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Humans and hierarchy

by das monde Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 09:49:41 AM EST

There was a brief incomplete discussion the other week here on macho dominance, hierarchy enforcement, power dynamics. I had lived pretty ignorant of social status games for long - but recently I realized that hierarchy interactions, instincts and emotions have to be taken seriously. Let me shake similarly your rational onlooker premises about power and human nature.


Stanford Prisoner Dilemma

I start with the two most famous psychology experiments of the 20th century. The Milgram experiment addressed the strength of obedience to authority directly - and the results were shocking. The Stanford prison experiment is even more notorious.

Two boring weeks of playing guards and prisoners were expected - yet the experiment was stopped after just 6 days, with 5 prisoners replaced or released sooner. Even Zimbardo, the experiment head, got absorbed in his role as the superintendent.

The first surprise was a prisoner rebellion on the morning of Day 2. That unleashed an escalating series of punishment, mocking, solitary confinement,  harassment.

The study shows that before the volunteer prisoners started showing signs of distress, they did not take the guards and their authority seriously. The prisoners mocked the guards, trying to regain their individuality. This, however, was short-lived. The prisoners soon realized that the attitude of the guards was very serious and that they demanded obedience. This began a long string of confrontational quarrels between the guards and prisoners. The guards used physical punishment and exercises, such as pushups, in order to show their authority to the prisoners.
Prisoner solidarity was soon broken, the aggressive guards got creative. Other guards were uncomfortable, but did not challenge.

To me, the experiment course becomes less mysterious with the subpersonality notion coupled with primality of hierarchy dynamics. At the start, the prisoners did not accept the arbitrary assigned roles, hence revolted. Ironically, this provoked authority defense bio-mechanisms of guards, real abuses from them, and eventually the submission mood of prisoners themselves. This dynamics is probably as old as primate species. These situations bypass the prefrontal cortex and turn on primal subpersonalities.

Where Is Social Protest?

The evolution of post-WWII social protest is remarkably similar. The more egalitarian 60s saw little tolerance to blatant social injustices. But inequalities and power abuses are reaching feudal levels now - yet social protest is basically absent. Without denying the influence of growing economic conformity, mass marketing and uniform political narratives, I see much psychologically comfortable acceptance of unjust or random turns of fortunes. People would rather wait for a wonder success than stand up to their rational interests. I guess, similar (though milder) biochemistry lies behind, with the wealth hierarchy and social roles not confusing at all now.

Or look at Russia and Eastern Europe. Decades of communist ideology left virtually no trace of affinity towards an egalitarian system. Either virile oligarchs, barely self-reliant entrepreneurs and professionals, or missing out poor -- all embraced the rat race and mostly modest consumer choices. Apparently the people were more dissatisfied with the lack of status race in the socialist times.

Is extreme inequality less painful psychologically than it seems logically? After all, relative wealth/depravity appears to affect happiness perceptions and personal actions more than objective welfare level.

Self-Help Paradise

Admittedly, I am following a fancy trajectory of personal transformation. I had tried some NLP, conventional CBT, meditation, cheesy "Law of Attraction" stuff. A cliche wisdom can be both profound and misleading, you know. And some deep realities are tricky to formulate, communicate. There is one particular thing recommended beyond immediate marketing - abundance mentality. It turns out, concern about limits or fair distribution of resources are quite limiting for a person. Little wonder then if the most successful on this planet do not seem to care about modern ecological predicaments. At the very least, they learned to be successful with the abundance idea for themselves.

Paradoxically, this abundance assumption has an evolutionary sense. The creative primate species were living on the survival edge (or limits of applied resources) for millennia. They did not solve ecological limitations by smart thrift, but by intense competition. You may try to explain territoriality, hierarchies as Dawkins by selfishness logic - but these arrangements do have an ecological function. After a century of industrial growth and oil abundance, the civilization is back near its ecological limits. A sharp hierarchy with a broad level barely struggling to survive is a way for societies to carry on (if only the climate change won't be too nasty). How else can we continue to build progress on Earth?

Anyway, I am now open to the idea that to live your life fully it is good to embrace the abundance idea of (potentially) living as some king. The richest emotional experiences are closely related to achieving a high status, apparently. Just look at the FIFA World Cup emotions. Even if we logically know how dirty are FIFA workings, it is hard to resist the drama and potentially massive validation of your affinity, intuition, extended identity. Is it not?

And one more secret. They say, the status potential is the very thing that people intuitively evaluate in the first seconds after meeting each other for the first time.

Dating Blues And Roses

Our discussion started basically with the topic of sex frustration -  so I will risk the next slippery step. Dating is increasingly messy for both sexes - and perhaps not accidentally. To stay on topic, I just quickly touch one cliche - that women are looking for alpha men. That is of course not true - except that a couple of alpha qualities are essential. By now I have a plenty of confirmation on that.

Firstly, a real man must have his own direction, interests, inspiration. He should take care of his own (and then his lover's) emotions and logistics. He should usually make decisions, take leadership in the relation. If a guy is always asking a girl, what she would like, he is lost. Yep, women like to take a back seat in a relationship - especially those with a high status.

Secondly, it helps hugely if a guy is a socially dominant personality. At least, he should have social skills and status, a promise of special social experiences.

Beyond this, macho extrapolations are mostly superfluous. Sexual attraction happens between deep subpersonalities; logic does not help here at all. How is this related to the hierarchy topic, I leave it to you to ponder.

Conclusion

Seven years ago I read a book "Prometheus Rising" by Robert Anton Wilson - on the brain circuits that people use. I was surely bugged that about 50% of people rarely use calm rational thinking, stay stuck in just bio-survival, emotional-territorial and socio-sexual circuits. On the other hand, life enjoying experiences lie there, in emotional and physical joys of pride, achievement, enduring. Whatever our grand intentions might be, people will love to play chief and herd games. How much would you like to push against?

Display:
If a guy is always asking a girl, what she would like, he is lost. Yep, women like to take a back seat in a relationship

Really? {raised eyebrows}

An awful lot of modern feminist commentary is about women becoming active in their own lives and within the mythos of society. Women realise that they are cast as audience for male behaviour and are now openly questioning the centrality of the male view as the essential dominant ideology. It may not impact your generation, but the next couple of generations of women ain't gonna take that shit no more

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 12:38:18 PM EST
The emphasis is on always.

There is a difference between what is registered by the feminist ideology (with best intentions) and how the attraction chemistry actually goes. The latter does not change in a couple of generations. Would you really get excited with a guy with no dominance trait?

by das monde on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 01:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about what excites other women, so my opinion on the matter isn't relevant. But I doubt that a man whose self-esteem is dependent upon the subservience of their "partner"  is likely to be the sort of rounded human being many women would prefer

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If guy's self-esteem is dependent on anything, women will notice that.

As for the behavior of the other side - I really notice that I know more than before.

by das monde on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:40:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other side?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:47:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no way I could put up with some guy trying to tell me what to do. My husband would be considered meek by some people, but he's actually just smart. I fell in love with his kindness. He's NOT a fighter, so that role falls to me (for example, in dealings with any employers who try to get away with being unfair to him.)

Can't say I didn't look for alpha males when I was a lot younger, but didn't find any I could live with, and I didn't know myself and my needs back then, either. Once I wised up, I looked for kindness.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 05:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are reasons for long-term and situational attraction factors to differ. And interpretation of the 'essential' alpha qualities can be wide. Trying to tell what to do might signal needy weakness to you, while kindness - a royal strength.

The last decades show increasingly one-sided social media influences on young women, narrowing their emotional (or economic) focus, making them reluctant to wise up, compromise. Especially pop music videos, the clubbing atmosphere 'subtly' scream "Attract alpha" to them. The internet, smartphones give women more power and potentially a global scope of options - with the default behavior influence pretty narcissistic. And then we have fashion, cosmetics industries, women magazines, with apparently similar effect of their agenda. No wonder if the primal triggers are more involved then before, especially when most guys cannot keep accessing them.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:12:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Social media influences on young women, IMO, have not become any stronger today than they were in the early twentieth century. They may be more easily accessed, but the newspapers and magazines and, more to the point, the societally-enforced rules (in schools, churches, workplaces, homes) were very influential, compelling even, a century ago.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're very likely mostly talking about culture there, but it's impossible to disentangle.

