Who You Are, Part #2

Offenders as Victims

Inspired by a

Twitter conversation with

Guy Hamilton-Smith

@G_Padraic

His point:

 

“Writing an article about language and stigma and identity and policy, and it is apparent that we tie people to their worst moments: felons, offenders, thieves, murderers, rapists. We locate their humanity in the worst things they ever did.

 

And we do the same for survivors.

Though, instead of locating their humanity in the worst things that they ever did, we center the worst things that have ever happened to them.

 

And, as someone who occasionally identifies as a survivor myself, I think there can be some kind of power in that.”

 

Me, now: this is the part I managed to address above. Identities are always the point for an overly social animal. Survivor, ex-con, these are identities, they identify you as having had the disease, but also the treatment, like a thief is a thief, but an ex-con is a modified one – AST suggests a broken one.

Back to him:

“But, something’s been occurring to me writing this article. One thing that struck me very early on is that the same shame that I’ve felt as someone who caused harm as an ‘offender’ is the exact same shame I’ve heard when talking to survivors.

I suppose I find myself wondering if it isn’t just the flip side of the very same coin, and the interesting and unexpected ways that plays out in our policy.”

Me, then:

my mutation’s take – we’ve been abusing each other so long, all bad feelings must be a punishment, every suffering must be deserved, control is what pain is for, to humans. I’ve got a country music theme on my mind these days where the guy is singing the blues about

all the damage he’s done, like what matters about it is that he feels bad, it hurt HIM – same theory, I guess, if he has a bad feeling must be a punishment . . . ?

. . . right, so that’s the offender feeling punished, shame?

 

G H-S again:

“I think that there’s a distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt, I think, in the context of having wronged another, is good — it means to feel bad about something a person has done.

 

Shame, otoh, I think means to feel badly about who oneself is vs an action”

 

Me, now:  . . . and now I want to try again to develop that second idea – it’s what I was supposed to be working through the first time.

 

It doesn’t need much, I don’t see how I’m going to stretch it out a blog.

 

Offenders as Victims

 

Ah, topical too, that.

Much of the world of illusion public bullshit we hear has some tiny kernel of truth that they are leveraging. I am going to “redefine” guilt and shame here, but I’m not feeling combative today, the existing definitions are not wrong, I just focus on certain connotations, offer a complicating counter stream to the dominant definition – ah, there’s something! The dominant definition belongs to the dominant mode of thought and the dominant culture, doesn’t it? And from a different cultural perspective, down in the trenches in some culture or other, not seeing it all from above, that’s what we – sorry, I – call “wrong.”

So I don’t think I’m sweeping away the normal way of looking at it or destroying the dominant culture. I know that mostly, guilt is self-regulation, a sense that we know we’ve “done wrong,” and I know that shame is, as the person above says, about being regulated by others. A sense that we know we “are wrong.” I know and agree in a normal, social way and even with the rationale. But we all know it’s the dominant culture that is driving the whole world off a cliff, right?

So I offer other definitions. Call it a thought experiment.

OK.

Who needs guilt when there is a human being every six feet willing to beat me back into line? I’ve been suspicious about it my whole life that supposed “guilt” is nothing but learned fear of reprisal. You learned it; it’s “internalized;” it’s “something you’re doing now,” that’s guilt: gaslighting. I’ve been here thinking this for a long time.

Shame is about who you are?

Isn’t the point what that means, that who you are therefore needs abusing? Again, the dominant culture gaslights for dominance: we are going to hurt you because of who you are. “Shame” is you knowing you deserve it. Again, their abuse, your “shame.” It’s part of you. You were wrong to be born a whatever and you’re wrong to feel bad about it, that stereotype, “self-hating” member of the subordinate culture. Shame is bad. If you have that, well, you could be a better person, all we’re saying. Shame drives people towards evil, donchaknow.

Sorry, strike all that verbosity, same tack as before.

Who needs shame in a world of racism and every possible form of hate all around? Not our hate, your “shame.”

Psychology would seem to serve this purpose, gaslighting for the dominant, competitive culture, sorry, G H-S. Everything that happens to us is now a fault in us that needs fixing, a broken part of us. No wonder analysis carries shame and guilt with it, it deals in it, sells it. Whups, getting a little shrill. OK, on with it. In my context , what does offender guilt and shame look like?

Well, guilt is clear, I think, or already offered my correction above.

Offender shame. I thought I saw something, what was it? Oh, right, what pain is for.

We are an overly social species, we seem able to prioritize something about ourselves beyond even survival, to look at the current state of affairs, and we have a way of anthropomorphizing everything, like everything has a goal and a purpose. I mean, even God has goals, evolution is always having to shake off accusations of goals and intentions. It’s how we view things, I suppose it must have been all language was for in the beginning, to share intentions, that book I’ve been ranting about said that, so maybe there is no speech without that framework.

With this in mind, I submit – OK, re-submit, in longer form – that we think pain is for something, intentional, so that pain, any pain at all has this aspect, why was it directed at me? – yes, even internal pressures, like if guilt and shame are what we all think they are, even these. If they hurt, why, what’d I do? I think we experience internal pressures like these exactly the same way we experience the external ones, we feel subject to all of our feelings, feelings are things that happen to us, involuntarily. This, I think, is when an aggressor or an offender feels shame, the suffering side of himself, feeling put upon by his own by his own guilt and/or shame, suffering under it as though we were more than one person – again, internalization is gaslighting, shame is internalization – a learned an expectation of hate, nothing more.

It’s not a created thing, trying to exist, it’s buried and mis-labeled thing, trying not to. If shame is “bad,” it’s because the social hatred that creates it is bad.

Depends on your point of view, right?

When it’s slowly killing you, shame is “bad.” When you’re being a good soldier in order to avoid it, it’s “good.” Depends who you ask. And to solve this longstanding riddle, we have to make up our damned minds, good, when we’re using it, or bad when we’re feeling it? You can’t have it both ways.

I’m in the second camp, obviously. What I see, is if society shames you so bad you break, whether you invited it by committing crimes or not, then psychology will work to convince you that the scab of your shame is of your own creation and another one of your crimes and that you must fix that as well. You must do your work to overcome your learning from your punishments – I mean after you finally learn the initial lessons, of course.

