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Dispatches ... #4




Joel Markowitz
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Apr 14




Especially since Darwin and Freud, the mindset of The Church had been losing ground.  It welcomes support from purportedly scientific sources. 

Which side does Clio tend to support?

@ The Church's primary role in history has been to criminalize-- and to force us to repress-- phallic-pagan (i.e., oedipal) fantasies.  That ended paganism.

As religion was losing credibility, there has been an increasing acceptance of the roles of oedipal determinants in our thinking.

Clio often supports the Christian position.  Clio tends to replace the Oedipus Complex with other types of a boy's issues with his mother.   

E.g., Clio tends to replace much Freudian thinking with deMausian-- and other anti-Freudian thinking.

The Church needs such supports in its anti-Freudian struggle.   

@ The Church insisted that people were not animals.  That they're superior to animals.  Clio also tends to separate us from other animals.  

Animals have alpha-male strivings.  Young male animals  fight alpha-males to  replace them as alpha-males and to mate with the females.  

We all agree that this is normal, healthy behavior; and that it  advances improvements through natural selection.

Not so  with people, Clio seems to insist.  According to Clio -- and religion, peoples' battles derive from their sinful, evil, greedy natures.  

While animals have normal territorial disputes, the evil natures of humans drive their wars for territory and other advantages.


Joel





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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Apr 15



Sorry if I was partly responsible for supporting the idea that humans are evil. I don't believe that at all. What I was trying to say is that we come to believe as children that we are evil, bad, spoiled, guilty, because we feel we must have deserved our abandonments and punishments from our parents -- it's a means of keeping them people who were "right," and therefore people we might even finally be able to prove ourselves worthy of -- historically, usually through suffering. 

As childrearing improves, as better loved mothers give even more love to their children, human beings will simply understand themselves as they are, which is beautiful -- I don't agree with those like Steven Pinker that there's no such "Omega Point" due for the human race; I think this was just his means of tamping down his own enthusiasms, so some jealous "god" didn't spot him out and stomp on him. 

-- Patrick

———

Brian
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Apr 18



Patrick, I appreciate that you’ve processed what I said and responded to it, which makes genuine dialogue possible.  I still feel that you are trying to reduce everything to a single factor, which is a fundamentally misguided way of thinking about reality.  But at least now we have some basis for a more meaningful exchange of ideas.  I have two responses to your post.

First, on one occasion I spoke with deMause about Chodorow’s work and my own empirical findings about machismo and militarism.  Interestingly, he did not respond as you have by talking about the quality of mothering but said instead that what makes males violent is getting beaten and abused in other ways by their FATHERS.  One of the frustrating things about talking with Lloyd was that at any given time he would insist that one and only one causal factor was at issue, but at different times he himself pointed to different factors.  Not only did he talk about the roles of both the mother and the father in the etiology of violence, but in Foundations of Psychohistory he said that war is caused by perinatal trauma, yet another factor. 

In other words, Lloyd has always presented his ideas as mono-factorial, reductive explanations, but has been unwilling to commit himself to exactly which factor is the ultimate explanation or to put all his disparate theories on the table at the same time and work out contradictions and figure out how they all relate to one another as a multi-factorial theory.  Many of Lloyd’s ideas are brilliant but they cannot all be true in the reductive form in which he proposed them and taken as a whole they do not form a coherent conceptual framework for psychohistory.  This leaves unavoidable unfinished business for anyone today or in the future who claims to be a deMausian. 

Second, at the most fundamental level, deMause expressed his reductionism as the principle of “methodological individualism,” which he defined as the negation of “the holistic fallacy that the group exists as an entity over and beyond its individual constituents.”  He used the term “group” broadly to include cultures, societies, and states. (Foundations of Psychohistory, pp. 133-134).  In pitting himself against “the holistic fallacy,” Lloyd substituted one form of reductionism for another.  For him, holism was the thesis and individualism was the antithesis, but I would argue that today we a synthesis, or a dialectical way of viewing systems as both shaping and shaped by individuals.  This is in fact how many systems theorists and family therapists, among others, think about the world.

In your comments you seem to acknowledge that a sex-stereotyped society does violence to individuals and you then go on to say that the society is itself is the product of individual psychology and behavior, as shaped by quality of child rearing.  This is actually close to the dialectical view I am proposing, but you keep reverting to the idea that only the individual side of the dialectic matters.  Why can’t you accept the idea that neither society nor the individual can be reduced to one another, but are constantly shaping one another?  In the sex role example, we SIMULTANEOUSLY  need to dismantle the social caste system based on sex stereotyping AND reform the quality of childrearing.  Why can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time?  Or to use another metaphor, why do we have to choose between apples and oranges?  Does it make sense to argue whether apples are more important than oranges, when the ideal scenario is to have both?

Brian


De Mause is not consistent through his writings. To his credit -- and to our investigative pleasure -- he is complex, so much of what may seem inconsistency is actually just conflation of multiple different things happening at the same time. But when he says in Emotional Life of Nations that wars help purge your femininity, acquired after unconsciously re-bonding to your mother after too long a spell of peace and societal growth had made you feel unworthy and abandoned by her, by allowing you to form into raping Fatherlands, this is clearly not the same de Mause we find in his subsequent work, Origins of War, where, while there is still plenty of talk of men needing to restore masculine potency, there is zero talk of Fatherlands, and instead entirely of the good mother (the Motherland you bond to) / bad mother (the "other" you rape) split. In Emotions, he talks about how phallic father Lyndon Johnson freed himself of feeling maternally engulfed/stampeded by attacking Vietnam, and while in Origins he talks about this (and Kennedy's need to do the same) as well, he primarily features Hitler as ... a "perfect representative of [Germans'] own Killer Mother." Certain portions of Emotions seems to be effaced if not exactly contradicted in Origins, that is. (Explore how he portrays Kennedy's motivations before his assassination, for another example of this -- one has him as mostly being hyper masculine, the other as mostly masochistically resolved. And Hitler too changes in both works: Emotions has him as hyper-masculine, more like how he shows Johnson -- someone with an erect dick)

Personally, though, I'm not so much bothered by these, again, maybe not always straight contradictions but certainly often significantly large changes in emphasis, for two reasons. One, I often find refinement, weeding out of theories he once held as significant but which no longer hold as as true, and so need to be become fainter. Anyone who appreciated de Mause for his explorations of a theory where one needn't think of the particulars of one's own childhood at all -- the "fetal drama -- will come to Origins disappointed, and probably angry. He discusses it; but this work is mostly effective in eliminating the sense you had in his previous works that perhaps, just perhaps, the universal feelings we all share in being de-oxygenated and strangled in the late stages of our womb experience, could trump our sense of being overwhelmed and love-denied ... intentionally, by our mothers. As I've said elsewhere on this listserv, in Origins Lloyd is to some extent his own "yeah, but: someone who seems to be in some agreement with his younger self, but only to substitute in a caveat that sort of eliminates the legitimacy of a portion of his previous arguing. He acknowledges the relevance of the womb experience, but if you had a well-loved mother feeding her healthy emotional state into you, well, you really don't need to worry so much about that placenta you'll find yourself wrestling with in late-stages ...There's no way that could possibly lead you to later desiring war, for instance. Sorry about talking about that so much previously! 

And two, while I think there is less animus in Origins than in Emotional Life of Nations, I think it's also in a sense less hyper masculine, less phallic. The 1920s Moderns beat back the oppressive Victorian Titanesses by becoming aggressive, tough, capable of telling terrible (but honest) truths, and I think this is a bit like how Lloyd may have more been while writing Emotions. That is, I think it was his own temporary need which explained why a more important truth -- how in wars we're merging back with our mothers -- is a bit less present in Emotions than is the image of the angry, empowered, mother-raping father -- the Phallic Father -- whom we are meant to be appalled by but are probably at some level, given Lloyd's pictorial "inducements," excited by. I think it was empowering his creativity, his animus -- and gave us the creation of his master work. 

I think it is possible that when he talks to you, Brian, of the importance of the father, he might just have been going against his better knowledge just to for a moment pretend that the father's influence on the child can be such that the mother somehow can feel as if she's been bidden into absentia, recluse -- hidden away successfully in the basement. I've mentioned that in Emotions when he discusses his own experiences it is his own father and his spankings he tends to focus on, not so much his own mother's abandonment. But his emphasis on the primary importance of the mother, through all his writings, is entirely consistent. In Origins, by the time you get to his discussions of the emergence of the patriarchal family and of the obedience-demanding, tyrannical father, you can't forget that it's not the spanking father but rather the depressed, love-craving mother which really counts; and in Emotions ... well in Emotions you get this incredible bit:  

Sociologists and historians have avoided looking for the family sources of wars and social violence. Whenever a group produces murderers, the mother-child relationship must be abusive and neglectful. Yet this elementary truth has not even begun to be considered in historical research; just stating that poor mothering lies behind wars seems blasphemous. Instead, the grossest sort of idealizations of historical mothering proliferate. When, for instance, studies of the sources of the extreme violence of the Mafia turn to depictions of Sicilian mother-child relations they inevitably come to resemble the happy, loving families out of "The Godfather.” Yet it is only when an Italian psychoanalyst, Silvia di Lorenzo, writes a book on La Grande Madre Mafia that her descriptions of typical Sicilian mother-child interactions begin to give us an accurate picture of the maternal origins of Mafia violence:
If a boy of theirs commits a slight fault, they do not resort to simple blows, but they pursue him on a public street and bite him on the face, the ears, and the arms until they draw blood. In those moments even a beautiful woman is transformed in physiognomy, she becomes purplish-red, with blood-shot eyes, with gnashing teeth, and trembling convulsions, and only the hastening of others, who with difficulty tear away the victim, put an end to such savage scenes.
Thus the conditions of early mothering have profound affects on adult human violence. It is not surprising that Ember and Ember found in their cross-cultural studies that where the mother sleeps closer to the baby than to the father and uses the baby as a substitute spouse--usually sexually--there is more homicide and war. Every childrearing practice in history is restaged in adult political behavior. Children whose mothers swaddled them and were "not there" emotionally could not as adults maintain object consistency and grew up paranoid, imagining "enemies" everywhere.
Children whose mothers regularly did not feed them in a timely fashion experienced the world as malevolently withholding. Children whose mothers rejected them with depressive silence experienced peaceful international periods as threatening. Children whose mothers dominated them and who were engulfing often choose totalitarian political leaders. Children whose mothers were so needy they describe their children as "born selfish and demanding" and or who saw them as "angry since birth" experienced other nations as demanding too much or as angry "bad babies."Children whose mothers used them as antidepressants chose manic, often violent leaders to counter their own depression. And mothers who ridiculed and humiliated their children whenever their activities didn't coincide with her own were experienced in the international sphere as poison containers of intolerable ridicule and shame--as in "the shame of Versailles." It is not surprising, then, that violent, authoritarian political behavior has been statistically correlated with rejecting,punitive parenting.

And further, this:

One of the best defenses against fears of maternal engulfment is merging with a Phallic Leader to restore potency. Anzieu found small groups regularly searched for a narcissistic, aggressive leader when they felt that "everything is crumbling" in the group. Parin found the Anyi tribe he studied, where the mothering wasneglectful and incestuous, produced men who feared being "poisoned, devoured and castrated by women" and who chose exceptionally violent leaders because they felt that "the preoedipal mother is more dangerous than the oedipal father," and merging with a "strong and severe father" saved them from feeling castrated. And Blum found that when nations choose "hypnotic-like surrender to the leader," they overcome "infantile helplessness and weakness, childhood traumata, child abuse and neglect and feelings of being unloved [through] an escalation to war [whereby] the sacrifice of the sons in battle by their oedipal fathers and a ‘macho' defense against femininity are powerful dynamics." 

Which is again another rebuff of those who perhaps want to focus so much on the influence of the Father so that discussion of the truly terrifying Mother can be elided.

I've mentioned before my suspicion that when psychohistorians start talking about multiple explanations for the course of history, they're not so much adding depth to lead us to truth as casting multiple objects into the air to distract our already informed vision. When Denis O'Keefe writes about de Mause that "In his attempts to intervene, it would seem he chose childrearing as the most actionable cause and he certainly ran with it, whether it was mom, dad, schools, birth, or the many of forms of child abuse he wrote about," he's not only mistaking Lloyd's primary consistency (yes, its "childhood" at first, but it's the mother primarily all the way through, guys; even when it's neurobiology and trauma, it's about how the mother's encounter with the child determines the brain -- that pleasure or trauma) while obliterating his integrity -- Lloyd was apparently suffering from his own "flight to action" -- but doing his own version of casting objects into the air. Casting an array of objects into the air, to blight out "the sun" that thanks to Lloyd we caught full sight of, but which left us seared and frightened ... to blight out the fact that when we're talking "childhoods as the actionable cause," we're talking about ... our own mommies -- Her!