If you want to say that in the culture you operate in that certain traits generally denote a high value mate, then fine. Don't go ascribing them to nature, and don't overgeneralise: you can't tell the difference. It's just-so stories.

Would you really get excited with a guy with no dominance trait?

I might, in theory: would depend on the guy wouldn't it?

Humans are complicated little apes with a whole pile of social and sexual strategies available to them, and the choice of which ones are used depend both on nature and nurture. We tend to think that the ones that we're used to are the natural, proper ones.

Frankly, I think the culture we operate in is so utterly fucked up about sexuality that there's very little sense of it to be made: did you know that there exist quite a lot of people who define themselves by which bits they (would) like to rub on which other bits? It's a very strange basis for self-identification.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having some basis of comparison, I have to say that Western feminism adds to fuck up of sexual strategies massively.
by das monde on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:43:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:47:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is yet another layer of "so-so" story, adding to confusion and statistics to failed delusions. Would be pretty good for population control, I might guess.
by das monde on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:56:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that's not an answer. In what way is it a just-so story?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 05:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rather unkindly, feminism offer suggestions (for both sexes) in unhelpful directions, without empirical or real psychological basis. So nice guys do not know what women actually want - nor women themselves (in a predictive sense). That's a social game we play - not everyone has to grasp everything.
by das monde on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 05:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hhahahahahahaha,

Sorry, that's funny

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 05:31:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet having been married to a prominent feminist and having bought into all of that even before I had met her, nothing surprises me more nowadays than the degree to which younger women seem to be reverting to social stereotypes - within the dominant patriarchal paradigm...

Perhaps it is coming from a base of increased self confidence and educational and career success but the sense of a war between the sexes for dominance or even equality just doesn't seem to be there. Some things are just taken for granted, and many others are not deemed worthy of challenge.

Perhaps I am mixing with the wrong people and have lost touch with those living on the edge.  Maybe I need to get out more!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reverting to stereotypes? I think it's a matter of perceptions.

Firstly, you'd have to demonstrate that the visible feminists of our youth were more than a small minority. A very influential, culture-transforming minority, but forty years ago, the great majority of women had unreconstructed subservient attitudes.

Now, it's more difficult to identify a feminist -- they look like everyone else, for one thing. I say this as the father of two young feminist women who don't hesitate to dress glamorously or flirt in stereotypical ways; a superficial analysis of their social media traffic wouldn't necessarily give many clues either -- you need to know the codes and understand the irony.

But social stratification and modern tribalism have fragmented the cultural space, and I can't speak for the worlds which are outside my social spheres.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:12:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience would be similar - right down to having two feminist daughters who can do glamour when they want to. I suppose the nature of feminism has changed too; it's no longer a matter of throwing away the bras and heels and quite aggressively challenging female stereotypes in relationships, sexual norms, the work place and social spaces and more a case of getting ahead on their own terms with people who don't get in their way.  The widespread adoption of more "liberal norms" has made political protest and activism (and consciousness) less necessary with conservative organisations like the Churches ignored rather than protested against and becoming much less influential in discourse more generally. I also wonder has feminism become more of a middle class professional women thing - the people who perhaps need it least, whilst leaving the lives of many working class women relatively untouched. However education has also proved a great leveler, with many women outperforming men at all levels and achieving much greater career success and social status than heretofore. There is still a long way to go, but also perhaps a confidence that things are, for now, still heading in the right direction.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...getting ahead on their own terms... outperforming... achieving... career success and social status

Sorry, did someone say patriarchy was dead?

My beef with feminism is that in Western industrial cultures it's just business-patriarchy in drag.

You get all the usual capitalist work ethic nonsense and some cash to pat you on the head for being a good little cog and - er - that's pretty much it.

Nothing actually changed politically, except that the labour pool got bigger, people of both sexes became completely oriented towards work and income, votes remained largely valueless, consumption increased, and labour became cheaper.

Now, you could say that this is an improvement on the old ways of kirche, kuche, kinder.

But there's still no real self-determination happening here. The social goals are still being defined and reinforced externally,  there's still a huge propaganda industry telling everyone how to act, think, and feel, and women are still passively accepting this, largely without questioning it. Even so-called radicals either agree that this is all entirely good, or don't think it's important enough to question.

Because - you know - what everyone does all day isn't any kind of political issue.

The biggest difference is that men are now accepting it too. Before feminism family - no matter how dysfunctional - was a political motivator for men. (I'm not suggesting this is an ideal goal, I'm just pointing out the history.)

Now that we're all rats competing with each other, the motivations for progressive politics are harder to find, and less sticky and compelling than they used to be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, feminism bad because it didn't kill capitalism...  the poor working-class male doesn't even have his wife to look down on any more... Sad.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asian cultures are sort of behind in feminism, right? Would you say that (particularly) East Asian women suffer from old-fashioned subservient roles more than in the West, and that is the biggest problem for most of them?
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The study mentioned (third-hand, via the NYT) is Egalitarianism, Housework,
and Sexual Frequency in Marriage
, and it's mildly interesting. It's a meta-analysis of US household data collected in the early 1990s, from which the authors conclude that couples which stick to "traditional" gender roles (woman does the housework, man takes out the garbage) have more sex than those who have a more egalitarian distribution of work. They explain this by the notion of "sexual scripts" :

Among teens, sexual scripts are highly gendered and link sexual activity to masculinity and femininity [...] Given the general importance of gender, we suspect that scripts continue to link sexual behavior to masculinity or femininity among heterosexual married couples.

With the proviso that this is WEIRD research (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic), and that the data is rather dated, I wouldn't be surprised if it were generally applicable. Perhaps Chinese men are getting more sex than us pussy-whipped westerners?

I tend to subscribe to a hypothesis mentioned in the paper (but not testable with their data set) : that sex is rationed by women (on the basis that men generally want more than women) in exchange  for whatever a woman wants. This fits well with highly gendered sexual scripting, and is observably much less frequent in egalitarian relationships.

So, in sum, if less-frequent sex is the price to pay for egalitarian relationships (which correlate strongly with mutually satisfying relationships, by the way) then that's OK with me personally.

And yes, I agree that

East Asian women suffer from old-fashioned subservient roles

But if you're asking whether having more frequent sex is a compensation for them, then I wouldn't know.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 09:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to subscribe to a hypothesis mentioned in the paper (but not testable with their data set) : that sex is rationed by women (on the basis that men generally want more than women) in exchange  for whatever a woman wants. This fits well with highly gendered sexual scripting, and is observably much less frequent in egalitarian relationships.
Observably less frequent in egalitarian relationships... - With what data sets?! The image over there is opposite:
In a lot of ways, sajiao is a strategy to get a man to do what his Chinese girlfriend or wife wants him to do; this is very similar to how some western women use sex to manipulate their mate.
If (say) a Japanese woman is withholding sex, it generally means that the intimate relationship is in a serious trouble, it is over basically (unless the man gets IT soon).

Also, "men generally want sex more than women..." needs qualification, such as "...until SHE wants it more". There is one book that both feminists and PUAs love.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 10:06:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Observably less frequent in egalitarian relationships... - With what data sets?!

I'm relying on anecdata, but I don't think you would disagree if you actually understood me. I don't see the contradiction here. Indeed, the concept of saijao that you introduce is an excellent example of highly gendered sexual scripting, as is the fact that "some western women use sex to manipulate their mate".

"men generally want sex more than women" was a quote from the study I linked above, and of course not a good predictor of any individual relationship.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 10:24:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:

Perhaps Chinese men are getting more sex than us pussy-whipped westerners?

