Twenty-Three and Us

An insight that we think about inheritance and family trees backwards, or all in one direction, and suspicious that it’s not an accident.

I have really been loving Henry Louis Gates and his show, Finding Your Roots, but this idea has been creeping up on me, he spins stories about a single line of people, generally finding a few grandparents, of which we have four, usually, perhaps a few great-grandparents – and we all have eight of those, in theory, barring incest and whatnot. Some folks see family back to the bloody Mayflower – one of hundreds of ancestors that far back in time, right?

I mean it’s a great show, and we all learn about the times, we get that glimpse, but is it not true that we think of ancestors as multiplying into the future and we only acknowledge perhaps the richest of our ancestors? When really, our heritage multiplies into the past, and rather than having been drawn in a single line, ultimately ideologically from some First Man, is it not just as true to posit that we are amalgamators of our parents and in the end, descend from all of humanity?

The First Man idea, in all of its forms, does seem to suffer the fallacy of our limitations regarding deep time, and I think if we view the tree of descent as a pyramid and count all of our relatives and “our people” and then divide by two going into the past, we will reach Adam and Eve far too soon, something on the biblical scale and not the geological or evolutionary ones. Warning, and waiver: I’m terrible at math. I do all this in English.

If anyone wants to check me, that sounds wonderful, like a conversation or something.

Jeff

Oct. 21st., 2021

What’s in a Smile

Sometimes it could be anything, bared teeth are bared teeth; sometimes you have to seek other cues, what are the eyes doing? Body language, what is the posture saying?

I have intuited that the smile is intimately intertwined with the snarl. That the difference, whether it’s a smile or a snarl, is whether those teeth belong to your friends or not. A snarl is a threat, and so a smile is one that isn’t aimed at you, a shared snarl among friends, within your group. A snarl says, these teeth are my weapons; a smile says, all these teeth are our weapons.

Like most things human, it is one thing for the in-group and another for the out-groups. Like law and order, law for the out-group, that’s the ‘order.’ Like religions of forgiveness, law for the out-group, forgiveness within.

You Google ‘origins of smiling,’ and you get talk of chimpanzees laughing, but I just watched some and that is open mouth, making noise – that’s laughing, not smiling. My theory here is really the only one there is, I think. Perhaps others have said it and I just don’t know where to look.

Of course it’s all part of the gonzo antisocialization theory suite of ideas, and no-one is there for any of it. I live my life, a naysayer in a life that often seems like a rally, a place where people go to shout together the things I am trying to debunk. Think of the ugly, empty smiles of politicians, and the snarls of the populists that their violent followers pass off as smiles. These lies would never fly if there wasn’t some aspect of it in everyone’s life already. This is what smiles are, is what I’m saying. Violent extremists only make these things easy to see.

That is what a smile is, it’s fierce, a show of strength. I mean, how else could you do it, despite one’s own occasional great fortune, how could you simply smile, happy for all, in this world. A smile draws a circle, right here, right now, within these walls, I am happy, look at me, smiling, perhaps not even knowing what misery you are suffering, you will know that I am feeling good and strong! If you are also, then we are all showing our chompers, a strong and able bunch, look out for us, what can’t we accomplish?

I know, drifting a little off of pure science there, but you get the picture, right? And I’m not saying every smile today is aggressive, only that that’s how smiles began, and what they still are to a great degree. Of course, there are innocent joys to smile about also – any confusion, though, I worry is more of a feature than a bug. The aggressive smilers might prefer some confusion.

I wonder if I ever manage to make it plain enough, does anyone ever get a sense of wonder, that “science” as we know it cannot see much of the world, that things like this oughtn’t be a mystery?

Jeff

Oct. 5th., 2021

Hashtag Weak Together

I started with “Don’t spank your kids,” or, “why do we spank our kids,” and the first answer we all know, you have to teach them right from wrong, and if we will allow that adults hitting kids “accidentally” teaches hitting which may be wrong, then the next argument is strength. Right?

So I’ve been addressing that for a few years.

I detest the cursed “Strong” hashtags, the same bloody day, when are we supposed to cry?

The thing, my thing is, if you talk about resilience and strength, about growth from pain, you are not really fighting the trauma, you’re not really with the victims, I mean not in the sense that you’re actually opposing the trauma.

Desensitization is the social goal of much pain, and the usual result of pain anyhow, whether socially intentioned or not, and so strength and resilience are simply the fruition of the trauma, meaning in line, in spirit with the trauma. It’s been a process of evolution to get us here, all of this has been selected for, your strength is very much the evolved socially desired result of the trauma; your support systems after the trauma and your abusers or whatever hurt you have been partners in producing the stronger, more resilient you.

When you heal, and come back stronger, you are not breaking your programming, as perhaps we like to say, not at all, all of it is a part of human social evolution. The thing about the thing, my thing, is this is all of us, or almost all of us. It is a section of a logical mobius strip that part of the present human condition is that we exist in a ubiquitous state of group conflict and so we always blame some group of people for every problem and really cannot even see a problem that each and every one of our groups has in common. How could strength be bad, right? Resilience, survival – this is bad?

I’m saying, it’s enabling, it’s victim- wait, not shaming, not blaming . . . victim burdening, is what it is. Am I re-inventing this wheel, that’s the term, right? The victims are supposed to solve the situation, and my resilience is supposed to be the answer for my tormentors’ violence, for another’s abuse. There is pain and abuse in the world, and what is the answer, that the victims should complain but move on and accept whatever changes are forced upon them. This is gaslighting ourselves.

And – yes! Anything can be both good and bad! If we are talking about a thing that can’t ever be bad, we have left reality for the social world of taboos.

Which, yes, that could also be bad.

That is not being on the side of the victims, when we only care after the fact, and only enough to encourage them to strengthen themselves, and it isn’t looking after future victims to normalize that requirement. We talk about cycles of abuse, and that is it right there, in minimalist, bare as can be: trauma and strength, yin and yang. Cause and effect, action/reaction – I’m saying we should protect people, try to have fewer victims, that if we care, we should attempt to address causes, stop normalizing, even mythologizing the damage.

Hashtag Weak Together.

Jeff

Oct. 1st., 2021

Easy

The theory (of certain schools of feminism) is, half of humanity gets more abuse and less opportunity – so they’re better. Smarter, more emotionally connected – because abuse and being hated, I guess.

Men are horrible, stupid, violent, horny, unfaithful idiots . . . but we love them. I know it’s “normal,” but it’s not much of a theory. If it’s true, then a lotta ladies are the sort that love assholes.

It’s not good news, true or false.

Of course it’s false.

Of course in a tilted world of violent masters and slaves, the slaves are born to their hate, it’s their birthright.

The idea, examined the way I did and I do – the abused sex brings the love and the sense – this is me teaching, not insulting or saying anything about y’all – that’s the same as some race theory I heard from Charles Murray about the Jews, they were persecuted and abused, so now they’re the highest IQ people on Earth, it’s “abuse improves,” with a tacit rider of “so abuse is good.”

As stark and horrible as I lay it out, this is one of our social narratives, and if you say it nice or avoid saying it, it’s still sitting there, an awful premise for human life – while extreme cases show the error, Roseanne Barr, Theo Fleury, some folks think it too much, badly broken folks are trying to teach. But they are on the spectrum of that narrative and they find students, schools to join also.

Again, I am trying to paint it horrible for you, but this is a common human theme, it’s the status quo.

I like to say “psychology says,” despite that I’m afraid psychology will deny having said it, maybe it’s just me says “abuse damages, it doesn’t improve.” But social knowledge says it improves, usually calling the improvement “strength,” now how can that be bad, right? Here’s how. It’s evolution, it’s multigenerational, that what you reach for you will reach, you will change yourself to reach, like a giraffe reaches for the high branches and grows five or six metres high to do it. We have this strength like giraffes have vertebrae, and sure enough we use it every day like they do, it’s how we make our living, nutting up and ovarying up and doing something awful you need to “be strong” for, logging or whatever.

This social knowledge will take us straight over the cliff, it already has, really, this strength fetish, which is denial of hurt, damage, and abuse, of course it is.

Imagine for a moment, imagine that we really did what the laciest of the ladies seem to vibe, imagine if the humans rather than being strong and taking the abuse and being “better” for it, imagine for a moment that we put that millennial, multigenerational effort into chasing sensitivity instead, to identify abuses and weed them out instead, over thousands of years, what a different creature we might be? Bonobos, maybe, but maybe just humans with the bonobo in us instead of the chimp? Probably something else, who knows?