You shall learn these, the hard lessons of the control and your punishments, and then you may go free. If you want to free and happy, however, there is more work to do and you must un-learn it. You’ve done your time, paid your debt, but now, because of who that made you, this ”shame-based” person (Bradshaw’s definition of that was less specific than this blog, I think), you’re still not right and society still doesn’t want you – I think there is shame in this, do it all, it’s never enough. It must be who you are.

To repeat, certainly the new issue of your shame is absolutely about who you are, who you became. The previous section said the other bit, that it always was.

They only have you to work with after all, not “society.” If you can’t stop the cause, treat the symptoms, and fair enough, sort of. In real life, when living rather than thinking, I too settle for the lesser of two evils. I always preferred thinking for that reason! (Writing, I mean writing. I couldn’t think my way through a four-way stop if I couldn’t write it down and look at it first. You should have seen the days spent trying to work out a three-way light switch before I sat down and drew it out! Keeping it positive, I’m gonna say it was “adorable.”)

Yeah, my attitude still bites.

I do think guilt and shame are gaslighting terms, the magic words that transmute our hurt into some problem we have, internally, rather than obvious scars and bruises received from others. But again, I can still speak your language about it too.

If that was it, it’s less than I wanted, but it’s not nothing.

Happy Sunday.

 

 

Jeff,

Aug. 8th., 2020

How to Save the World

AST – I haven’t stolen “Murphy’s Law of Nature,” or “proactive aggression,” or half-stolen “managed aggression” yet, AST is my brand-  is a system whereby we create aggression through social pressure, threat, control, and abuse, and disallow the free “reactive aggression” that used to put a stop to it, thereby storing our aggression for use when the group or the leader determines it should be used. It’s the creation, capture, storage, and management of aggression, proactively. Ideologies that project aggression and violence as natural and innate, like religion and EP, seek to bury this function, to protect it.

The purpose, I am not yet clear about, but the effect seems to be the recurring nightmare of conflict and war.

With this definition, we might make a dent in war, is my idea. I think it’s a thing explains the see-saw of war and détente, war’s apparent inevitability, which is there because we know we’re always busy creating the anger for it.

I don’t know what else I can say. It doesn’t matter what direction you push; pushes all go one direction. Stop pushing.

 

Jeff

Aug. 8th., 2020

Changing Who You Are

Came up in a Twitter conversation the other day, someone was talking about how convictions and diagnoses are labels and get used like identities, that who you are is defined by your hospital or police record.

I’ve been hammering away on the same theme for a long time now and it still often feels like some penny has just dropped. The usual way to talk about punishment is that it’s a tool we use to modify behaviours, to discourage certain behaviours, that it’s about the crime, the act, the behaviour, this is what we are trying to change, and I can talk that way, I understand that but another way to think about it perhaps that it’s supposed to change us, change who we are. How much is it about controlling theft and how much about controlling thieves? No suspense, it’s less of the former and more of the latter than we like to say.

I’ve been through the in-group/out-group aspect of law before, when I’ve been ranting about forgiveness, that we make a law, convict and punish “their” transgressors and forgive “ours,” and that doesn’t need a longer explanation this awful year. Sort of a different thing this time. That it suddenly hit me, yes, you can “change a behaviour,” but you’re not “changing” the one that got you in trouble, that’s in the past, that particular behaviour’s window of change has closed. And the new thing is a different behaviour. So we can say it, language can take you there, but you have to know how to ride it, context and such.

We are changing “your behaviour,” which again, one behind and one ahead, different “behaviours,” I think “your behaviour” means you. The theory is, change you and the new you produces new behaviour. Of course, “changing behaviour” is euphemistic. Here’s where the overture shows up again, a theme throughout the opera – science is being pretty insistent that there are no documented cases of humans changing other humans for the better, and a world of documentation on how we are destroyed.

You can’t turn things to words and then perform logic on your words like arithmetic and expect your sum to match the real world one, because no single word is perfect and many are even poor and in combination, these errors carry us away from reality immediately, on another trajectory. 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 our cumulative brain damage is what causes all of our problems.

And you can’t fix that with law and order, law and order is the cause.

I know, does not compute. That’s why we are where we are. In this case, our attempt to codify behaviour and make projections, the arithmetic, we are always one hundred and eighty degrees different in trajectory, going the wrong direction entirely. We punished too hard, we didn’t punish hard enough- oh well, I guess we tried everything. Who do I gotta hurt to make this problem go away?

Insoluble riddle?

Or brain damaged ape, and they sort of all are?

We look at it when Mom hits us to tell us not to hit and we see it again when we do it the first time or two, but we get over it, somehow. We’re used to it now.

Ha. Starting to read my endings like punch lines.

 

 

Jeff

Aug. 5th., 2020

 

Inspired by a

Twitter conversation with

Guy Hamilton-Smith

@G_Padraic

His point:

 

“Writing an article about language and stigma and identity and policy, and it is apparent that we tie people to their worst moments: felons, offenders, thieves, murderers, rapists. We locate their humanity in the worst things they ever did.

 

And we do the same for survivors.

Though, instead of locating their humanity in the worst things that they ever did, we center the worst things that have ever happened to them.

 

And, as someone who occasionally identifies as a survivor myself, I think there can be some kind of power in that.”

 

Me, now: this is the part I managed to address above. Identities are always the point for an overly social animal. Survivor, ex-con, these are identities, they identify you as having had the disease, but also the treatment, like a thief is a thief, but an ex-con is a modified one – AST suggests a broken one.

Back to him:

“But, something’s been occurring to me writing this article. One thing that struck me very early on is that the same shame that I’ve felt as someone who caused harm as an ‘offender’ is the exact same shame I’ve heard when talking to survivors.

I suppose I find myself wondering if it isn’t just the flip side of the very same coin, and the interesting and unexpected ways that plays out in our policy.”

Me, then:

my mutation’s take – we’ve been abusing each other so long, all bad feelings must be a punishment, every suffering must be deserved, control is what pain is for, to humans. I’ve got a country music theme on my mind these days where the guy is singing the blues about

all the damage he’s done, like what matters about it is that he feels bad, it hurt HIM – same theory, I guess, if he has a bad feeling must be a punishment . . . ?