I saw a young middle class chinese girl interviewed on Euro Tv and she was saying how sexually uptight she found europeans.

<boggles> (ht Colman)

Then there's this

All the Single Ladies - Kate Bolick - The Atlantic

In 1969, when my 25-year-old mother, a college-educated high-school teacher, married a handsome lawyer-to-be, most women her age were doing more or less the same thing. By the time she was in her mid-30s, she was raising two small children and struggling to find a satisfying career. She'd never had sex with anyone but my father. Could she have even envisioned herself on a shopping excursion with an ex-lover, never mind one who was getting married while she remained alone? And the ex-lover's fiancée being so generous and open-minded as to suggest the shopping trip to begin with?

What my mother could envision was a future in which I made my own choices. I don't think either of us could have predicted what happens when you multiply that sense of agency by an entire generation.

But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody's imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We've arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up--and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don't want to go out with.

Oh dear...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 02:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
recently I realized that hierarchy interactions, instincts and emotions have to be taken seriously.

No shit, Sherlock!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 04:29:41 PM EST
Is it not funny that all discussion here is about sex? What would we be talking here without that diary section?

To egg on, I will suggest that both monotheistic religions and logical-scientific constructs (such as Theory of Everything in physics, and even trust in sufficiency of the scientific method) emotionally are manifestations of the authority reverence ;-)

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:29:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A theory of everything might be attractive because it would explain how gravity and electromagnetism (and nuclear forces) interact, which might be nice to know.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:50:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And knowing everything is an alpha feeling.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's nice that you've found a hammer, but that's not a nail.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:53:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, this discussion is a nail so far.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think status is a driver for most-to-all humans, but "alpha" is a different thing: it's zero-sum status.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. After the World Cup, one nation will feel hugely alpha. The other nations will (very likely) either get over pretty quickly, or will have their own good feelings.

If a joint expedition will land on Mars, won't the whole planet feel alpha?

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm interpreting "alpha" here as some sort of dominance-over-others feeling, which seems consistent with its normal usage and your argument here. That's not the only source of feelings of status.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My interpretation of alpha is broader.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:59:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might want to define it then ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gathering my want...

Alpha is a leading individual, not necessarily on the whole tribe/society level, but (for example) in some field/domain, or of some group of people.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's about perceived extrinsic status?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:50:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not necessarily a formal status. (Spelling out bickering will not show the best of us, by the way.)

There is usually a large correlation between internal, external and behavioral status. Incongruence is not appreciated by women.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 05:04:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your remarks about sex are "politically incorrect", so they obviously are attracting a lot of attention :)

However I'd like to take you up on this :

Anyway, I am now open to the idea that to live your life fully it is good to embrace the abundance idea of (potentially) living as some king.

You seem to be talking about the desirability of embracing an "alpha" role of dominance over others. That's just as alarming to me as your views on sexual politics. :)

It's something I have great difficulty with, in fact. For me, the whole point of achieving status is to have one's worth recognised by a group of peers; preferably, by a high-quality group of peers. Where's the fun in being surrounded by inferiors?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:20:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political Correctness went too far, and is gradually being slaughtered. We better adjust his boundaries before too late.

To me personally, embracing alpha is about achievement. It is too funny to want something done, get some prize - but do not affect other people. It is like wishing to start a relationship while "carefully avoiding" changing woman's life. All change is personal - and full of emotions. They say, king's big fun is giving to his kingdom - not praise and validation.

And this gives an idea for challenging the modern oppressive alphas - framing them as incongruent, greedy, needy wussies with no shame. Not real kings but parasites.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting stuff...

My take on feminism is described by analogy to a half-born baby. The head's out, but the hardest part is till to come. The most perilous part is where we are now. In the first world women have fought for and insisted on more emancipation and have achieved rights hitherto denied them for centuries by patriarchal systems intent on preventing it. However much of the world remains heavily patriarchal and watches our evolution with horror, pushing back with ever-growing intensity fearing these ideas will spread to their lands.

Millennia of human evolution determined separation of roles and responsibilities between men and women. By muscular superiority mens' skills were deployed away from the hearth, in the hunt and at war, while the women tended the home and learned the skills that do not depend so much on muscle mass as horizontal thinking, multi-tasking and nurture of the young, so vulnerable amongst the rest of the animal kingdom, so slow to form autonomy.

In a perfect world men would never have profited from superior strength to force women to obey them, or womens' wits would have found ways to preclude this enforced subservience, and the better examples of this are still visible in today's vastly morphed gender landscape.

The baby's not going back into the womb. Women who have tasted more freedom to be authentic and less dominated by patriarchy have not had an easy time reclaiming their rights and they are loath to re-yield them, justly. Few women choose to return to the old ways, with some notable exceptions in communities like the Amish for example. In 'primitive' societies the women themselves willingly enable patriarchy by teaching their sons to respect men more, by genitally mutilating their daughters, or in history binding their feet and condemning them to a life bereft of clitoral pleasure or chronic pain and inability to walk in a normal manner.

Because the bulk of feminism is still unborn, the major work ahead for feminism is to detoxify the Stockholm syndrome that encourages women to perpetuate patriarchy, the learned helplessness that is the hallmark of women fatalistically accepting their lot will always be subservience by biological dint of their slighter builds.

On one hand we have the will and prayers of billions of women still victims of gender discrimination all calling for the yoke of patriarchy to be lifted, all trying to midwife the child of true equality and mutual respect between the sexes, and the forces of privilege, the males who have been able to bully their women into indulging them, pampering their egos and permitting them the myth of their superiority, in return for the muscular protection of being possessions, baby-farms, chattel not far above cattle in social status.

On the other hand Feminism as such has only been around little more than a century. That's the head. The resistance endangering the complete birth comes from the billions of men whose self esteem is falsely rooted in their roles as deciders, leaders of the family, tribe or state. This 'arrangement' has been thousands of years in the making. That's the body, still stuck.

Only the most confident of women will choose autonomy and the ensuing vulnerability in today's world. These few women seek men whose feminine sides are developed, with whom they can have relationships that transcend gender differences, meeting on a plane of human respect and enjoyment, a very different kettle of fish than traditional fear-based protection agendas. Only the most confident of men will nurture their own femininity, braving the gauntlet from their fellow men for 'betraying the brotherhood', jumping ship, going 'wet' or earning epithets like 'wimps' or 'pussies' by relinquishing the male-dominant hierarchy and finding what's beyond.

The richest emotional experiences are closely related to achieving a high status, apparently.

'They' spend billions wanting us to believe that, with great effect.

How much would you like to push against?

Rome wasn't built in a day, change of the profundity this diary discusses may take a millennium. I am still glad the journey to gender justice is well on its way, remaining in the dark ages is to remain victims to the worst patriarchy offers. What we do now will help future generations of our children and theirs beyond to have better lives, what else are we here for? Full human rights increase our potential to be more wholly actualised as a species, that's a destination worth struggling towards.

Once the shoulders are out the rest will come easier. Hierarchy may well be as irrelevant as the placenta come that time.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 08:05:00 PM EST
What I experienced is that the intuitive choices empowered Western women make are not for feminine brotherhood betrayers. They are not happy with overly dominant bad boys, but given the choice between them and wussies, they would rather be bitches. I heard them literally say that. Women are no angels - just have strong angel subpersonalities.

I doubt that gender opression, genital mutilation was a terrible historical norm through cultures. Bad things evolve as well - like totalitarian religions, epidemies of violence. It is ecological restrictions of living on this planet that are most consistently authoritarian.

'They' spend billions of dollars wanting us to believe that, with great effect.

Their job is much easier, given the evolved flow of hormones and neurotrasmiters.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Read about the Aka tribe and see if you're still so sure about the "natural" division into hunting and taking care of babies.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 06:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand Feminism as such has only been around little more than a century.

Big tests are still to follow thus.