I mean, the EP boys, the game theory folks, they will say, and it’s hard to argue about origins, but it does seem chasing the brutality and strength wasn’t maybe optional when it began, I mean it’s hardly optional now.

But it could be. Should be.

But there are layers of denial and us hiding stuff from ourselves. Perhaps it wasn’t a choice – but that thought lives alongside that no other animals live this way – so it’s not predetermined either!

We could start chasing the light instead any time we choose.

Starts with honesty, sometimes only available after a lot of thought and talk, and honestly, the human world presently runs on strength, which is hate created by abuse, and I don’t say it with pride but in this state of affairs hate is the functional thing, and we hate each other, men and women.

Sure there’s some love, but even if you don’t feel it – can’t you see that you would, if you were allowed or something? Are you proud of loving that swine you need liberation from?

Isn’t it science that the subjected hate the dominant?

Gonna surprise no-one now and go personal. I never got a chance, never was able to put a dent in my ex’s hate, which I was late detecting, because of Mom’s and others’. I lived Not All Men in the attempt, I have tried to never do a thing to justify women hating me, didn’t work. I found I couldn’t fight a hate that she didn’t acknowledge, or wasn’t up for negotiation, or I just wasn’t people, she wasn’t going to negotiate with the likes of me at any rate.

I’m saying, of course women hate men, we’re evil bastards, why wouldn’t you? One of the layers, one of the tricks is this meme, “men hate, women don’t,” again, which is antithetical to the idea that abuse hurts and damages. I’m sorry, ladies, the abuse mattered, it hurt you, and your ability to love has been impaired, you may have been the bringer of all good things when you were born, but this world has had its way with you the same way it has with us, maybe worse, and we are all hurt and damaged.

Honesty, and choosing the true principle – damage or strength – is what humanity needs to do, ALL of humanity. Both halves.

That was an ending when it was a Twitter thread  – it really is my point to the world, this choice, the damage, which would be the rational take, or the strength, which I see as the social mode – and the whole thing is so sad that after I posted it, I went back to bed, hoping for a better start to my day. Instead I woke up having globalized the entire miserable thing. It’s more than the battle of the sexes here. All the thinkers with a clear cause and a people to fight for, all the philosophers of oppression, not just the Gloria Steinhems but also the James Baldwins, the ground-breaking whatevers, gay, black, Indigenous, women . . . I assume all these brilliant writers reached higher, I expect everyone has a guess or several about the big picture, humanity as a whole, but inasmuch as they are talking and writing about race, or sexuality, or gender, I’m sorry.

That is an easy task for a thinker.

I mean, I know, impossible to reach or change the bigoted white male swine who run the world – but the thinking, I’m sorry, that’s easy. Even sorrier – thinking about the Other and the enemy, that’s always been far too easy for humans. It’s easy for not good reasons – and that’s what that is, at least that’s one thing it is, analyzing the enemy.

I first cottoned onto this in a personal vein, I realized that my feminist sisters have had an advantage over me this way all my life, that their lives have been framed as a struggle against men, and I had no such gorgon to blame. I never did blame women, I was raised by them, my tendency is theirs, to blame men. I must have been thinking from the glory days of babyhood or something that I wasn’t one of the men, that sure they hate men – but they love me, right?

Sorry to say, it doesn’t seem to have been functionally true in my childhood and also, that seems to have been the attitude, often explicitly professed by my lady partners in life – and I believed, accepted. So sad. “I hate your entire species – but I love you.” Like I say, I can’t imagine believing it from the ex if things had ever been any different, if they had been even once, I expect I might have noticed that.

I know, they had it hard, they were abused – this you offer me as evidence that I shouldn’t blame them for their hate, but in reality it is entered as evidence for the prosecution, that Your Honour, of course they were full of hate, look at their abuse. Yes, my naysaying is “reality” here in my blog.

Pathetic. I basically despise everything about sex and gender because why can’t they love me, despite my sex. But sex is everything to us monkeys. In half the world, if you do it “wrong,” they kill you.

I mean, I saw all the boys and men around me, blaming and hating the women, but that had been taken away, that wasn’t available to me, or I, stuck up little wannabe saint that I am refused to use it. I like so many, rejected the hate of the dominant group in favour of the hate of the subjected, I chose to despise what the women say they despise, violence, mostly. I haven’t changed my stance that way, that’s still my enemy, violence and all that. I’ve just realized that the female half of humanity isn’t not involved in it, is all. We all are.

I spend my entire blog talking about spanking. I rarely say “women” in that conversation, but it’s understood, the ladies do a lot of it. That is never going to be solved if in every conversation it is only men bringing the roughness. It is a terrible, sad side effect, that if only male violence exists then a world of children have complaints that must have never happened or something, or as I see across the board, somehow Dad is to blame for this spanking, one abuses and another takes the resentment. My own kids display this function in stark, horrifyingly embarrassing clarity, you would not believe.

Like I say, easy. The internet is full of people, somebodies and nobodies, and many can speak the language of wokeness and describe the oppression in endless nuance . . . I don’t see many brave fools like me, trying to take on more, trying to deal above the level of our social groups, I just don’t.

We’re blocked. I understand that, there are massive social memes in place, “human nature,” don’t get me started. If human nature is bad, then why even look for better? Just find yourself a fight you can agree with and get on with it, right? There are puh-lenty of causes that need you.

Easy. Simple, I mean. Clear.

Irresponsible, is all, not comprehensive. It’s not enough, I mean, it’s more than not enough, it’s just exactly the same thing repeated endlessly, it’s the problem – but as such, all of that, it really, really isn’t enough. More is required. OK, it’s too late. More was required. If there is anyone crawling out of the destruction like all that science fiction, they will need more or nothing will change.

There are people worrying about it, some worry about humanity and the future, but we don’t hear about anyone who’s cracked it, found the answer, what is wrong with each and every human group, I mean except me? It’s the spanking, the morality, the attempt to change things. I said above somewhere that “if we could chase the sensitivity, weed out the hurt,” but I know, that is already what we think we’re doing with our social control, weeding out misbehaviour and crime, these are bad things that hurt and our entire existence is dedicated to the effort . . . yeah, it all goes sideways with the details, with what that effort has been – the spanking, the exile, the shunning, the prisons. The goal has always sounded commendable, the methods have always moved us in exactly the opposite direction.

Thinking what I think isn’t easy.

I accuse, I must be wrong to a great degree, but my quest is always to find the undiscovered “right to great degree” thing that no-one is saying, and so in this test, I accuse the writers of oppression of not trying to solve everyone’s problems, of limiting themselves to their causes for clarity and purpose – yes, you heard right, I accuse them of purpose, in case you’re in any doubt about my commitment to what I see as the truth, purpose is a . . . bias – and so missing as we all have forever, the common cause that sets it all in motion. I have said, I will again, critical race theory belongs as a subset of antisocialization theory because it needs a reason why Whitey is such a bastard and all anyone has for that is we’re all born that way?

This is supposed to be helpful how?

Antisocialization Theory is not easy to think, but at least it works at all.

That’s a clue that your quest is on track, when it keeps getting more difficult, right? When the gods keep throwing stuff in your way? Antisocialization Theory is psychology writ large. It’s hard. You kinda have to step over Mom to get to it.

It’s not easy to hear that Mom messed me up not “for my own good” at all, but in step with some mad social function to drive us all mad on purpose, no-one wants to hear that the agent, the creator of the evil human nature we all suffer under is dear old Mom. We all seem sort of able to get on with our lives no matter what bullshit went on as long as we can say. “Well, they tried, and they never had a chance, they did their best.” When some smartass gonzo science idiot comes along and says, no, messing you up like this was the whole plan and if they could have done more and better, you would be feeling even worse right now, well then it’s going to be WTF did you just say about my dear old Mother, isn’t it? It’s not easy, facing that no-one was ever trying to do good, that the function is all bad and they just call it good.

