Variations on “Proactive Aggression”

More stuff resulting from the EP book, the Goodness Paradox, from June.

Of course you can’t eliminate proactive violence by the application of proactive violence – so there is something else going on. We only say we’re combatting proactive violence and aggression by doing this, but really, doing this, waging this battle, does something else for us instead. Without drawing all the lines and trying to prove the matter, I will simply say that despite these efforts at “morality,” we still seem to organize ourselves on the authoritarian/alpha model and the “crime” and “immorality” we are battling do not seem to be disappearing from the world. Only the reactive stuff did. As I think Wrangham says, capital punishment was our proof against the bullies of the world in the smaller societies, in the past . . . are we not doing that anymore? Is that we call “murder” now, and it’s not for most people to do?

It does seem to be the plot of every movie, the tension between on the ground justice like that and either the modern ideal of the law, or a corrupt law enforcement. We are all wrestling with this problem in some way. His examples of small society executions did sound pretty corrupt. Seems to me that the winners in that scenario are the meanest ones, not the nicest ones. It’s horrible to ponder this stuff as “the roots of morality,” mostly because it means the tree is not what it’s supposed to be either.

OK, so the proactive alphas have beaten and supplanted the reactive alphas.

One – yeah, no kidding;

Two – oh, I forget. Moving on.

OK, I accept the self domestication, and less completely, the necessity of complex language for it – suspicious of the details, but the big picture doesn’t conflict with anything I can think of, anything real, anything I believe that I can think of. I was stupidly ignorant of the depth of language’s existence, most of a million years, I did not know that and I’m fairly surprised, honestly. Not sure what I thought, but now it seems that it must have only been a hundred or two thousand I was guessing. I’ll admit I had drawn a blank on the age of tool use also, which might have given me a clue. I know that is beyond the million year mark.

Waking up another day, and . . . we have a problem, Doctor.

I am worried that we really are conflating reactiveness with alphaism, that alphas may “react” a lot, but it’s not unthinkingly or uncontrollably, it’s just their policy – their winning policy. They say it, write it explicitly, you must react to everything, you cannot allow any insubordination, it’s in the Art of the Deal, guaranteed. Wrangham gives too much credit to this reactiveness. It’s the reason chimpanzees can’t compete with us and organize for a proper temple or a war, of course – but alphas are organization, not reactive chaos. They are a simple, crude organization, to be sure, and yes indeed, the alpha works to destroy more complex forms of organization, so maybe it’s chaos relatively to better organization schemes, but it’s not Jacob’s Ladder, not completely.

I have to check – he may have already said or is going to more clearly, that humans really do not have alphas, genetic alphas? I would still suggest that their system is always accessible and that the modern world is full of alphas by choice, cultural alphas or something. And again, a totalitarian, capital punishment dealing coalition is still rather authoritarian, one could say the alpha functions and rewards are simply being shared some in these egalitarian societies. But the upshot would be that reactive aggression is long gone and now it is simply the way we characterize the aggression of the other, an accusation against those whose proactive aggression we do not like – and pretty much all of the aggression and violence that means anything is of the proactive sort, both the crime we fight, and the aggression and violence of the crime fighting effort. I’m feeling like I often do, like this brilliant person is making a brilliant try, making an elegant case, for someone who isn’t seeing the main thing . . . not fair, and I know he keeps showing me otherwise, maybe . . .

Is reactiveness exactly autonomic mode, the fight or flight response? Again, if so, to test for both responses and call it all aggression seems weird. And are we talking about selection against the animal’s, uh, I want to say “survival instincts,” but it seems archaic, survival systems, its defense systems?

If civilization begins with disabling your defenses, then that makes my whole punishment is mostly just abuse idea a little less outlandish, doesn’t it? And absolutely, of course. Of course our abuser complains about our “reactive aggression,” don’t they? Ha! Suddenly I’m angry, my BFAM is now the enemy! “ . . . thus making cooperation possible,” my ass!

Thus making abuse and slavery possible, you mean. Proactive aggression, remember? Do you really find cooperation easy to come by? Must be nice.

I hope I’m being my usual infantile, think I’m inventing the world self here, I’m really hoping – and hopeful, honestly – that this is Wrangham’s point also. I guess it’s just that a great deal of these books is the author telling you everything that led up to here in this conversation, and I’m reacting to that before I let him tell me his news. So hold on there, Jeff – isn’t this exactly what you were looking for, exactly the science and evidence you’ve been looking for to support your thesis? This is exactly the point in the conversation where AST enters the world and should enter our conversation about it, I think.

. . . but it feels like some structural shift is looming, somehow. He’s talking about selection, call it cooperation, call it slavery, whichever, it was selected for, somehow outcompeted other hominid organizational schemes . . . eesh. You don’t mind saying “cooperation was selected for,” do you? Who wants to say the other thing was?

