also this however, the victim-treating which has a portion of victim-blaming and victim-shaming – “So, what are you gonna do about it?” – which doesn’t get nearly enough press, by an order of magnitude. And so, it’s sort of natural, that the undiagnosed meanies run the world and the sad victims are the sick ones that require treatment, it’s easy to see, viewed this way, that the treatment is to convert the sad victims into happy meanies. I mean, it’s the undiagnosed, active participants in the world choosing what needs to be done, not the folks suffering the downside of it all, sitting medicated at home or in hospitals, after all. We gotta get you up and moving – and fighting and soldiering and selling and hustling – that’s the cure, apparently. To be clear, that’s all pretty aggressive and it isn’t saving the world.

But that’s what’s supposed to save you!

And when we rid the world of lazy, whining crybabies and everybody is a healthy, magnificent fearsome warrior, then things will be better, right? Funny, I extrapolated this from a minority take on nice, non-violent psychology and therapy and I’ve come immediately to the toxic masculinity that MRAs and the dudebros of the world profess. Again, psychology is subtler, but if we think we’re supposed to be warriors, then that is what psychology is going to teach, to make you a healthier, better integrated warrior.

I have a problem with that.

It’s all backwards and the harder we try, the worse we get, with this view of ourselves. I don’t want your stupid cure, I want my open heart and mind back. I want to go back to the garden.

 

 

Jeff

Dec. 22nd., 2018

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2018/02/23/psychology-as-abuse/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2018/02/24/psychology-as-abuse-part-2/

Original Piety

As opposed to original sin, I mean. It’s not about piousness.

Fight or flight is an important choice, clearly important enough to find a central place and a lot of real estate in the decision-making organ.

It occurred to me today, that whatever decision we make when faced with this choice, we hope we are clever and make the smart choice, the right choice, and when we have made it through the crisis, then we know that we indeed have – I mean in a biological conversation. Perhaps if we find ourselves alive after a battle but regret perhaps having killed many folks to insure it, perhaps we suspect moral issues, but if our grandchildren are discussing it, at least they know we made the “right” choice, or this conversation doesn’t happen.

For good or ill, there is a lot of wiggle room when you’re talking about binary judgments like good and bad, right and wrong, all four of those words can mean almost anything. Goose VS Gander, Us VS Them, Friends not Food . . . indeed these value words can mean their own very opposites and we know that and we don’t even blink; we navigate, somehow. That’s exactly where I see trouble, and exactly what I am hoping clear up a little.

OK.

A creature that more often hangs back, or runs, we call cautious.

One that more often fights, we call aggressive.

This was today’s idea: a cautious creature values caution as wisdom, and if you ask an aggressive creature what constitutes wisdom or intelligence, he will tell you, “aggression.” I’ve said it elsewhere, as creatures, we exist in the second category.

I am, however, no determinist!

Behaviour is not a gene, and aggression, I repeat, is a choice, and we choose to encourage aggression, we are that aggressive creature who says that, “aggression is the smart choice.” The best defense is a good offense, right? Wait!

This is not a purely Nurture argument.

We encourage it in Nature, in our hardware.

Punishments, pain, deprivations, inequalities of stress and work . . . these sorts of abuse are not Nurture, not “just talk,” just data, none of that. They operate on our bodies and on our genomes. I’m saying, even as they find genes “strongly correlated” with aggression, that these alleles are not as God created them six thousand years ago, there is no hardware aside from behaviour and choice, “Nurture” changes our Natures.

We have some leverage on our Natures.

Maybe I can guess your loudest objection: there is no damned Nurture. Right? Nurture  all you like, our nasty Natures remain as they are, right?

Fine.

There isn’t in the positive way that modern liberal types might like, I’ll give you that. But let’s back up a step – I like doing that, it costs one a sense of progress, but it seems diligent, feels like building a solid base – and ask one more time, what is Nurture? For today’s talk I think it’s an attempt to direct – redirect, or misdirect, perhaps – our Natures. Is that fair? An attempt to teach something we’re doing, that perhaps isn’t simply in line with our Natures? Something we choose to add to our toolkit and our lives? Stuff we’re not born knowing?

Ooh, I feel really close to something.

I think that stuff is the mean and ugly and nasty and all those kinds of things, I think that is the stuff we’re not born knowing. For evidence, if not proof, I offer that Nurture exists just fine if you simply stop insisting that it must be something positive. If you doubt the power of Nurture, abuse some children and see how many are unaffected along a vector of mean and nasty and all that.

That makes for an aggressive creature.

Now this is all fun theory and all, I love to live thinking I’m negotiating with God about Life and figuring out what we are and what we’re up to, what could seem more important? I think this conversation is where the action is, and I pray that if I affect the world in any way that it is in this conversation right here. Having said that . . .

The Nurture I describe, this antisocialization, this negative Nurturing, this isn’t theoretical at all. This is the world, look around you. And so, this mean, nasty, ugly thing is not our Nature, but what is produced through the power of Nurturing, which has been defined as consisting of exactly that which is not in our Natures.

This is not us.

This is something we think we need to be, and evolution says that at some point, we really did need to be this, so we became it – but evolution and everything else says we need to be something different now. And we absolutely can, because as I’ve just shown, this is not our Natures, this mean, ugly, nasty father-raper is not us. Morally, it’s worse, of course! That we work so hard to become him, apparently by choice . . . morally, we are not looking good in my paradigm here.

But there is nothing determined about it; we never could have gotten here in a deterministic world, and that is where the most realistic hope for us and this world I have been able to find seems to be.

It’s all upside-down and backwards to everything we usually say on the subject, but human beings are upside-down and backwards and we require that sort of an explanation.

So there it is.

 

Jeff

Dec. 9th., 2018