. . . right, so that’s the offender feeling punished, shame?

 

G H-S again:

“I think that there’s a distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt, I think, in the context of having wronged another, is good — it means to feel bad about something a person has done.

 

Shame, otoh, I think means to feel badly about who oneself is vs an action”

 

Me, now:  . . . and now I want to try again to develop that second idea – it’s what I was supposed to be working through the first time.

 

It doesn’t need much, I don’t see how I’m going to stretch it out a blog.

 

Jeff

Aug. 5th., 2020

updated Aug. 8th., 2020

Bad is the New Good

It’s killing me, listening to you talk. I don’t see duality, I see duplicity.

Folks are either straight up screaming for blood or they’re moping about affecting melancholia about how it’s so sad that we have to do that all the time but whaddayagonnado? Ever notice how in every story, fictional or otherwise, life and “fate” and “history,” the inexorable forces tossing our characters or people about are all just people being assholes and trying to hurt or kill each other?

Of course you have. The authors, the researchers, they come so close to it when they say that most violence is moral violence, this is true – but it’s only half a thought. This equation, violence is moral, is more instructive the other way about, but the point is in arithmetic and logic, it’s all one, only expressed differently – but that matters. Let’s turn it over, see if it’s a boy or a girl, see what changes.

Morality is mostly violence.

What do we do when we see something “bad?”

This is the central confusion for me my entire life, I don’t know about you, a million rules and not hurting folks isn’t one of them, I mean if I break one of the million rules, then there is no rule against hurting me. I see a hole in this policy. If you were trying to stop folks from hurting each other, making a rule for them to be obliged to hurt each other is . . . backwards. It is nearly impossible for me to type that, to insult you all, to suggest you can’t see something so obvious, but  – gestures grandly, showing you the world. If you understand that much, them pardon me, WTF is this?

No way out, I know.

I have beaten my arguments about human origins and evolutionary psychology as it stands into the ground and I see it, it’s not working, it’s powerless. Yesterday’s effort was the fizzle-out of that effort, I need a new angle. I’m going to try to go straight to it, good and bad.

They do not, repeat not, create each other.

Yes, they define each other, the portion of one defines the portion of the other – but they are logical opposites, one annihilates the other, so I repeat, they do not create one another, good does not produce bad, when good intentions go bad, when “all that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing,” it’s still not the good part that is causative. If I led the Nazis to Anne Frank’s attic while bringing them food, I may have caused something awful, but to name my mistake as “the cause” ignores more direct and powerful “causes.”

More to my point, bad cannot create good either, and so punishment cannot be what it purports to be, some magic whereby we create good people with violence. For evidence, we see the violence – we do not see the saints, the better people. What we see is the creature that seems to always need the beatings and somehow never changes even so.

That’s because the change happened before, at the very start, you’ve already been changed. The change was here before you were.

Uh oh, new thought, probably doesn’t belong here, that Rousseau was only wrong in his real world application, in naively thinking the “savages” of his time weren’t also fully developed warrior societies also antisocializing themselves – perhaps it was more of a children’s group situation like Mead described among the Yanomami that those early Europeans saw, that it wasn’t the adults doing the antisocializing like it is in Europe, so they missed it.

Some caveats – that made total sense to me, antisocialization is real to me, it has explained too much, given me a way into the world, a grid by which I am able to connect things and so not live quite as fractured and confused as before. If it’s a blank spot, some bit of magic I’m pulling out of a dark place and doesn’t help you, please, ask me, talk to me. I am trying to anticipate the objections, but this has been my mode of thought for years now, I don’t think I remember how you all think about it.

Sorry. Moving on.

“Human nature” isn’t a debate, it’s a before and after situation. You were born good, and by the time you had any power in the world you were bad – they’re both right, sort of. Sure, humans are greedy, selfish violent creatures – now. Humanity was born good, I cannot seem to find my way all the way to discredit the urge towards morality, but by the time we had power over the world we were bad, same, same, fractal sort of model. Ah – I think this may be new.

I’m saying antisocialization – meaning just what it sounds like, the process of making you antisocial – is what we get from our efforts at alchemy, of trying to turn bad to good by abusing people to improve their behaviour – again, both in our lives, starting early and in the life of our species. In the here and now, we solve the problem, the disconnect of the supposed magic, the dissonance, by simply deciding antisocial is good and necessary. And necessary, we can talk about that – well, I can.

If you think it’s necessary, then it’s not up for discussion, is it? And if it’s not up for discussion, not slated for review, if it’s not going anywhere, then I guess it had better be good, otherwise life might suck. But it’s not good. Also, you know you can’t win the necessary debate, that’s why it’s “good.” Nobody’s going to argue with “good,” are they?

Hi, I’m Jeff, pleased to meet you.

God sent me to argue with “good.”

Some things exist because they are necessary, and other things are necessary because they exist – they will tell you this regarding our weaponry, well after the fact of our desire for it, that once one culture acquires a weapon, they all must, or be selected out. Once guns exist for you, they are necessary for me – this is the same with our antisocialization, which adds up to our desire and proficiency with weapons, to a large extent. Guns are “necessary,” well, at least until I get my rechargeable phaser, they are. They weren’t, until they existed, but now they are, before and after.

But they’re bad, guns are bad – they would be if I had one and you didn’t, right? One gun is bad? I guess that’s a way to look at it, the first one was bad? Once everybody has one, it’s all good? When is that scheduled to come about, would be my question, what exists that everybody gets one, of course it’s a trick question, folks are dying for not getting water. Guns are bad.

I said it already, the point is, some things are only necessary because they’re already here, I said guns and our self-antisocialization – the latter manifests as “strength,” our pain, our damage, our being antisocial and needing some enemy to work off of, I mean, it’s “strength” when it’s working for us. If you got it, I need it – but it’s bad, you having it is bad, and my whole life is the argument that if it’s bad for you then damnit it’s bad for me too, it isn’t magically transformed to “good,” because I got it too, I am not special, I am not magic. Good is good and bad is bad.

Tell me we do not differ on these points, please.