It has been in other creatures, though, right, sort of, castes of bees and ants – do you suppose the ants abuse the aphids? There’s a matter of freedom, maybe, ha. I’m not confident in that declaration. Things analogous to slavery, perhaps. OK, I’m confident, just not in a documented way. Ha. It’s an abysmal thought, are we, what’d he say, twelve thousand generations down a road of selecting ourselves for slavery?

It brings me back to the only positive I ever find in it all, if we selected this, we are self-created things and so proven capable to create or recreate ourselves and we could always just do it again. Brings me back to authority again, the alpha and the alpha coalitions, they like it this way. As always, the firssst thing we gotta do isss get rid of that bear. He’ssss gummin’ up the whole project! Sorry. And yes, doggone it, he is the project, but he’s problematic, he stands for the fight. If you fight him, his kind is winning. If our counter argument to his proactive aggression is proactive aggression, as Wrangham said, we are still selecting for him. Ah. Brothers again, walking the same mobius strip of hopelessness. Sigh.

Again, he’s said as much, domestication itself implies slavery. One could have pulled the slavery idea from what he said about cooperation, it’s just the other side of a coin.

Peaceful domestication, even slavery, as long as we get a life, get to breed, this I do not think would be enough in itself to set me against the world, all of that . . . without what I see as a lot of unnecessary violence and war. Because of that, I reject the human strategy – well, war and the destruction of the home planet. OK, war, destruction of the home planet and a system of constant, ubiquitous child abuse, except for THOSE THREE THINGS . . .

LOL. OK, I hear you, executions promote morality, sure. All I’m saying, all I think I might have to add to the conversation is, part of the selection problem, is the downsides of the moral murder, we aren’t selecting it out, and we have all agreed we will not have thieves in our midst, but murderers are not a problem. When we opt not to select it out, we go blind to its downsides, three of which I have already suggested. We look after those three, maybe we want to keep the slavery. I do love those pyramids!

Speaking of the pyramids, those were genius, weren’t they? You know why they’re still here? They’re giant piles of rocks. What are you going to do to “tear them down,” move the pile? That is an awful lot of work for reactors and disorganizers. Genius. Those folks knew something about human nature!

Pastoralists do not abuse their flocks. We could abuse our domesticated selves less, I mean if we really are, if we’re not afraid that we’ll all just up and flee our jobs if we stop cracking the whip on ourselves. Ah! There’s something new maybe! Try this:

Reactive aggression is on the downswing, almost finished it with us, and for a long time that has meant less aggression, less violence generally, sure . . . but has the other sort been on the rise? History has been a long process of adding laws, adding restrictions to behaviour, has it not? Prehistory for humans was a long reduction in senseless proximity fighting, surely, in some way, proactive aggression, beyond predation and feeding, was new at some point and has been growing since something like an inception, in longish terms?

Do we expect some counter-force, some reason it hasn’t simply been growing more and more prevalent, and wouldn’t anything just keep growing? I submit to you, that in one way or another, we are utterly obsessed with it, that this moral murder scenario has indeed grown and swallowed all of our lives. Unfortunately, with so many of us about, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t “working,” that whatever we are selecting ourselves for is enabling our outcompeting every other animal on Earth.

So the argument is that we do something that doesn’t “work” as well, on purpose.

Which, environmentalist hat on now, is exactly it, we are too good at this, too good for our own good, we have found a way to kill anything and everything and even dear old Mother earth. We need to be worse, less successful, weaker. We are much too strong; “strength” is social-ese for science-ese’s “proactive aggression,” I think.

Bringing it a little ways back towards earth, I’ll come back to his conundrum, we can’t select ourselves out, we can’t unselect for unselectors, but we try, don’t we? It’s an obsession, as I say, we are forever making plans to bring some kind of pressure to stop some form of violence, and our plans all seem to depend on some sort of proactive violence. It is in fact, my contention that if it ever worked, if we managed to put a halt to all crime and misbehaviour for a time, that subsequent generations would remain vulnerable and subject to it, because socially approved, civilizing proactive aggression would be the lifeboat for all bad things, and even if all unauthorized violence ended, it would still be inherited, mother to child, elders to youngers, as always, in the authorized version.

This is where I might interject my AST and say something about constantly losing this attempt must be working out for us, somehow, all things either having been selected for or coming along as part of a package with something else that was, there must be some net perceived upside for it. I can’t imagine that human proactive violence is a side effect of domestication syndrome, it doesn’t seem to be for all the other animal cases. It’s just supposed to have been a catalyst for ours, right?

In fact, other than as our trigger, I kind of think it’s a different conversation. What I meant when I started with “try this” – so the scourge of reactive violence is way down, and I questioned whether the frequency or effect of the proactive violence was rising still, and this would be my idea for why –

Jeff

June, 2020

The Next Step

Is socialism, otherwise known as politics, the science of people getting along.