Which "sun"? Which "sun" could sear and blight that we would cast our eye elsewhere to thereafter avoid it? It's the one out of Rheingold; the one that is no where on this listserv and of whom no sense can be found in O'Keefe's encapsulation of Lloyd's work. It's the one that would kill us if it sensed we'd cottoned on to the full impact of her influence. That is, this lady, of whom, I've believe, you've had some experiences with, however much you may not remember in quite this way: 

Whether the mother is depressed and withdrawn or dominating and angry, the extremely vulnerable baby and young child fears being killed or abandoned by her, and this fear of imminent death is embedded in the brain in a dissociated alter in its right hemisphere, where it is unavailable for correction as the child grows up. Beginning with two path-breaking psychiatrists writing in the 1970s—Joseph Rheingold (The Mother, Anxiety, and Death: The Catastrophic Death Complex) and Dorothy Bloch (“So the Witch Won’t Eat Me”: Fantasy and the Child’s Fear of Infanticide) psychoanalysts have begun to address the fact that many of their patients continue to fear and defend against early death-dealing Killer Mother alters that remain in a cut-off dissociated state in their psyches. Rheingold emphasizes the child’s terror of being violently killed by their mother who wishes him dead, and shows that he concludes that it must be because he is bad and that “by dying he appeases her and hopes to gain her affection.” Rheingold sees this as not only the source of suicide and other self-destructive behavior but as the ultimate source of religion in rebirth fantasies such as the Christian and Islamic wish to die and be merged with God/Allah, shouting “Allahu akbar,” “God is Great,” the Killer Mother is Great, where “mother’s love is the prize of death.” 
Rheingold reports on Despert’s studies of the dreams of preschool children, which are “almost always sadistic [and] concern being chased, bitten, and devoured [by beasts, identified with the mother] never pushed, hit, scratched, or kicked, all hostile acts that he might have actually encountered.” Even when Sylvia Anthony “asked normal children of 2 to 5 years of age to tell a story [of any kind, they told ones] of aggression, death and destruction and fears…of wild animals like lions, wolves, and gorillas, of ghosts and witches.” Rheingold’s work backed an earlier statement by Freud that he found a “surprising, yet regular, dread of being killed by the mother” in patients, a clinical finding that he soon explained away by positing an inherited “death instinct” rather than destructive mothering. Since children have little fear of normal dying of old age, Rheingold emphasizes that “the child does not fear to die; he fears being murdered…thoughts of punishment and death come readily to the minds of children.” Being unloved means being killed for being bad. 


Brian
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Apr 22



Patrick, it is not possible to have a rational discussion with you if your response every time someone disagrees with you is to ignore the substance of what they say and try to discredit it by alleging that they are avoiding this or that unpleasant truth about their own psyche.  Imagine that I say, “Patrick, it seems that you have psychological problems handling complexity and ambiguity, and so you cling to a black and white picture of the world for security.”  That wouldn’t work for you, would it?  Would there be any hope of communicating with someone who kept ignoring what you say and instead offered an unsolicited critique of what they imagine to be your unconscious motivations?  Well that is how I feel when you make the kind of argument that you are making. 


Barney
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Apr 22


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Dear Brian, 

Why wouldn't that work for Patrick? It's pretty much on the money and Patrick appreciates clarity and precision. 

It's damned hard for most people to handle ambiguity and there are some who see the world in black and white and yet get along with almost everyone just fine. Patrick is no doubt among them. 

To handle ambiguity with grace may be an acquired facet of will power. In my experience, one of the problems of child raising in America is the idea that ambiguity is a "bad" thing, because right is right and nothing else is. Studying for tests only increases such preconceptions. Ambiguity actually makes some people lose self-control. 

To have two or more ideas coming true at the same time, or being demolished at the same time, is a sap to most folks' confidence. It need not be. Many children are taught very, very early that two things cannot exist in the same space and place at the same time, which is not true in a quantum world that actually exists whether we like it or not. But few are taught that ambiguity has its roots in the idea of foods and in old France "ambigu" signified a medley of dishes all served together. 

Some people love a smorgasbord; in his heart of hearts, does Patrick?  Do you? 

"Would there be any hope of communicating with someone who kept ignoring what you say and instead offered an unsolicited critique of what they imagine to be your unconscious motivations?"

I'd say probably yes. First, you have to figure out what will cause someone not to ignore you. If you do that, your unconscious motivations will be entirely irrelevant because you have achieved your goal and then there's no time to waste in making the most of whatever you have to say. In Patrick's case, maybe serve up your ideas one plate at a time and without a menu so that he can't worry and complain  to invoke the Terrible, Awesome, Terrorist, Testicle-Tugger Mother to deal harshly with you. 

Barney


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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Apr 22



You said Lloyd talked to you about the influence of the father; I responded by saying that he may well have but his work is grounded in the mother, her influence. I think this is hard to argue against, personally, so what now of your conclusion that the guy was bloody everywhere? Anyway, I didn't ignore you but took you on. 

You already have tried to paint me as someone who doesn't engage with what you say, while you're one who thinks things through. My own experience with you is more of you missing so many of the interesting things I say, not addressing them, as if they couldn't be captured within your schemas and so were erroneous ... you want me to think they're erroneous. I don't always respond to everything you write because I don't want to take it too far into me: women ignoring a mansplainer might be thought inattentive, difficult to argue with, but they're really just being properly self-protective: they're not just being talked to but just as much administrated, overlaid, directed; to maintain "your" stance, you have to think of yourself more as a battering ram going through than someone cushioningly receptive. 

You wrote on this thread that everyone is agreement with your point of view, that everyone found their way to you; that what is "reasonable" is your take. Your take of measuring the impact of childrearing, grading it on some kind of spectrum, is, to anyone who understands that in talking about "childhood as a factor" you're of course going to pit yourself against your reluctance to admit the importance of it in your own life, as well as the self-hate involved in judging your own parents, your own beloved mother, obviously probably mostly about dilution -- and as much of it as possible! -- not fair measurement. You ignore the larger context we're in, which in my judgment has fallen away from the taking on mom, which feminists did aplenty in the 60s, and which Lloyd has so profoundly done, so to make it seem as if it is nothing other than rationality involved for childhood to be removed as single cause. It's not, it's control -- if we feel like we're tightening in too much we can always loosen up. The other thing, I'm saying again, that may be involved, is avoidance of self-implication: you don't want to be caught out letting your mom know what she most definitely doesn't want you to remind her of. To do means never being her favourite. Being an outcast, and hated. 

When people are capable of re-experiencing their early childhood terrors, the degree to which they're unloved mothers actually could want to hurt them, we can trust psychohistorical explorations of the impact of "childhood" in history. This is what I think. If we're not there, the most responsible thing is to help create ground for the kind of courage required to "get there." This is what I'm trying to do, so psychohistory ultimately doesn't prove in these post-Lloyd times to be about obliterating his respectability, about garnering self-pleasure from feeling one's own mother's praise, in your obfuscating or hampering one of her primary antagonists and opponents. 

We don't want to be those another generation just skips over to get to the valid stuff; the bog of the 1930s that followed the brash, youthful, truly groundbreaking 1920s. If we pride ourselves that it meant our being included amongst the rest of the grownups, our finally being taken seriously by other disciplines, this too will prove another reason others will find us kind of sad. 

Brian
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Apr 22


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I LOVE smorgasbords, Barney.  In fact, that is the perfect segue to the IPA annual conference, which is nothing if not a smorgasbord.  Dear friends, if you would like to gorge yourself on a table of tantalizing and variegated psychohistorical food—all you can eat for three full days—join us on June 3 – 5 at NYU.  I promise you won’t put on a single pound (at least not from the psychohistory that you ingest).  The menu is available at http://www.psychohistory.us/conference-and-membership.php (scroll down for the preliminary program). 

People presenting from this list are:  Bill Argus, Herbert Barry, Kristina Blake,  Molly Castelloe, Brian D’Agostino, Paul Elovitz,  Ken Fuchsman, David Lotto, Alice Maher, Trevor Pederson, Burton Seitler, Jacques Szaluta,  and Eddie Taylor.  If I omitted anyone, please speak up.  Whether you can come or not, one great thing you can do for the cause of psychohistory is to promote the conference by distributing our flyer or the link to it (same as the above link) in cyberspace; xeroxing it and leaving copies and/or posting them wherever potentially interested people may see them, and distributing this information to your friends specifically.  Bon appetite!

Brian



Denis O'Keefe
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Apr 22


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Patrick, 
I did my best to wade through your comments… to some success, I think.  It’s always interesting to see how folks take away or emphasize different aspects of a particular theorists’ work, especially Lloyd’s.  Sometimes it tells us as much about us as it does the theory.  I will always feel indebted to Lloyd as his writings represent my awakening to the horrific reality of child abuse and models of human behavior including object relations and trauma theory, epigenetics, family dynamics and large group process.  I was inspired by him and the work of many other psychohistorians.  This inspiration was partly why I went on to work in child welfare in NYC for most of my career working clinically with unimaginable forms of individual, family and community trauma. What I took from psychohistorical models made me able to see process within a system that functionally relied on pointing fingers.  I must say that your emphasis on mothering only (“it's the mother primarily all the way through”), devoid of systemic and/or group process models or specifically, the delegation process in Lloyd’s work, will lead folks to suggest you are mother bashing and in many cases, blaming the victim.  I am not trying to analyze you and say that you have mommy issues and this is why you are focused on just this aspect of Lloyd’s work.  I have no place or right to do so.  Lloyd has often been criticized for blaming mothers.  The way you present his work justifies those critiques. I don't want to see his work so easily written off. 
Denis        


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jhsturges
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Apr 22


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Denis said something similar to what I was thinking about Patrick's presentation, but I want to take a stab at it.

Lloyd's "psychogenic pump" may be the crux of this controversial area. As everyone here probably knows, that is his assertion that the mother-daughter relationship is the optimal leverage point if one wants to change the course of history. If I recall, it's not that males don't matter . . . it's just that the mother-child relationship is so universal . . . so engulfing in the earliest months especially . . . and every mother was once herself a daughter. So if you could somehow improve the mother-daughter relationship for several generations, you would also be improving the males, each of whom also had a mother. Again, from Lloyd's perspective mother-daughter is the point of maximum leverage . . . i.e., the point where energy or resources devoted to change would obtain maximum bang for the buck.

And Denis is quite right to mention that some feminist women who are interested in psychohistory consider this "blaming mothers." I'm sure many of us in the past have watched these arguments play back and forth over and over, frustrated that  neither Lloyd and the predominantly male "motherists" nor the offended women could ever seem to see the others' point of view.

But, Patrick, I would echo something else Denis said, in pointing out that Lloyd's emphasis (at times) on mothers fits within a much larger context of the body of his work. For me, for example, the "mother" work itself is less theoretically significant than his exploration of Group Fantasies based upon shared, fetal part-object relationships. I know that the whole area of fetal psychology is not everyone's cup of tea; but, for me, it was a revelation. 

Also I would mention that his basic idea of the significance of psychoclasses -- large psychological groups defined by their shared transgenerational childrearing patterns -- is, for me, a great idea that has stood the test of time. I'm not saying I necessarily agree with all his specific classifications, but as a framework of thought and research, a way of approaching the differences in societies, the idea is profound.

Regards,
Jim


Brian
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Apr 22



Jim, you raise a number of interesting points and I want to respond to two of them.  First, regarding the mother-daughter issue, we need to question the assumption that “mothering” is always and eternally the task of women and their daughters, which is indeed a sexist notion.  The machismo factor that I found to be a strong predictor of militarist attitudes fits Nancy Chodorow’s theory of gender psychology like a glove.  If empirical research counts for anything, this correlation between machismo and militarism provides as much leverage in averting war as changing the quality of mothering.  And Chodorow’s work suggests that dismantling the gender caste system is the way to exercise this leverage.

So if deMausians want to communicate effectively with feminists, there is no better way of advancing the dialogue than to acknowledge that the gender caste system is a fundamental reason that humans are so screwed up at this stage in our evolution and that psychohistorians are committed to dismantling this system.  Another important book on this topic is Dorothy Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise.  Following Stephen Covey’s maxim, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” we might then have a better chance to be heard by feminists and not viewed a blaming women when we talk about the quality of mothering.

I have said before and I will say again that promoting quality of mothering and expanding the role to males are not competing, zero sum agendas.  In fact, at the level of solutions, they are the SAME agenda.  I am referring to what is probably the single most important and effective intervention that we can promote for improving the quality of child rearing—teaching a course in humane parenting to high school students.  If this course becomes a mandatory part of the high school curriculum for both sexes, like algebra or American history, then this one intervention SIMULTANEOUSLY attacks the child abuse problem and the gender caste system problem.  Margaret Kind’s extremely important article “Changing the World: Teaching Parenting in Schools” discusses this parenting course; her article appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Psychohistory News at: http://www.psychohistory.us/archive.php

Second, I agree with Patrick that earlier traumas, other things being equal, are more consequential than later traumas.  However, by this reasoning, perinatal traumas trump inadequate mothering.  This includes not only the birth trauma itself, but the common medical practice of separating the neonate from the mother immediately upon birth and putting the neonate in isolation into separate enclosed environment.  I don’t know if this is still done, but it was a common practice in the United States for decades and the trauma imposed by this medically imposed separation could not be more severe. So the reform of birthing and the care of neonates is arguably at least as important as the reform of mothering.  When I talk about multiple factors, Patrick hears this as “casting multiple objects into the air to distract our already informed vision.”  I see it as walking and chewing gum simultaneously.  Or perhaps, walking, chewing gum and bouncing a ball—all at the same time.  The multi-factorial picture also happens to be true—no small matter, in my opinion.  This is my third and last post for the day.