With that little bit of game theory, I guess the entire time spent worrying about origins was a waste, we’d just do it all again today, our origins never leave us. I suppose that’s a before and after also, good used to be good, bad used to be bad. Violence, aggression, all were bad at that point in the past when we were small and vulnerable ( must have been a verb, like edible, huh? PaTING! Ow! Ya vulnered me!). Love, tenderness, mercy – these were good when we were helpless, these things met approval all around. Power turns all good things to bad. The strength that replaces them is bad and bad is not “the new good,” although slang that plays on that is always there, bad, nasty, filthy, all these things get twisted to mean good, ostensibly ironically.

Of course, when you have some weapon that’s bad for me and if I get one that’s bad for you and what is bad for you is good for me, I have heard it before, I’m not arguing with some meme I’ve never heard. That logic, bad for you is good for me, really only works if your mind cannot see over the fence of your self, if you really can’t take one more step to realize that you are his problem, that your good is bad for literally everyone else, that it never made the magical transformation and protest all you like, you’ve been outvoted by literally everyone else.

You’re bad. And no-one needs your bad self to be stronger, you’re causing enough damage. Just stop. Face your pain, acknowledge it and accept that bad things have happened to you, don’t let the ones who hurt you win, don’t become your tormentor, don’t decide it’s good when you do it, because then it was “good” when it happened to you too, you’re signing off on all of it, that bad is good, which is what is just underneath loving Big Brother, logically speaking.

Seems a good a place as any to drop the mic and run.

 

 

 

Jeff

Aug. 4th., 2020

All Life

I think I made a case elsewhere, that if there is a market for testosterone, that if men generally support a market that says we are not manly enough and more manliness would be better, that this is a proof that we can think we are not naturally tough enough for this world and walk about in search of technological ways to enhance our “strength,” so I feel there can’t be much serious argument about the motivations for our social abuse; “strength” goes a long, long, way too long a way with us.

So where are we, we think we aren’t tough enough, we will acknowledge things we do to adjust our toughness upwardly, when any bad thing happens, if no other upside is to be found, there is always that adversity makes us stronger, and whatever does that has an upside, tougher is always apparently an upside. This applies to our controlling abuse as well, if you learned nothing from your spankings or your prison sentence, at least you are probably stronger, which again, how can stronger be a bad thing?

(Right? How can stronger criminals be a bad thing?)

So what I’m left with, the part that I haven’t gotten on record yet . . . is intent?

All this is true, but I sure didn’t have this plan, abuse for toughness and take it to my own kid, at least not on purpose! Somewhere between intent and context, maybe . . . but we don’t really credit any function that doesn’t have a goal. I worry that as long as we “didn’t mean to anything,” then it didn’t happen or something, I mean that’s the whole punishment to teach civilization argument already there, complete with the advantage of intent – not only did I not do it for that reason, but I have another reason, a good reason! I have a tough row to hoe, selling this. Semi-conscious beliefs are near impossible targets, how does that go? You can’t reason someone out of a belief they never reasoned themselves into?

Ha – you know you learned this one with a spanking, before you could read. Wait – what is EP’s “reason?”

Power, advantage, maximizing your resources . . . sinners, all of ‘em, except not, right? Ah! If it’s Rousseau, if we’re born good, then EP’s “reason” is simply wrong, and if the Rousseauvian side has a better answer for why the bad things happen, for the Hobbesian principle, then that’s a win, two to one. I mean, historically, we have a tie, right, Rousseau explains the good, we’re born that way and calls the bad “cultural,” –

– wait, I don’t know this for sure – he didn’t spell it out did he, didn’t say exactly how culture turns us to evil, did he? And if, so, he wasn’t right or anything, was he? I’m just saying, if he didn’t break it down like I think I have, then “culture” for me, is too big a word, so big as to be almost meaningless. If AST falls under it, I’ll take that back, but if it has to mean not biology I don’t see how it does –

– But born good “explains” the good, it’s in our genes, the kindness, the sharing, we’re a prosocial animal and leaves evil requiring an explanation, while on the other side, the Hobbesians posit greed and violence as the natural thing and suggest that goodness needs an explanation. Sounds like a tie, right?

LOL. Except. Except where does the invented thing, the not born that way thing come from then? We lay that out and things get clearer.

On the one hand, taking Rousseau into the present, psychology, both organized and naïve, what everyone knows pain feels like and does to people, this is at least my humanist explanation for evil – hurt, sort of an explanation and a definition all in one. On the other hand we got really moral because the boss is a cabal of murderous psychopaths and they ordered us to on threat of death, this, at least by this book, is evolutionary psychology’s explanation for morality. On the one hand, humanism and psychology, on the other hand, authoritarianism, fascism is morality.

Don’t get me wrong, my rap adds up to the same equation, except in reverse, “morality is fascism.” I don’t think they are saying they approve – although we do need to learn to rise above some limitation of language that always makes it sound like they do – they’re just saying that’s the way it is, cold science, except again, so cold that the well known effects of threat and abuse are ignored, they are only factored in as deterrents, their reality completely unaccounted for, again, I hit him but it didn’t hurt him, this lie at every level of human life. Is it really so unthinkable that we’re all hurting one another? Like, “net” hurting one another, that there is no alchemical reversal where hurt becomes growth? Isn’t it common knowledge that we’re all hurt?

Have you never heard of the blues?

“All life is sorrowful,” – does that not ring a bell?

“All are sinners?” “Life is pain, life is struggle . . . ” No?

All these well accepted truths exist for no reason and our science has no plans to test them and is in fact going the other direction apparently asking why are we so good instead? Why?

The idea that we are nurturing a gene suite for this lifestyle, abuse and war, suggests an interaction, genes and creating an environment to activate certain of them, an interaction and an adaptation that I think would be not unlike our selfish genes, safe from extinction (and God forbid, from evolution?), that any eugenic attempt to select this adaptation away fails as a part of the same conundrum Wrangham gives, that we can’t deselect the de-selectors, and so this adaptation is maybe impervious to genetic variation? . . . where I mean to go with this is perhaps his premise isn’t unassailable either, is it possible this adaptation wasn’t a matter of selecting anyone out at all? I mean, no-one thinks the bonobos went about executing their chimpanzees, do they? Are they short a gene from the chimps?