For human beings, competition is supposed to be sport, not real life. “Conservatism” means conserving brutal competition, there have been conservatives complaining for three hundred thousand years that we never should have left the jungle, that what was wrong with being a chimpanzee?

Left means politics, group rule, the future, and science.

The Right means none of it.

I know, the Right claims “morality.”

Morality, sorry to tell you, is nothing but a violent response to unwanted behaviour. Morality is violence. Take away the violence from morality, what have you got? Probably just running, right, fight or flight? So morality is aggression, aggressive violence, an aggressive, violent response to unwanted behaviour – and as others have said, in other contexts, that can’t fix itself, can it?

But all you abuse victims believe it can, don’t you? What do you do when you see someone who is in your power doing something wrong? As far as we can go is that it “doesn’t work,” right? It’s “morality,” how can it be wrong?

In this sense, today, there is no Left, not yet. Who doesn’t believe in morality? There is only Right and Righter. Of course, vote less Right, but don’t they all run on morality, morality and “strength?”

When politics was devised to assist the weak, the young, the sick, and the old? Strength also is not politics, again, politics is the science of getting along. Strength and morality, these are the science of war, of warrior society. I have named this branch of science antisocialization theory, because that is what is accomplished in the real world by aggressive, violent morality.

It is a fault of mine that I see no small solutions, that it all looks rather futile to me from here, where most of our efforts to effect improvements only involve more of the moral violence; I haven’t been much help feeding the poor, doing what I can, not as much as I should. On the other hand, I maybe just don’t see mirages and there aren’t small solutions. Do you really think we have all the basics right and all this 1984 style psychopathy is some matter of some small tweaking? Something basic is upside-down and this morality thing is it.

Not “human nature,” but humanity’s entirely artificial response to something in human nature. Unless you’re among the worst of them yourself, you know, the sorts that talk the loudest about right and wrong and morality are the scariest ones of them all. That is not a “perversion.” That’s what morality is. Again, you know more is worse, right? So that’s the next step, realizing that morality is wrong and that we can do better. It starts at the very beginning, when we are first born into this world, and no-one hurts us “for good.” I’m serious.

The next step in evolution, the only move to get us through this selection event of what is likely the end of the world, is this: don’t spank.

Jeff

Sept. 21st., 2020

More about Circuitry

I’ve said that when we discuss human origins, that it’s the evolved “creation myth” circuit we employ, and so we wind up in the same conversations, using the new idea in the same old way. I’ve also tried to describe a circuit, a neural highway for the Nurture Assumption, by any number of names, the reason, whatever it is, that we employ our social control, that we either are rough on our own children or that we allow the older children unfettered access to be.

Maybe this is another one, or some aspect of the same ones here:

Our nightmares are some totalitarian slave system but our dreams are a good job and to contribute to society and that sounds like two ways to talk about the same circuit too, betrayed by a similarity of format, same as the innate/adaptive argument I’m making. This sounds like philosophical tool, an audit for “new” ideas – is the format the same, does it sound like the same factory may be making the “new” product? Ha! Same supply chains? Same market? Wait, yes! Can it be/is it being sold to the same market, the same pool of the same brains with the same circuits? Ha again – if they don’t have trouble adapting to it, maybe there is no adaptation required, and if it doesn’t offend and terrify us, it’s probably nothing new.

Of course, dual memes like that, different sounding takes on the same general, possibly preconfigured memes, this is always the opportunity for groupness and group conflict, , you know, we believe in evolution and adaptation, while they believe some rubbish about innate “natures.” Again, probably the same circuit in both of our brains . . . it’s almost interesting, same hardware, same firmware, maybe all the way out to software, and still we find a way to make a division out of it – in the virtual reality world of our beliefs! Which, sadly, is enough, any excuse for our reason to be, the group and its conflicts.

Jeff

June 25th., 2020 mostly. Intro

Sept. 19th., 2020

Deterrents

deterrents hurt. Deterrents are threats, and frighten us, engage the defense systems, deterrents are antisocializing all on their own, let alone when they fail and the threat becomes an horrific reality. An environment of deterrents is a dangerous, stressful, abusive environment. I guarantee we have environmentally controlled alleles for that, or rather, we have the capability, it’s in our gene suite, and I guarantee we set our lives up to activate them. For years I’ve been arguing that if it were only deterrents, if they worked, that would be fine, but of course that’s stupid, half-measures. Remembering Sapolsky, it is exactly threat and not violence that lasts too long and wears us out from the stress. Laws and deterrents are relentless.