Brian



me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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Apr 23



This includes not only the birth trauma itself, but the common medical practice of separating the neonate from the mother immediately upon birth and putting the neonate in isolation into separate enclosed environment.  I don’t know if this is still done, but it was a common practice in the United States for decades and the trauma imposed by this medically imposed separation could not be more severe. 

What we want for a better world is anything that improves the child's earliest contact with his/her mother. So reform of traumatizing hospital practices is going to be a big part of what'll facilitate it, but the existence of its practice owes, in my judgment, not to a variety of factors but entirely to the nature of the current aggregate of medical professionals' experience with their mothers. If it was full of abandonments, they'll inflict such upon others, and consider it professional or good practice, in their own homes and at the hospital (how, then, do we get psychoclass evolution? De Mause answers this and would be a great topic to further explore but I won't do it here). So how we solve the problem of traumatized, unloved people can be handled a variety of ways, but the cause of it -- at its source -- is the problem of unloved mothers, now or yesteryear, and the kind of societies and societal practices this leads to (I know Lloyd hates the word "society," btw). People talk about a lot of balls, a lot of factors; and I look away from my ball to see the ones they've got in hand; I see just other aspect of the very same ball I'm already holding; and start wondering if they're crazy -- one of us is. 

If we want to improve our discussion with feminists, all we need to be are feminists. Feminists tend to come out of the most loving families, because feminism is about empowerment -- it'll lead to richer, more fulfilling lives, which is something that doesn't emerge out of families where the mother wanted her children squelched -- all hers, and when the try and individuate, they're spoiled rotten for leaving her. People out of better families have a good read of others' temperaments -- they recognize their own. So if someone is no-holds-barred de Mause, if someone talks about his subjects in the exact unapologetic I do, but like me reads more women authors than male ones (not true with older writers, but definitely true with writers under 40), watches "Girls," speaks against rape-culture, reads Jezebel on a daily basis, works mostly with female bosses and admires and respects them ... if they're someone who evidently wants no girl or boy shortchanged in life, they pick up on it. I know this from experience. And while it is true they don't exactly thereafter dig deep into de Mause's work, they end up being ... curious. 

He's been tabled, most definitely tabled, and might enter their life when they're a bit more ready to, in public, explore their still-troubled relationships with their own mothers, out in the open (it still brings up a sense of apocalyptic abandonment -- even if in muted form compared with what children of unloved mothers experience) ... it remains something that you're still not so much supposed to do, makes them uncomfortable to do, and it's just easier to speak out against the atrocious rape-culture in society so they don't much go there. 

But the fact of how young feminists might actually encounter de Mause isn't really a factor, if what really concerns us is how the angry maternal alter in our heads will react if we don't somehow shut him up. Are we actually only hearing feedback from other women? Or do they prompt the scary one we've got embedded as an alter up there in our right hemispheres, so we may not even be reading their own tone all that well? 

And one more thing on this subject. If you want a feminist period, a good one was the 1920s flapper culture. Women then were right in the faces of their mothers. They were right in the faces of the god-awful Victorian matrons they saw as needing to be banished from the scene for their own androgynous and playful way of life to be enabled. Feminists were a bit like this in the 60s too. I used to read them all the time. You take the same kind of well-adjusted young women we have today and give them a period which facilitates their influence, which works in tandem with their youth rather than in opposition to it -- try and be young, carefree, fearless and parent/authority-defying when you're saddled with 50 000 dollar student loans by age 25!!! --  give them a golden age like what was experienced in the 20s and 60s, and they'd have no problem with the guy because he wouldn't just be read as someone pointing fingers but as someone giving life to so many rich avenues of thought! to freedom!!! 

Lloyd delightfully clears the way! You read his work and you really do wonder if history should be read at all. It's full of god-damn rapes -- do you really want to be amongst this?  How incredibly liberating to really know this as an option -- you can discard rather than revere and cow-tow to your parents, is what it means! You can have a youth-determined culture, rather than an adult one which scowls at too much youthful play! And unlike Pinker, who doesn't want you to trust your youthful impulses, who wants you schooled down, you feel that de Mause wants you to do exactly that: fight off the guilt, the sense of abandonment you experience, when you start accomplishing things in your life -- continue to enjoy life and accumulate! -- your "id" is a great thing!; you are a great "thing"! It's your "superego" that's the rancid bitch! 

Great, great stuff! Totally offensive and playful and liberating! I'm a feminist; I believe in personal liberation. And I get it!

--- 

Guys, give me a second to go through all of your responses. I read through Brian's last one and James's, and I promise to read the rest. But just now, one thing occurred to me as I read Denis's post from a few days ago that I'd like to discuss. 

Brian, Denis wrote this about de Mause: 

 It has always seemed to me that Lloyd’s primary emphasis on childrearing had a functional aspect to it regarding his advocacy work for humane childrearing and the ill effects of child abuse, which he involved himself in long before it was fashionable or accepted by the psychological community and society at large.  As you probably know, the problem with reciprocal causal structures is that it completely undermines identification of a first term or cause in the series making it difficult to develop intervention strategies.  The question becomes, which cause is most actionable?  In his attempts to intervene,  it would seem he chose childrearing as the most actionable cause and he certainly ran with it, whether it was mom, dad, schools, birth, or the many of forms of child abuse he wrote about.

What does this description do to de Mause? What does saying that his concern to be activist, to "intervene,"  determined what he did with his scholarly work, do to someone's scholarly reputation? Would any graduate of any Phd program read this and not find him a bit ... clownish? A man of good impulses, for sure, but fundamentally one of ill-reason, not quite to be trusted? If it became an accepted understanding of him, wouldn't it further banish him from academia so that in order to be discovered what'd have to happen to him is what happened to Jerry Lewis for him to be resuscitated?: he'd have to finally be encountered elsewhere where no one had an idea of all the associations that'd been piled upon him?

What I'm getting at, is that when earlier on this list Baker (?) said Noam Chomsky was a great activist but not someone's whose research was exactly to be trusted, you did what you could so he could be be spared seeming just some hippie-hippie man of man of ill-reason that should be patted on the head for his activist work but brushed away from consideration within academia. You went on the attack; you were fierce. But not a word here, alas. I really hope this isn't because, while you object to this happening to Chomsky, you don't mind so much if it happens to Lloyd -- wouldn't it help psychohistory be accepted by other disciplines if (mickey) de Mause had his reputation buried just that extra bit? -- so the damage was done here, and it got your pass.    


Barney
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Apr 23



Dear Brian,

I do not understand the fabulous importance people (particularly researchers and reporters) put on traumas. It's trauma this and trauma that and there is trauma from just before death to the moment that the impetuous sperm first traumatizes the ovum. 

On the other hand, long periods of contentment, pleasure, delight, enlightenment, and ecstacy are given miserably short shrift all round, particularly in uterus. Does anyone ever connect a mother tenderly and often kissing her baby daughter's toes with the child's ability at age 30 to fight off and chase her mugger and purse snatcher through the mean streets of Lisbon and get her purse back? Of course not. But how easy would it be to connect a mugging or a rape to endless and limitless weaknesses and swoons in future? 

Why don't researchers go back and count the 193 days of tranquil subconsciousness of the fetus as a major factor in the later brilliance of its life? What about the positive effects of severe trauma. It is well known (although officially classified by the DOD) that newborn dog pups who are plunged into ice water and centrifuged to 4 mach at birth are mentally far better off and sharper and more emotionally stable than any ordinary dogs, and are thus nicknamed "superdogs." 

The why of the popularity of trauma queens seems pretty easy to me: Like most news organizations and reporters in general, the traumas are mostly ordinary and very easy to discern without much work, whereas 175 days or somesuch of pure peace and womb-like tranquility may seem merely boring to blunt minds and thus unworthy of serious notice.

Has anybody kept a clear measure of positive and active tranquility and what effects it causes upon the human organism. In fact, it may be learned, tranquility is far more important to human development and adaptability than trauma (no matter how disturbing short of deadly).  

It seems to be unknown if anybody has ever perished as a direct result of prolonged contentment and tranquility, but if so nobody has yet reported such an incident. 

Barney

P.S. ANYONE WITH A HEART CONNECTED SOMEHOW TO THEIR BRAIN WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL TO SEE THIS FILM: 

"Seymour" 

It is about Seymour Bernstein, a grandmaster pianist, composer, and teacher and resident of the Upper West Side. Never have I ever witnessed a better piano teacher or sweeter-souled man. The film is a project of Ethan Hawke, who is admirable. If you need a little happy shaking of your head and a long smile of delight, go see it. If you play the piano, run to the theater.

b


Brian
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May 5



In this post, I reflect on the process in my exchanges with Ken yesterday.  I am not intimidated by attacks, but neither is proving my manhood in some kind of constipated and pathetic mind game a good use of my time.  Yesterday I got drawn into an unpleasant game and I feel like I wasted a lot of time.  It was a Catch 22 for me.  If someone makes apparently sincere scholarly criticisms of what I say and I don’t respond, then it appears that there are “scholarly difficulties” with what I said, in Ken’s immortal words.  But if I do respond, and the person is really playing a game, then I “get bogged down in nitpicking, defensiveness, and counterattacks” as Ralph put it.

The difference between authentic criticism and an attack is a matter of authenticity.  Is the person interested in an authentic, scholarly exchange of ideas, or are they playing a game?  There is no way to know initially, but if you take their criticisms seriously and respond sincerely and it is never good enough for them, it eventually becomes apparent that they are playing a game.  Eric Berne in Games People Play talked about such dynamics.  In a psychological game, the exchange is governed by unconscious dynamics, not the ostensible topic of discussion, such as whether war began in the Paleolithic or the Neolithic.  For example, in what Berne calls the “Kick Me” game, a sadist pairs up with a masochist and the game provides a socially acceptable vehicle for them to re-enact their needs to abuse and be abused.

For anyone who really values scholarly dialogue, the dilemma I described above is a serious one.  In an ideal world, I would like to have an authentic scholarly exchange of ideas with Ken.  On this list, however, it always turns into a game.  So in the future, Ken, make whatever criticisms you want of what I say.  Since I don’t want to play your game, I will simply not respond.  Other members of the list will need to draw their own conclusions about the scholarly matters under discussion.  If anyone thinks that Ken makes a criticism that has scholarly merit and would like to know my response, then that person will need to restate the criticism and I will respond to that person.

That said, if Ken wants to reflect on the process issues I have raised here I am willing to have a conversation about the process.  I have accordingly started a new thread for purposes of such meta-discussion.

Brian



Ken Fuchsman
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May 5



Brian,

Yesterday, I wrote to you that for this website, it was inappropriate to attribute motives to someone else. We are not supposed to make things personal either in what we say about another or about our own feelings in relation to them   We have had trouble when this happens. We should just stick to the subject matter. My own belief is that when feelings arise, we take things offline. 

Today, you say that I am a game player while you are sincere. You announce to all of us you will cease interacting with me on this site. You are the good guy and I am not. 

And again you attribute motivation to me. And again I say to you, this is not the way this website should work. 

For any of us here, before we start making assessments of another's actions, we need to take a look at our own motivations. 

I regret that you have made this personal and public. 

Not that long ago here, you were criticizing what David Lotto and I were saying about President Obama, and said that as a political scientist you knew more about how politics work than we did. I had issues with that,  wrote you a personal email, and we worked it out. 

Again, my belief is that when we have issues with someone here, we talk offline, we ought not to make our feelings about or assessments of another part of the dialogue here. Why would any of us choose to announce things to the group rather than deal with a colleague one on one?




me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 5



In this post, I reflect on the process in my exchanges with Ken yesterday.  I am not intimidated by attacks, but neither is proving my manhood in some kind of constipated and pathetic mind game a good use of my time.  Yesterday I got drawn into an unpleasant game and I feel like I wasted a lot of time.  It was a Catch 22 for me.  If someone makes apparently sincere scholarly criticisms of what I say and I don’t respond, then it appears that there are “scholarly difficulties” with what I said, in Ken’s immortal words.  But if I do respond, and the person is really playing a game, then I “get bogged down in nitpicking, defensiveness, and counterattacks” as Ralph put it.

Just fyi, we're beginning to see some of that macho that probably all trying to avoid in these posts as well. Gender coding. It is always the man, the warrior, who gets waylaid off his path, into the "feminine" milieu of nitpicking, defensiveness, and counterattacks, which are always a waste of the warriors time, and regretted later (he's serious). It is always the female, the witch, who tempts, who's always mostly interested in seeing just how much she's got her male subject under wraps. Also, Ralph, in my judgment, disliked the good stuff -- it had me eating my popcorn in earnest, riveted as I was to the screen. 



Alice Maher
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May 2



Dear friends and colleagues,

With an important election year approaching, the time is now.   It is essential that I pull my vision and my efforts together in a simple, original mission statement, rebrand myself and my work, and get support from at least one Very Important Person - a person in the media, a celebrity, a journalist, a philanthropist, a person with a million Twitter followers.  I also need an excellent person to help me rebrand myself, pull together my 501c3, my education, mental health and political dialogue projects, and do it in a way that will catch the attention of the world.

I know what can and must happen to address our society's binary, adversarial thinking and gridlock, and I have a simple way of presenting it.  The next step is validation - the kind that will entice millions of people to look in my direction.