I don’t think he said anything about a genetic change to define us at his date, 300,000 years back, it was all skeletons and self-domestication! No gene change has to mean no selection, but no evidence doesn’t mean no change, ancient DNA isn’t common. I will pursue this, all may depend on it. First, I will search the book again.

I just cannot make these leaps, we got rid of the brutes, so that’s why we killed everything on the planet, again, WTF . . . I was so excited, now I’m basically calling it all rubbish, I should stop writing until a better mood takes me.

OK, no, not happening; I don’t think my mood about this is going to change, it hasn’t changed regarding the same meme in parenting which I’ve been battling for almost thirty years now, but I guess I’ll make a slight shift, stop saying EP is wrong, I think I see the powerlessness of that now, that it’s “right” if you come at it from authority’s side, that still today this is the dark side of psychology, that it’s not generally some helper trying it on you for your own benefit, but your boss, for his. In an upside down to me world, this is pretty much legitimate applied psychology, to analyze how rats and people move about under certain restrictions. Male and cold as it is, if you call this psychology, you can get it past most of these hominids, at least the males.

I would like to switch tactics and simply say, I have something to add.

I would say that along with forcing cost/benefit analyses, the threat and control of the leaders has other effects, negative feelings, that are the legitimate concern of psychology and have real effects in the world, and also even heritable genetic effects that make the patient’s psychology a moving target through time, and this is the magic of DNA is it not, that the same restrictions and stimuli placed on a different animal can produce different effects. One would think that adaptations are not stable, that as the animal makes it, the situation is altered.

Psychology is a human endeavor. It’s one thing when the presence of a bear forces a cost benefit decision from us, it’s another thing when a human being, that we can theoretically understand, does it. It gets psychological, complex. The power of the cousins both the cousins and EP would have you take as a condition of life, as immutable as needing air, as a stimulus and a condition for life, and frankly they don’t like you questioning them. Psychology starts just below them, they are not subject to police or psychologists.

And they sure don’t factor easing your pain into their plans.

All of them, every person I have read regarding human origins and human futures simply narrates. They’ve looked, they see what’s going on, look deeper, and come back saying, sorry, there’s nothing for it – but do buy my book with all the detail about how there’s nothing for it! I love some of these folks, but you are scientists, not news anchors, you’re supposed to be coming up with something to change the story, not just narrating the end for us, for God’s sake.

You know who doesn’t seem to want change, who doesn’t seem to be feeling the end of the world just yet – is the power, of course. The science, the gormless narration, it’s all paid by the power, no wonder they find no hope, no-one is paying them to find hope – and no surprise their psychology is top-down, business psychology, how to move these rats. So I would add the other half, the other side of psychology, victim psychology, the psychology of abuse and pain, and apply it to all concerned – the cousins, they too live under one another’s power and threat, they too are hurt – psychology 101, happy healthy people don’t need to dominate all they see. The pain of the elders is a huge factor in human affairs – and EP makes it sound like they’re all in paradise already, reaping all the benefits and paying no costs – it’s the American Dream, no need to analyze them.

You might think I’m off in space, but this is the very heart of matters, of all matters. It is true at the individual level, when I am trying to sort out the puzzle of the human being, that all the info I can find has this slant, authority over psychology, and to understand it I pretty much had to write my own book, but it’s true at the level of the tree of human knowledge also, that the branch of EP is a failed graft, an artificial branch with only the boss’ preferred knowledge flowing in and out of it and its foliage is all tainted and unhealthy.

Ha – sorry, Richard, not so much two kinds of aggression as two kinds of psychology, is what I’m seeing. And I’m taking your catchphrase, “proactive aggression,” you were wasting it on gang rule. Proactive aggression should mean “aggression that is managed, meaning created, collected, stored and dispensed proactively.” The good people of the world need this concept and gang rule doesn’t need a better sounding name.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2020

The Arc of the Universe/Capital Punishment

We are phasing out capital punishment.

Dr. Pinker and the entire world of humankind will tell you that’s a good sign. Guess what I’m gonna do?

In this old favourite of mine –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/

I try to make the case that if we have reduced child sexual abuse, that we didn’t really do that for what we would think of as moral or humanitarian reasons, not really, that in fact we traded in any possibility of the bonobo lifestyle in favour of that fabled Platonic essence, “aggression.”

Well, today is the going to be the same sort of ultra-depressing thing, same awful format. I am sorry. Would you really leave me alone with all these awful thoughts? Both of you? Ha.

The Goodness Paradox, chapter eight, Capital Punishment. It begins with an 1820 execution for property damage and notes that in most of the world you don’t die for that anymore, not legally, and the sentence that tweaked me was four pages in, after the tide turned on it, after a treatise, “On Crimes and Punishment, Cesare Beccaria, “Prisons then increasingly took over the responsibility for social control.”

Since then, we don’t select criminals out – we abuse them.

As I said, Dr. Pinker and the entire world is trying to sell this to one another as more moral, more humanist, a step along that arc to somewhere – abusing people. I heard the doctor is a doctor of some sort of psychology! In fact it was him got the Nurture Assumption published and promoted it and its central idea, that nurture is a myth and science doesn’t credit it, so he tacitly leaves the field to me to say abuse is not a myth and so this is his explanation why things are “getting better” – abuse. Control, I expect he’d rather say.

The point is, we say “social control” as if the opposite were the truth, as if we had any power to control anything in any direction other than to make it worse. “Social control” can only mean worse, by the doctor’s own cherished science. Sorry, I’m quoting one author and trashing another – honestly, I haven’t yet determined to be angry at Wrangham, it’s the longhair I’m after, the better natures guy – and EP generally, of course, which yes, means Wrangham too. I have plans to try to rehabilitate that one, though, he shows potential. Ha.

We are a warlike branch of primates that is learning not to execute its most warlike individuals, and not only that but to abuse them for years or decades before setting them free again – it is possible to see this and talk about it as though we were not minutes from solving it all. It is possible and entirely reasonable to see this as not at all the path to the utopia. All you have to do is stop expecting good things from abuse. You psychos. Sorry, outside voice?

