Sunday, January 01, 2006


Thanks to Mike for doing some careful reading of Friday’s post. Gives me a chance to climb back up onto my well-worn, old soapbox:

Mike: “They (the warrior gods) want us to both annihilate ourselves and overpopulate? That is one generalization you might want to think about a bit more.”
Athana: The architects of the warrior-god “religions” wanted overpopulation – in their primitive warrior brains, the more human cannon fodder, the better. The slow slide toward human annihilation, on the other hand, isn't something they counted on or necessarily wanted. But I'm not sure current warrior-god followers care enough to stop it, either.

Mike: “Also, the ‘mother’ ethic and the ‘do as you want’ ethic contradict each other. Mothers are always proactive when dealing with their children, whereas ‘do as you want while avoiding harm’ is entirely negative and restrictive. A mother cannot follow the ‘do as you want’ ethic in dealing with her children.”
Athana: But Mike, a mother is perfectly welcome to do anything she wants -- as long as it doesn’t hurt her kids (or anyone else, including herself). And of course failing to take certain actions around kids will hurt them. Failing to yank them out of traffic. Failing to feed them. Failing to teach them manners will hurt them. And on and on.

Mike: “You want us to act as mothers towards each other? When was the last time you met a mother that didn't act as an authority figure towards her children? Or do you let your children do anything they want, ie scream in the supermarket, eat junkfood, and punch their baby sister?”
Bingo, Mike. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Mothers don’t let their kids do everything the little sweethearts want. And that’s the way we need to respond to others around us. Kids scream in the supermarket; teach them not to. Adults steal food in the supermarket; 1) make certain they’re getting enough food, and 2) teach them not to steal.

And I mean make certain they’re getting enough food. Just as a mother would make certain her kid was getting enough. Figure it out. Make it happen. None of this homelessness stuff. I mean go poke your neighbor’s ribs if you have to, to make certain they’re okay. And if they’re not, find a way to get them food. This is the ideal I’m aiming for. A mother who’s eating three meals a day wouldn’t send her kids to bed hungry. But that’s what we do everyday in this world. We eat three squares, knowing that millions of humans across this planet aren’t and can’t. That’s got to stop. We’re intelligent enough to figure it out.

And if they're getting enough food, don't punish them. Teach them. In "correctional" homes where everything is truly designed to change behavior, not punish people.

Thnx to criswatk for the great foto


Mike said...

Hey, the pleasure's all mine. I enjoy our exchanges.

You’ve hit the nail on the head. Mothers don’t let their kids do everything the little sweethearts want. And that’s the way we need to respond to others around us.

This is just the first step down a standard authoritarian path. Dress it up with flowers and sunshine all you want, you're still headed towards prisons and war.

Adults steal food in the supermarket; 1) make certain they’re getting enough food, and 2) teach them not to steal.

But adults who have more food than they know what to do with steal all the time. Remember Enron? Or for a middle class example, consider everyone that cheats on their taxes. Poverty is emphatically not the source of "crime" - it can only be correlated with a certain set of criminal behaviours.

Teach them not to steal? Easier said than done. Instilling particular behaviours in humans requires the establishment of boundries - and those boundries must be enforced by punishment.

I'm sympathetic to radical social ideas, really I am. But totalitarianism hides around every ideological corner. Whenever I hear someone speak of radical ideas, without acknowledging and confronting the totalitarian tendencies inherent in their ideas, I get nervous.

You seem unwilling to acknowledge that force would be required to implement your ideals.

Athana said...

Like I said, Mike, if people steal despite the fact that they’re getting enough food, then “just” teach them not to steal.

Also, go to Wikipedia and type in “Semai.” The Semai are just one people who instill behavior totally without force, and totally without punishment.

My “Mother Model” is a very broad model for behavior. How it works in particular situations is still a matter for much careful and thoughtful debate among all of us, and over a period of time. But the very broad brush strokes are there to guide us. It’s like the steel structure of a building. That structure determines all the subsequent details of the building. But the details take time to add to the frame.

I’m not sure I see how your authoritarian path follows from my Mother Model. All human societies regulate the behavior of their members in one way or another and to one extent or another. Under the Mother Model there’s be much, much less authoritarianism than under a Father God. The only time there’d be regulation is if and when someone were hurting another person. Something would need to be done about that. But there are a whole variety of non-authoritarian ways to do so. And if we could learn from people like the Semai, there’d be no one hurting anyone else, ever.

Morgaine said...

Mike - it is perfectly possible, and actually preferable, to reinforce good behavior than to punish the undesirable. The patriarchal structure is authoritarian. The Matriarchal system is egalitarian, based on cooperation and fairness. No hierarchy. No violence. You might also want to check out the Tasaday tribe. When they were discovered in the 70's they had no concept of violence.

Competition, greed and violence are not natural human behavior. They are aberrant behavior learned from indoctrination into patriarchy. Shake it off, man, another way is possible!

Mike said...

Morgaine - a quick google search leads to a wealth of articles claiming the Tasaday were just a hoax.

Competition, greed and violence are not natural human behavior.

I agree with this, but only because I believe there is no finite set of "natural" human behaviours. Human is as human does.

There's far more to the Semai story than the peaceful hippy image. Look at one of the articles at this site.

In particular, look at "The teachings or ‘ancient wisdom’ of the Orang Asli." That article is about the mythic stories of the region, and it recounts one Semai story. In it, 7 Semai agree to meet a certain place at a certain time. One Semai arrives early, and then impatiently leaves. This is apparently a major offense to the Semai. The other 6 Semai magically sic a tiger to eat the impatient man. Just for standing them up.

If their stories contained such threats of violence, then you'll have to work awfully hard to convince me that their lives are as ideal as the wikipedia article suggests. Even the wikipedia indicates social control is established through myths about natural disasters, ie lightening. And in this case, "myth" is synonomous with both "deceit" and "threat." And goodness, lies and threats are interwoven with the very systems you rail against on this blog.

Athana said...

I didn't say the Semai are perfect, Mike, lol, just that they are non-violent. I've read Robert Knox Dentan's *The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya*, and I own the book. It's an important part of my library. It was assigned reading during my grad school training in anthroplogy. If you read it, or any other major anthropological work on the Semai, then come back, and you and I can debate Semai nonviolence. As it is, I'd prefer to believe Dentan's analysis of Semai nonviolence -- he and his wife lived with and did anthroplogical fieldwork among them for two years.

Morgaine said...

Yes, Mike, and I can find lots of articles that say the holocaust was a hoax, too, in spite of the film and first hand accounts of still surviving victims. Who knows why people perpetuate lies? But they do, unfortunately, if only to muddy the waters and discredit the work of honest people. There was no hoax regarding the Tasaday. They were untouched by violence, and had never encountered people outside of their own culture.

Athana said...

Mike, I'd heard about the hoax theory too, re: the Tasaday, but the Wiki article at least maintains that the hoax idea was a hoax itself, and that the Tasaday have indeed been living an isolated and Stone Age lifestyle for at least seven generations. There's even a section in the article called "Press Claims, the Hoax, and Debunking the Hoax."