We live in a world that supports strong arguments.  We live in a world that tolerates attacks on sincerely held beliefs, and rejection and ridicule of the people who sincerely believe them.  This MUST, and CAN, change.  A new movement is not only essential, it is possible, and even simple.

Here is my Big Idea.  If it makes sense to you, please help me gain support.  If you have questions or challenges, please ask.
____________________________

The stage for resolution of conflict on a large scale was set by Dr. Vamik Volkan, the psychoanalyst who has spent his remarkable career mediating between large groups on the verge of war.  He has been nominated multiple times for a Nobel Peace Prize.  

Recently my Emotional Imprint 9th grade interns interviewed him.  This is a summary of their dialogue.  

Q:  Why do we have war?

Dr. V:   It has to do with the development of our brains.  First we fought for simple things like food and women.  Later, as our minds developed, we put emotions into it so we began to fight for more abstract ideas like honor and prestige.  Only chimpanzees and humans fight wars in this way.  

Q:  So it's human nature to fight wars?

Dr. V: It is part of human nature, yes.

Q: How does it happen?

Dr. V:  Imagine groups of people living under huge tents.  They paint on them, symbols of things that happened to their people, things that are meaningful to them.  Leaders as the poles that hold up the tents.  In times of peace our individual identities are primary and we barely notice the tent, but in times of crisis our group identities rise to the surface.  When someone throws mud on our tents, we think "Who are we now?" and war happens.

Q:  If it's part of human nature, is it hopeless? 

Dr. V:  No, because if you talk, you don't kill.  You don't have to like each other and be lovey-dovey, you just have to talk.  It is necessary that both sides keep their own identities and not expect each other to think the same way.  

Q:  But is that really possible?  Won't things be said that can't be taken back?

Dr. V:  What happens over time is taming.  New leaders come in, things change, the groups move on, and war doesn't happen.  Not everyone can do it, but some people can.
_____________________

This is brilliant and valid, but we need to take it one step further.  It's not enough to say that you have to keep talking until nothing happens, or that only some people can do it.  Young people faced with immediate situations don't know what to do with that.  We need a new metaphor.  We need to present a new way of "talking" that everyone can see, use effectively in the present moment, and demand that our leaders use.

Bodily metaphors are most effective in psychoanalysis.  They will be most effective on a larger scale too.

Consider the metaphor of "binocular vision."

If you're a right eye, you're wired to see right.  You see what you see in the way that you see it, and you believe that the landscape in front of you is real, true, and the way things are and should be.  If you're a left eye there may be considerable overlap with the right, but the landscape that you see is different.  You see some things that right eyes don't see, and they see some things that you don't.  

If we think about it from this perspective, our seemingly-intractable conflicts seems simpler to understand and address.  Right eyes sincerely believe that what they see is real and true, and left eyes believe the same.  They attack each other for misperceiving reality.

Using this metaphor, a simple solution emerges.  Instead of attacking each other for being wrong, "right eyes" can learn to understand the perceived experience of the left, and vice versa, without actually "owning" that different worldview.  If they focus together on a shared horizon - with one eye dominant and leading at any particular moment - their visions will merge and they will see with clarity, perspective, and depth.  

If the masses demand that our leaders demonstrate this ability, we will have a better campaign.  There will be less acrimony, and the best, most creative and visionary leader/s will be permitted to rise to the top.  

Our children will begin to understand how "empathy" - imagining the perspective of the other - actually works, and they will have the tools and the enthusiasm to develop ways to use it effectively. 

We can do this.  I know how, but right now I'm talking to very few people.  If this makes sense to you, please help me find someone to support me and help me take this to the mainstream media.  I'm nobody right now, and I need to become Somebody.  

Thank you.

Alice


Ken Fuchsman
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May 2



Alice,

In order for you to take things to the next level, you will need to be better informed on the literature of war and human killing.  Volkan has many virtues, but the dialogue you print from him  above is uninformed on the anthropology of war.  First, war is not a human universal, and, as such, is difficult to defend as integral to human nature.  Second, as I have said to you before, just talking does not prevent war. Volkan's statement is historically inaccurate.  You might read anthropologist Raymond C. Kelly's "Warless Societies and the Origin of War", for a start.  I also recommend you read political scientist Jack Levy and William Thompson's "The Arc of War."   In order for you to get the support you wish to acquire, you will need to have credibility, and therefore you need greater knowledge that relates to your mission.  You do not need to be an expert, but it will not help your cause,if you rely on statements that are factually questionable.      


Alice Maher
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May 2



Ken, I sincerely and powerfully disagree. People are not convinced by "facts," especially ones that can be easily interpreted from different perspectives (as is constantly in evidence on this list). People are convinced by new metaphors that are easy to see, original, exciting and empowering. The "hard data" will be filled in, and accepted as truth, much more easily later. 


dr.bobstern
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May 2



I think ridicule of sincerely held toxic ideas is under rated.


Jon Stewart's Daily Show is rather detested by those whose detestable ideas are so effectively mocked by him.

There are those who sincerely believe that dinosaurs walked with men, homosexuality is an abomination, the Holocaust never happened, etc. 

So, what respect is due?

B


Ken Fuchsman
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May 2



Alice,

Whether or not people are convinced by facts, those who are supposed to be accurate and are not can face consequences.  NBCs Brian Williams did not deal in facts in a number of his public statements and has been suspended from his job for being un-factual.  And you, Alice, don't you want to be informed and accurate? 


Alice Maher
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May 2



Yes I do, Ken. So let me pose the question this way. If we think in simple lines and broad strokes, could it not be said that wars are fought using the parts of our brains that matured over time - motivations like honor, prestige, identity, money...? 

I like his model because mine elaborates on it in a particular way. If our brains are part of the problem, they can be part of the solution. Even though we're not hard-wired to see the world from the perspective of a "different eye," we're capable of using our brains to understand that different perspectives exist. 


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Ken Fuchsman
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May 2



Alice,

Describe to me what you mean by our brains matured over time.  Many writers say that our brain size was in place when Homo sapiens appeared 200,000 years age. So that our brain was physically "mature" when our species emerged. When hunter-gatherers engaged in war, there was not money. Some anthropologists and political scientists say that in many instances during the hunter-gatherer period  war increased when hunting was more prominent, and there was competition over these resources.  It is also not clear that honor, prestige, and identity were significant in the egalitarian structures of hunter-gatherers. I would be reluctant to say that over the duration of our species that it is accurate to say that wars have been fought primarily for honor, prestige, identity, and money.

If being informed and accurate is important to you, then you need to look at the literature that debates whether war is part of human nature or not, and you would then also need to find evidence for and against Volkan's claim that if you are talking, you are not fighting.  For instance, the Japanese met with the U. S. to talk things over when they had already decided to attack Pearl Harbor, and during Vietnam talks went on for years while fighting continued.   .      


Alice Maher
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May 2



Ken, I'm not an historian, so any research I do would not be useful since "many writers" argue many different perspectives, armed with many more facts than I'm capable of assimilating at the age of 63.  You yourself refer to "debates" rather than conclusions about whether war is part of human nature.  If I were to get lost in those arguments, forward movement would be aborted.  I prefer to stick with what analysts might call an "inexact interpretation" - one that may not be entirely accurate but that stimulates new associations and opens new doors.  

Evidence doesn't effect change.  Emotional engagement, fantasy and transference power does.  In analysis, facts are the last piece of the puzzle, not the first. When they emerge in the right way, everyone sees the same thing and believes it, and new truths and realities emerge.

If you talk, you don't kill.  That doesn't work in the world as it presently exists, except in groups of people that hire Vamik Volkan.  That's because we don't yet have a methodology to harness that force effectively.  We're capable of developing that methodology.




Alice Maher
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May 2



With regard to the idea that our brains matured over time, I think he's talking in simple lines and broad strokes about the fact that we have smarter brains than other creatures, and the complex hard-wiring, emotions and identities become part of the dynamics of war.  If we have any hope of communicating across those divides of difference and identity and personal/cultural/religious needs, we need a new way to communicate across divides.

I think of it as analogous to the development of a new language, like rocket science or computer science that allows us to bridge formerly unbridgeable divides.  




Alice Maher
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May 2



Robert, I hear you, but I've been working with psychotic people for 40 years and believe me, if you treat their worldviews as coming from a place of authenticity and ask them about it in the right way, they will learn a lot and so will you.  I think the same is true for people who have different religions and different political perspectives, and different levels of intellectual and emotional intelligence and experience.  It's hard to imagine seeing the world through eyes that aren't your own, but I think it's essential that we begin by slowing down our impulse to ridicule and attack, even though it may be funny and fun to do it.


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Trevor Pederson
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May 2



I personally think that Jon Stewart and the daily show are doing a lot in ridiculing the Right. It doesn't seem like they are in a place to debate and talk about anything. However, new generations of Republican leadership might end up internalizing Stewart's mockery while they are still open to wider influences in their youth.  

It makes me think, Alice, whether some reconciliation in the short-term should be the aim or whether the goal should be something else with the understanding that the reconciliation might only come later.

Also, Ken, I think that there are definitely cultures in which competition and prestige are undermined by certain practices. Even in Geertz's study of the cockfight we can see how practices like using the same names for people and telling them that they are merely repeating eternally the practices of the gods/ancestors will diminish the importance of them as individuals and defuse prestige from the individuals who excel. 

We can't return to such religious explanations, but there is something about a good psychological explanation of our motivations that puts us in a similar place of merely being avatars of the forces of the drives. 

Trevor



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Barney
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May 2


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Dear Alice, 

It is sometimes forgotten that "war" has historically been and continues to be the accepted and expected way of settling unresolved problems among ARMED human camps ever since some guy long long ago picked up a stick and used it to get his point across to a neighbor. 

Fisticuffs (despite tonight's fight) do not add up to war; neither does invective. To commit war, you and a bunch of others of your ilk must be armed, as they say, "to the teeth." The more deadly the arms, the more deadly the war. 

Armament makers are born and made in almost every human society. The biblical equivalent of Colt made David's slingshot (.90 caliber pebble shot, tortoise shell handle cover, goatskin sling). The mere notion of making even a dent in worldwide "war" without finding a way to neutralize or eradicate arms makers is delusional, and to my mind ridiculous, and funny.

Death dealing is the threat of all warriors and no warrior goes into battle without arms; no, I don't believe Ghandi, Mandela, and this sort are warriors. They are unarmed psychologists. 

The so-called "right to bear arms" is the way the American founding fathers described the philosophical antidote to all the king's men. Arms makers have been a paramount occupation in America since before the republic. They still see themselves as the only means to fight "the king" (now the U.S. government), and they are natural allies of people who buy arms and pay armies. 

Anthropologically human beings are tool makers, and if you are mad at somebody for some disrespect, then you make a tool (an ancient "app") to arm you and harm the enemy. The use of tools and the use of "arms" is what is distinctly human about war and that tool-use ability is entirely centered in the human brain(s). Tool use is almost uniquely human. It will not be easily eradicated by psychology. 

What you need to go after with laser-beam focus, Alice, is the mind of the arms makers. Get to know and understand how they think, how they operate, how they conceive of arms strong enough to tremor the whole Earth. I think you have not even the tiniest conception of how significant an insignificant part of the population is in causing and fighting "major wars." 

One reason is that you may be forgetting the most important meaning of the word war: it is rooted in the concept of orderliness and the chaos of what happens when the rules are all tossed and, truly, anything goes. War is the armed absence of rules of conduct. In that sense, Dick Cheney is entirely right, I believe. There is no crime in even the foulest torture because in wars, torture is normal and not to torture is the exception (as per George Washington). Cheney is a damned realist. 

So you have to consider those who devise newer and better death dealers and those who market them and those who finance them as an emperor's court that includes the most educated and intelligent men and women ever born. It is significant that Albert Einstein is the true father of the "atomic bomb" despite what his admirers may argue, and some of the most intelligent scientists ever collected together pooled their brainpower to make the bomb project the dubious success that it was. 

This musing is not a way of distracting you from the pursuit of mistaken notions. It is to ask that you turn your attention to the factors which, if removed, might disable the long-term functioning of "the war machine." Perhaps there is a modern way of turning the gun and bomb makers into plow and hay makers.

That thought is so obviously absurd that it may have already happened in Connecticut. 

Keep on trucking, 

Barney



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Alice Maher
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May 3


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Hmm... Too many interesting but random associations.   Sorry for forgetting the three-post limit yesterday.

Let me begin by repeating something I've said many times before; something that Volkan talks about when he shares his methodology for talking effectively across divides.  When you're trying to talk, both sides have to define and preserve their identities.  You can't become like the other person, because you lose your identity in that effort.

I think we would do well on this list to divide our "tents" into the psychoanalyst tent and the historian tent.  When we try to blur those distinctions, we lose our identities and we don't make a lot of sense to each other.

Psychoanalysis is a dynamic change process.  History is a process of research, documentation, and interpretation of facts and events.  They're different.

They come at problems from different directions.  When I talk about my efforts, I'm talking about my desire to develop a mechanism of initiating a change process in society using psychoanalytic tools.  When I think about how to do that, I use history in a different kind of way.

In psychoanalysis, historical facts and theories emerge at the beginning, but it's assumed that they will change, or that the understanding of them will change and deepen and other historical data will rise to the surface and assume greater importance over time.  The analyst shouldn't try too hard to research and debate what really happened and whether interpretations are perfectly accurate.  The analyst should present new and intriguing ways of looking, and invite the other person to play and struggle in that open-ended space.  Insight, change, and accurate history emerge organically.  