Jeff

June 25th., 2020

Foucault Anthropology

Late night thought: we did not eliminate the alpha, we socialized his power, all the men have it, that’s what Wrangham describes, that’s the patriarchy – but that’s Foucault isn’t it, distributed power, socialized alpha power, I’m saying, but the thing is, I think for evidence that the alpha is not gone, rather everywhere instead, is that the world has been destroyed at the hands of the tyranny of cousins, that in fact what they’ve wrought is the same destruction the alpha does. “Foucault anthropology” again: whatever relief and freedom chimps ever get from their alpha, for whatever reason, he’s occupied abusing someone else, humans do not, the socialized, everywhere alpha has time for all of us, all the time. The technological gains, the knowledge, the culture, the civilization, it all seems to be better and different, not alpha destructiveness, it was a lot of literal construction . . . but if it all ends soon, if the air gives out or something, in hindsight, we will have to say it all served nothing but somebody’s destructiveness. Won’t we?

That either he’s not gone, he’s everywhere, throwing his violent tantrums, or that he did in fact provide some check, some form of organization that at least left us selectable by the rest of the biosphere . . . weird, this may be worth pursuing. On the one hand, it does seem an alpha function to hold us back from progress, to protect his position that way, and it seems incredibly clear today in America where the oppressed citizens are asking for better treatment from the authorities and it is the police and the authorities that are rioting, having a proper alpha tantrum, and lagging behind the public’s anti-violence morality. On the other hand, if he had held us back a lot more, we would still be relatively harmless apes? I’m not getting to it, but there’s something in there. D’ya think?

Jeff

June 2020

Who You Are

I tried this before, sorry for the repetition. I’m deleting the two previous efforts.

Convictions and diagnoses are labels and get used like identities, who you are is defined by your hospital or police record. That bites, but it’s a clue.

They talk about changing “your behaviour,” and “behaviour modification,” but we don’t reward behaviours or punish behaviours, do we, we reward and punish people, so that’s what we change, obviously. Has a bad behaviour, say theft, “changed?” Is theft not theft anymore? We change the people, and the modified people have at least one fewer behaviour, is the theory. It ain’t exactly comprehensive, but it’s the theory. Of course, we are only changed negatively, that’s what science has to say on the matter, whether it tried to say it or not. The rest is folk wisdom, old wives’ tales.

Like Pavlov and Skinner, their work was like pointing out that trees can be used to build things while we drown in the higher level effects of global logging practises, simple, basic, true enough, but willfully ignorant. I have a new catchphrase, a paragraph for every blog for the foreseeable future: “We can increase desired behaviour, we can decrease unwanted behaviour . . . ” the optimism! Yes you can, all you have to do is create systems of aversion and hurt and decide that those are not unwanted behaviours, or not in fact behaviours at all, not subject to scrutiny themselves.

Meaning, we can “improve behaviour” this way only if our own behaviour doesn’t count, meaning in no real world context whatsoever – folk wisdom, as I said. Fantasyland, a highly controlled experimental environment, potayto, potahto.

Convictions and diagnoses become who we are, not because we committed the crime or caught the illness, but because we all know we’ve had the treatment – and we know how human “treatments” work. We all have that much science in us. We might not understand someone’s original malfunction, but we intuitively understand what we did to them to “fix” the problem. I mean, there are new ideas in treatment, and some success – but the human experience forever of “treatment,” of intervention, is what Ms. Rich Harris reported, there aren’t improvements, what is produced is not what you wanted. Our forever experience of intervention is some form of an ass kicking, and of course that’s the priority experience, what sticks.

I don’t think this shady bit of reasoning proves anything, and specifically not this, but I’ll say it anyway, because everything points this way for me: we control behaviour with damage. Every behaviour we kill means a circuit in our brain that we killed and another we reinforced and our cumulative brain damage in the one area and overgrowth in the other is what causes all of our problems.

And you can’t fix that with law and order, law and order is the cause. It is my opinion here at abusewithanexcusedotcom that the abandonment of speech and reason and resorting to rewards and punishments, physical means, takes resources from something like the frontal cortex and regressively redistributes them to the lizard brain.

In terms of identity, one way to know who you are is to make you into a known thing. If you’ve been “raised right,” we maybe think we know who you are, if you’re a veteran, maybe we think we’re nailing you down, and if you are a survivor, if you’ve had the treatment, we have a better idea of who you are, because we think we know what being raised right means (in a very fluid, social way) and we think we know what having been a warrior means and we think we know what any treatment you received did to you. You may have been an unknown before, not so much now, again, because we all have that much science in us, we all know it was not our behaviour or our illness that was modified, but ourselves, our person.

Of course, using this half-logical vector to identify a person to stigmatize the person is gaslighting, the logic says whatever that identity means to us, we forced it on them, it is our shame, not theirs. Folks would have to know this sort of reasoning, though. Again, Antisocialization Theory is mercy, when all else is cruelty, a social environment where cruelty is to be expected. I say the identification of survivors as damaged is a sad truth to be changed, not a thing to be denied and argued, this is society’s crime, let’s not deny that we are victims and let’s not let the systems causing the damage off the hook for it.