The few examples of matriarchal or "equal" societies do not quite decide what is natural. Explaining their paucity just by patriarchal aggression is just a "so-so" story as any other.

The Aka example is interesting, also from the ecological perspective. Extensive fatherly involvement does not look unnatural to me - but it is rather a luxury in the modern economy (and perhaps in many cultures).

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 09:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Natural" has no discernable meaning here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:06:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would relate that to basic emotional experiences and triggers.

On the other hand, particularly male emotional perceptions are "naturally" supposed to be malleable.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:12:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point about being human is that we are not restricted to what is "natural" (and still less, to any person's theory about what might be "natural").

The idea that we should give free rein to certain behaviours which might (or might not) be innate, and which might have been adaptive for hunter-gatherer societies, is just a bit weird. As you note in the diary, the Stanford prison experiment (and all of human history, actually) show us that people will do horrible things to each other (perhaps encouraged by primal impulses) if they are covered by a hierarchy and a doctrine. What I take away from this is that education and social engineering should be employed to take us as far away as possible from situations where this can occur. Likewise, for male dominance over women, one of the greatest causes of human suffering.

On the other hand particularly male emotional perceptions are "naturally" supposed to be malleable.

Perhaps you would like to expand on that? There seems to be a subtext here which is easily perceived to be a chip on your shoulder, but perhaps it's something else?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:07:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On contrary, I feel freed from chips of my shoulders. Just find it amusing to bother you with sharing my experience :-)

But we are catching a deep point here. Emotion control is a key difference between sexes in intimate attraction. Whether a man keeps his (foremost negative) emotions to himself or throws then around makes a huge difference to woman's feelings. Or at least, this is what I learned. On the other hand, woman's emotions are the gospel, the reality of the relationship.

Feminism only reinforces this difference, gives more free rein to female desires and perceptions. I do not complain here - rather honestly believe that it is more fun this way! I just warn - those desires may not be favorable to your cited educational or egalitarian goals at all.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<boggles>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Extensive fatherly involvement does not look unnatural to me - but it is rather a luxury in the modern economy (and perhaps in many cultures).

It's only a luxury if you assume the man is the primary wage-earner and the little woman is working as a hobby. Otherwise it becomes a necessity.

Except in the sense that in some versions of the modern economy extensive parental involvement is a luxury.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:53:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The last 70 years are not representative of prevalent evolutionary necessities. Especially for lower classes.
by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 05:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:32:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, women like to take a back seat in a relationship

From the towering height of a half-century of ill-digested social relations, I'll try to amend this :

Yep, most women generally like choose, or are obliged, to take a back seat in a relationship

It's interesting to indicate where one is coming from in this sort of discussion; there are no absolute truths, and the certainties we have reached from personal experience are necessarily partial.

I have recently buried my mother. She was a front-line feminist, strongly engaged in empowering helpless women. A near-contemporary of Betty Freidan and Simone de Beauvoir, she had to work it out for herself to a great extent. But what struck me, in reflecting on her life, is the extent to which her thinking was structured in consequence of her rather complicated reproductive destiny.

For me, the only fundamental distinction between men and women is that of reproduction [and before anyone interjects, I acknowledge that this is false, like all great truths about men and women : the questions of gender identity blur and complicate this simple distinction nicely!] That is to say, the question of dominance/submission as the primary motor of male/female relations harks back to a biological archetype. The behaviours expressed by modern men and women undoubtedly have an instinctive element; however, they are conditioned by the cultural framework we live in.

Clearly, we all have some innate propensions as to sexual preferences (notably, but not only, with respect to the gender of partners). We all are influenced by the role models of the men and women we grow up with (including, of course, our parents). Some (most) cultures allow little or no choice to men and women as to the range of behaviours they are permitted to express. Many societies try actively to suppress the range of natural human sexual propensities. This often leaves parents ill-equipped to guide their children in this respect :

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin : The Poetry Foundation

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
 They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
 And add some extra, just for you.

 But they were fucked up in their turn
 By fools in old-style hats and coats,
 Who half the time were soppy-stern
 And half at one another's throats.

 Man hands on misery to man.
 It deepens like a coastal shelf.
 Get out as early as you can,
 And don't have any kids yourself.

[Disclaimer : I do not endorse the sentiments expressed in the final verse.]

My parents were equal co-deciders in all aspects of their lives (and ours). Because of their respective personalityes, my father (who had a high-status job, but preferred a quiet life) was generally perceived as being dominated by his wife.  This, in my analysis, allowed us to grow up with a larger degree of freedom with respect to the sexual roles we could assume (or alternatively, fucked us up: see above).

Bottom line : the dominant/submissive thing has a biological origin, but is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy, and has absolutely no reason to be actively perpetuated in modern culture. Everyone has a place on the dominant/submissive continuum, and no doubt a the cursor is somewhat to the right for a majority of men, and to the left for a majority of women. People do themselves violence if they try to force themselves into a role which is expected of them and which does not correspond to their true nature (and, of course, they do violence to their partner). The secret is that it's a wide world, and there are a huge number of men and women out there... one or more of them will fit you like a glove.




It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 05:57:40 AM EST
There are plenty of guys behaviorally seeking the back seat (or avoiding the driving wheel) now, with best intentions and dear attention - and they are hopelessly frustrated. It is not just mine experience that things change radically when you realize that asserting yourself is (practically) not a choice for a man.

Beyond that basic spine - things are open to a wide range of dynamics, I would agree.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 06:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
....Asserting yourself is not a choice for a human being....

This is a subject which is a bit of a hot button of mine. Standard rant number 6 follows:

This is basic - no relationship works well unless people actually state want they want once in a while.

That doesnt mean complete self-effacement isn't an option! It has been enforced in many, many times and places. Against women. It just means everyone involved in that kind of crap will be miserable.

Ecopsyc is bullshit end to end. No actual datacollection underlies it or is even theoretically possible, and thus it becomes an endless litany of just-so stories that have a really hilarious tendency to ascribe universality and inherent nature to the popular perception of the societal arrangements of 1950's USA. It's "leave it to beaver" in pseudo-scientific clothing.

Comparative happiness research isn't much better, but at least that involves some attempt at data collection, and the results from that are pretty unanimous. Gender equality makes everyone happier. On average. And yes, that goes for both genders.

by Thomas on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 08:56:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you appeal to logical rigor, a few pairs of contradictory statements should be cleaned up.

What goes a little beyond general principles and statistical queries is actually following human emotions and active behavior. It's fascinating - though tricky to formalize.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 09:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's an error to attempt to formalize it from the very tenuous elements of research and personal experience that you have outlined in this thread.

You appear to be asserting -- sorry to box you in -- that men and women will be happier if they embrace their respective dominant and submissive roles. You seem to be claiming that this is what "nature" or evolution fitted us for; that we should struggle to embrace the idealized archetypes.

This is flatly contradicted by my own experience, but that's merely anecdotal. More importantly, my bullshit detectors are set off by the fact that your conclusions match those of the theorists of just about every oppressive political or religious power structure since the dawn of humanity. Doesn't it trouble you that all those who would maximise their own power and wealth at the expense of those they dominate, and who invent elaborate doctrines to justify their dominance, start out from a position, and a doctrine, of unquestioned male dominance over women?

Dominance and submission are a bad paradigm to build society on, and they are a bad paradigm for relationships too.  

This is not to ignore the fact that many people feel the need to be dominant or submissive in a relationship. My suggestion is that the best way to deal with this may be as a formalised, consenting S&M game, rather than in real life applications.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:51:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I do not necessarily care about maximizing the total happiness. I am just saying that whatever we want to do, emotional realities have to be taken into account. Those in power do well largely because they have a more realistic view and knowledge of human nature. Or at least, of their own nature.