Like Male and Female, History and Psychoanalysis must work effectively together en route to a greater understanding of human events and the possibility of changing same-old same-olds.  Neither can be fully effective without the other.

But before they can play well together, let's agree that they're different first, okay?  

Alice



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Alice Maher
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May 3


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Hmm... Too many interesting but random associations.   Sorry for forgetting the three-post limit yesterday.

Let me begin by repeating something I've said many times before; something that Volkan talks about when he shares his methodology for talking effectively across divides.  When you're trying to talk, both sides have to define and preserve their identities.  You can't become like the other person, because you lose your identity in that effort.

I think we would do well on this list to divide our "tents" into the psychoanalyst tent and the historian tent.  When we try to blur those distinctions, we lose our identities and we don't make a lot of sense to each other.

Psychoanalysis is a dynamic change process.  History is a process of research, documentation, and interpretation of facts and events.  They're different.

They come at problems from different directions.  When I talk about my efforts, I'm talking about my desire to develop a mechanism of initiating a change process in society using psychoanalytic tools.  When I think about how to do that, I use history in a different kind of way.

In psychoanalysis, historical facts and theories emerge at the beginning, but it's assumed that they will change, or that the understanding of them will change and deepen and other historical data will rise to the surface and assume greater importance over time.  The analyst shouldn't try too hard to research and debate what really happened and whether interpretations are perfectly accurate.  The analyst should present new and intriguing ways of looking, and invite the other person to play and struggle in that open-ended space.  Insight, change, and accurate history emerge organically.  

Like Male and Female, History and Psychoanalysis must work effectively together en route to a greater understanding of human events and the possibility of changing same-old same-olds.  Neither can be fully effective without the other.

But before they can play well together, let's agree that they're different first, okay?  

Alice


mfbrttn
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May 4



You already are Somebody.  I understand you want to break into the nationally influential circles so as to make things better.  That's different from being Nobody.  You are doing good things and contributing to the real lives of other people.  That sense of being nobody on the national level to me embodies the vulnerability to power that is part of our terrain.  Part of resistance is owning that you are Somebody no matter how things play out.  Your writing and your body metaphor are eloquent and articulate in my eyes.  In terms of induced counter transference, when a voice of caring that is clear and eloquent and practical ends up feeling like nobody, I think this is what the voice of conscience inside the powerful is feeling when it comes to trying to get their attention.. I do not know anyone such as you seek.  I can only say:  persist, and I am glad you are out there in our world doing your best to help.



Alice Maher
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May 4



Michael, thank you for reading closely and understanding the intent of my original post.  These listservs remind me of the Telephone Game.  One person relates a story and asks that the next person repeat it, and by the time it reaches the end of the line there's nothing in the final story that resembles the original.  

When we fight, at least we're keeping our stories alive....

When I talk about the need to be Somebody, it has nothing to do with self-esteem or contributions to the lives of individual people.  It has to do with the fact that a large-scale movement needs to be initiated, and it would be very helpful if someone in power could look my way.  Hey, if Kim Kardashian complimented my ass, I'd instantly get a million more Twitter followers than I already have.  That's not about being Nobody in the self-esteem sense, it's about transitioning to Somebody in the name-recognition/curiosity sense. 

With regard to the quibbling that goes on on this list, I think it's because we have no differentiated identities and no shared horizons.  I think my model would work well in this group - differentiating psychoanalytic from historical models and focusing together on a more distant, shared goal.  Unless and until we can do that, the vectors will continue to point in different directions, leading to a smorgasbord on a good day and a clusterfuck on a bad one. 

I think the self-esteem problem is Clio's, not mine.  She has no idea how much she has to offer humankind, and that makes me kinda sad.

Alice 


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Don Carveth
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Apr 27



Rest in peace, my friend.





dr.bobstern
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Apr 27



Lovely, brilliant man married to a wonderful, brilliant woman (and pianist!).



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MCastelloe
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Apr 28



Touching that In the spirit of his work and conviction that women as equals are essential to modern thinking and our evolution: donations made to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.  He's one of the most influential feminist psychohistorians I know.


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drwargus
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May 3




Brian and Alice,

Many good points by both of you. Perhaps thinking about Peace may be helpful. We argue about war, its causes and prevention, but what about Peace? Every church that I have gone to prays for Peace on Sunday--Really? I am not so sure they know what they are talking about. Most people seem to define Peace as the absence of war. But just like war, peace is not a passive process. Peace requires effort, effort like Alice is promoting. But there also needs to be theory. From a PH perspective, what does it mean to say that we are at Peace? No fighting? No fears? No wants? No challenges to our worldview or religion from the outside?

Maybe we can think more clearly about war when can think more clearly about peace, and our fundamental subconscious that may not be very peaceful.

Bill



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Barney
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May 3


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Dear Bill, 

Peace comes in very small pieces. We may be at peace at the same time others are decimated by war, and we may never even know it. Peace is a comfortable concept for people who deny that outside their ken anything meaningful to them actually happens. Why "world peace" is a bubble-head cliche for Miss Universes to spout, is because it is an empty, and appropriately meaningless sound. 

Pax is a pox, a logically nonsensical state and hopelessly irrational. It suggests hope but often means suffering and death, just outside and beyond one's private perspectives. 

Peace is not the opposite of war; obedience is. Once a people are no longer obedient, they pick up sticks. The colonists picked them up against the British, who could no longer make obedience mandatory. "Peace" of the peace symbol variety requires massive, worldwide obedience to rules that everyone breaks, almost at will. To imagine otherwise is deeply unwise. 

Is that peace symbol that was stitched to the back pocket of your Levis just a forgotten innocent fad? Of course it is. It may be that if we think clearly enough about "peace" we will understand that peace is as real as Jesus Christ, Moses, Job, and the Easter Bunny. To "fight for peace" is the antepenultimate oxymoron.  

In actuality, the human race seems to exist to test and break rules, even certain laws (like gravity) and by so doing humans are perpetually disturbing the peace. which naturally does not exist. Peace is a lot like "love," in certain places, anyway. and suggests a tranquility like the ocean on a dead still day. Anyone who lives along an ocean knows that the eerie calmness is an ominous and not peaceful sign, and that the laws of nature are soon going to catch up with us. How long does it take to notice the fact that, as a wild Russian poet put it, peace never comes in our time? 

So if we don't study an obedient peace because it isn't, and we've studied chaotic war enough because it is, what's left that's grand and painful enough for Alice to study and perhaps apply a peaceful poultice to? 

Barney


dr.bobstern
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May 3


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To add to Barney's insight on"obedience"...
What motivates the patient to go to a psychotherapist? They themselves recognize their problems and seek that healing dialog with a therapist or...they don't want such a dialog but are compelled to endure it by some authority with power to judge and punish.

Genocidal societies see their "problem" as the Other they want to eradicate. They aren't seeking treatment.  And there doesn't seem to be a force powerful enough to compell them to be "treated" unless, of course,  that force has a superior military component to force a behavioral "intervention"--hence, WW2, etc.

Not sure passive resistance is effective against mass murder.  It is, in fact, the kind of response that makes killing less risky for psychotic  perpetrators who don't care how the World feels about their behavior.

Hopefully, the psych insights come later during the compelled obedience phase... we can hope these "never again" insights stick in modern Germany, Japan, et al


B


jhsturges
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May 3


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I'll start by agreeing with Brian's position, which I will re-state (hopefully correctly) as asserting the inextricable connection between real events and depth psychology as being the essence of psychohistory.

One thing we learn from psychoanalysis is that events which might appear to be random are often driven by unconscious, or hidden, motivations. There is a useful presumption in psychoanalysis to assume people do things, even self-destructive things, because at some level they want to.

This presumption applied to society in general implies that the ruling elites want wars and in fact find them indispensable. Personally, I go further than this and believe that what makes them ruling elites is their willingness to coalesce the undefined death instinct (call it projected, free-floating depressive or paranoid anxieties if you prefer), and lead it the resulting psychological group into bloody annihilation of self and others.

As I understand Alice's position, and other fantasies of peace, the ruling elites would have to cease being the ruling elites if it were to give up war. At the very least, a society which temporarily gave up war would soon fall victim to another which was not similarly predisposed.

——Jim


Alice Maher
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May 3


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Guys, all of you misunderstand my position. Before I try to elaborate in another too-wordy post, I'd like to ask you what you think I'm saying when I refer to psychoanalysis as a "dynamic change process" that stands in relation to, but is distinctly different from, (individual or cultural) historical understanding. You all blur distinctions that truly deserve to be made distinct.




Ken Fuchsman
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May 3


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Alice,

There are many forms of therapy that consider themselves a dynamic change process. We could also say that Nazism was a dynamic change process, and so is modern capitalism.  So you need to do more to clarify what distinguishes psychoanalysis as a dynamic change process from others.  

Psychoanalysis has a domain, history also has a distinct domain, and yet both intersect in the interdiscipline of psychohistory. Biology and chemistry are distinct fields of study, but there is also biochemistry that interconnects both of them. 

You are applying psychoanalysis to social and political change, and so you are mixing together two areas that can be considered distinct, and yet you see them as interconnected.  It seems to me that you want to apply notions derived from psychoanalysis to other areas, but do not want to learn enough about those other areas.

I support what you do, and what I want you to recognize more about the other domains you are entering,so that you can be more effective and credible in what you want to achieve. 



Alice Maher
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May 3


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Ken, I think what Joel and I are trying to do is initiate a dynamic change process IN CLIO so the group can reconcile its internal conflicts, move forward, get the recognition it deserves, and make change happen in academia and in the world stage. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I hear Joel's frustration at a group that seems to be stuck spinning "Christian era" wheels. (Joel, I think I understand what you're saying and I like it more and more.) I know that some of you are quite comfortable with the way this group functions and you'll hear this as a criticism. All I can say is that I wouldn't be trying so hard if I don't see much more possibility here. I don't know the kind of history that you think I should, but my questions are different and I'm not looking for answers in the same way that others here are.

My model, the one that uses the metaphor of "vision", might be useful here. We're all focusing differently, using different lenses. Some of us focus on the words on the page, some on the people or the flowers in our immediate vicinity, and others focus on the horizon or the vast reaches of the universe. Some of us want to document what we see while others want to change it. If we understand, respect and use those differences rather than exhorting each other to see the world the way that we do, Clio well do a lot better as a functioning organism. If not we will continue to talk past each other and criticize each other for simple differences.

I think it would help if all of us could state why we're here, what we hope to contribute and what we hope to get from this group. We're all coming from a different center, and we would understand each other a lot better if we could begin by articulating that.

Just a thought. End of posts for today.


Joel Markowitz
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May 3


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Exactly, Alice--  I'm grateful for your understanding.  The Christian Era was necessary-- our greatest invention-- in doing the seemingly impossible job of getting us out of paganism and making progress possible.  

But we have an overly strong tendency to cling to tradition.  This can slow progress to the point that we despair-- and abandon workable projects.  

Incidentally, In 1944, in a speech in the House of Commons, Churchill said :

"A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril; but the new view must come, the world must roll forward ...  Let us have no fear of the future."


Joel


dr.bobstern
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May 3


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Currently the world is experiencing the ferocious upheaval/resistance to modernity/paradigm shifts on multiple domestic and foreign fronts. And, perhaps, these traditional ways of control may collapse if the furious political and corporal attacks on "heathens and sinners" are overcome (by counterattack or "therapy").

But, I'm not sure human fight/flight impulses and primordial tribalism will disappear along with the outmoded traditional narratives and ideologies.

The amygdala won't go down without a fight -- it will employ the cooperative reasoning centers.  "Good reasons" for first strikes will be re-cast in more modern, yet similarly activating (apocalyptic) terms to control populations.  The oligarchs have unlimited free speech to manufacture popular consent via such reptilian activations, fears, irrationality.  Or, short if that, through sheer quantity of repetitive obfuscation...leaving the population confused and unmotivated to resist.

As we know, in the last few years generous quantities of private and public sector money ("free speech", defense contracts) are available and spent on the  psychological expertise to more effectively torture, deceive, fear monger, etc

As populations grow (and with the attacks on reproductive choice, COMPELLED to grow) as potable water diminishes and oceans rise, as food desperation increases, as arms and armaments permeate fearful/aggressive domestic and international individuals and groups,  as the environment becomes more inhospitable to human life, the next non-"Christian Era" paradigm shift has a daunting set of challenges to meet.


B


Brian
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May 3


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Jim, I like your formulation of “the inextricable connection between real events and depth psychology.”  But I don’t agree with your notion that war can be explained by innate destructiveness of any kind.  There are a number of problems with this, not least of all the pseudo-scientific character of this kind of explanation.  Whether we call it “death instinct” or “killer genes” or “original sin” or anything else, this whole recourse to an innate destructive principle amounts to an argument of the sort, “Humans are destructive because there is something in us that makes us destructive,” which is no explanation at all.  It is like saying that wood burns because it has a combustible nature, or Mary is depressed because she has a melancholic nature.