I expect it hurts even more to think it alone, and that’s why I’m trying to drag you all down with me. We can still let our parents of the hook, they may have really believed it – but we must do the hard thing and face that what is “their best” in that situation was the application of bad stuff and their efforts were the very opposite of mitigation. Again, most of them if they could have “tried harder,” would only have been rougher, because that’s what they thought was “good.” It is already when they were bringing the tough love that they were working as hard as a human can work, doing the hardest thing, going against what is natural and normal for most animals, especially most mammals, especially especially most primates, three especiallies for the higher primates!

Humans are amazing, magical in their ability to think and do the unthinkable.

It is surely what the unrepentant ones still think, nothing to apologize for, that was good.

I mean, I don’t think the feminist writers, the race writers, they are not exhorting their readers to discipline their kids. I think there may be a little of “the Man made me beat you,” some demand side talk about the dominants inducing abuse in the subjected peoples’ lives, and this stuff while true, life is a champagne fountain of abuse and it all flows downhill, down the social ladder, this line of reasoning tends to stop at the oppressor, we’re mostly not worried about his kids, and punitive abuse isn’t the First Cause I find it to be in these conversations, but only a downstream effect. The Man has us beating our kids for release, it’s hard to imagine in this scenario how we worry about protecting his own kids from him!

I think that would help, if we could, I mean if we could all stop. I think the billionaires whooping their kids is like the first pour in the top glass of the fountain and the bastard’s kids grow up feeling all hard done by despite the wealth and so they feel justified in all the horrible crap they do. This true for all of us, it is what is the active function for all of us. It’s not easy to think.

I don’t imagine Baldwin blamed the world on his poor mama and I don’t think the feminist writers blame their poor mamas for the state of the world, I mean I don’t think James would blame the world on his father either if he was rough and neither am I, not one father for the state of the world or one mother – but it is what antisocialization theory asks of us, to blame our parents, to blame parenting and the larger social control in general.

I don’t know, I can’t say anyone has  had it easy, I’ve certainly had it the easiest of the lot, and I’m not saying Baldwin never had to face that his mother was the problem, I have no idea what his life even was let alone his response to it, I’m only saying he doesn’t have to in order to write race philosophy, and so his readers also don’t have to. I’m not saying it about the feminist writers either, same thing, I don’t know their lives or their challenges, but they may not have had to do it publicly at least, in order to promote their views – and I would have to, do have to trash my caregivers to make my points, lay the real blame there, such is my sad theory.

Also, I don’t know the feminist thinkers and authors, but the ladies I learned it from don’t talk about their mothers as much as they do the men, the fathers and husbands – again, the particular “isms” don’t require it, they don’t have to go there. Basically, no-one has to address First Causes, because Human Nature has that covered. I laugh at myself saying it, but some of these geniuses have had it easy. At work, I mean, LOL.

The worst people, they enjoy this ease also, the racists, the xenophobes, they also do not elevate their thinking above human groups, they are all about the groups, the existence of groups themselves serves as their First Cause – Good Lord, did I really publish this complaining about the good folks and never mention the Nazis? I am so sorry, OMG. I try not to talk about them or to them, it’s not that I am with them, of course! I am with the woke, I only complain to waken the woke even further; it’s not that I don’t criticize the worst, it’s that I don’t talk to them at all. To criticize would suggest I think there is anything about them worth saving, I don’t spend any time there – we are bad enough for me! If we solve the salt of the Earth’s problems, they will stop breeding Nazis, this is my plan. Destroy their reason for being by solving the world’s problems, if everybody’s happy, no-one is fighting.

It’s not easy blaming either the entire world or Mom and Dad, or all of the above. It is certainly hard thinking that all nearly eight billions of minds have to change when we’ve all had the experience of trying and failing to ever change one. It’s all around a very difficult thing to think, and I imagine that must be what I was looking for, this must have been a quest for the impossible and I feel I have won or lost a lottery to find anything that can even pretend to be the answer.

It wasn’t supposed to be possible, you bunch of liars, I thought it was safe to go looking for the Holy Grail, I wasn’t supposed to have to worry about what would happen if I found it. Murphy’s Law.

I think I’ve said before, you know like how when you’re two, a year is half of your life and when you’re fifty it’s only two percent of your life, that when I started to look for the larger answer, for all of us, it was an unknown proposition that despite the obvious long odds, felt like a binary, a fifty-fifty, I’d find it or I wouldn’t. This is a limitation Pinker and a bunch of EP boys like to throw at us, we really don’t process odds rationally, and sure, I concur with that bit I said, long odds, but an emotional binary situation – well that changed when it wasn’t some unknown “an” answer. Once I started triangulating the answer, narrowing it down, the odds rapidly got more rational, and maybe ironically, depressingly huge again.

(Possible future line of inquiry, is it always some unformed, unspecified thing we can’t make odds for in their stories? Maybe? Never mind. Shut up. Later.)

I said it above, right, it just means changing a few billion minds, sad emoji.

Frustrating, I keep having this circular kill-thought, that if we could stop the roughness, the minds would change themselves. Oh, hey, look, that was the door.

I’m outta here.

Jeff

Sept. 22nd., 2021

Racism – the Invention of Hate

  1. AST

Antisocialization theory is the idea that hatred is taught and learned, the same as love is, the same as everything is. Socialization is an accepted idea, a real and obvious thing in the world, and so prosocialization and antisocialization are also, established principles (in the world of scientific principles, whether you, mere human, know it or not). Antisocialization theory is the idea that antisocial traits are nurtured, and that any tendency towards antisociality and violence requires a scientific explanation in the here and now, in life history, and not be accepted as some default.

AST, my acronym for antisocialization theory, starts from the idea that nature and evolution do not have defaults or natures, and that all things can and must be accounted for. I have noticed others’ efforts to understand altruism and morality; the bad things are always some background, the premise behind it all, the setting, not requiring a back story of its own.

Antisocialization theory is science and therefore does not define abuse by what is legal, or by the stated purpose for it, it defines abuse as a choice to hurt someone, that the act of abuse is deliberate hurt, not accidental hurt. Of course it thinks that accidents antisocialize, embitter people also, but antisocialization is generally deliberate, the hurt has a rationale. People report feeling “punished” when they suffer a rare trauma, when they are one of the very few shark attack victims or something, because that is usually the way we get hurt, intentionally.

By this definition, the altogether legal and normal minor abuse that adults do to their children all day long qualifies. The pat on the bum was deliberate, the lessons, the things taken away . . . in adult punishment situations also, prison sentences and executions, all deliberate, all abuse, somebody hurts somebody, on purpose.

Please, I know the story. I am not a child or a Martian. The “reasons” are ubiquitous, inescapable, how could anyone dream I had simply never heard them? I am teaching here, not asking.

Antisocialization theory is the theory that if so much hurt happens through deliberate actions, that the hurt is being selected for, that the hurt is the desired result of all that stimuli. Again, I know the story, I understand deterrents. AST is the idea that when deterrents fail, that this phenomenon occurs in the real world, and that there is real causation around it, before and after. Specifically, repressive blindness before and an antisocial population after (which, also before). AST and its author find it odd and rather amazing that human science manages to work around this, finding science in the virtual thing, the deterrent, but none in the actual spanking/beating/prison sentence.

When we break a rule, science and reason turn their backs on us along with everything else that does. We have a lot of talk and science around when we do what we’re told, but really none for what happens to us when we don’t – but we do have a little science about trauma and the damages of abuse – I suppose someone must be studying the accidents, the collateral damage. The good news is it applies, and we know generally, that a tough life makes a tough human being, meaning insensitive and aggressive.

2. Conflict

So that’s why, that’s what the rules and punishments produce. Sure, the deterrents produce the good things, perhaps, I’ll allow it, but the abuse when the deterrent fails, that’s what produces all the bad things, and we produce them because we love them, we think we need them, we produce them on purpose through our purposeful actions. An angry young man is exactly what the generals want, what warrior society loves, and so abused angry young men are probably not accidents, and their abuse angers them quite reasonably and logically.

The controlled, deterred human makes beautiful porcelain things, the abuse behind the control makes us smash them. The controlled human is civil to our community, the abuse behind it makes us abuse other communities. This is the causality, the true story of group life, this is why it’s “prosocial at home and antisocial at the border,” because we are tortured and wound up at home but forbidden to act out there and sent out to get our release from the neighbors, from someone else. We do not smash our own porcelain, generally, is the idea. This is all group conflict. This is what men and nations call “strength,” their reserve of artificially created or stored anger, and our “strength,” is always and forever the reason for someone else’s.