If we the Modest Progressives only have a logical wish list, very likely the impact will be petty. If we want the societies to go a certain way, we better seek and take leader roles, and then know how to play them. Even if my current understanding is most likely incomplete, I see it as a substantially better approximation than the stagnant progressive theories I spot.

by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If what you're trying to say is "in my milieu, I need to exhibit certain things in order to get laid" then that's fine, you end up having to play the hand you're dealt or not play. It's not a basis for assessing underlying human nature.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:59:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last months I studied and applied tested knowledge, see consistent difference. So it is not just about me.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:08:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't say it was: I said it was about your social environment.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:12:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read then: So it is not just about me and my environment.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:14:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You applied it outside your environment? I'm impressed.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ecopsyc is bullshit end to end.

One surprising observation (not just from own encounters, but from extended family, acquaintances) is that women are very reluctant to settle, compromise their preferences. They would rather stay single - and that makes little or no sense within Dawkins-lite evopsyc "so-so" stories. But ecopsyc offers a meaning - and what else could do that?

In China that is a massive phenomenon, for example.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Evopsyc is also bullshit. No way to disentangle culture.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 04:48:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Culture-centered stories are so different, right?

In a practical sense, frequently working models, beliefs do not have to be very correct to be instrumental, useful. Especially when it comes to taking action.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 05:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well yeah, just-so stories serve a useful function for people who don't want to work things out for themselves. They come in many guises :
"Women are like this because Transactional Analysis"
"Women are like this because Daddy told me"
"Women are like this because Bible"
"Women are like this because Evolution"

Having a code of conduct based on any of these is likely to give more success than sitting around worrying about what women really want.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that's confusing... the article you linked has apparently nothing to do with women being reluctant to settle, and everything to do with Chinese men not wanting to marry a woman they might feel inferior to.

Unless you're implicitly criticising women for preferring success to marriage?

Does ecopsych offer any clues here? Go on, I need a laugh.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:22:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It cuts both ways. Educated, high status women have great difficulty to feel attracted to (say) rural guys. Ideally, a guy should represent a higher value in some respect - otherwise it's an unwanted compromise for a woman.

Like evolutionary reasoning in textbooks, ecopsych is effect-oriented. Women perceive a very tight dating market (for quality men), and their selection strategy is negative - that is, they generally look for reasons to disqualify prospects. That is already a bottleneck against exponential population growth in tighter environments, where not many males can secure adequate resources.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generalise much? If only women were individuals, with their own bundle of natural inclinations and histories rather than ciphers.

In almost all things there is at least as much variation within sexes and genders as there are between them.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are well observed patterns. Like in a free society with remarkably uniform individuals, the outlier tails are pretty thin.
by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 07:01:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hahahaha. OK, so smart, successful women taking themselves out of the marriage market is a survival strategy to save China from overpopulation!

Oh mother nature is so smart...

I would argue that the shengnu phenomenon is
a) only a problem if the women in question think it is (the whole focus of the article is that their entourage perceives a problem)
b) a problem of macho attitudes which are ill-adapted to the modern world.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 09:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's the way ecological boundaries worked the last 5 millions years and longer - who will laugh the last?

An even more laughable possibility is that particularly the behavior of elites (possibly pretty conscious and strategic, or not) is an important part of the nature wonders. I am switching off PC loudspeakers for today...

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 10:04:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's the way ecological boundaries worked the last 5 millions years and longer

Did they? That's a huge assumption. Where's your evidence?

You seem to be asserting (please correct me if I'm wrong) that a decision, conscious or not, to abstain from having children, made by high-achieving Chinese women, should be interpreted as a reaction to resource constraints?...

If that were to be the case, you must surely agree, it would be a severely dysfunctional reaction. These are women who have more than adequate resources to bring up children : vastly more than their lower-status cohorts who procreate (they could hire staff to look after them without sacrificing their careers).

Your hypothesis seems to be that the trigger condition is the lack of potential mates with higher status than themselves, and that this is somehow a "natural" thing, because in "natural" conditions, women are only attracted to men with higher status than themselves.

Please correct me if I am misrepresenting your views. I'm finding it difficult to actually engage a discussion with you, because you seem to hold a bunch of views which I find "surprising" and which you are not making much effort to explain or back up with evidence.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 10:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The negative mode of female selection and their strong reluctance to settle is convincing to me, based on information and experience I got. I even googled up a recent study.

The interpretation of implications is a pure speculation. I guess that any women would be fully capable to go against the hypothesized nature tricks. That would be a deliberate sacrifice of some emotional potential, I reckon. Absent that kind of awareness, the "ecological" mechanism would be:

Tighter Resources -> Fewer Males With Adequate Resources -> Fewer Families (as females do not lower their standards)

The second step correlates with fewer males having adequate self-esteem, other psychological alpha markers. Above this, Behaviour Of Elites might tighten the resource grip even further. There are studies showing that tighter resources lead to higher inequality, as the elites continue to get their usual goods (and even more) at the expense of the bottom. This dynamics puts growing pressure to the closest competition of the elites - and that easier competition is an additional bonus for the elites. The severely dysfunctional reaction you formulate falls under interests of the elites. If, additionally, the elites are aware of the hierarchal (and even ecological) dynamics while everyone else is loosing their head to stay afloat, the elites have pretty much absolute power.

Your hypothesis seems to be that the trigger condition is the lack of potential mates with higher status than themselves, and that this is somehow a "natural" thing...

In the mating setting, "higher status" is not a one-dimensional thing. I just say, "higher" in at least one relevant aspect is necessary for genuine attraction.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 11:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"higher" in at least one relevant aspect is necessary for genuine attraction.

On examination, your "alpha" thing gets so watered down that it's hard to find any meaning left in it. Yeah, so sexual attraction requires that you find something to admire in the partner. I can relate to that. It doesn't tell me anything.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:33:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could accentuate a practical impact, or excuse my politeness. But I leave it at that.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Late marriages are a way for a society to limit the population - along with other ways like breastfeeding for a long time. But I would rather place a declining fertility among high status women in China together with declining fertility rates among high status women in general. IIRC, in the demographic transition high status persons start to have declining number of children first, and tend to stay ahead of the curve.

This has often been used together with evolution to claim the fall of intelligent humans. The movie Idiocracy is a recent examples, and a rather benign one compared with the eugenic conclusions that was backed by similar reasoning in the 20th century.

Given that the demographic transition is as far as I know unprecedented, I don't think any conclusions about our nature or evolution can be drawn from it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 11:16:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Idiocracy is good for long-term elites, in the competitive sense - like I rationalized just above.

The demographic transition might be unprecedented, but it might trigger very precedented social dynamics. In particular, growing inequality might meet surprisingly little resistance beyond a certain point.

by das monde on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 11:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Idiocracy is based on the premise that since lower class people - who as a rule will have lower results on class biased smartness measurements - have more children then higher class people when birth rates are declining through the demographic transition, the end result will be a really dumb humanity. Versions of this idea can be found essentially from when birth rates started to decline in the upper class.

das monde:

The demographic transition might be unprecedented, but it might trigger very precedented social dynamics. In particular, growing inequality might meet surprisingly little resistance beyond a certain point.

I don't quite understand your reasoning. Beyond a certain point in the demogrpahic transition growing inequality might meet surprisingly little resistance? How do you figure that?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 06:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember the idiocracy discussion of the Bush years differently - as the counter-intuitive rise of dumb to decider positions, while the smart are left behind. It is a good representation (or a fat dream) of the GOP anti-intellectual lead. Your interpretation looks like a simplistic joke. Like in the financial jungle, the woes of (reproductive) trends for the middle class betas misrepresent the situation at the very top. That is mildly called competition.

growing inequality might meet surprisingly little resistance beyond a certain point.

Like I rationalized in the diary (the Social Protest section), a substantial enough inequality probably triggers an unambiguous hierarchy recognition and compliance patterns. The game is then "known" for ages.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 04:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The decline in fertility among the upper class in the early 20th century was used as an argument for eugenics by sterilisation of marginalised parts of the under class, and that is no joke.