The only way to understand war is to understand it historically, that is, as something that did not always exist and need not exist in the future but which came into existence under specific historical conditions and persists as long as those conditions persist.  Here is the historical analysis that appears in the IPA’s statement on violence:

The institution of war has its origins in the Neolithic period, when towns based on agricultural surplus became vulnerable to raids by armed nomads. The acts of aggression by nomads had clear economic motivations and the earliest warriors of agricultural societies most likely played a defensive role. With increasing class inequality, political elites gained increasing control over resources and used force as an instrument for gaining yet more control. It was in this historical context that the institutions of war, the state, and slavery developed simultaneously and persisted for millennia. While war has always been a complex result of psychological, political, and economic factors, it is fundamentally an instrument for the accumulation of wealth and power by self-interested elites whose perceptions of self-interest are distorted by psychopathology.

The policy-making process is more complex than indicated here, of course, and involves international relations, the politics of state and other elites, and the mass public. The decisive support for militarism and wars of aggression, however, comes primarily from hawk political elites and the predatory investors and corporate elites who benefit directly or indirectly from militarist policies (see Brian D’Agostino’s The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012). Individuals who actively pursue unlimited military power and wealth at the cost of vast, unnecessary human suffering harbor pathological motivations almost by definition, though the form that the actions of policy-makers take are heavily shaped by the institutional contexts in which they act.  

Something else you said also merits discussion: “a society which temporarily gave up war would soon fall victim to another which was not similarly predisposed.”  This concept has long been recognized in political science and is called “the security dilemma.”  Actually, the most recent research in game theory suggests that this description of “reality” is valid only under certain conditions (see Martin A. Nowak, Evolutionary Dynamics).  However, even if we assume for the sake of argument that a “kill or be killed” logic operated for much of human history, the assumption that this is an eternal feature of the human condition is almost certainly wrong.

To see why, we have to look at history as a whole.  Starting with warrior kings in antiquity, the process of conquest brought more and more of the world under larger and larger states, culminating in great empires such as those of Alexander, the Romans, the Muslims, and later the Spanish, the British, and most recently the American empires.  The logical outcome of this process of aggregation is world government, which would also mean the end of war.  In fact, the world currently has the institutional machinery needed for global governance and the abolition of war, most notably the UN Security Council.  The political conditions do not yet exist for this machinery to work the way it was designed to work, but the globalization of the world economy and the need to manage the ecological and other global crises are pushing things in the direction of cooperation.  Whether we will get there in time to avert a planetary train wreck is not assured, but if we survive long enough, that is the direction in which things are moving. 

A world in which the most powerful states (e.g. the US, Russia, and China) cooperate to constrain the ambitions of lesser states (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran, a rivalry that is currently wreaking havoc in the Middle East) is a world on the verge of abolishing war, at least in its classical form of armed conflict between states.  Other forms of armed conflict (e.g. “civil wars”) are likely to persist a while longer, but not indefinitely because once stable states emerge, the conditions for an enduring peace will be established.  Here I am using the term “peace” in the minimal sense of “the absence of war;” a more robust and profound peace can only occur as a result of continued progress towards non-violent and humane child rearing.  In summary, peace is not a “fantasy.”  It is a state of affairs towards which the political logic of history is tending.  Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which is in many ways a flawed book, does contain a very good account of this process.

I also very much like Bob’s statement “Currently the world is experiencing the ferocious upheaval/resistance to modernity/paradigm shifts on multiple domestic and foreign fronts.”  This is the explanation of religious fundamentalism in a nutshell.

Brian

dr.bobstern
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May 3


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"The only way to understand war is to understand it historically, that is, as something that did not always exist and need not exist in the future but which came into existence under specific historical conditions..."

Brian, would you dismiss Evolutionary Psychology in this discussion?


Bob



Ken Fuchsman
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May 3



Brian,

As factual accuracy is important, what are your sources that war originated in the Neolithic period? How do your sources counter the evidence compiled by anthropologists and political scientists that war was prevalent in Paleolithic times?



Brian
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May 3



Ken, if an armed raid by a small band of people on another band counts as “war,” then yes, it dates back to the Paleolithic.  I was using the term to mean armed conflict between states, and since states only emerge at the end of the Neolithic, war in this sense cannot predate the Neolithic.  But assuming we use “war” in a broad sense to include armed conflict in the Paleolithic, what difference does this make, if any, for the picture of the historical process that I have presented?

Robert, I have not read much of the evolutionary psychology literature, or the article you reference.  I have read part of Martin A. Nowak’s Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life (Harvard 2006), which seems very rigorous to me.  My sense is that language and the fight/flight response are adaptive, hard-wired capabilities of our brains that have evolutionary origins, but beyond that, I think that learning and culture, based on the plasticity of the brain, explain most of human behavior.

Brian


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Ken Fuchsman
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May 4



Brian,

My first question to you is from what sources did you derive your definition of war?  Did you compare definitions from anthropologists, historians, and political scientists? Did you look into the scholarship on when war started?  If not, how then could you make a warranted claim that it started in the Neolithic era?

You ask if war started in the Paleolithic era what difference does it make to the historical process you present. Homo sapiens are about 200,000 years old. As the Paleolithic period lasted about 190,000 of those years, and many say war has been present all that time, then through most of human history war did not take the form you say it does. At best, your characterization of war only applies to about 5 percent of human existence. Even then there are  claims you make about war since agriculture began that others would dispute. 

You say that war has to be understood historically, which it does, but not only historically. We need to compare human violence to violence in other primates, for instance. We also need to examine how and why humans kill more frequently and in more ways than any other species on the planet. It may be that we are the only species that commits suicide, and we certainly murder those within our own cultures more than do other species. So studying war historically is necessary, but not sufficient. 

My next question is when the IPA takes a position on something, such as violence, who vets the position to make sure it is more factual than opinion?  If no one does, should we not try to vet positions in the future?


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Brian
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May 4



Ken, political scientist Joshua Goldstein in War and Gender (Cambridge2001) writes that some military historians define war as consisting of “large scale pitched battles” and that a common definition used in political science counts only conflicts producing 1,000 or more battle fatalities (p. 2).  He writes that “only an agricultural, complex society can muster such a large scale force.  Yet many anthropologists (not all) consider warfare to exist in smaller, less complex societies, including gathering-hunting societies” (p. 2).  Goldstein himself adopts the broader definition but acknowledges that there is no consensus on the question. 

Anthropologists who adopt the narrower definition include Richard Lee, Marshall Sahlins, and Ernestine Friedl.  Clearly, this is a matter of definition, not of fact, and there is no universally accepted definition.  Even though I use the narrower definition, I recognize that it is not the only one.  Are you saying  that your definition is the only valid one?

I don’t see how the question of whether we define war narrowly or broadly bears on the substantive issues I raised about the future of war.  You yourself have said that war is not a human universal, and yet in your last post you take the presence of war in the Paleolithic as evidence that humans are inherently violent.  You said the same thing in the past about intra-group violence and yet failed to produce a satisfactory definition of “group” that would be consistent with your thesis that intra-group killing is a human universal.  We have gone around and around on this, Ken.  It is clear that we come at this from very different perspectives.  I’m OK with a live and let live way of relating to other scholars.  But I get the feeling that you want to kill me off and settle once and for all that only your definitions are the valid ones.

I don’t have time to continue this conversation because of other responsibilities, and I don’t have a desire to do so because I think we have long past the point of diminishing returns in having a productive exchange of ideas.  However, I need to remind you that you never did produce a satisfactory definition of “group” to support your claim that intra-group killing is a human universal.  I have copied and pasted below my last post on this subject, which you never answered.

Brian


dr.bobstern
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May 4



Genghis Khan's genes found in 1 in 200 men.

"The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms."  --Genghis Khan


How about war as a result of coalition building to achieve genetic advantage and spread one's genes?

The domination of women, the drive of so many male dominated societies/cultures/religions to control female reproduction and sexuality ... the visceral reaction to the "diss"...by individual members, groups of men or, ahem, the Republican love of guns and hatred of female "choice", sexuality, birth control,

Is this not the perpetual eruption of the primordial drives couched in fancy rhetoric?

"I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think."


Brian
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May 4



Right.  Original sin.  Killer genes.  Blah, blah, blah.



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Brian
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May 4



See Richard Lewontin, Biology as Ideology: the Doctrine of DNA.


Ken Fuchsman
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May 4



Brian,

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion on my motives, but I thought a rule of this group was not to engage in attributions of motives to each other on this site.  So when you say that I "want to kill you off", to me you crossed a line.  You also attribute things to me that I do not claim.  You say that I believe humans are "inherently violent."  I have never said that, nor did I give a definition of war, and yet you say that I think my definitions are the only ones.  . 

Here is what is my concern: psychohistory is held in disrepute among historians in part because it does not meet the standards of scholarship of the historical profession.  I find that it is not unheard of here for people to make broad statements with factual claims, where there is contrary evidence or where there is little evidence given.  I want to make sure that what we do attempts to meet academic standards, which includes taking account of relevant scholarship on a subject.  So when you say that war began in the Neolithic period, you are not immediately taking into account the other views.  You are making a one-sided declaration not consistent with the controversies among scholars.  Similarly, when you define war as being "between states,"  you are also not taking into account that since 1815 about three quarters of wars are civil wars, within states.  The very source you quote, Joshua Goldstein, recognizes warfare has not recently been between state armies,  If psychohistory is to regain credibility, it can only do so by following academic standards, incorporating the relevant evidence and perspectives, .  

Furthermore, Joshua Goldstein,does not conclude that the war began in the Neolithic, and so the source you quote does not give warrant to your claim.  You have jumped to a conclusion beyond what Goldstein says a consensus of scholars claim.  While you allude to his definition of war, you do not actually state it, which is, war is "lethal intergroup violence. If members of a small gathering-hunting society go out in an organized group to kill members of another community, I call that war. Indeed, warfare worldwide in recent years has seldom taken the form of pitched battles between state armies." (Goldstein, p. 3). When you give a definition of war that is not consistent with your own source, then there are difficulties in your scholarship.  I do not expect to change your views, I just want you to make claims consistent with the sources.   None of us is perfect, and I too have not always lived up to the standards I proclaim.  For all of us in the field of psychohistory, accuracy needs to be job one.



You did not address my question as to whether official IPA statements, such as the one on violence, go through a vetting process.  Would you please answer that question?  If there is a vetting process, what is it?  If there is not, do you think there should be?

You are correct, I did not give a good definition of group when we discussed homicide as a human universal.  I should have used the term my source, Melvin Konner, used, which is "culture."  If I had consistently stayed with that term, I do believe that would have answered your objections. .       


Brian
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May 4



Ken, I did not comment on your motives, but on how your attacks make me feel.  And they ARE attacks, as far as I can tell.  I have a long history of responding to the substance of your posts and it never seems good enough. So now I do need to reflect on the process of our interaction and indeed to detach from it. 

I noted explicitly that Goldstein adopted the broad definition of war.  My point in citing him, which I also stated clearly, was that he acknowledges that there is not a consensus among scholars on how to define war.  Clearly, I don’t need to agree with Goldstein’s definition of war in order to agree with him in recognizing the validity of more than one definition.  Why did you twist something I said and use it as a weapon against me?  This has nothing to do with rigorous scholarship. 

The IPA statement was a response to the Sandy Hill school massacre.  It was not intended to be a scholarly article or to explore the complexity of the issue of violence, which of course is a topic that fills entire libraries.  I vetted it with the IPA board, including Lloyd deMause.  That is the process I intend to follow in the future.  I am done with this conversation.  


Brian, you know that in taking a leading role that you are going to have to deal with others who hold you to a higher standard- not to mention the potential transference as a father-substitute. 

Ken, to me it looks like you aren't attempting to find any common ground in these exchanges. Maybe that's not an interest of yours, but it comes off pretty cold.

I like that you two put out references that we can follow up on, but if you want others, especially less experienced people in the field, to join the discussion, you're not making it very inviting. 

Trevor  


dr.bobstern
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May 4





Am I misreading your "blah blah blah" as a dismissal of a biological basis for our sex, power, supremacy, safety drives?

Why does it seem that there are so many male dominant societies, cultures, religions?
Is it that they arose from a shared common ancestor culture in the past that just taught them this random concept -- one that seems to have persisted to this day. 

B



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Barney
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May 4


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Dear Bob, 

You know as well or better than anyone that males do NOT dominate the cultures, even if they are encouraged to believe so by women, who like Dwight Eisenhower, know that there are two main jobs a very smart person like some I cannot mention must do: 1) Get others to believe sincerely that your idea came first from them; 2) Do not allow others to know how smart you are and often to think they are smarter. 

That's why so many fewer women than men die in war, even the most egregious ones. 

Does that ring any bells? 

I also think you will also agree that the exceptions to the trash rule are musicians and artists. 

Barney



Ken Fuchsman
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May 4



Trevor,

Tell me what can be done to make the exchanges more inviting.

My concerns with what Brian wrote are that he made claims that the evidence and scholarship in the relevant fields did not warrant.  This is central to me because psychohistory is in disrepute as it is believed psychohistorians do not follow scholarly standards.  When Brian defines war as between states when most wars are civil wars, then that is not an adequate definition. I would hope that he would seek to have his definition be consistent with relevant information. I am also concerned that he said war began after agriculture started when he knows there are others who say war began earlier.  Psychohistorians have to be extra careful to make sure their claims have sufficient backing and are not overly one-sided.  When an official IPA position makes declarations that others knowledgeable in the field will find to lack warrant, that does not help our cause.   