Again, this is all human group conflict: at home, we take the shit and out and about, we give it.

3. Race

This is racism, race and cultural markings, dress and custom, these signify “not at home,” mode for pre-charged, abused people. These foreign things are what your frustration was arranged for, why it was created, what your antisocialization is for. NOT an endorsement. But this is racism.

There is nothing “wrong” with the other community/race/person, they are perfect for their role, to complete the circle and resolve our abuse. Again, today’s target, American blacks, did not kill Christ, and they do not “own the banks,” none of that was really the point about the German Nazis’ targets, it was simply that they were targets, viable, legal targets for the overly controlled at home Germans’ stored rage.

I see the word all day, “racism,” it’s the scourge, it’s the problem, it’s what you shouldn’t have, and of course I agree . . . what I don’t see is what I offer here, a scientific look at what it is and what function it serves, I mean not from anyone but the Nazis themselves. It seems the bad guys want science to authorize their hate and the good guys worry that it will or something, so they try to keep them apart, science and racism.

I get that.

But they control their kids, same as anybody else.

They say racism is awful and wrong and all that, but then they do all the social control stuff that makes so many people need an outlet. Don’t play with fire kid, but hold on a minute, where do you think you’re going without your matches, kind of thing. Don’t hate anybody, but here’s an ass kicking for you to sit on forever.

Jeff

Dec. 16th., 2020

The Landscapes of Fear

I’m learning the term on an episode of NOVA , “Nature’s Fear Factor.”

I’d heard the story of how it was first studied, the wolves in Yellowstone took some prey, but changed all the prey’s behaviour and protected some of the plants the prey eats, restoring the habitats in Yellowstone in a way that surprised us all, but I hadn’t heard any theory around it.

Now that I have, it’s clear that it’s exactly the same argument I am making about humans, that there is more to life and evolution than selection. There is now the landscape of fear as an established evolutionary fact and factor rolling out across the world of animal biology. Perhaps that’s the simplest way to say it, or aspect of it, although I haven’t heard Sir David or I guess Elder David (Suzuki) say it, that apex predators serve to protect the food of their prey, maybe preventing extinctions, and certainly acting as a control, as they point out.

I hadn’t had the roundness to put “acting as a control” in context before; one needs to hear the details at least once, the nuts and bolts of it, I suppose. If I’m being kind to myself.

The picture of elk eating and so controlling willows and wolves eating and controlling them, it’s organized enough . . . but then, do the apex predators control themselves through their territoriality and antisocial ways, yes they do, wolves and bears and lions and such do appear to serve this function on their own species as well, fending or killing off the other wolves before all the elk are gone, just as they fend or kill of the elk before the forests are gone. Of course you know where this is going, of course that’s us too, our only control on ourselves is us.

I guess this is a call for war and death, because it seems in that function we have failed, let the world down and given up any control and allowed ourselves to drive all the prey to oblivion. It would be if I were that sort, but I’m not so I will point out that control and death are not synonymous and humans show an amazing capacity (for animals) to control themselves by another means, namely birth control. It is inconvenient that we tend towards traditional forms of control and resist this method, as a social animal somehow, as an antisocial one, we find advantage in ourselves breeding uncontrolled and when we see a need for control we think we need an army of our own children to control some “other.”

It seems lions and I suppose tigers and bears all lack this social rule and follow the larger biological rule of territoriality and when even a mother bear’s cub reaches a certain age or size, it is subjected to this control: find your own space. In this way the world is not covered in bears and other things exist, there are still berries and salmon and honey in the world. I’m not saying we have to run game theory on our kids like they do – but we have to do something, control ourselves; we are the apex predator and we need to grow up and realize that no-one is doing that for us.

But we’re not just wrong or bad. This is happening, so there must be reasons. This is every animal’s, every predator’s world, none of it is new, so it’s not that we don’t have a strategy to control ourselves and not eat ourselves out of house and home. We have one, hinted at already, but controlling the other, in a larger, group game of territoriality has somehow morphed into breeding more and more soldiers on our own crowded territory in order to fend off the other and create some space. It’s an irony that tends not to leave anyone the time or peace in which to appreciate it.

My thing, my argument with the world is that we may blame that other, or our fear of them for everything, but this is our strategy. Their existence may be a “scientific fact,” but all this that we do about it is contingent, in Foucault’s sense, not written in stone. Birth control, again, the apparent alternative, is already sort of available. The problem with the old strategy, the group territoriality, is it has a dark side, an unconscious component that carries on uninterrupted and all of our conscious moral interventions simply attempt to mitigate the inevitable results of that less conscious behaviour.

I suppose the idea breaks down for us, because we have become our whole world in that way, humans are our predator, but also one of our prey. Perhaps the same reversal, our crowding inside our castles to try to control some enemy’s crowding of the habitat, means exactly the same reversal of the effect of the landscape of fear our predator selves creates, that our prey selves are not forced away from overgrazing, but forced into it instead.

I’ll wrap up, but I feel I’ve missed it, or at least that there’s more to learn from this newish idea. I expect I’ll be back to it.

Jeff

Oct. 26th., 2020

60 today

MLK’s Dream

Me in italics.

No rewrite here, although that was the plan. MLK did not leave himself open to my criticisms, I should’ve known, he’s not one of the bad guys. So it’s just an excuse to reprint his speech and to add my own embellishments to racism theory, inform what racism is with antisocialization theory, and that only takes a minute.

Martin Luther King JR

On August 28, 1963, some 100 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, a young man named Martin Luther King climbed the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to describe his vision of America. More than 200,000 people-black and white-came to listen. They came by plane, by car, by bus, by train, and by foot. They came to Washington to demand equal rights for black people. And the dream that they heard on the steps of the Monument became the dream of a generation.

As far as black Americans were concerned, the nation’s response to Brown was agonizingly slow, and neither state legislatures nor the Congress seemed willing to help their cause along. Finally, President John F. Kennedy recognized that only a strong civil rights bill would put teeth into the drive to secure equal protection of the laws for African Americans. On June 11, 1963, he proposed such a bill to Congress, asking for legislation that would provide “the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves.” Southern representatives in Congress managed to block the bill in committee, and civil rights leaders sought some way to build political momentum behind the measure.

  1. Philip Randolph, a labor leader and longtime civil rights activist, called for a massive march on Washington to dramatize the issue. He welcomed the participation of white groups as well as black in order to demonstrate the multiracial backing for civil rights. The various elements of the civil rights movement, many of which had been wary of one another, agreed to participate. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and the Urban League all managed to bury their differences and work together. The leaders even agreed to tone down the rhetoric of some of the more militant activists for the sake of unity, and they worked closely with the Kennedy administration, which hoped the march would, in fact, lead to passage of the civil rights bill.

On August 28, 1963, under a nearly cloudless sky, more than 250,000 people, a fifth of them white, gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally for “jobs and freedom.” The roster of speakers included speakers from nearly every segment of society — labor leaders like Walter Reuther, clergy, film stars such as Sidney Poitier and Marlon Brando and folksingers such as Joan Baez. Each of the speakers was allotted fifteen minutes, but the day belonged to the young and charismatic leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had originally prepared a short and somewhat formal recitation of the sufferings of African Americans attempting to realize their freedom in a society chained by discrimination. He was about to sit down when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!” Encouraged by shouts from the audience, King drew upon some of his past talks, and the result became the landmark statement of civil rights in America — a dream of all people, of all races and colors and backgrounds, sharing in an America marked by freedom and democracy.

For further reading: Herbert Garfinkel, When Negroes March: The March on Washington…(1969); Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (1988); Stephen B. Oates, Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr. (1982).

Wow, imagine that, the administration coordinating with its suffering people, as if it represented them or something. Didn’t the establishment in America hate him as a Catholic? That’s changed, huh, now the hard Right establishment is Catholic, in this administration. I suppose the bad guys took over the Church before they took over the government in America? Sorry – politics.

This blog is supposed to transcend or underwrite or undermine politics, it’s supposed to be about how we are all the bad guys, how what the good people do creates the bad guys. How the bad guy feeding frenzies that destroy the world are the logical extremes of our everyday behaviour, of the good folks’ efforts and intentions. That’s the secret, that’s antisocialization theory, that the evil we struggle against hides as the struggle itself, so that’s what I am auditing these classic writings with, the idea that evil has a real world back story, that it doesn’t simply “flourish in neglect,” that it doesn’t exist and multiply by itself.