So yes, we don’t sex our kids, we beat them, or turf them outside among the children’s gangs. Yes, we don’t execute our thieves, we confine and abuse them, damaging them further. Our entire species entire plan to solve crime is exactly every villain’s back story, but things are getting “better.” I understand he can make a case, he has numbers – does he have a reason? If he doesn’t have a better one than control, I can take no hope from him, I’m afraid. And I know, the scourge I blame we do not keep statistics for. Yet.

I know, it looks like a continuum, from verbal reproaches through spankings all the way to capital punishment and so if we stop going all the way to the end it’s an improvement, I heard that – but the whole spectrum does not move uniformly. Fewer executions does not mean fewer spankings or fewer reasons for reproaches. Fewer executions has not moved all of humanity towards gentleness, we keep applying the abuse to more and more, the fewer instances of imprisonment and such we may have expected if the entire board were moving have not materialized. If we really thought it was a continuum, then we would follow reducing executions with reducing incarcerations also, and then spankings. We reduced capital punishment, but I don’t think punishment generally is going away. I don’t imagine the numbers of people living in prisons is falling like the number of violent deaths is, is it, doctor?

OK, we’re stopping executions, that’s good. I’m just asking why, was it humanist all around, or, dark side, were we missing a chance to abuse them, and losing self-motivated soldiers, is that maybe why we did that instead.

We’ve just got it all backwards is all. We try harder than the chimpanzees do to be good, but our efforts cause world wars. If we hated bad behaviour a little less, we’d be a little less hateful, I think. You don’t take morality lessons from killers, I understand it, that the symbolism of capital punishment isn’t endearing – but no-one really takes morality lessons about stealing food from a guy who runs a prison either, that guy has clearly got it all ass backwards too, doesn’t he?

I have a dream that some day you’ll say yes.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2020

More on WAR, Chapter 12

Sounds like our elites and the generals have exempted themselves from some basic selection, pick bad fights and losing and going on to breed nonetheless. I hear the story, how these functions turn to that . . . it’s too many steps, too many things, several functions and none of it works unless I think aggression is automatic . . . that’s all very weak, I don’t have an argument, it’s fine, I guess.

The fact that more battles are lost by the initiators than before doesn’t mean anything, does it? I mean who won the battle, where the border is drawn, the outcome of the battle – this changes society not at all, still two warring groups same as before, still generals and grunts, still the same social situation for the general population – unless one nation loses all, all the generals are winners after, same as before, the class war they are always winning . . . war is Hell. Who won and who lost is just about the least salient thing about it, at least in terms of science.

I think he’s telling me that this is the trend of modernization, just what I said: war serves a purpose, win or lose, “winning” the war hardly matters – sometimes that’s what complex means, that the basic idea is lost, that basic understanding won’t apply? Today and going forward, war will just be a constant grind at the borders, no winners or losers, just constant threat, to keep us in our left hemispheres, keep the adrenaline pumping and don’t give anyone a chance to think. I am not satisfied that the supposed purpose is nothing other than the elites’ egos, than their commitment to blind confidence because it had always worked before – something tilts the conversation towards war, something tips our deliberations to aggression beside that the aggressor wins, aggression logically precedes, it’s a chicken and egg thing, if you weren’t being aggressive before, how did you learn that it’s a winning strategy?

Again, EP, of course we want to win – I mean you’re going to fight, the fight is assumed – but it’s somehow worth talking about, the genius question – would you rather win – or lose? Science, donchaknow. Put down the sword and ask me, I’ll tell you: I’d rather not fight; I win some, you win some, we share this fish. How is that supposed to catch on if you think the fight is sacred and not to be questioned or avoided?

Bah. I’m not comfortable, I want to put this chapter behind me, get on with the wrap-up.

But that was a central thing there, that my antisocialization idea is what tilts the arguments, what makes us an aggressive creature so that aggression is foundational in our minds, and violence appears to be some default, you know, where for evil to triumph all that is required of good men is to do nothing.

Certainly the entire central theme of this book, the proactive aggression of simple war ambushes, and of aboriginal society executions, besides affecting conscious life and plans also antisocializes us, threat does that, you’re a different creature living under it, even if you don’t get selected out – and you matter more if you don’t, if you were affected by this fear and passed that effect on to your children.

I’ve been on about spankings, but lethal conformism is an abusive environment as well, no kidding. Again, I think we have discovered genes for it, and are exploiting ourselves, pressing the environmental buttons on purpose, and selecting for it. So in a way, all of this EP stuff is a branch of Antisocialization Theory, the Selection Department. An aspect of how we are engineering ourselves.

I’m stuck on it. For me, this, in all the infinite data points and all the theories and ideas, everyone sometimes thinks they know what the world needs, in all of it, this is my cause, what I think is the linchpin of it all, the social control, the threat, the spanking: it changes us emotionally, attitudinally, as I said above: when you live under threat, you have to get used to it. You have to start thinking it’s natural and inevitable.

I think it would be worth a try, to remove the threat – social control, punitive abuse, morality basically – and then see if we can think better things. It’s me plan.

Bit of a long shot, sure.

 

 

Jeff

July 27th., 2020

Modularity, or Same Ol’ Circuitry

No, not like that, not still the mean old ape-man.

You know I think we’ve been the meaner one since we invented ourselves, that that was the point, but that’s not the point this time.

I’m thinking on a much shorter timescale this afternoon, generations, the brief history of human knowledge. It will still be too familiar from me, I’m sorry. What it is, is I worry that we don’t really evolve in our thinking from mother to daughter, I mean is my brain so different from my father’s as to produce a completely different bunch of thoughts? Here’s the repetition:

Adaptive is the new innate, it’s not built in, we chose it – but all things being equal we’re stuck with it anyway, whaddayagonnado, maladapt?

Evolution is the new creation, we aren’t “born sinners” anymore, we’ve been upgraded to “evolved to maximize our resources” instead.

Cultural, societal is the new . . . what? The new primate hierarchy? The new doing what you’re told?