As I said, I am as imperfect as everyone else, If in seeking to keep to academic standards, I come off as cold and not seeking common ground, then that's the price I pay.  I appreciate your being honest and direct.    


Brian
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May 4



Bob, I apologize for my dismissive tone.  I do not have a lot of respect for biological theories of human nature, but since you expressed these ideas, out of respect for you I should not have said “blah, blah, blah.” The eminent biologist Robert Lewontin exposed the ideological character of such theories in his short book Biology as Ideology: the Doctrine of DNA.

Myriam Miedzian, who is an invited speaker at the IPA conference this year, addressed the issue you are raising.  My review of her book on this subject appears here: http://bdagostino.com/resources/PolPsyc93.pdf

Ken, I never said that war between states is the ONLY kind of war.  In fact, I implied otherwise when I said in my second post yesterday, “war, at least in its classical form of armed conflict between states.  Other forms of armed conflict (e.g. “civil wars”) are likely to persist a while longer . . .”  I don’t see what civil wars have to do with intergroup conflict in the Paleolithic.  A civil war occurs when political order breaks down and armed conflict occurs between factions within a state.  Since there were no states in the Paleolithic, there could be no civil wars, only inter-group conflicts of some kind or intra-group killing, that is, homicide.   Such intergroup conflict would be analogous to war between states, not civil war, and it was in that context that I defined war as armed conflict between states.

It is hard to have a productive exchange of ideas with someone who frames their disagreements with you as an attack on your scholarly rigor.  That is why I need to withdraw from this conversation.


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Barney
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May 4


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Dear Ken,

Psychohistory is in "disrepute" in your mind (not mine) because most of the original and perhaps even accurate observations are crushed and swallowed by the weight of political correctness and "sufficient backing." Who in Hades cares when the first war supposedly has sufficient backing to be considered "the first," and what the devil is the difference between a civil and an uncivil war? < ZERO! The concepts have nothing to do with one another. What counts is does the idea actually work? That's the question scientists ask themselves, as opposed to zealots and peckerwoods who say if it ain't broke don't fix it.  

I see that at times Trevor annoyingly doesn't check "facts," or at least check them and then refute them, but sometimes I find that flaw for the best. But almost everyone is guilty of the misnomer peccadillo (but not too many times; that's simply careless).

The test of Trevor's or anyone else's hypotheses is not in "sufficient backing" from peer reviewed people who may have been just as wrong and/or careless. Academia thrives on that footnote and index manure; pickier engineers don't, and neither do pilots and heart surgeons, or musicians. (It's easier to understand Joel with this concept. He can and probably is alone (God bless him) and exceptionally exceptional in a world where nobody cares if he's right or not. That is one tough punishment.) 

I think it might be wise to find and teach and enforce the academic standards of Galileo's era and that way get a sniff of what self-righteous stupidity is/was all about and how it's even more powerful today. 

I hark back to my favorite academic question overheard on a bench in Harvard Square:

 "For the sake of calibration we need to study ideas that have absolutely no merit." 

I'd have taken on the task, but I've never been able to find any ideas that met my rock-bottom academic standards. 

A rant every now and then is good for the ganglia. Thanks for the opportunity.

Barney



Trevor Pederson
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May 4



Hi Ken

I think that when you make global condemnations like "difficulties in your scholarship" instead of talking about the area where you think the person might be mistaken, that it might be intimidating. I'm sure Brian identifies a a scholar in some ways, so it sounds like you are calling him a phony.

Also, I think if Brian has a certain sense of the scale of what constitutes a war and wants to differentiate it between smaller scale intergroup conflict, he should be asked to account for why or what purpose this serves. However, I don't think that we should have to preface every conversation by saying "There is a debate in the scholarship between x and y". 

Again, I appreciate the references and the counter-distinctions you bring to the table.  But, Brian said that he felt attacked and I could understand it. It's not a question of dropping your standards, but a question of tone. (for example, another tone might be. "That's an interesting take on x Brian, what do you say to the scholars who say y?"). 

Trevor


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Ken Fuchsman
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May 4



Trevor,

The difficulties with Brian's scholarship that I mentioned were in relation to two specific examples, and followed my delineation of where Brian was not scholarly in these two instances   I do not see these specifics as a "global condemnation."  In the course of the exchanges Brian and I had, he modified his initial description of war as originating in the early days of agriculture and changed his definition of war as between states to something more comprehensive.

I have yet to witness Brian being intimidated.  Ask him if he feels intimidated by what I say.  

What is the difference between being criticized and being attacked? What are the standards by which we can say someone is being attacked?  



Trevor Pederson
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May 4



I didn't say Brian was intimidated, Ken, I was referring to how others might be and therefore stay out of the conversation. 

As for your question, you should probably direct it at Barney. He has all of the answers without any of the silly needs for theoretical edifices that people like me have :)


Barney
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May 4


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Dear Ken,

In order to be intimidated you must be made fearful, and Brian (and you and Trevor) don't seem to be fearful of too much. 

There's a border between being annoyed and intimidated. A lot of mosquitoes may annoy you. A lot of wasps and hornets may make you afraid. The difference is the sting. 

Nobody on Clio's list employs a deadly or even painful sting. Clios are like bumblebees; they look fat and tough and buzzy, but they are fuzzy and helpful and harmless.  

To be attacked takes place on a spectrum: it can be funny (getting feet tickled against your will) weird (little fish eating the skin off your toes) unpleasant (your wallet is natched) frigging nasty (fisticuffs in the street), and then there's getting incinerated by naphalm, some of these most of us have experienced. 

What is the difference between being criticized and being attacked? The ancients hit it on the nose: "Sticks and stones can break my bones but your words can never hurt me." 

What are the standards by which we can say someone is being attacked?   One standard: Words can never hurt you. (Bloody prophetic poets those old dames and gents.) 

What are the standards by which we can say someone is being attacked? One standard: Is your flesh or the flesh of your loved ones at risk of pain or death? 

Size means nothing. Microbes and midgets and monsters can all attack you and devour your heart and eat your liver. . Unarmed psychologists can say nothing to hurt you. 

Thus all Clio is criticism and you are entirely safe from attack, as are almost all the Cliofolk. No opinion constitutes an attack, even the ones that get intellectually personal. Cliofolk are buzzers not biters. If you don't like the buzzzzzz, then buzz even more nicely, to give a good example. Nice thing about bumblebees is they don't hiss or inject real venom, just the wordy kind, which can't really raise even a tiny welt. 

Bumblebees are only good for making gardens and fruits grow by spreading the pollen of new creations. The do not carry Uzis. Nor do Cliofolk.

Those are my best attempts to respond to your poignant questions.

Barney

I may be over my post limit. Apologies. Good questions tend to waylay my good intentions.

BC



Joel Markowitz
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May 4





Robert Stern: "The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms."  --Genghis Khan


Bob, you're VERY helpful.  Genghis Khan's remark is VERY relevant to our debate.

Genghis Khan was pagan.  His thinking was pre-Christian Era Era.   He wasn't misled by Christian-Era based RESISTANCES to Oedipal dynamics--as WE ALL are.  

So he could say it like it IS.

He's in total agreement with Freud.  Khan took his armies enormous distances to find father-surrogates (rulers) and their groups to defeat, slaughter, and replace-- and to possess their "wives and daughters" and horses ...

Pure oedipal motivation-- before the Christian Era could repress them.

Freud's oedipal theories are working to un-repress them.  With little success in the thinking of most people thus far.  Most Clio members continue to defend against deeply understanding them; albeit some acknowledge that they exist.

------------------------------- 

To try to respond to some posts:


We  obsess over whether the word "war" involves states or communities or families--  when the same dynamics drive (oedipal) competitive-aggression and sexuality in all of them.

-------------------------------

Another of the ongoing misconceptions is the equation of "oedipal" with "a fundamentally destructive impulse"; "a murderous gene"; etc.  

We DO have a need to destroy under certain conditions, and that's HATE/RAGE. .  Nature gave it to us primarily to defend ourselves against an external threat.   We wouldn't have survived without it. 

Rage has nothing to do with oedipal drives.  THOSE are fundamental to NATURAL SELECTION.

Rage has nothing to do with Genghis Khan's PLEASURE in actualizing his oedipal needs.

-------------------------------

Among the neurotic inhibitions the Chr. Era imposed on us is the fear of our inner RAGE-- which we all repress significantly.  So we fear destructiveness PER SE because of the implicit aggression involved.

But some destructiveness is, of course, constructive.  We often destroy in order to build.   We have often destroyed what is dysfunctional in order to build something better. 

The oedipal drives were certainly aggressive. They caused combats; deaths; rapes; wars; etc.

They're also responsible for our natural selection to become humans. And the evolution-- through much combat-- of democracy.  And the ending of slavery and the maintaining the unity of this nation through the Civil War--

an extremely bloody combat (which Churchill called the most unavoidable and noble of wars) ...

------------------------------------

Did the same needs that llead to wars exist in the Paleolithic and Neolithic humans.  Of course; their brains were very similar to (or identical with) our brains.  

Why do humans kill on a vastly larger scale in wars than do other animals?   Other animals don't have wars except when their territories are invaded by other animal groups.

( Why not call those wars "small-scale wars" if you'd like?  They would be large-scale wars were the numbers of animals involved very large-- and were there no free territories to retreat to (as is the case since humans densely settled the earth).

----------------------------------

Barney, your personal dislike of me is based more on your dynamics than on mine.  You don't much attack  my theories-- which you should do if you disagree with them.

You do attack me-- which Clio should question.  Clio should  find such personal attacks more relevant to Clio's process than my "arrogance" and "absoluteness"-- which so trouble you.

Does Clio find your theories useful?   

And no, I'm not lonely-- even though Clio-- collectively and often individually-- often opposes my theories.  Therapists routinely confront resistance to insights-- that's their job; so I've become comfortable with disagreements.

( It might interest you that, outside of Clio, some of my theories have been in use by many impressive people for a long time.)

( What about your theories?  Have others found them useful? )


Joel


Barney
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May 4


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Dear Joel, (This is over the limit so please don't read, if you care to, until 12:01 a.m. May 5),

"He had a theory that all musicians are incredibly complex." E.M. Forester

I have a theory that if you sense the truth it will make you laugh. I'll bet you don't laugh as much as you'd like because truth is so hard to come by. 

Many people forget that a theory is not simply a "proven" hypothesis, it is a way of thinking that was once called "speculation" and any theory is, at best, still unproven. 

Theories are not to be defended or advocated, they are made to be tested. They aren't the last word in the scheme of things. Theories beget questions. The better the theory the more begetting gets begat.

My pet theory has worked well at the hypothesis stage and long ago graduated to the theoretical stage. There is always truth (not necessarily mirth) in all laughter. 

Has this theory ever done me any good, or anyone else, either? Endless numbers of times with drivers and cabbies worldwide. Nothing gets you more reliable information about the unseen underbelly and open facades of a city or locality than a laughing cab driver. 

If you tell the truth to good military generals, they will laugh because the truth to them is too rare. (Despite the honor code at the academies.) Tell the truth to incarcerated African Americans, they will laugh. (Rarity, too.) Tell the truth to bankers and they'll LAO. 

A corollary to my laughter theory is that what is laugh-provoking in one culture is usually translatable to a different culture with appropriate linguistic stylistics. 

I can't say that my theory has even done me much material good but it saved my sanity a few times and made me some very strange friends in far off places. So, yes, I suppose my theory (I have a few more) is of some use and value. 

What is your favorite theory and does it make you laugh?

If not, my theory says rework it.

Barney


Alice Maher
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May 4


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We have two different paradigms here.  One says that psychohistory will be validated by the masses and become "real" only when its ideas are fully documented and referenced with massive amounts of hard data.  The other says that psychohistory will be validated by the masses and become "real" only when its ideas catch the fantasies and emotions of the masses.  

Left eye/right eye.  Both are necessary, but which one should be dominant and leading?



Ralph Fishkin
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May 4



Dear Ken, Brian, Barney and Trevor and other Cliospsyche Folk, 

Here’s my take on today’s conversation about “war”.  This conversation initially seemed exciting and interesting, but it quickly got bogged down in nitpicking, defensiveness, and counterattacks and then got diverted into a conversation about who said what or did not say what to whom.  Phooey!   

I personally don’t think it makes a difference about whether war or civil war or just plain attacks by one group in order to capture another’s excessive supplies is the true name that we use for group human aggression.  I don’t give a crap whether it got started in the neolithic or paleolithic age.  It’s groups killing members of other groups that has gotten more and more sophisticated. Whether it is caused in part by our biology or by our increasing conglomerating into greater and greater units of government, it is as Jim said, making a group vulnerable to the dangers of attack if it, by some miracle, becomes peaceful and turns its swords into plowshares (so to speak). 

In contrast to that arc bending toward peace (or not) that you each cite experts who you agree with, I’ll offer as my expert George Orwell and his masterpiece 1984.  To me, a more interesting discussion would have accepted the historical, biological, economic, and psychologic components of group human aggression and the possibility of a synthesis of these factors into a document or position statement that we could promote or promulgate as a group.  That might get us some respect and might do some good.  Otherwise, it’s just babel. 