I looked around for studies to quote and found Fertility trends by social status

This article discusses how fertility relates to social status with the use of a new dataset, several times larger than the ones used so far. The status-fertility relation is investigated over several centuries, across world regions and by the type of status-measure. The study reveals that as fertility declines, there is a general shift from a positive to a negative or neutral status-fertility relation. Those with high income/wealth or high occupation/social class switch from having relatively many to fewer or the same number of children as others. Education, however, depresses fertility for as long as this relation is observed (from early in the 20th century).

So no, this is not about the woes for middle class betas, this is about declining fertility across the board, starting at the top and working its way downwards.

The result in Europe (pre-crisis) being 1-1.5 children/women in most of Europe and around 2 in Scandinavia and France/Benelux, which I think suggests something more interesting then your model. With declining mortility and fertility rates came time to spend on feminism, leading to a more emancipated female role in society. Where this change also has led to society at large shouldering a large part of the costs of child-raising you have around reproductive levels, otherwise you have shrinking populations.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 09:46:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The data sets make no distinction between the top elites and subtop beta middle class that is still up in the "high status" half (in my reference). If needed, some knowledge to depress fertility on a large scale is there...
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 10:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The data includes both fine grained and more rough partition. On page 18 the author compares middle groups to lowest and highest groups. After the shift in fertility, highest has lower then middle that has lower then lowest. As we approach the present this difference decreases as fertility rate drop in in middle and lowest catches up with highest.

Do you have anything to support your notion that fertility is decreasing more in middle class then upper class?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:26:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am keen on finer graining still. When you compare the lifestyles of the <1% and the next 10-20%, there is so much fewer stress factors and in lesser strength. An abundance indeed.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can there be a higher fertility among the 1%? Sure. Unless someone has counted the children of the über-rich it can not be disproven.

Is it likely that there is nothing to back it up with except your theory? No.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 03:31:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At some point this would be a political rather than scientific issue.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The conclusions are of course political, but that only increases the importance of understanding the roles hierarchies play properly.

The demographic transition has changed the gender roles a lot. Going from high birth rate - high death rate to low birth rate - low death rate has decreased the amount of time that has to be spent bearing, givng birht to and raising children. The beneficiaries of freeing up a lot of time is women. Feminism is a feedback and consequence of low birth rates and also a way to change society. With falling birth rates power over reproduction shifts to women, and the faster it happens the faster the birth rates fall.

If successfull women in China are unlikely to find a mate, this reflects both that they are not dependent on finding one, and that society in China has yet to adopt to change. But that is nothing new, it is the same pattern repeating. If chinese society does not adopt to it, they will have low birth rates.

But this is the thing, there are socities that has adapted to the changes in demographics with changing gender roles. Which also changes pairing patterns. So your assertion that hierarchy's role in sexual attraction is something constant appears rather suspect.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 22nd, 2014 at 10:56:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Feminism is a "feedback" in the West only. The low birth rate might be the adaptation, after all - ecological overshots must have a lo-o-ong evolutionary history.

The mechanism of how the increased women reproductive power leads to lower birthrates is a mystery - but I dare to see here not just increased economic stress factors, but paucity of genuine biochemical triggers in a high status woman's life. I just became a bit more convinced about this after reading about sexting. It must perhaps remain a not-so-politically-correct secret, but (on the sub-conscious level) the line between feminine arousal and forced situations can be very uncomfortably blurred. But I would rather stop insisting on that.

by das monde on Sun Jun 22nd, 2014 at 11:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I would rather stop insisting on that.

I would rather believe you would. I'm not sure I do at this stage.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2014 at 11:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the tenor the comment thread is taking, I think the points made in this article are relevant: Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds (05.27.14)
So, a question, to my fellow male nerds:

What the fuck is wrong with us?

...

We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who's lovable because he's the protagonist. We're not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it. There isn't a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by "getting the girl" in the end. And when our clever ruses and schemes to "get girls" fail, it's not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we've absorbed.

Also, this is mostly a male comment thread.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 11:18:44 AM EST
I had replied to that.
by das monde on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 12:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reason I'm staying out of it.  Libraries are full of texts "mansplaining" women.  feh


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 02:08:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really full? More full than the literature for women? Have you seen anything like this?
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 04:14:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... You realise you linked to a book about women, written by a man, for men?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is what we are talking about, no?
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, you were talking about "literature for women", so I don't see the point of a link which illustrates what AT was talking about.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:15:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The context was "Libraries are full of texts 'mansplaining' women."

So I wondered, how do shelves for women and men compare in actual libraries - or in the whole amount of literature.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:21:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I worked out precisely what's so creepy about the whole philosophy: it's a study and justification of how to exploit the damage done to women by culture and society so the men involved can get their rocks off.

(That it requires pretty damaged men to think that this is a morally acceptable idea of a good time is true, but slightly beside the point: being damaged doesn't excuse exploiting the damage done to others and doing further damage, though it does explain it.)

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:17:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Judging from the choices women consistently make, the most creepy, annoying, damaging experiences they get are from the "all heart no spine" guys. Within the feminist culture as well.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:36:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And this came with a free  caricatured  out-group too. What good value.

Was there a 90-day money back guarantee?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By caricatured out-group do you mean women or girly men?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, girly men.

Women aren't even people in this set-up, they're objects to be manipulated.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 05:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or an alien species. On which: Scientists succeed in crossing a man with a woman!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 07:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you give us an update what happened to the outcome? The article is from 2010....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 07:07:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Women aren't even people in this set-up, they're objects to be manipulated.
What I said two weeks ago was:
Women are human beings? Certainly. Especially when it comes to emotions, a guy has to look at a woman humanly without reciprocity expectation.

What is "not manipulating people" supposed to mean? Any happy examples?

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 07:12:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"All spine, no heart" must be just as mean caricature, no?

If you are so interested, I get some money back from perhaps the most women friendly coaching program. Did not get why they would not pay attention to my particular circumstances, or why they discouraged to resolve them more quickly.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"All spine, no heart" must be just as mean caricature, no?

Yep, and a deeply damaging one too.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:18:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Women certainly are more mean to them.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:23:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde:
Women certainly are more mean to them.

What's starting to come through is das monde is subtly expressing a doubt that feminism is going to last long as the inequality gap widens. More women are going to realise how the fastest way to enter the alpha circle is to project their favour onto alpha men, budding 1%ers.

This is depressing but possibly true...

I believe part of the problem is that the most successful women playing alpha in a patriarchy have to internalise the 'rules of the game' and often become more male than males in order to beat us on our own turf.

Maggie, Hillary, Carly, Angie, Theresa May and the gang are only serving feminism obliquely in the least inspiring way. They are like spiritual transvestites, dolled up as women while out-toughing men on the economic and political battlefields.

I saw an interview between Paxman and Hillary the other day that showed Hill in a better light than when she campaigned for President. Possibly she has transcended the previous phase and can model femininity and politics in a more authentic way, that would be really interesting if it survived the gruelling 2 year marathon of the campaign.

I had experience with a career lady lawyer from L.A. once and it was an eye-opener listening to her tell of how difficult it was for her to find a man who was not intimidated by her salary.

Thankfully there are (a few) women who see through the status marking games and use their access to their own wholeness (encouraged by enlightened feminism) to encourage men to transcend the pissing contest of ego territoriality and seek security in relationship between equals, where both genders share in flexible roles. This intimacy can only be enjoyed when those roles are left at the door.

Then there are women who choose weaker men to punish for the centuries of unfairness inflicted on them, but that's another story!

I wish you better luck in finding women who are looking for more than BSDs, because then you may feel differently about the destiny your words imply, ie that we will all regress once we realise our ecological limits and the middle class disappear and go back to patriarchy.

You may just have been hanging out with the wrong crowd!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 10:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This intimacy can only be enjoyed when those roles are left at the door.
I have to disagree here. I am pretty convinced now that hierarchy role games are an important (if not the key) part of sexual attraction. Career lady lawyers are surely sick of intimidating everyone! Feminism would need centuries to change biochemical triggers. And the favour projection towards the 1% alpha is not a logical choice for the most women, I have to suggest.