What I’m after is we probably don’t gain a new, heritable circuit for every new thought, and both these iterations of human origin stories and their associated languages probably come from the same neural circuit, so that conflation is not so much it as it is simply different interpretations of the same synapse-firing networks. It occurs that our neural networks may need to work interfacing with the world whether or not other ones are able to report or interpret that action, articulate it. Likely, all of our word constructions are textual and verbal interpretations of activities the nature of which we cannot know, as Kant (that dweeby f@#k, as someone on Twitter said recently) said. If there is progress this way in human thought, then we hope it’s in that the new language gets closer to it than the old language did.

And yes, it would, it may, perhaps it does, but again, same circuit . . . so we hope to perhaps bring different circuits to the same problem . . . I’m not sure, certainly change is possible and even happens, but if we grow up with one interpretation and try to learn another, we are always probably engaging the same circuit, and so falling back to some sort of conservatism, if we learn the new words, we end up dragging them back into the old meanings. Ah. Takes me back to my parenting blogging days.

Consequences is the new punishment – when it manifests a good old fashioned pat on the bum, you know it’s the same circuit with a new name.

It’s a bit of a “we’re not so different, you and I/we are all the same” argument isn’t it, and yes, surely it’s the same one all the good science folks make; under the hood, we’re the same colour, same components. True when we’re talking about a few generations forward or back as well, I think.

Huh. A sermon after all.

Be careful out there.

 

Jeff

July 26th., 2020

Reactive Aggression, and the Other Kind – Updated

Ah! I’ve cracked it!

The point, the salient thing about “reactive aggression” is not so much that it is a reaction and a response, an answer, but that it is aggression now, immediately. Again – it’s a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron . . . never mind, I won’t be dragged into that. Science requires new terms and sometimes they are off-putting like that, no biggie. As I say, I’ve found the meaning anyway.

I’ve elaborated upon this elsewhere and I shall certainly continue to, but I mean here, as opposed to proactive aggression which is a system whereby we create and store our aggression for later.

I asked myself at an early age, something apparently no-one ever does at any age, “what is punishment,” and what I have come up with is that it is everything they say except they mostly never say anything about it that matters, anything beyond the explanation we get as toddlers. It is those things, but it also simply something that hurts, something that offends, that frightens, makes us angry and even drives us mad.

Maybe it isn’t so obvious now, we have developed a thousand skillsets and a hundred ways to go crazy, but it seems to me that among the post- chimpanzee/proto humans a few hundred thousand years back, being hurt and scared and angry probably made for a more violent, more aggressive, more risk-taking ape-man.

 

Italics, July 30th

 . . . a more reactively aggressive ape-man, you would think, I mean if you were me. I’ve seen hurt, scared, angry people, we get more reactive.  I keep getting further and further from this book, it’s starting to sound like a huge crock. Proactive aggression often as not means proactively winding a bunch of men up, sending them into a stressful situation and accessing all that reactive aggression Wrangham says we selected out.

We didn’t shed reactive aggression, we suppressed it, demoted it. We repressed it, and we pool it, socialize for use in the conflicts – we surrender it to the state or the group. If you react aggressively to people, use your aggression for your personal space,  you go to jail/get executed in the past. If you bite it back, hold it in, you remain free, but your leaders own that reaction now. It will be used for the group, if we’re talking about the past, maybe just for the leader in the present. This is antisocialization Theory – and we had better learn it because the generals and the rich seem to know it.

 

Logically, it does us also, but as I say, it’s hard to see. This, to me, is psychology, to ask what created the beast, not only what sets him off, but what winds him up.

I’ve cracked that too, what is wrong with EP generally, seems to be that their psychology starts with the beast and his bad attitude and proceeds from there, like the religions and the scriptures start with the word of God and proceed fairly logically from there.  Bam! I’m sorry, but there are parallels and we are all only one person each, “parallels” that are within us are just the same things in different words. Our arguments follow the same format: “adaptive” takes the place of “innate” and “cultural” takes the place of “learned,” and Evolutionary Psychology and its aggression takes the place of Original Sin, we use it like an initial condition. That’s not really psychology.

A discipline-specific meaning?

Or a conflation? Again, to posit “proactive aggression,” like that, in the form of a noun . . . we are treating it as some initial condition, despite the proactive label – or maybe “proactive” means it’s a choice, only a choice, just we had this idea, no psychology there? Of course psychology is concerned with why we make choices. Bear with me, please, I am trying to express something new to me also.

It stared on page 260, I had a reaction of my own upon reading “Whether the much shorter history of complex warfare also affected our evolutionary psychology is unknown.” It jarred me, and honestly, I’ve been complaining I couldn’t find the psychology in EP, but here it was and it was . . . backwards.

I’m trying to figure out how we can think our way to war or how it is we can’t think of ways out of it, I am trying to employ psychology to analyze why we do such things, and Wrangham’s concern is not why we do it, but only how war affects us, affects our psychology after the fact of the war?

You know what, I’m not finished digesting that myself yet.

I will grant, it’s possible I have cherry-picked this point, but it does seem to impact on my perception that EP lacked the P bit, and psychology is a blade that points every which way. Of course the changes in the minds of war’s victims and the operation of the mind of the warrior are both the province of psychology, we can all be psychologists and ignore different things. My idea here is that what we call psychology, maybe the evolutionary version, ought to be the study of how one becomes the other, how victims become warriors. I mean really, the other way around is simple, they lose a fight, they get hit with some flying sharp object or bludgeon, they lose friends and family . . . how we become victims is not the mystery, is it?

How we become warriors, this is my puzzle. Again, perhaps I’ve cherry-picked this bit, but it does also explain why the ladies and nice guys of psychology react so strongly to EP. Perhaps I am in the best position to clarify that, I’m not really in either camp on this, I find both camps lacking – but good news, I have the solution, the answer to put us all on the path of righteousness.

So, reactive aggression is when we respond immediately, sure, to proactively teach someone a lesson about messing with us, but the point is reactive aggression means in real time, interactively, in the present.

Proactive aggression, first, it’s all of it, even if, as they say, action precedes consciousness, it’s still the brain giving the attack command. Second, I’ll say, oh, damnit, shut up brain, this is not the time to question how often even lethal proactive violence is actually selective, I mean, there is still the selective conundrum, you can’t really cull the cullers, because you’re one of them, but even without that, how often are the victims of executions virgins? Surely they are not all culled in childhood, I’m saying just because you kill people doesn’t mean you’re making selections at all if they have already spread their seed around, and of course this is the Selfish Gene, isn’t it, that’s what groups are for. You can kill all day long and not really change the gene pool, I think. But I digress, selection is not my area, I’m sorry.