More concretely, the theory says that white racists are abused by their white caregivers and society and racism is deflection, but also that the system of abuse that is American society is an ancient formula for group conflict that evolved for much smaller societies where people who were “not our people” really were enemies. I say evolved, one is tempted to read “natural,” but although deflection may be natural, abuse is not. Abuse appears to be a primate invention; other creatures don’t seem to require it. The formula, antisocialization theory, is abuse for conflict, that deflection is the function and that the endless sorrow of racism is made even worse because skin colour is only an arbitrary marker, that blacks are not hated by whites for any traits or any reason at all other than the whites’ own abuse makes then seek an enemy, any enemy.

A horror, a nightmare, a world of immorality and pain, and all for nothing, all purely expedient, because, yes, here I go, because spanking, which is a term for providing an abusive environment, on purpose, to antisocialize our children.

Children’s’ rights are civil rights in this real world way.

OK. On with it.

I write this surely having heard this speech in my life, but never having read it all. It’s likely enough that Dr. King never references the evil human nature meme and I’ll have nothing to add, and that would be fine, I don’t want to be arguing with him.

“I HAVE A DREAM” (1963)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of slaves, who had been seared in the flames of whithering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the colored America is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the colored American is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the colored American is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our Nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s children.

I would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of it’s colored citizens. This sweltering summer of the colored people’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the colored Americans needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the colored citizen is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the colored person’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for white only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our modern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you, my friends, we have the difficulties of today and tomorrow.

I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I think I’m only going to have what I said at the beginning, and I’m afraid that Dr. King’s dream will be a dream until we understand the function of abuse in it all. As long as white people keep breaking their children, those children will be patrolling the streets looking for an outlet. It breaks my heart to hear black Americans defend their spanking, but as long as the dominants beat their kids, then I would not take the same tool away from the subjugated populations to also toughen their children with abuse. We all have to stop – but whites first, dominants first. Nothing changes until they change.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Sad to see the negative proof of how true this was, how we’ve gone the opposite direction on both matters in one motion.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

Amen.

My craziest, dearest own dream is this also, and the maddest bit is that I think I’ve seen the way, that conflict, all conflict comes from spanking, from thinking hurting something makes it “better,” that we are the lion and spanking, abuse, is the thorn. Oh, I like that. Tell me we are lions, fine, but we are lions in pain, is the point.

 

Jeff in italics, MLK otherwise

Oct. 25th., 2020

 

OK, I don’t know who wrote the exposition, I found the speech at the US Embassy site, in Korea?

https://kr.usembassy.gov/education-culture/infopedia-usa/living-documents-american-history-democracy/martin-luther-king-jr-dream-speech-1963/#:~:text=sisters%20and%20brothers.-,I%20have%20a%20dream%20today.,flesh%20shall%20see%20it%20together.

I hope that’s not an issue, it sounded OK.

Isaiah Berlin

 

Me in italics.

These exercises are re-reads, my re-writes of popular looking articles, through the lens of antisocialization theory, that is to say, counting normal punishment as abuse and counting abuse as causative of the human . . . personality flaws.

I’ve done one about an article called “Parenting Doesn’t Matter,” and one called “Do humans really have a killer instinct or is that just manly fancy?” The first was a Nature over Nurture argument from the political Right and the second was just a nice story about science stories about Human Nature. The first one I fought with and refuted, the second, I think I only clarified, added to. This one seems ambitious and dangerous to me, bloody Hell, he’s going after the good guys now, kind of thing.

Yes, I’m sorry, the good guys and the bad guys in this world share a paradigm and only choose sides, and if the good guys were so much more correct, why aren’t they winning? Good guys self-critique.

  1. Take it away, Sir.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With these words Dickens began his famous novel A Tale of Two Cities. But this cannot, alas, be said about our own terrible century. Men have for millennia destroyed each other, but the deeds of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Napoleon (who introduced mass killings in war), even the Armenian massacres, pale into insignificance before the Russian Revolution and its aftermath: the oppression, torture, murder which can be laid at the doors of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and the systematic falsification of information which prevented knowledge of these horrors for years—these are unparalleled. They were not natural disasters, but preventable human crimes, and whatever those who believe in historical determinism may think, they could have been averted.

Jarring to me, from here and now, to hear Hitler’s name in the middle of all those communists or supposed communists. Did the whole world still think National Socialism was socialism when he spoke? Just nervous, of course it’s about dictators and pogroms, not Left and Right. Tangential.

Yes, these things could be averted – but they will always have to be, they are the logical end of something, well of AST, antisocialization. A forever aversion will mean a change of lifestyle.

I speak with particular feeling, for I am a very old man, and I have lived through almost the entire century. My life has been peaceful and secure, and I feel almost ashamed of this in view of what has happened to so many other human beings. I am not a historian, and so I cannot speak with authority on the causes of these horrors. Yet perhaps I can try.

LOL. Today, “I’m not a scientist, but” doesn’t come from anyone who should be allowed it, like this fellow. Objection overruled.

They were, in my view, not caused by the ordinary negative human sentiments, as Spinoza called them—fear, greed, tribal hatreds, jealousy, love of power—though of course these have played their wicked part. They have been caused, in our time, by ideas; or rather, by one particular idea. It is paradoxical that Karl Marx, who played down the importance of ideas in comparison with impersonal social and economic forces, should, by his writings, have caused the transformation of the twentieth century, both in the direction of what he wanted and, by reaction, against it. The German poet Heine, in one of his famous writings, told us not to underestimate the quiet philosopher sitting in his study; if Kant had not undone theology, he declared, Robespierre might not have cut off the head of the King of France.

OK, Marx’s followers and the reaction against them, that’s how it’s all one list. Not really cricket that the reaction is also blamed on the new idea, that the reaction is not respected as having an idea of its own – but again, we’re talking about mass murder, not politics. No, hold on, this is the point, communism is a dangerous new idea and the previous idea – royalism? “Competition?” – is seen as default, as only normal and to be expected? Marx, that boat-rocker, huh, what was wrong with the way things were before? Really? Was the French revolution also a lot of blood for nothing?

Maybe only jarring today again?

He predicted that the armed disciples of the German philosophers—Fichte, Schelling, and the other fathers of German nationalism—would one day destroy the great monuments of Western Europe in a wave of fanatical destruction before which the French Revolution would seem child’s play. This may have been unfair to the German metaphysicians, yet Heine’s central idea seems to me valid: in a debased form, the Nazi ideology did have roots in German anti-Enlightenment thought. There are men who will kill and maim with a tranquil conscience under the influence of the words and writings of some of those who are certain that they know perfection can be reached.

OK, maybe I see a crack here.

First, there have always been men who will do that under all sorts of influences and reading hasn’t been a requirement for it.

Let me explain. If you are truly convinced that there is some solution to all human problems, that one can conceive an ideal society which men can reach if only they do what is necessary to attain it, then you and your followers must believe that no price can be too high to pay in order to open the gates of such a paradise. Only the stupid and malevolent will resist once certain simple truths are put to them. Those who resist must be persuaded; if they cannot be persuaded, laws must be passed to restrain them; if that does not work, then coercion, if need be violence, will inevitably have to be used—if necessary, terror, slaughter. Lenin believed this after reading Das Kapital, and consistently taught that if a just, peaceful, happy, free, virtuous society could be created by the means he advocated, then the end justified any methods that needed to be used, literally any.

First, I think Marx offered a solution to a single human problem, economic oppression. As a personal aside, I too get this complaint, that I’m trying to solve “everything,” and that don’t I know it can’t be done? And I too think I have solved only one thing, social oppression.

For the paragraph, I don’t buy it. I think the dream, the utopia exists, but for ambitious people, for leaders and groups, it’s only gaslighting nonsense, who really imagines paradise to be inhabited by naught but murderous psychopaths, who really thinks that when only the Nazis remain that this is heaven and the murder machine will stop and everyone will treat each other well again? I’m saying that the process is the point, that there really isn’t an endgame, that genocidal schemes are for the here and now and we need to understand why that would be. Of course it’s some game theory arithmetic about feeling safest when you’re on the march to war, because then you are holding the dull end of the spear whereas during “peace,” someone else might pick it up. It seems a coin toss, making this decision, war or peace, but antisocialization theory says that you are a weighted coin, that the game is rigged to come up war 51% of the time, the war room’s house advantage, because you, as a human being are mistreated constantly for some greater good that surprise! only turned out to be another war.