This sometimes feels like the end of I Am Legend – let me help you! Admit your victimhood so we can focus on your tormentors, stop acting tough. If you don’t press charges,  no-one is going to stop the bad guys.

Jeff,

Sept. 13th., 2020

Morality Isn’t (improved)

So I heard about this morality business and I thought, “Hey, that sounds good,” see what I did there, and so I looked into it, and . . . oh.

Turns out, morality thinks it’s exempt, doesn’t apply to it, apparently.

Did the lights just get dimmer?

The following italicized 248 words are pathetic, I would delete this blog if there were nothing in it, and if I were the sort trying to pretend I’m something other than the broken fool I really am, I would anyway. Seriously talking about what’s not in the book when I’ve listened to someone else’s synopsis of page one. I’m sorry. I’m going to leave the mess here, see if there’s anything to salvage afterwards, see you on the other side.

I want to learn, but I try and I hit a wall immediately, I found a podcast, one of the Open Yale courses, Philosophy and Science of Human Nature and she starts with Plato as the basis of all western thought on the matter and it’s wrong immediately, She has Socrates saying that some things are only valuable instrumentally, meaning for what they bring, not for themselves and then lists a nation’s appearance of strength as one such thing, the deterrent, she said, ” . . . it doesn’t matter that you are dangerous, only that you seem dangerous.”

Of course it’s true that in a conversation about deterrents your actual, real world dangerousness “doesn’t matter,” and of course that is the only place in the universe that such a thing wouldn’t matter.

Of course I’m cherry-picking this, but again, this is episode one, and she said Plato and his Republic are the basis of everything and I don’t imagine this is the last we hear about nations’ actual strength, surely all of western thought isn’t concerned with virtual deterrents rather than actual strong nations?

I don’t usually use such sarcasm, but this is a special case. I’m looking around and if I never get another scrap of data about this, I am going to have to assume this really is the case. Strength is left out of her list of Socrates’ things that have value in themselves, so it only makes the one appearance, as merely virtual.

Yeah, not much. I’ll just try to describe my emotional state when I wrote this childish rant.

I’ve always done this, I must be a born teacher, I am always running some process of elimination game on you all, scanning for what’s not there, listening for what you don’t know, maybe I can help fill you out, and listening to this Yale Open course, it’s directly about human nature, and it’s where I started and I have moved on. I know it’s an exercise in proving a negative, I am mining the culture for my idea, to make sure it’s new, and my usual take – what is missing here? – finds it missing in every sentence! Not just that, but I am introduced to Plato and his thought as foundational, so missing here is terrible, world destroying news. I knew it before, if antisocialization were present in the Greek foundation of all things western, then this knowledge would be all around me already, but I suppose it was a different matter, thinking I was really seeing it, rather, hearing it myself, with my own ears.

It’s bloody torture, I can only take so much, so I break off and write instead, in a terrible regressed emotional state. I hate that I am obligated to read and learn what is wrong, that I have no venue in which to teach what is right, frustrated I couldn’t just go over to Plato’s house and set him straight.

I’ll keep listening, but this is what I saw as the core of the problem from here and now, and here is the core of our thought about it. There aren’t going to be any pleasant surprises, are there.

OK, the second half of the lecture, the fellow with the mirrors bending us towards fairness “when we’re being watched,” I love this stuff, OMG, as though it’s about the eyes and not the social control that comes when we’re observed, again, always the gaslighting, this is “psychology:” there is nothing bad in the world, only in you, you behave differently when you’re being watched, not “if someone sees me they are going to hurt or kill me,” no.

I’m mad at you all.

Psychology is the psychology department of abusing you, nothing else.

Jeff, Sept. 4th., 2020

Once Removed (improved)

The italicized 111 words below are an awful embarrassment, and I’d love to just delete the entire blog and pretend it never happened. I read it all wrong, I thought it was about the real Socrates and not Plato’s fictive one, and so everything I said is moronic and I look like an infantile git. Again, I’d love to pretend that isn’t the case but it’s too late for that.

I’m still confused, surely this argument is about something else than literal eternal souls, but I haven’t found out what that is yet, I’ll have to keep learning.

I read the Death of Socrates. The man made a reasonable etymological argument about eternal souls and declared it to be literally about eternal souls. I heard no irony or self awareness about it. It’s like what I do at my worst. Pathetic.

Is there no-one else?

LOL. Of course there is, but Socrates, hooey! Doesn’t speak well for his student either, does it? Well, the shadows on the cave wall, that’s more like it, I guess.

This is me about everything, it’s all like that, nothing is true unless it’s at least one step removed. It was probably a fine argument about our concept of eternal souls, Socrates’ final denial.

More likely only an example in an argument about arguments or something. I failed at exactly the point here, at looking that one level deeper! That’s funny even if it is me.