OK, the trauma of it may affect the survivors and their genes – and I will ask you to notice what I just did there, seriously demoted selection and promoted trauma. That was Wrangham’s concern too, don’t get me wrong, he said straight up “how complex war affected our evolutionary psychology,” that’s close enough, he credits trauma. I will apologize, I was saying that EP is nothing but game theory, no psychology at all, but it has some, just not enough. Again, I hear the echo of original Sin, I hear “aggression” as a noun and an initial condition and psychology applied after that when it needs to be explained as a reaction and a response to threat and abuse, not as some kind of First Cause.

I’m sorry, but I really like the analogy with religion. I’m guessing that is a problem all over the place, at the edge of our sphere of understanding, the analysis ends and “Here be Dragons,” some initial condition we just have to accept to have anywhere to proceed from. “Human Nature,” “Here be Dragons,” tomayto, tomahto.

We need to apply the psychology more liberally, on both sides of these equations. We are stuck with our limitations, but we can move our sphere, bring ourselves closer to these truths and further from something else, something perhaps more immediately destructive, like the Original Sin suite of ideas.

I wonder if anyone notices, I’m winding up again, and that thought seemed to me to be inspired, a schizotypal leap, dizzying. It’s a sort of a high-wire act – I just hope it’s not an act. I’m afraid of becoming one of these idiots that thinks he’s the superman, because I’m alone and I am starting to wonder if my difference of opinion with the world doesn’t reflect a different gene or a mutation. It may be true that I didn’t get my share of the beatings, that as the last of four, Mom didn’t seem to have the heart for it (depression), and also I didn’t need to be told much, I grew up saying I saw it with my sibs and cousins and I got the idea and never invited abuse, I am a moralist, always my own policeman.

Is it possible my own abuse alleles were not activated? Is that why punishing just doesn’t make sense to me and it apparently does to everyone else?

There is somewhere I am trying to get to, I am trying, a few years now, to imagine a diagram, the broken tree of science and knowledge, to show where this partial application of psychology to human origins has left a hole, a terrible gap where we carefully avoid abuse and victimization in our story, we are still talking about selection and calling it psychology in our origin story – while the entire field of psychology floats, un-anchored in science, somehow disconnected.

This, I know I’m repeating myself, this is the proactive aggression that requires more study, the kind that leaves living, breeding, damaged victims. And if EP is not the study of damage in our development, again, not quite psychology, or not enough psychology in that for me, I’m afraid.

 

 

 

Jeff

July 25th., 2020

Racism as AST, a Case Study

Going to carry on from a previous effort, “Expedient Racism,” another angle has occurred to me upon waking up and managing to find something that seems worth pondering or expressing. So, carrying on about all the sorts of discrimination. There is something wrong there, that every group is a cause and all the forms of hate are seemingly separate, individual battles . . . it seems to suggest we don’t mind the basic idea. This form is bad, that form is me, even if we acknowledge all these versions are bad, somehow, the general, umbrella idea of discrimination and hate is safe, unassailable. We all reserve the right to refuse service on some basis, don’t we?

I think we all see this, it’s maybe not worth talking about, we don’t try to end all hate and anger, we need those or something, but we all feel our demographic should be exempt, some of us feel many, even all groups should be . . . but today’s wake up idea is that maybe sometimes there is something more specific.

I’m old, I’m looking back on my life, forgiving my younger self for not knowing what is going on. I’m from Mount Pleasant in Vancouver, a very multicultural place, but I’m white and I think people from all over the world, people of all colours are guilty of this one: as a kid, along with at least some of the kids around me, I used the terms “jewed” and “gypped.” It means bargaining and winning, right? Taking your money. “He gypped me!” kind of thing.

If I had ever seen a Roma or a Jewish person, I didn’t know it. It is entirely possible I said that  crap in front of some of them, at school or something, but the point is, it’s a cultural racist meme, harmful and wrong, and to be stopped, of course.

But today, I was thinking that when we say that we are complaining about salesmen and businesspeople, about profit and capitalism – that’s our culture. White salespeople and CEOs rule the world, but when I complain, my complain word is some other race, some poor folks mostly on the other side of the world? What would be the matter with complaining that this swine just capitalized on me? I mean, no-one likes getting ripped off.

This is my point, this is the technology of antisocialization.

My group, white north American settler, giving all my hard earned money to companies, my rent, my food, my everything, and as far as I can see they’re mostly white and north American too, but the oppression of poverty and limited funds, the negative emotions associated with the struggle with giving my little money to billionaires, there’s nothing to be done, I can just hold those feelings, try to improve my position, but don’t rebel – I’ve been jewed out of my money.

Store those feelings, and earmark them for an other, the Roma, the Jews – this is antisocialization theory. We abuse our own and keep a reservoir of anger about unfairnesses at home, from our own people – for use when it suits. The whys are not yet ironed out, but I promise you this is the human way.

Hello?

When your people make their living off of you, that’s exploitative, abusive. When our caregivers discipline us to teach us right from wrong, that is child abuse, and when we are punished as adults, this is also abuse, and generally comes from our own society. Reasons for the punishments do not negate the abuse, it must be a genetic decision that we all think it does, that we all operate this way, it’s sort of amazing. It goes like this: “I didn’t hurt him! I did it because . . . ”

That’s a yes. If you did it because something, you did it. You’ve even said so.

All these things happen all day long, this is the business of our lives, abusing our own and othering, this is warrior society, this is how and why the wars happen, why life is generally a struggle, even for the only animal capable of working together to make the pyramids.

Trouble is, like any addict, we think the problem is the solution. Law and order! Abuse. Morality, in a word: everything is wrong except hurting each other “to teach.”

I thought there would be a fanfare or something when someone solved that. Ah well, solving a puzzle is its own reward, I suppose. My personal trouble is life is never the same again once you see it. I thought we wanted an answer to this; I didn’t know it was supposed to be rhetorical.

 

Jeff

July 24th., 2020