He said it was assumed, it was part of the question, that whatever must be done must be done – and now he’s describing the incremental steps of how a society gets to where it began, he said the violence was authorized from the start, and then he goes off on a tangent about how it’s an argument, the bad guys are trying to convince someone of something and “resorting even to violence” to do it. Again, the politics, selling the idea isn’t the point, violence sells one idea, violence, that’s the deeper, biological point. Both Hitler’s and Stalin’s goons produced the same things, the only things violent goons ever produce, victims, not ideological allies.

I’m sorry. It’s not logical, except under the assumption of a bad human nature. It is not neutral logic that paradise is brought on by a purge, anyone who thinks that has a slant towards violence and not towards paradise. Of course, he saw all that history, of course, one sees a bad human nature. It’s just that nature is a relative term, something is natural, unless you dreamed it up and made it happen, that’s a different sort of natural. We need to be able to imagine a thinker without the bias.

The root conviction which underlies this is that the central questions of human life, individual or social, have one true answer which can be discovered. It can and must be implemented, and those who have found it are the leaders whose word is law. The idea that to all genuine questions there can be only one true answer is a very old philosophical notion.

I fear he’s telling us what they said, the dictator’s reasons for torturing their victims, “We need to change their minds!” The entire question could be much simpler for him to just say they were lying when they said that. Again, the “root conviction,” is two root convictions, that there is an answer, and that it must be implemented, by force if necessary. The first may be worth a look. The second is psychopathy, and that our sad critic seems to accept it also is a bit hopeless, isn’t it?

Wait, maybe it’s not so bad, maybe the solution is the other way about, rather that the problem is the other way about, OK, I have two problems. The second thing is nuts, fascism, but his point is it’s bad, right, his dual root conviction, and I don’t like much better that the first thing, the idea that there is one solution is somehow bad. Why would that be a problem? I mean it is, twice this week, that has been the complaint about my talk, the comeback, “well, there is no one answer,” like it’s a rule or something. Why? Because if there was, we’d have to kill everyone who didn’t get it?

Don’t be putting those words in my mouth, I never said that, in fact the idea totally refutes my one miracle answer.

Because if there was one answer, the people with the answer would kill the people who don’t like it, and again, we accept that? It would seem to betray a prediction, that the one answer to our problems couldn’t possibly be stop hurting and killing each other, huh. Bias. When you have a shit idea of human nature, you expect the answer to be a slaughter, even when the answer is supposed to be unknown.

The great Athenian philosophers, Jews and Christians, the thinkers of the Renaissance and the Paris of Louis XIV, the French radical reformers of the eighteenth century, the revolutionaries of the nineteenth—however much they differed about what the answer was or how to discover it (and bloody wars were fought over this)—were all convinced that they knew the answer, and that only human vice and stupidity could obstruct its realization.

And violence is the answer to stupidity and doesn’t literally cause it. When did a blow to the head ever make anyone smarter? Imagine getting that far with that thought OK, I’ve worked out exactly what would save humanity from itself but people are too dumb to do it so let’s trying killing a bunch of folks again, maybe it’ll work one of these times.

This is the idea of which I spoke, and what I wish to tell you is that it is false. Not only because the solutions given by different schools of social thought differ, and none can be demonstrated by rational methods—but for an even deeper reason. The central values by which most men have lived, in a great many lands at a great many times—these values, almost if not entirely universal, are not always harmonious with each other. Some are, some are not. Men have always craved for liberty, security, equality, happiness, justice, knowledge, and so on. But complete liberty is not compatible with complete equality—if men were wholly free, the wolves would be free to eat the sheep. Perfect equality means that human liberties must be restrained so that the ablest and the most gifted are not permitted to advance beyond those who would inevitably lose if there were competition. Security, and indeed freedoms, cannot be preserved if freedom to subvert them is permitted. Indeed, not everyone seeks security or peace, otherwise some would not have sought glory in battle or in dangerous sports.

Justice has always been a human ideal, but it is not fully compatible with mercy. Creative imagination and spontaneity, splendid in themselves, cannot be fully reconciled with the need for planning, organization, careful and responsible calculation. Knowledge, the pursuit of truth—the noblest of aims—cannot be fully reconciled with the happiness or the freedom that men desire, for even if I know that I have some incurable disease this will not make me happier or freer. I must always choose: between peace and excitement, or knowledge and blissful ignorance. And so on.

OK, I think I hear him, the wrong idea is that there is a one-size fits all solution and that even if everyone were smart, there would still be conflict and that attempts to impose a universal solution have only resulted in even worse nightmares. That is inarguable, at least for me, but – of course – but I would split that hair of “here is a universal solution, take it or die,” that seems like two things to me. I feel like he’s shouting at us repeatedly that it’s one and that if anyone suggests humanity as whole does anything wrong that they are also suggesting we all be killed for it, and I repeat that’s what Hitler shouted at him, isn’t it, that’s the dictator’s lie, his excuse for a lot of massacres, that the solution creates a necessity for pogroms?

Did he put his disease in us? Can we not imagine that “solution” used to have a bigger, better meaning before Hitler put his stink on it, that not every solution is death and that death is in fact not a solution at all anyway, but the problem? Berlin is making a better point, but he’s using this awful one of theirs to do it and again I don’t understand how this could be, it must have been such a different world.

I think this too is the bias, the bad human nature, that knowledge “will not make me happier or freer.” I agree with his list of conflicts, but it is not the beginning and the end, there are more things under Heaven. It could not, if we were bad, if human life were bad, if bad news were all there was to find, then yes, knowledge couldn’t lead one to happiness – and it is because we suspect that and make our choices accordingly that the world tends to be what we see.

So what is to be done to restrain the champions, sometimes very fanatical, of one or other of these values, each of whom tends to trample upon the rest, as the great tyrants of the twentieth century have trampled on the life, liberty, and human rights of millions because their eyes were fixed upon some ultimate golden future?

What if we found some way to restrain only the violence, and let the rest carry on with its natural ebb and flow? What madness would unrestrained gentleness wreak? What pogrom would these extremist anti-violence people unleash with their awful one-size-fits-all totalitarianism?

I am afraid I have no dramatic answer to offer, only that if these ultimate human values by which we live are to be pursued, then compromises, trade-offs, arrangements have to be made if the worst is not to happen. So much liberty for so much equality, so much individual self-expression for so much security, so much justice for so much compassion. My point is that some values clash: the ends pursued by human beings are all generated by our common nature, but their pursuit has to be to some degree controlled—liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I repeat, may not be fully compatible with each other, nor are liberty, equality, and fraternity.

I’ll shut up and let him finish. Reading it this year, in 2020, should make the point that this good fellow didn’t get it right, like pretty much everybody else.

And it trails off from there as it all does, again, there is no hope in the answer when the question was “considering Man’s fallen state, what can we expect?” I’m finished, I said it already, he’s right, purges are bad; but he’s wrong, finding an answer is not the problem, saying there is no answer, or no answer without purges, is the problem. Accepting evil as inevitable is the problem, making a bad assumption about human nature is the problem, it brings all these nightmares into the realm of possibility when it all should be unthinkable.

Mr. Berlin sounds like a man of his time, if I disliked him I’d say he sounds like a royalist or something, like what was so wrong with the world before, the new ideas are the problem, they’re rocking the boat when we were managing our eternal conflicts just fine, as well as can be expected. And he was right – but the improvement in human consciousness that antisocialization theory could be has the power to make him wrong again, to move us into a more understandable world where science and ideas could be more than weapons. If he could have known that within his world of balanced conflicts, the good things that make it are also the bad things that tear it all down. Again, if he, and all of us were looking for the causality in the here and now and not in some proposed initial condition.

As a final apology, I regret the time and sort of hope I don’t post this, honestly, Berlin hasn’t said anything anyone talks about anymore, nothing the indifference of time hasn’t already sort of polished off. I need to try this on someone from this century, worry about conversations among the living.