The same applies, the extra layer of complexity, hugely, to human nature. There is no one human nature, all agree on that, all serious people seem to agree on that – but there is one fairly universal opinion of human nature, and that is what seems worth discussing to me, so I do, bloody endlessly. It would have been a self-joke, me cussing Soak-rates out, if I had gotten the right Socrates anyway, because I am that guy, a walking talking off-putting question that is really a judgemental lecture. I might have looked a little better, but I’m working on that, and progress is inevitable.

I know, no-one cares, work harder.

Not endlessly enough yet. It’s not that we believe in Christian original sin, not even that we liked Hobbes or think that we’re still half-chimpanzee, in fact it’s not some positively held thought at all. It’s what we don’t seem to think.

Mainly, we don’t seem to think that hurting kids matters much as long as they learn the lesson. Some story like original sin may attempt to illustrate or explain this attitude, that the kid was wrong already or something, but it doesn’t matter, the myth came second and the upshot is we don’t seem to worry about it. Many young parents have big hopes of not spanking and otherwise hurting their own kids, they’re young, the memory is still fresh, but nearly all fail, somehow in the press of life the dream loses priority, things must happen, schedules must be met. This priority loss can go pretty far, all the way to where it seems a trivial matter to many folks, we all had it, we all survived it, relax, you’re not alone.

The trivial appearance of spanking is a camouflage, like carrying your expensive camera in a grocery bag so no-one thinks to steal it. The premise here belies the triviality, if it were, you would expect half of these young parents to escape it and for that to also be a trivial matter, of course the first part isn’t the case and the second part wouldn’t be, not in this world we’re in now.

I personally thought I had escaped and I thought it was difficult and I was one in a million, but it turned out it was all delusion and I was none in a million, non-existent, I had been faked out like a rat pressing a lever it learned when the researcher has it turned off. It was so non-trivial to my ex that she did it in secret and convinced the kids to keep the secret too. They were adults when I learned the truth. This blog was supposed to have real life answers for you about it, but the experiment was cynically destroyed like Bill Murray at the beginning of Ghostbusters not caring about the real psychic he’d found, and me and my kids along with it. Anyway. It’s that non-trivial. Non-negotiable with anyone so ridiculous as the father or I assume anybody else.

Just an example. I’m sure you have your own story about how not spanking isn’t as simple as it sounds, don’t you? OK, wait, I know some won’t.

Some folks never doubted, many folks grew up knowing it had to be done, and those folks may imagine that there is a world of folks out there not spanking, and who find it easy not to spank, in fact, it’s probably ascribed to laziness, this theoretical non-spanking crowd’s negligence – well, I’m here to tell them, no, there is no such population, that every human group says this about every other, that we all do it. They say the same about you.

Even the hippies, I think.

So it’s not about human nature, good, bad, or complicated; it’s about a behaviour that betrays some mute core belief about human nature. Again, all agree, your “nature” isn’t even a thing. But your unspoken attitude, your more than words attitude, now that’s a thing.

An addressable, knowable thing. So I expect we’ll keep shrugging and not thinking “human nature,” and never bringing the science to ourselves, as always. This virus knows us better than even COVID does.

Jeff

Sept. 2nd., 2020

But never mind these little ones, go to abusewithanexcuse.com and read About So Don’t Spank and So Don’t Spank, but be warned that one’s awfully long. Worth the walk, though.

Science, Damnit

I keep reading, listening these days, looking back, and everybody has something to say and no-one believes there is anything new and folks keep sending me back to this or that great mind and it’s all great fun but nobody gets it, ideas of human nature come before all of that. All of it. Plato and Moses already had ideas about people, they all did. I mean, I get it, you really can’t proceed without one. I’m not saying don’t have a thought for that, of course I’m just saying don’t have an unexamined thought for it.

You never look at it, you never account for it in your thinking, then you are the slave of this thought, as are we all and victims of it also. You never look at it, you probably think there’s only one possible thing there. This is not consciousness: a human sitting, wondering, what am I? and in denial of the answer it is already operating from. Again, you really can’t move without one, what do you do when you encounter a human in the world? How many do you suppose you would have to meet before you realized you wanted some kind of policy about it?

Of course you have one. Wondering about it is like a child screaming because someone “stole their nose.”

Aggression is the policy. That’s a policy, which of the fight or flight options is automatic, the first response, flight is some creatures’ policy and fighting is others, really large bears and people, mostly. When it’s not the crazy abundance of the salmon run, inasmuch as bears are territorial, they seem to have a negative idea of bear nature and tend not to tolerate bears themselves. Ha – that is why the bear is our brother, the same bad attitude, our brother, like we were all raised by some overarching abusive parent, divided and conquered, territorial and with a low opinion of our own kind.

Derailing my own dialogue with the heartbreaking scene of a mother bear violently one day driving her child away. If we worried about their psychology, I guess we would assume every bear is completely broken and confused for life.

