Swinging for the Fences: Brokenness Transmitted from Level to Level –II

In the previous installment, I described one way in which the brokenness of the anarchic intersocietal system (described by “The Parable of the Tribes”) fostered brokenness in the human creatures living within the civilized societies evolving in a way directed by the ongoing selection for the ways of power. Unavoidable conflict created the necessity for societies to have power, to survive, and the need for power shaped the societies so that they made demands on people that were in many ways counter to human nature and human needs. The human creature, socialized in such societies, is set at war with himself.

That’s one source of human brokenness. Another, out of the same dynamic, is simply the nightmarish historic experience to which human beings have been subjected because of the “war of all against all” that has been the inevitable by-product of emerging out of the biological order and into that intersocietal anarchy.

One of my books, Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War, traced how such a history, and such a social evolutionary process, wounded people in ways that made them still more ready channels of the destructive pattern of brokenness.

Let’s start with this quotation:

People go to war to defend many things. It is sane to defend our lives and homelands against those who would take them from us. But the engines of destruction in human affairs are often fueled by a defensive-
ness of a different kind.

Contrary to rationalist and materialist assumptions about human motivation, what we human beings seem most ferocious in defending are certain beliefs we hold—or want to hold—about ourselves. We are not weak, we insist, nor are we insignificant. We most emphatically are not evil. Nor, we declare, are we confused or bewildered. It is in defense of these beliefs that we have so often been ready to kill and to die. This helps explain why the warrior spirit has been tinged with madness. For these beliefs about ourselves we defend so zealously we inwardly sense to be false.

We feel our confusion, but we insist on denying it because it is frightening. Even less are we prepared to acknowledge the painful guilt from the sense of our own evil. And, outraged by our condition as mere specks at the mercy of forces beyond our control, we fight to uphold a grandiose sense of our importance and power. The human condition can be terrifying, and we fight to protect our flight from that reality. (O of W, p.8)

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But this “Flight from the Human Condition” is not a flight from the natural and inevitable human condition, but especially from the human condition under the weight of the experience imposed by the reign of power and the war of all against all.

We’re # 1: Fighting to Deny Feelings of Weakness and Worthlessness by Proving Ourselves Winners

We would accept being weak in a safe world. But it is unacceptable to be weak in a world where the mighty rule by force. It would be tolerable to be a moral creature whom time will allow to ripen like fruit and let fall. But it is a crushing burden to live under the constant threat of annihilation. (O of W, p. 18)

Hence, the violence and wars of the world get fed by the narcissistic injuries from the world treating one badly.

Historical forces that disregard human needs push people toward defensive grandiosity. The inevitability of the rule of power makes it inevitable that people will worship power. A species caught up in a destructive spiral out of its control will place control inordinately high among its values. People will seek occasions where they can impose their will to compensate for the epidemic experience of impotence….

At the core of this narcissism is the feeling of having been wronged…. From bad treatment one absorbs the feeling that one is bad. However, mistreatment can also engender the insistence on the opposite, compensa-
tory image of oneself as superior. (O of W, 17, 18)

The engines of war are stoked by the very injuries that war inflicts. People who have been terrified by forces beyond their control will insist on control. People who have experienced the terrors of being weak will crave power. People who have been treated as if what they are is of little worth will fight to prove themselves special, winners, the Master Race.

False Certainty: Fighting Heresy to Deny Confusion

Likewise with the fueling of the war system by people who insist that they alone have God’s Truth. The need for certainty is fed by how frightening are the uncertainties of one’s existence.

We are frightened to peer out into the darkness not only because our limited knowledge cannot illuminate it but because we have reason to believe that dangers await us there. The more the landscape is strewn with traps, the greater our need for reliable maps. The sense of mystery that, in a more benign world, we might have apprehended with wonder and awe now creeps toward us with terror mounted upon its back.

By condemning civilized peoples to inescapable insecurity, civilization has therefore greatly intensified the temptation to cling to false certainties. The experiments of social psychologists show that the greater the stress, the less tolerance for ambiguity. Over thousands of years of civilization, the larger human experiment has demonstrated the same relationship. The more one senses that a false step may mean disaster, the more impelled one feels to know with certainty that one is walking c on the true path. Dogma is the child of anxiety. (O of W, p. 18)

Destroy the Evil Ones: Fighting to Deny the Internal War by Fighting Against External Scapegoats

Another way in which the brokenness created by the rule of power drives people to create still more brokenness grows out of the harshness of the moralities often imposed by power-maximizing societies.

For the demands of power are often opposed to the needs of the human organism. The more intense the struggle for power, therefore, the more fiercely will the demands of society make war upon the natural inclinations of the human animal. Internalizing these demands, which are the fruits of the war outside, thus exacerbates, if it does not entirely engender, the war within the human psyche.The greater the gap between the internalized social demands and human nature, the more painful will be the intrapsychic conflict. We are more likely to be taught to regard our natural desires as evil; the warring parts within us will be less reconcilable. To deliver ourselves from pain, to experience ourselves as more whole and harmonious within, we will be tempted to deny our evil. But since the sense of evil does not simply disappear, we will project our forbidden desires out into the world, and reconstrue the war inside us as a war out in the world. (O of W, p. 19)

The struggle for power “thrusts us into the insecure Hobbesean ‘state of nature’ that provides so ample a supply of “potential enemies, and it drives us to see in others what we cannot bear to acknowledge in ourselves.

War without fosters war within. And war within fosters war without.

Thus does anarchy in the world cycle conflict into and back out of the human organism.