So we must weigh and measure, bargain, compromise, and prevent the crushing of one form of life by its rivals. I know only too well that this is not a flag under which idealistic and enthusiastic young men and women may wish to march—it seems too tame, too reasonable, too bourgeois, it does not engage the generous emotions. But you must believe me, one cannot have everything one wants—not only in practice, but even in theory. The denial of this, the search for a single, overarching ideal because it is the one and only true one for humanity, invariably leads to coercion. And then to destruction, blood—eggs are broken, but the omelette is not in sight, there is only an infinite number of eggs, human lives, ready for the breaking. And in the end the passionate idealists forget the omelette, and just go on breaking eggs.

I am glad to note that toward the end of my long life some realization of this is beginning to dawn. Rationality, tolerance, rare enough in human history, are not despised. Liberal democracy, despite everything, despite the greatest modern scourge of fanatical, fundamentalist nationalism, is spreading. Great tyrannies are in ruins, or will be—even in China the day is not too distant. I am glad that you to whom I speak will see the twenty-first century, which I feel sure can be only a better time for mankind than my terrible century has been. I congratulate you on your good fortune; I regret that I shall not see this brighter future, which I am convinced is coming. With all the gloom that I have been spreading, I am glad to end on an optimistic note. There really are good reasons to think that it is justified.

© The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2014

Oh, I’ll post. A blog needs a heartbeat.

 

 

Jeff in italics,

Oct. 23rd.,  2020

Critique of “Killer Instinct”

 

Me in italics.

Trying something here. A mutual on Twitter posted an article in Psyche by Nadine Weidman, a short history of my favourite topic, science’s attempted assaults on the old “human nature” question. I did one of these before, about biology’s efforts to disqualify the power of childrearing, and it was rather angry and confrontational. I was fighting back, advocating for kids. Here’s that –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/06/15/critique-of-do-parents-really-matter/

It was an angry, point by point response to what I saw and still see as right-wing propaganda at a notorious site/magazine called Quillette.

My thoughts have moved on somewhat, I have quit arguing with folks on that side of the fence for one, and I think more globally, perhaps. I think of “human nature” as the base of the flame, where you’re supposed to point the fire extinguisher for best effect. Not so much because we all behave from it – I too want to change the question before I answer it – but because we blame everything on it after the fact.

I’m concerned that it seems a simple evil trick to convince everyone evil is normal so that you can get away with anything. And yes, I was seeing this before 2015. I saw it when I saw that one man’s beating is another man’s spanking and one man’s execution is another man’s assassination. In About Parenting Doesn’t Matter, I worked through it in real time, responded to his text, let my responses accumulate along with his . . . I suspect you wouldn’t understand me, until maybe at the end. Only maybe.

This time I’ll tell you what I think human nature is first, hopefully then my arguments won’t be incomprehensible: I think the best possible summation is “abuse victim.” It gives the evil an explanation, in this world, without resorting to any ideas of innateness, which is only creationism. I don’t assume I’ve convinced you. It’s an insight; they who have ears to hear, kind of thing. But just so you know where I’m at: it’s the one thing most of the other animals are not, they’re mostly either alive or dead. It’s just us beaten half to death and still living and breeding and passing it on. It’s amazing to me that we don’t all see that, but I guess we’re not allowed.

I plan to be kind to the author, but I may get a little confrontational with the ideas she’s telling us about. I’m afraid if the fire isn’t burning, I’m not at the keyboard. This was two days ago, it’s been on my mind.

Do humans really have a killer instinct or is that just manly fancy? | Psyche

(1952 illustration of Australopithecus africanus by Zdenek Burian. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty.)

https://psyche.co/ideas/do-humans-really-have-a-killer-instinct-or-is-that-just-manly-fancy

(Nadine Weidman is a lecturer on the history of science at Harvard University. She is the author of Constructing Scientific Psychology: Karl Lashley’s Mind-Brain Debates (1999) and Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (2004), co-authored with John P Jackson, Jr.

Edited by Sam Haselby)

Horrified by the atrocities of the 20th century, an array of scientists sought to explain why human beings turned to violence. The founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud argued that ‘man is a wolf to man’, driven to hatred, destruction and death. The neuroscientist Paul MacLean maintained that humans’ violent tendencies could be traced to their primitive ‘reptilian brain’. The social psychologist Albert Bandura countered that aggression was not inborn but resulted from imitation and suggestion. Despite the controversy they provoked, such theories often attained the status of conventional wisdom.

I suppose I should only argue after a paragraph, is that a pause?

“Turned to violence” sounds lovely. We were in a better place, or somebody was. Freud, violence exists in mankind, sure. MacLean, violence is basic, foundational, sure. Bandura, not inborn, OK, sort of, but imitation and suggestion, no. Unless an ass-whooping counts as a suggestion, which was exactly the case, I assure you, it absolutely did, which is exactly the problem because in that difference lies the truth of the matter.

Conventional wisdom is a lovely euphemism too, bloody poetic. The wisdom that every last human is capable of and your boss and your father don’t mind. We are a famously sage bunch, just don’t turn on your TV.

What makes claims about human nature become truisms? How do they gain credibility? They might rely on experiments, case studies or observation, but evidence alone is never enough to persuade. Such theories – by virtue of the very fact that they seek to encompass the human – must always go beyond their evidence. They manage to persuade by appealing to common experience and explaining familiar events, by creating a shock of recognition in their audiences, a sudden realisation that ‘this must be true’. They employ characters and a narrative arc, and draw moral lessons. In short: they tell a good story.

Short answer for the first two questions, a beating. It’s a sort of proof of a violent human nature if even my dear old momma thinks hurting me is a good thing. And “spanking” seems to be a word for “formative beating,” for the time of life when some trauma affects the development of your brain and the way you think. It’s one sort of proof when Mom or your brothers beat you, proof of their evil natures, but our response to threat and abuse, Sapolsky’s “only cure” of deflection and what I call antisocialization, your embitterment can appear to provide the proof of it within ourselves as well. So when someone comes along and says it’s the amygdala makes you evil, it resonates, yes, yes, we are, aren’t we? THAT’S why!

A “good story,” of course, is one written to formula, for your DNA or experience; one you are ready to hear. Substitute “only the threat” of a beating if you like, doesn’t hurt my argument a bit. Threats are real, the stress is real, Sapolsky said that too and proved it as well.

In the 1960s, alongside prevailing psychological and neuroscientific theories of human aggression, a new claim appeared, that aggression was a human instinct. Relying on the sciences of evolution and animal behaviour, this ‘instinct theory’ held that human aggression was a legacy of our deep ancestral past and an inbuilt tendency shared with many other animal species. One important novelty of this theory was its assertion that human aggression was not wholly destructive, but had a positive, even constructive side. Its proponents were talented writers who readily adopted literary devices.

My thought about this these days is that this one and many like it cite “evolution” as their theory and then go on to explain how humans are still walking around with their chimpanzee violence, which is sort of the opposite of evolution, the idea that nothing ever goes away. It’s a “no, you didn’t actually evolve” argument, basically an anti-evolution argument. It also, while eating that cake too, suggests that chimpanzees apparently have world wars, world wars are a legacy of the past in this narrative as though we didn’t just invent them, what, a hundred and five years ago.

It looks like that’s my answer for the whole rest of it!

Robert Ardrey’s bestseller African Genesis (1961) won a big American audience. A Hollywood scriptwriter turned science writer, Ardrey travelled to South Africa, then a hotspot for the excavation of prehistoric human remains. In Johannesburg, he met Raymond Dart, the discoverer of a 2 million-year-old fossilised skull, which Dart believed to be the most ancient human ancestor ever unearthed. Although this creature walked upright, its braincase was small and distinctly apelike, so Dart named it Australopithecus africanus, the southern ape from Africa.

Dart found that Australopithecus remains were typically surrounded by equally fossilised animal bones, especially the long heavy leg bones of antelopes evidently hunted for food. But these bones had been shaped and carefully carved. He noticed that they rested comfortably in his own hand. With a shock, he realised that they were weapons. Their double-knobbed ends corresponded perfectly to the holes and dents that Dart observed in other fossilised Australopithecus skulls. Two conclusions seemed inescapable: first, this proto-human ancestor was not simply a hunter; he was also a killer of his own kind. Second, the wielding of bone weapons was not solely a destructive act; rather, it had far-reaching consequences for human evolution. Freed from their role in locomotion, forelimbs became available for finer manipulations, which then drove the enlargement of the human brain. Picking up a weapon, Dart theorised, was the thing that triggered human advancement.