You want to say aggression is not so much a matter of choice, that policy is too soft, a policy would still be a decision and the response often too swift for any such process, I know. I don’t mean then, again, that’s why the policy, so you don’t have to lose milliseconds thinking about it. The decision happens not there in the moment, we decide upon the policy elsewhere, every elsewhere. Everyone signs on to the company policy or they can find another job. It’s a policy in every sense except the absolute unconscious immediacy of its application, I’ll admit, that looks a little magical, but in every sense, including that it is not arrived at through a process of consensus, but that authority sets the policy.

With a spanking. Straight through to the old bits, the fast bits of the brain.

Everyone has problems, right? I mean, right around the kitchen table, correct in our personal lives. Well, do you believe it or don’t you? You believe it enough, right? Who doesn’t believe it? So it’s science, a job for science. Otherwise, what? Sure, it’s everybody, but never mind everybody, let’s talk about you? Everyone has problems, but how about me and my problems talk to you and your problems, in private? That should fix it, huh. Who needs science?

Failing anything else, I’m all for therapy, or talking as one might call it. I’m just saying science doesn’t have to fail at it, that there’s some rule says it must and that rule has got to go.

No-one liked their spankings, right?

That’s science, damnit. I assume if the everywhere presence of spanking doesn’t seem to call for science to you, then I imagine you also do not worry about the traumatized and suddenly abandoned young bears, that you simply label them as aggressive and carry on, with some vague but extremely useful idea about awful bear nature and not worry about why it would be that way, I mean who really cares about the absent gentle bear society, who cares how they treat each other? How they treat us is the somewhat more salient thing. Evil bear nature, bear original sin, whatever, as long as you remember the gist, LOL, us, but apparently also smaller bears. (Perhaps bears are on my mind, I was traumatized recently by a video on Twitter where a person harassed a bear and their phone recorded the bear eating them. The bear’s num-num-num noises were of course horrifying.)

Is this a model, doesn’t matter what made the bear antisocial, doesn’t matter what made Dad antisocial? The bear doesn’t say that, but Dad kinda does, doesn’t he? It’s true enough, again, in the moment, the bear or Dad’s back story isn’t the main thing.

I mean, unless you’re a creature that prides itself on being able to ponder the past and peek into the future. Unless maybe this incident wasn’t the first one or wasn’t ever going to be the last one. I swear, the damned bears would get this. As bad as their world losing moment must be, at least it’s over, bears haven’t got an entire pyramid of bears over them constantly threatening their every selfish move. I bet they know they’re hard to get along with and maybe they’re even allowed to know why, unlike some species I know.

Don’t we all agree, again, personally, that we are hardened, made aggressive, I mean don’t you blame someone for your own frustrations, maybe your own anger? Or is it bears that give you grief, is my one reader an Alaskan hermit, someone who escaped human society and then somehow forgot why? Every one of us, either pissed or something beyond it, depressed personally, to me this ought to be science. It seems clear that even if I solve my own problems, that doesn’t solve everyone else’s, clearly, even if I can feel better, fixing me is just putting out one fire and someone is setting us all alight. Putting out fires is not science, science learns where fire comes from, I mean usually. I should point out that in this case science hardly even wants credit for the firefighting, it holds psychology at a distance of plausible deniability, so that apparently if you even think of looking into the matter of who is starting the fires, biology wants anything to do with you only in the most restricted of circumstances.

It’s been too long since I’ve said it maybe: my gonzo science says that idea we have about punishments and deterrents is wrong, that it is exactly these efforts that cause human problems, that these efforts were evolved to increase our aggression and success in conflict and that this strategy has worked too well, look, everywhere, someone winning some conflict that probably never should have come up, that our strategy is conflict first because of our systems of moral abuse, not in spite of them.

It may be science that we have such systems, but these systems are not science, and mainstream science endorses them, unconscious of it all, falling back on bad old human nature in more scientific terms, aggression. I just heard the Pavlov stuff again in this torturous podcast, the exultation, “We can increase desired behaviour, we can decrease unwanted behaviour . . . ” the optimism! Yes you can, all you have to do is create systems of aversion and hurt and decide that those are not unwanted behaviours, or not in fact behaviours at all, not subject to scrutiny themselves.

Nowhere in the history of western thought is there a hint that punishment is a behaviour in itself, it always presents as a natural law. I’m all the way back to Plato’s Socrates, I suppose Plato missed it and that was that, for all the world will tell me, I was the first person to have this thought, and that is not possible, ridiculous, except show me someone. Maybe they never wrote it down. I’ve seen elsewhere that Plato was rather obtuse and authoritarian, I already knew I wasn’t going to find it there, I didn’t know that all anyone had to do to ignore it forever afterwards was follow tradition that leads back to him, I thought it was philosophy, I wasn’t thinking about it as law.