So you related this diary to me living in Greece, nice! You would expect that above average employment and prospects would be a good sell in a crisis stricken country. But no way you can rely on that! I do not remember pickier women anywhere else (or ever?). Thus I resorted to internet search soon, haha.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to disagree here. I am pretty convinced now that hierarchy role games are an important (if not the key) part of sexual attraction.

They certainly are for adolescents, and for many adults, see my remarks about highly gendered sexual scripting. But what Melo is suggesting (also Wife of Bath), is that to have a mature, equal relationship then you need to leave that hierarchy stuff out. All of us have played these games, many of us have left them behind.

And by the way... Don't knock internet matching. I would recommend it strongly for anyone who is having difficulty meeting a compatible partner.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:28:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! I feel so much more competent now than a year ago.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I always thought the hierarchy went:

Alpha Males
Alpha Females
Beta Females wanting to be alpha females
Beta Males
Gammas (who are pretty much out of the game in both sexes)

That's certainly how American jock/cheerleader culture seems to work. The cheerleaders slut-shame the female betas 'under' them while having far more random sex than they do, because that happens to be an efficient way to get an alpha husband you can divorce later, and they don't want the competition from their social inferiors.

So far as I can tell from a comfortable distance, being labelled a slut by the popular girls in high school is far more devastating to female self-esteem than anything the boys can say to them.

All the alphas are afflicted with textbook narcissism, which pretty much defines the alpha mindset. Deviations from an idealised image are not allowed.

Here's a female startup founder talking about her job interview style:

Q. What would cut an interview short for you?

A. If somebody is negative at all about anything, it's done for me. If they describe a past job as not fun, I am literally done because it's your job to make your life fun, and it's in your hands. If you didn't figure out how to make something of it, you're not going to figure out how to make something of it here.

Now, no obvious slut-shaming happening here. But woe betide you if you show honest feelings or - worse - an ability to think critically about your work environment, because that marks you out as a loser.

The unconscious irony is strong in this one:

Q. What are some things that are unusual about your culture?

A. Every month, an employee wins the gnome that we named Chomsky, and employees submit a "gnomination" for who they think deserves it most. The winner gets to have Chomsky on their desk for a month and they get $1,000. We read to the entire team why they deserve the award, which is tied into our four leadership principles.

So... alphas are alphas. Male and female alphas do alpha in somewhat different ways, but they're both primarily interested in controlling their environment to maximise their self-image.

For an alpha woman, or a wannabe alpha woman, settling for a non-alpha man would be considered a terrible narcissistic wounding.

Which is why talking about 'men do...' or 'women do...' is stupid. You need more levels to get the nuance.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:33:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comment is spot on.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:40:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
All the alphas are afflicted with textbook narcissism, which pretty much defines the alpha mindset.

Haha, I just watched a political talk show (run by a woman, not that that matters!) where a right-wing 30 (+-) year old woman was talking about Renzi as being a narcissist and then added -completely without irony, (I know they don't do irony)- "... not that being a narcissist is a bad thing to be, actually the opposite!"

All is Vanity... ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 12:07:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the flip side, the liberuls, the modest white/blue collars, and the poor are really looked down by those people.
by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 03:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Italy 'liberuls' is a term for people who want low taxes, no regulations and no moral proscriptions from the state.

Think 'bunga-bunga'.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 04:09:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ones you're talking about here are called 'Grillini'. ;)

More grist for your mill:

All the Single Ladies - Kate Bolick - The Atlantic

Whether the sexual double standard is cultural or biological, it's finding traction in the increasingly lopsided sexual marketplace that is the American college campus, where women outnumber men, 57 percent to 43 percent. In 2010, The New York Times ran a much-discussed article chronicling this phenomenon. "If a guy is not getting what he wants, he can quickly and abruptly go to the next one, because there are so many of us," a University of Georgia co-ed told The Times, reporting that at college parties and bars, she will often see two guys being fawned over by six provocatively dressed women. The alternative is just to give up on dating and romance because "there are no guys," as a University of North Carolina student put it.

Last year, a former management consultant named Susan Walsh tried to dig a little deeper. She applied what economists call the Pareto principle--the idea that for many events, roughly 20 percent of the causes create 80 percent of the effects--to the college dating market, and concluded that only 20 percent of the men (those considered to have the highest status) are having 80 percent of the sex, with only 20 percent of the women (those with the greatest sexual willingness); the remaining 80 percent, male and female, sit out the hookup dance altogether. (Surprisingly, a 2007 study commissioned by the Justice Department suggested that male virgins outnumber female virgins on campus.) As Walsh puts it, most of the leftover men are "have nots" in terms of access to sex, and most of the women--both those who are hooking up and those who are not--are "have nots" in terms of access to male attention that leads to commitment. (Of course, plenty of women are perfectly happy with casual, no-strings sex, but they are generally considered to be in the minority.) Yet the myth of everyone having sex all the time is so pervasive that it's assumed to be true, which distorts how young men and women relate. "I think the 80/20 principle is the key to understanding the situation we find ourselves in--one in which casual sex is the cultural norm, despite the fact that most people would actually prefer something quite different," Walsh told me.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:10:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She applied... the Pareto principle... and concluded....

How much empirical work did she do? I was told the numbers are even more skewed.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 11:06:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll run that one past my sister, when I next see her... she's an epidemiologist, currently studying harmful behaviour linked to alcohol consumption on US campuses ("epidemic of rape" etc)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 06:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generically, I'd guess that like all "self help" organisations, their methods work for some people and not for others, and that their focus is on making money, and preserving their reputation is a major part of that. So if it wasn't working for you, it is probably worthwhile for them to refund and let you move on, rather than having you hanging around dissing them on the net.

"Money-back guarantee" is very different to "results guaranteed".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 06:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will say it once: it felt good to quite that.

Getting results is always own responsibility, indeed.

by das monde on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 07:58:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wifely Duty - Caitlin Flanagan - The Atlantic
Although I have an amused tolerance for books like The Total Woman, I am not entirely incapable of good, old-fashioned feminist rage. The notion that even educated middle-class American women had to put out in order to get a damn refrigerator--even that they might "yearn" for one--just steams me. However, I would not advise against using sex for more subtle marital adjustments, of a type described in The Sex-Starved Marriage. Davis reminds women that one of the more effective ways to get a husband to be more considerate and helpful is to seduce him. She counsels a group of female clients who complain of angry, critical husbands to "pay more attention to their physical relationships with their husbands," to "be sexier, more affectionate, attentive, responsive, and passionate." Darned if the old bag of tricks doesn't work like a charm--the ladies arrive at the next therapy session giggling and thrilled with their new powers. To many contemporary women, however, the notion that sex might have any function other than personal fulfillment (and the occasional bit of carefully scheduled baby making) is a violation of the very tenets of the sexual revolution that so deeply shaped their attitudes on such matters. Under these conditions, pity the poor married man hoping to get a bit of comfort from the wife at day's end. He must somehow seduce a woman who is economically independent of him, bone tired, philosophically disinclined to have sex unless she is jolly well in the mood, numbingly familiar with his every sexual maneuver, and still doing a slow burn over his failure to wipe down the countertops and fold the dish towel after cooking the kids' dinner. He can hardly be blamed for opting instead to check his e-mail, catch a few minutes of SportsCenter, and call it a night.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2014 at 02:35:12 PM EST
Probably one of the most important days of my life was spent with my grandmother in the kitchen in my early-20s.

She was trying to cook and I was trying to help her. You see in my grandparents' (I was raised by them - a lower working class family) my grandmother would prepare the meal and serve everyone (as a side, she also had a full-time job as a cleaner, making MORE than my grandfather). She would eat (she still does) after everyone else.

It was a fight, a big fight. Now it struck me, you see nobody was forcing her to behave like this. Indeed my grandfather is a bit macho, but she had (has) more money, was/is financially independent and in an environment (surrounded by urban elites) where social support would be on her side.