In Ardrey’s retelling, Dart’s hypothesis became even more dramatic. The ancient African savannah was home also to Australopithecus robustus, a vegetarian, unarmed cousin of africanus – and his victim. In Ardrey’s account, the lithe and ruthless africanus, brandishing bone weapons, had exterminated his competitor, an ancient conflict that Ardrey couldn’t resist comparing to the Biblical murder of Abel by his brother Cain. The weapon had propelled africanus toward full humanity while robustus slouched toward extinction. Human beings were, quite literally, Cain’s children.

Evolutionary original sin!

Thanks to Ardrey’s embroidered telling, Dart’s theory inspired perhaps the most famous scene in cinematic history. In the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the leader of a band of ape-men smashes the remains of his defeated antagonists with a crude weapon fashioned out of bone. The victors are carnivorous and armed; the losers, gentle and defenceless. At the end of the sequence, the leader tosses his bone weapon into the air, where it is transformed into a spaceship gliding silently through darkness. Arthur C Clarke, the scriptwriter for Stanley Kubrick’s film, had read Ardrey’s book, and the scene echoed Dart’s claim: human ingenuity begins in violence.

Embarrassed to say, I did not know this connection, the film to a specific discovery, I assumed it was generic. Well, it ended up generic after all the projection, didn’t it, a specific connection was hardly required for Ardrey, let alone Kubrick.

Ardrey was disturbed by the image he had conjured. What could be more frightening than man the irascible ape, with a penchant for violence inherited from his ancestors in his heart and, in his hand, weapons much more powerful than antelope bones? What would prevent this evolved australopithecine from detonating an atomic bomb?

In African Genesis, Ardrey turned to a different branch of science – ethology, the study of animal behaviour in the wild – for an answer. The Austrian ornithologist Konrad Lorenz developed the foundations of ethology by sharing his home with wild animals, mainly birds of many different species. By living with animals, Lorenz revealed some of the mysteries of animal instinct, including the phenomenon of imprinting, in which a baby bird follows the first parent-figure it sees after birth. In popular books in the 1950s, Lorenz enraptured war-weary audiences worldwide with tales of his life with jackdaws, geese and fish, presenting himself as a scientific King Solomon, the Biblical hero whose magic ring granted him the power to talk with the animals.

Through theories about human nature, readers made sense of race riots and assassinations, the Vietnam War and the threat of nuclear annihilation

By the 1960s, Lorenz had begun to notice a curious feature of the aggression that his animals directed at members of their own species. Unlike predator-prey relationships, these intraspecies encounters rarely ended in killing. Instead, the aggressor animals diverted their violent impulses into harmless or even productive channels. Two rival greylag ganders, spoiling for a fight, cackled and threatened each other, but never physically clashed. Their aggression thus discharged in these playacting rituals, each gander returned to his mate in triumph. Lorenz observed that not only was outright violence avoided, but the social bond between each gander and his own family was actually strengthened. Far from a drive purely toward destruction and death, aggression redirected against an outsider engendered the ties of affection and love among the in-group.

Lorenz’s ethology showed that aggression, when properly managed, had positive consequences. Ardrey realised that the answer to the problem of human aggression was not to try to eliminate it – an impossible task, since Dart had demonstrated that it was ingrained in our nature – but to acknowledge aggression as innate and ineradicable, and then channel it productively. In his book On Aggression (1966), Lorenz made his own suggestions for possible outlets, including the space race.

Yeah, one of the things about aggression, it doesn’t like being “properly managed” and has a tendency to occupy management.

It would be difficult to overstate the popularity in the 1960s and ’70s of Lorenz’s and Ardrey’s hypothesis about human nature. In the United States, their books became bestsellers. Through their theories about human nature, readers made sense of race riots and assassinations, the Vietnam War and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Their warning – that humans must accommodate their aggression instinct and re-channel it, before it was too late – was cited by US senators and cabinet secretaries. The message made such a lasting impact that even in the 1980s, UNESCO found it necessary to endorse an official statement that biology didn’t condemn humans to violence.

I get the sense that the conversation always slides from capability to morality, that all the discoveries prove that we kill, that we have killed one another, yes, no kidding, proving the capability, as though the question were are we an animal that is incapable of killing one another – is that the humanist goal, that we become a creature that couldn’t fight if it wanted or needed to? I assume the capability is as there, as they all said – is that supposed to inform the desirability of it somehow? If chimps do it, it’s OK or something?

Violence – good or bad? Is this what our question of our natures, of all possible vectors and traits, this is what our self-exploration has been reduced to? I don’t know where in the article this belongs, but somewhere it does.

How did the killer-instinct idea achieve such cultural power? Because it came embedded in story. Like the greatest fictional works, Lorenz’s and Ardrey’s books drew on an ancient motif: that man’s fatal flaw was also his greatest strength, deprived of which he would cease to be human. Their deft use of character, plot and scene-setting, their invocation of myth, their summing up in a moral that readers could apply to themselves, drove the theories of Lorenz and Ardrey to conventional wisdom status.

One could simply observe the Earth from space to see that we are the sort of creatures whose societies love stories of war and killing, of course our foundational myths support our lifestyles. I personally am not amused that the tool we use to discover our truth is the same one we use to write our foundational fictions, but not surprised if it gives the same answer each time, are you?

The sciences on which they built their theories might have been superseded. But today’s sciences of human nature – sociobiology and evolutionary psychology – have adopted the claim for an evolved predisposition for aggression. The 1960s bestsellers ushered in a genre of popular science that still depends on speculative reconstructions of human prehistory. It also still draws comparisons between the behaviour and emotions of humans and animals. The grudging compliment we pay a powerful man – ‘he’s an alpha male’ – is one hint of the genre. But we ought to be careful about what we believe. Theories of human nature have important consequences – what we think we are shapes how we act. We believe in such theories not because they are true, but because we are persuaded that they are true. The history of the claim for a killer instinct in humans encourages us to think of the ways in which scientists argue and try to persuade. Storytelling, in this view, is a crucial element of both the science and its public presentation.

Ah, “supersede” as they may, though.

I’ve said elsewhere, but need to here as well, evolutionary psychology, doesn’t simply accept this self description, it proceeds from it as foundational and descends into game theory, never applying psychology to the problem of violence itself, never questioning or analyzing the violent actor, never seeking to explain him and his motivations. An assumption of evil human nature expects a man to pick up a club if he sees one and fails humanity in not asking why.

They only think about selection and breeding.

Abuse, pain, these mean nothing in their stories about killing.

Jeff, Oct. 20th., 2020

(a/w Nadine Weidman, but don’t ask her!)

A Kind of Sense

Believe it or not, all this madness makes a kind of sense, I’ve sort of worked out what’s going on with people. You know, it was one of those late 70s all-nighters around the kitchen table spent solving the world’s problems, I just never stopped.

I’m afraid I see a continuum, a spectrum with normal regular people in the middle or so and these genocide movements, Nazism at the far end, all finding their place along it as a function of their belief in social control.

I asked, “what is punishment?”

That’s how I got here.

But I see this social cancer as sort of logical, the illogical extreme of things we all do, things we all believe, the social control, law and order, punishing, spanking. I’m sorry, I know you did, you do – it’s not public yet, what I’m saying. It’s not common knowledge, the real reasons why we shouldn’t, so no blame, no accusation. The whole human world is over us, making sure we do it. You are not alone.

But I’m afraid it is what must change, spanking and punishing cause war and genocide.

Violence seems normal to victims of ubiquitous abuse, and they start to talk about how it’s “natural,” and even “right” – enough of a horror that your mother makes these sorts of noises, let alone the national leader. This is all one, all the same conversation. There must be a rule that says we are not allowed to see the connection, but again, abuse tilts our perceptions.

This talk of right and natural is a positive feedback loop, somehow feeds the abuse, perhaps we don’t mind dishing it out on someone who was already wrong, somehow. The connection from ideas of human nature to real life is hard to draw, try as I may, though.

Perhaps the best I can offer is to say that I have reasoned my way to a positive view of human nature, and now that looks like “default” to me, so that I have proved the matter to myself, but caveats again, I may have always just been this way, but I have tried both views on, and attest to the formative power of these ideas . . . even if I am still struggling to prove it.

Cheers.

Jeff

Oct. 2nd., 2020