I don’t know how true the chain is there, “western thought” reads like a progress story, one building on the next, but if it’s all flawed then the narrative is lost, isn’t it? They weren’t building on one another, they were refuting one another, starting again every century, but we apparently don’t think punishment is a behaviour that warrants an explanation today, same as then. That bit survived all revisions, didn’t it? Until now, I fantasize, until now, when I earn my place atop all those flawed western thinkers, the one-eyed idiot savant king of the blind, with my only thought!

I understand there are mechanisms in place, something keeps this from our sight, and I find that suggestive that it is a behaviour we think we need and depend on, a thing we hold dear, so dear that we ourselves are not allowed to know about it so we can’t accidentally stop it, like breathing and digestion, they are safe from our thoughts, or the lack of our thoughts. Survival-level dear to us, but look, it’s not working, our aggression has gone from saving us from the neighbors or getting us their stuff to the world is burning, there is no place to run, and we and the neighbors are all going to suffer and die together in a broken world.

It’s time, now or never, face it already.

Jeff

Sept. 12th., 2020

In Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

You might not think so, Mr. Rogers didn’t talk like me, and he was coming from a different place maybe, but he and I both had the same insight, basically that stuff matters, specifically that what you do and say to children bloody matters. He was in the world, doing things, so he probably didn’t globalize everything like I do, but he clearly got that we are self-created things, that people are what people make them.

He clearly didn’t think we were born bad and needed to be beaten into line, did he, he spoke to millions of unknown kids, telling them all they were good and he knew it to be true, he wasn’t lying. He was right here with me, at good human nature, the core of matters, the centre of the human universe. He liked us as were are.

It’s pretty telling what a core matter Fred was that he gave Hannity a seizure, fascism felt the threat from good human nature and responded with hate, as it does. America is very invested in crap human nature. Of course, they gaslight and bust our chops with everything they say, they argued he told us all we were “special,” which is easily arguable, but he said we were good, that was the point, and that you don’t have to be special to be good. I guess we weren’t finished yet, if Hannity couldn’t just complain that Rogers told us we were good at that point.

They got Fred speaking my language more once. He said he saw TV for the first time and saw people throwing pies in people’s faces and thought, “What a wonderful tool – why do they use it for that?” and that’s pretty much what I’m always answering too, why do we apparently think there can’t be enough meanness in the world? Oh – there’s a bit about people not seeing his depth, the depth of supporting children because it was a kids’ show and I’m thinking if he had that problem then I might as well remain a crazy idiot on Twitter, what’s the difference, the world is not going to hear good human nature if I behave better, is it?

“I think that those who would try to make you feel less than who you are, I think that’s the greatest evil.” Said Fred. He didn’t say this, but he was about the only one in our lives not doing that and he knew it, he saw the need and tried to fill it, he did more to fill it than anyone.

All my theory blogs are turning personal these days, I don’t know which blog to post them in anymore. I’m feeling it all the time these days, this ball-busting effort, people trying to make me fell less than I am.

“Let’s take the gauntlet and make goodness attractive in this so called next millennium. That’s the real, that’s the real job that we have. I’m not talking about Pollyannyish kind of stuff, I’m talkin’ about down to Earth actual goodness. People caring for each other, in a myriad of ways, rather than people knockin’ each other off all the time. I mean, I don’t find that funny at all.”

OK, first, I didn’t protect myself as well as Fred did, I find some of it funny.

Second, you know me, he’s all about bringing the love, I’m all about just stop bringing the hate, I think love is what it could be but I think we’re in hate’s causal loop, we can’t just add love and leave the hate as is. It’s got a life of its own, it’s self perpetuating. Some love just makes life more tolerable, it doesn’t stop the causation, the cycle of abuse. People “knockin’ each other off all the time,” that’s not just TV, that’s human social control, isn’t it?

But yes, Fred, that’s the job, get people wanting good things, when we want them, we’ll get them, but we find ourselves wanting bad things to happen instead, spankings, incarcerations, a fearful population that only behaves for fear of reprisal. I hate to say it, here comes the one-upmanship, I wonder if Rogers thought the good things were soft, not science. If he underestimated the physical power of his enemy, that he gave what was needed, but that the kids probably got their asses kicked before they could understand his mere words. That his was always an uphill battle, of course he knew it, what am I saying? OK, nothing about him, but just me saying again that a neutral or blank human nature doesn’t stop the abuse either. Fred was Alice Miller’s one enlightened adult for millions of kids, he surely saved countless children from despair, but it was an uphill battle because our parents got to us first.

I really needed to hear that first quote, for personal reasons. That’s what it’s all about for me personally now, is why did I marry for life someone who needed me to be less than what I was, why could I imagine nothing better?

It’s the greatest evil, I guess it’s everywhere.

Jeff

Sept. 10th., 2020