But she was actively the biggest enforcer of the status-quo. For me (a materialist-rationalist troskyist at that time), this was a massive revelation. Suddenly male-oppression narratives were giving way to voluntary servitude ones.

Ten years later another idea struck my mind: I was making my grandmother distressed and unhappy with all my attempts of shared cooking. A nice old lady that deserves some peace.

Monday I will be lunching with them. My grandmother will be making the food, cleaning the dishes. I will be eating everything and smiling. They will be happy and I will be extremely happy because they are happy. I will be able to bear this for a couple of days at most - but they will be profoundly happy and that has to count for more than my liberal bigotry, right?

Of course there are consequences: probably my biggest shame (really) is that I do not cook. And being lazy makes me not act on this. I am profoundly embarrassed by this...

Now, lets change gears and fast-forward to the hyper-liberal, hyper-progressive (and if you do not believe this, just see the voting records in areas where students/faculty live - start with Cambridge and Oxford), hyper-rationalist environment of British universities (which deserve to be considered some of the best in the world). I have been to plenty of them for considerable time. Suffice to say that I tend to compare Academia to North Korea. It is a highly hierarchical environment (and getting worse through reasons that I will not discuss here). This is supposedly in the place where rationalism is bred.

The painful conclusion that I have taken in my life is that we are just a garden variety of primates with a strong sense of hierarchy and very little reason.

If you believe in the fairy-tale of the nice, rational, pure human which society spoils, then you are in for constant disappointment. It is the base material that is not up to your standards.

But, on the other hand, if you see a species with primal instincts (like any other) which is endowed with (a little bit) of reason than there is cause to be both pessimist and optimist. Pessimist because that tiny bit of reason can make ugliest part worse. But optimism because reason can make the sharper edges a little bit less sharp (though I would not say, soft).

What we would need is an educational programme devoted to the idea of softening the edges. This is a completely different perspective from the enlightenment view that human material has in-born all the qualities that just need to be nurtured. This is also a completely different perspective from the conservative view which seems to want to sharpen the edges.

by cagatacos on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 05:01:53 AM EST
There are indeed multiple hierarchy threads in the academy. I had to realize that I was playing a low status chump all time - not displaying competitiveness, initiative, leadership unasked; lazy to build networks; being rudely polite without asking or giving respect. Particularly the administrative layer has been growing and pushing down scientific activity to lower status - probably worldwide.

What we would need is an educational programme devoted to the idea of softening the edges.
Softening edges in the sense of restraining the instincts in each lifetime, or in an evolutionary sense? In the later case, some selection rather than education would be needed. That does not has to look ugly - just think of building some anti-idiocracy. But instead of a society-wide project, you would rather start by nourishing a network, a layer (or even some sect) of people you would like to be selected. And watch out for the trends, events that would select against your preferences!

Just educating for softening edges would meet silent (or submerged) resistance: We don't need no education.... The real game would be playing with human subpersonalities - foremost, teaching people to reason without hierarchy concerns, disregarding intimidation. The post-WWII decades had a little success here.

The edges are actually useful sometimes, and you cannot take them away from people. In particular, the modest intellectual types would benefit from some instinct education - leading to a better competition to simplistic hierarchy machos. Such initiatives may even meet well organized resistance.

by das monde on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 06:30:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding education, I think the whole discussion is one of the most important that can be had. I was vague on purpose just because there is a preliminary point that I was trying to make:

The understanding that humans are not naturally uber-rational or potentially omniscient.

An education system devised to deal with human flaws (for the lack of a better term) has to start with the assumption that humans are flawed. This seems tautological, but it is not what we are thought to believe. The prevalent belief is that we can be super(wo)men: highly rational actors.

A discussion about how to educate "flawed" humans, would be indeed gigantic. But I could speculate on some ideas:

  1. training in delusions and self-delusions. For example learning on how to detect fallacies in speech (typical in marketing and with some politicians). Learning on how to detect self-reinforcing views of the world.

  2. A contextualization of current options in society. History of law is an example (as dry as it sounds). For instance why do liberal societies assume "innocent until proven otherwise"? These options do not spring out of nothing (though a without-sin view of humanity might disagree)

  3. Making people present arguments against what they believe (e.g. make an Atheist put forward an argument for Christianity and vice-versa)

  4. Accepting error

...

But my point, for now, is rather simple and something that goes before all this: the idea that we need to discard the premise of the human-as-mostly-a-rational/good-being.

by cagatacos on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 07:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cagatacos:
the idea that we need to discard the premise of the human-as-mostly-a-rational/good-being.

Even with the 'mostly' qualifying your statement, it still smacks of binary thinking.

People are not born full of sin or virtue, but the potential for both. The old paradigm education was to 'knock sense into the rogues' and now seems more to address the problem of ignorance and not traumatise children by letting them feel 'less-than'.

People left feral act badly. When over-disciplined they turn rebellious or over-passive. A middle, hard-to-quantify way is needed.

No binary easy exit from the crux of the problem that all children are different in their abilities to accpt and thrive in structured environments. Some will 'get it' that spending the best part of their youths indoors in uncomfortable chairs studying instead of playing outside or goofing off is a good trade-off for the life of Reilly they will enjoy when the long-delayed kicks in, others will be less likely to trust in that promise.

There is the social pact to consider in all this too. In the boarding schools I went to the bullying prefects (students) when asked why they perpetuated the system that had so humiliated them when they were younger said it was their revenge.

How misplaced that was eluded them.  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 08:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A middle, hard-to-quantify way is needed.
That way should bold down to (or involve crucially) inspiring leadership. Whoever leads that way, must employ all instinctive bio-neuro-chemisty for leadership and following. The world awaits to get fucked by a great idea and action. Maybe ours?
by das monde on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 12:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like the Dutch say, you paddle with the oars you have, not the ones you wish to have. The Catholic focus on flaws is a too serious, even depressing, approach. Who are we to judge what is a flaw, what has to be improved - especially if yourself would not take action? The humanity was never close to a rationality, omniscience ideal - why would we seek to reach it above everything else? Hardly anyone wants to believe in (or be) a highly rational actor. Are we sure about real educational premises put to action?

The human mind is still a wonder in this world, capable of observing, experiencing, analyzing, making decisions. An yes, we can do rational thinking pretty cleanly, just as our legs are capable of running. But rational thinking requires more than having a few lessons in analysis of delusions, fallacies. Firstly, it needs regular practice, like a muscle. Secondly, it needs to discipline (but not to dash) the "flawed" mind circuits. Thirdly, it is not a particularly fun experiential activity, so it needs to be friends with the "flawed" states of mind anyway. Rationality is void without motivation, priorities, purpose, experience. We would be greatly lucky if most people would just practice the second aspect.

Memorizing is a rational mental task, but savants and memory competitions show that the effective way to memorize is to link the given objects to emotions, spacial experiences. So it is worth to be creative, with whatever you have.

by das monde on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 11:52:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of hierarchy and inequality, I just recalled the Perestroika years Soviet film "Kin-dza-dza!". It is a hilarious sci-fi dystopian satire, with some cult following and a recent animated version.

The Wikipedia page reveals the inequality slant and spoilers soon. Or if you have time between football for a "WTF did I just watch?" experience, here are Part 1 and Part 2 on Youtube. Or here is a Hollywoodish trailer:

It is remarkable that this movie was made early in Perestroika (if not just earlier), as the parody of Soviet pecking orders (with pretty arbitrary status promotions and rituals), bureaucracy manners, rude service is pretty visible. Also, the film is made by a Georgian director - and now familiar Russian domination theme might be discerned as well.

But the "surface" critique of Western inequalities holds water as well, especially now, with all that false or random meritocracy. The wild 90s in the Russia are no less fitting the film theme than the Soviet stagnation. There is something timeless about the inequality subject.

by das monde on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 12:44:37 PM EST


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