Brokenness, from level to level, and back again.

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6 Responses to “Swinging for the Fences: Brokenness Transmitted from Level to Level –II”

  1. Marvin Says:

    “We would accept being weak in a safe world. But it is unacceptable to be weak in a world where the mighty rule by force”

    Sorry to ask, what does this frase mean? What does it mean “weak in a safe world?” – We only feel weak if we get hurt so we would never think of being weak in a safe world, we would think we are gods.
    Its “unacceptable” so what – you sit in the corner and cry – who cares? Or you think the “mighty” would care? So why are you writing this then? Because you want to get rid of the OTHER “mighty”. How you suggest to do that? Right – by force. So you are not so weak after all. In the very end its just one mighty (you) against the other one (them) and you try to get the sympathy of others presenting youself as weak.

    “But it is unacceptable to be weak in a world where the mighty rule by force”
    This is pure propaganda nothing else – sounds nice doesn’t it. Well not to me but proably my 2 year old daughter will totaly agree if she could read. But once she grows up she will be warned to follow man who give sweets … and nice sounding nonsense.

    Marvin

  2. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    I am unable to follow your thoughts here, Marvin, nor do I have any clear idea of what my words triggered in you that would account for your use of words like “propaganda” and “nonsense.”

    But in case you have any genuine interest in knowing the answer to the question you ask –”What does it mean ‘weak in a safe world’”?– I will venture to use a family situation instead of something so vast as “the world.”

    Would you not agree that young children, in general, are in a position of weakness dependent upon how the more powerful (for example their parents) use their power as for whether they feel safe or not? Would you agree that children in a family where the parents are loving and not abusive are safer than children in a family where one or both parents abuse their children?

    I would say that for some children, in very unsafe family environments, the experience of being weak is terrifying and intolerable. And that for other children, in a safer family environment, it is much easier to accept being weak and dependent.

    If that assertion makes sense to you, perhaps you can take the step from there to what I was saying about the situation in the wider civilized world, which I have characterized –drawing upon THE PARABLE OF THE TRIBES– as a place where the struggle for power has been ongoing and inescapable among civilized societies since the beginnings of recorded history millennia ago.

  3. Marvin Says:

    Its good to speak about children especially because I experience grown-ups from the western culture as children. When they come to the country where I live they get easily ripped off and show a infantile behaviour. Your text are attractive to them, they touch their fears and infantile illusions how to get rid of them. Lets speak about a child like my two years old. She finds anything which doesn’t agree to her plans “unacceptable”. Of course she would love to live in Disneyland the dream of a safe world with no tyrant (father) only niceties and any physical object is made out of soft rubber (no pain). Yes you may like to create you Brave New World full of adult infantiles.
    Children are not weak as children but they are weak if you put them in a position where they are forced to act like adults. In a broken family (like most modern ones) they can are experience a situation of helplessly. Of course they come to the conclusion: “But it is unacceptable to be weak in a world where the mighty rule by force”. This is what I call an infantile conclusion.
    In your broken society you will always come to the conclusion that fathers are abusers and kings are tyrants. The Mighty can be loved if they rule is just and they use their force wisely. Unfortunately men have always been able to destroy such a rule by lies and distortion (propaganda), by misrepresentation controlling of the media. By teaching infantile ideologies where any rule by one man is called a tyranny where any father must submit to collective rule by even their children.
    With all this you have destroyed our societies beyond repair. Instead of ruling yourself you preach your children and citizen what to do and if they fail you say they misunderstood you. You cry “they rule by force” but you rule by lies and deception. You make people fight each other and when they are weak enough you come and “liberate” them. The “war everyone against everyone else” is not a human condition but is created by intrigue.
    Look at nature its full of difference. An ant isn’t as mighty as a lion but still I revive it as harmony. Human societies trying to create equality where there is none create brutal conflict and endless wars.

    Marvin

  4. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    Our acquaintance is but two comments old, Marvin, but I must already say that I see absolutely no sign that you understand what I am trying to say, or that when you address me you have the faintest notion of where I am coming from and what I am trying to accomplish.

    I do not feel very optimistic that this difficulty can be overcome. But if you care enough about whatever the possibilities may be of having a meaningful dialogue, you might consider going to the “Compendium” of the series of which this entry is a part, and reading the overall nature of the ideas I’m trying to develop here. That compendium is on this sight at http://www.nonesoblind.org/blog/?p=11358.

  5. Marvin Says:

    Well I run across this page I don’t know what you are or any other paper you wrote. You page struck me because its all of the same I hear, nice words with little logic. Words like “weak” without proper understanding what that weak means. “force”… everybody use them so it can’t be wrong or?. It happens that the first thing of degeneration is that words loose their proper meaning. You seem to be sure of what you mean with it but a the same time you point to a deep crisis only it is the crisis of the Other. Its all Their fault and you know the way out.
    I looked into your other writings now. It feels empty full of big words but empty. like the the quote in the beginning. O have heard those things over and over again. Like ground-hog day.
    “But it is unacceptable to be weak in a world where the mighty rule by force” I find this quite funny. Ruling is a quite complex thing but certainly force is part of it. Do you think by your logic that the strong would find it more acceptable?
    Yes I should go over it and read the rest of your sophism. Worlds don’t really matter any more they are just good in a PR campaign. Tomorrow most people have forgotten them anyway – so what the hell – you keep living in your borrowing world until it comes all down.

    Goodbye and thanks for fish
    Marvin

  6. Gus Falconer Says:

    You’re casting pearls before swine; nonesoblind as those literally incapable of seeing.

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