It’s time for you all to put aside your petty nitpicking and engage in meaningful discussion of each other’s ideas if this list serve or psychohistory itself is going to be worth the time.  What a disappointment this whole interchange has been for me. 

Ralph 



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Barney
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May 4


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Dear Ralph,

What did you expect without your guidance?

Barney



Barney
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May 4


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Dear Alice, 

Don't believe either one of them. Validation is always in the eyes of the beholder. If you believe something is valid, it is, even if you are blind. The masses do not validate because the masses don't write the rules of validation. The elite does. Only the valid enjoy a say in the fantasies that become validity and valid is a state of obedience like peace is. 

Problem is that validity will undergo magnetic switches like the North and South pole do and validity today is scorned invalidity tomorrow. 

Psychohistory may only become valid if it can reliably describe and explain something heretofore unseen or unexplained and worth caring about. Can we ever look through the lens of psychohistory and see something interesting going on in the boudoirs of the human race and mind? Or shall we all wait until someone has amassed a monstrous amount of hard data and we have kissed ever so many rings?  

Bon soir,

Barney



Denis O'Keefe
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May 5


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Alice,
I think, as David Beisel once stated, the Psychohistorian's job is to analyze shared fantasy, not act them out.... or create new fantasies for that matter.  Legitimacy is a problem for psychohistory, but an obsessive concern with documentation shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of our work.  On the other hand, creating new fantasies that resonates with or catches the fantasies and emotions of the group is, in my mind, a form of acting out and the stuff of advertising or branding.  Not the kind of legitimacy I'd want for Psychohistory, but may be useful to grab attention.
Denis  



Joel Markowitz
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May 5


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Dear Barnard,

You and I agree that it's good to laugh whenever possible.  All of us agree that all theories are to be tested; and that most will be improved on by better theories ...

Personalities differ, of course; and from your posts, I'd guess that you laugh at more theories (and other things) than I do.   

I-- and Alice-- are NOT laughing at Clio's impasse-- at Clio's inability to move into more-fundamental theory.

Joel



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Barney
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May 5


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Dear Joel,

It's actually very odd to me that truth pops up as little as it does. I feel I do not laugh nearly enough and I miss laughter when it's not around. 

"In vino veritas" still works quite well, particularly if you are aware of cachaca, the Brazilian national sugar cane brandy beverage. (There is often a lot of laughter in bars, but very little in churches. Does that tell us something?) 

In Brazil, the drink made with cachaca, lime juice and simple sugar is called a caipirinha and it's nickname is "Truth Serum." (Perhaps my favorite theory, the Mind Shark Theory, was miraculously developed after all concerned in its creation were sipping their fifth truth serum.) 

Based on my crackpot Theory of Truth & Laughter, if I were seeking veritas I'd stake out a Brazilian bar and grill. 

My T&L theory also posits that if you are not laughing at what you call "Clio's impasse," and "inability" then it might not be true. 

One day all the Clios ought to congregate for a Truth Serum Party. I want worldwide video rights to that get-together. You think there might be a laugh or two? I do. 

Barney


Joel Markowitz
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May 5


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"There is often a lot of laughter in bars, but very little in churches."  True and relevant to Clio, Barney.  If only Clio would   use it.

"Superego is soluble in alcohol" has long been said.  Superego is largely (almost always) programmed by parental superego.

But what about the parental superegos that did the programming?

The superegos of Western-group parents is currently very largely programmed by the superegos of Christian Era groups.  The "churches" if you like, which still reduce our pleasures, laughter and still-criminalized freedoms.

Those superegos are, fortunately, now subject to the beginning of a great Transition.

Unfortunately, that Transition is only in its very early stages.  The Sexual Revolution, Youth Rebellion (etc.) have removed thus far very little  Christian Era prohiibition/ injunction/ guilt/ etc.   

against knowing about those forbidden fantasies and impulses.   Knowing about them doesn't mean, of course, acting on them-- as many people fear would happen.

(  Read Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" to see his fear that paganism will return once the "sea of Faith" is gone. )

Hence the conflict between the superego that's slowly dying and the freer superego that's emerging-- and that isn't  driven by guilt, shame, avoidance, and other fears.

Hence also the value of alcohol and drugs in quickly removing superego-based inhibition and in freeing more-primitive pleasures-- however briefly.

Cachaca sounds great.

Joel



Barney
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May 5


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Dear Joel,   

Cachaca is the best superego inhibition inhibitor yet known to mankind. 

You may enjoy a true truth serum story that can serve as fair warning:

My daughter Kate and I were invited to dinner in the manor house of the farm where she was renting a garage-top house while a student at the University of Virginia. The host was a famed and fabulously wealthy eye surgeon along with his lovely and warm wife. He was among the FFV (First Families of Virginia) and proper as proper can ever proper be. I brought the bottle of cachaca and Kate helped me make the caipirinhas. 

I gave them both fair warning, and was especially pointed with him because FFV always seem to have something they want to hide, like Ashley and Scarlet. I said, "Doc, this is powerful stuff. Truth serum is not to be trifled with." 

He nodded superordinately. 

Caipirhinas are awesomely delicious. The simple sugar syrup turbocharges their advance upon the inhibition centers of the superego and flicks them off, off, off, off and off by the time you are beginning drink number 2. With each successive drink the truth becomes more and more apparent, in a cool, unsloppy, Brazilian way that isn't mean or grudging or vengeful but dead on truthful, and thus often very funny. The connoisseurs are quick to learn the "Dantas Rule," which states: "With drink five, leave out the sugar."

By the time the eye surgeon got to drink number two his superego was getting limber and by drink three it was soft taffy and he was telling secrets about Virginia life and politics that had us all in stitches. I looked at my watch. It was 10:30. Kate said something that hinted we were going to leave, and the wife said, "Please don't go yet," and the doctor said, "No,no, please go!" 

He instantly slapped his hand over his mouth, looked at his wife, and blushed crimson from forehead to fingertips. 

Kate broke into a big grin and I regretfully said, "I told you so," and we left this more honest man with more time that he otherwise might have had to masonically enjoy his wife.  

Barney



Joel Markowitz
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May 5


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Barney,

I'll see if my local liquor store carries it.

( Good story. ) 

Joel


Barney
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May 5


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Dear Joel, 

The best available are Pitu, with a big red lobster on the bottle, or Leblon, named after a part of Rio and in a translucent bottle. Both are equally very good, Pitu is less expensive. 

For two people:

Squeeze four juicy limes.

Divide lime juice equally between two low ball glasses. 

With a stick of wood "muddle" (crush and squash) two lime quarters in each glass. 

Add pure water (still, not sparkling) to each glass to double the volume. 

Add two teaspoons of simple syrup to each glass (more if requested). 

Add two shots of cachaca to each glass. 

Add ice cubes.

Stir to combine. 

TO MAKE: Simple syrup: Bring one cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a non-aluminum pot. When sugar water is clear, remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in fridge. 


Boa viajem. 

Barney



Alice Maher
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May 5


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Denis, I can see that that would be a worthy definition of psychohistory. But I don't think psychohistory has enough of a coherent "self" and hasn't take root in society or academia yet. So yes, at this point in the field's infancy, I believe that the field needs to act on its own behalf. It needs an original, simple, exciting mission statement, it needs branding, and it needs advertising. Acting on one's own behalf is not equivalent to acting out.  Paralysis can be paralyzing.




me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 5



I didn't even know of this site until I got an invite -- felt like joining a secret society. I tried to explore some issues of Clio's History, but the university near me doesn't carry it, and it's not available on the internet. Some of the most exciting psychohistory on the web is at Lloyd's Psychohistory site, and it links to a different -- but in its case, at least public -- discussion site. My point is there is another option other than courting the favour of academia. Maybe just instead be bravely open, dare be exposed -- warts and all ... and catch the notice of the more emotionally evolved people out there that way, in society, I mean? I think this discussion site is fun; people should be able to find it more easily. Also, if we feel like we expect people to know the details of WW2, we should at least be aware that it's probably going to mean reading a lot of history, written by men, and a lot of tanks, planes, generals, soldiers, and guns, and appreciate that they should at least gag a bit before getting to business. 



Brian
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May 5


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Alice, you are not a psychohistorian and you don’t know what you’re talking about.



Ralph Fishkin
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May 5



Brian, 

While I wouldn’t quite put it that way, and I certainly know you didn’t mean to be hurtful to Alice, I agree that her prescriptions do not fit the development of  scholarly field.  Perhaps the group needs to split into an activist group and a scholarly interest group. 

Ralph 




Barney
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May 5


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dear Joel,

Just read in one of your previous notes that you believe I "dislike" you.

Nonsense. The truth be known you are in my mind one of the most interesting and provocative minds on this or any other list. I was talking to myself the other day about how many ideas you present and how passionately you advocate for them. Some of the most pleasurable excursions of thought have been stirred up by you. I do not personally attack you, although I may at times question the course of your trains of thought. I believe certain ideals and behaviors lead to loneliness and I believe in you I see both. No dislike meant or intended. I 'd truly loathe to be known as the puny mind that disliked you. I do hope that settles it.

Barney



Denis O'Keefe
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May 5


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Alice,
I have to disagree on multiple fronts.  Psychohistorians have been producing great works for much longer than I've been alive. I count 3, possibly 4 generations depending on how one categorizes. Saying that PH is in its infancy could be perceived as an insult to the many great minds, some of which are on this list, who provide a very solid foundation of theory and application throughout their careers.  I think you might do well to make a study of PH before seeking to brand it.  

Secondly, I never provided a definition nor do I think I could or should, but use a working definition.  This isn't paralysis but a healthy respect for the multitude of approaches within psychohistorical domains.  This might be why Henry Lawton and Paul begin their texts with an overview of definitions by important PH contributors over the years. I also find something refreshing in the lack of a specified definition.  PH is free to evolve as it has without such constraints. I enjoy the complexity inherent to this approach. Yes this makes it more difficult to brand, but much more exciting to be part of.   

Lastly, the idea coming from both you and Joel that our group is stuck or at some kind of impasse seems foreign to me and I suspect many others.  I don't experience the group this way.  Possibly because my expectations are different than yours as to what the group should be doing or producing. Maybe I am missing something, but I have no sense of an impasse.
Denis           


Denis O'Keefe
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May 5



Patrick,
Paul has graciously added back issues of Clio Psyche on the Psychohistory Forum website at http://www.cliospsyche.org/index.html
Denis




Alice Maher
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May 5


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Brian, you're right, I'm not.  I've been admitting that for a very long time.  Problem is, you're not a psychoanalyst and yet you blur the distinctions between the two fields in a way that suggests that you believe yourself to be.  Let's agree that I'm not an historian or a psychohistorian, and you're not a psychoanalyst. 

I like Ralph's idea that we should divide into an activist group and a scholarly interest group.  Not a final division, but committees where we all know that activists/analysts are talking forward movement and dynamic change process, and scholars are talking scholarship.  We have to stop arguing apples with oranges!

And yes, Denis, I think this is a fascinating group and a smart-as-hell group and I learn a lot when I read, but I sincerely and powerfully believe that humankind needs to become aware of the power of psychological factors in human history, and the IPA and Clio are not doing enough to come together and move forward. 

Hell, I'm an analyst.  It's the kind of confrontation/interpretation I make all day, every day to people I work with and care about. 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 5



Thanks for letting me know, Denis. (And thanks for your generosity, Paul.) Yeah, a bit earlier some people here were talking about the latest issue, and I felt shut out. I look forward to exploring. 



Brian
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May 5


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Alice, I have never purported to be an analyst, and would consider it the height of arrogance for me to go into a psychoanalysis discussion group and lecture the entire group about the crisis in psychoanalysis and how I have the solution to their problem.

I endorse the notion of academic (basic research) and applied psychohistory.  There is a place for your work in the applied branch.  But if you want to be an applied psychohistorian, you need to at least do some minimal reading in the academic branch of the field and demonstrate an interest in at least some of the academic discussions on this list.  I am not saying that you should necessarily do these things, but if you don’t, why are you on this list?  Are you here to save us from ourselves, even though you don’t know who we are?

Without some knowledge of academic psychohistory, a would-be applied psychohistorian has nothing to apply.  He or she is like a doctor who has never studied biology, or an engineer who has never studied physics, or psychoanalyst who has never read Freud or Jung.  There is a vast body of knowledge about the topic of war and at least some of the discussion on this list on this topic is accessible to non-specialists.  Notwithstanding your lack of interest in this topic and almost complete lack of knowledge of what war is and how it works, you go around talking about how you are going to put an end to war.  If you want to know what discredits the field of psychohistory outside the boundaries of this community, that kind of uninformed activism is high on the list.


Alice Maher
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May 5


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"Notwithstanding your lack of interest in this topic and almost complete lack of knowledge of what war is and how it works, you go around talking about how you are going to put an end to war."

Yes, Brian, that's exactly what I'm doing. Recall Einstein's dictum that you can't solve a problem at the same level of thinking that was used to create it.  I'm addressing the problem from the perspective of a "right eye." I know that I will never see the landscape the way a "left eye" like you does, and vice versa. I can only imagine how you see the world, ask that you try harder to consider my different perspective, and maybe eventually we can focus together on a shared horizon.

Alternately, I can pull away from Clio until I'm well enough versed in historical literature to reach the more palatable conclusion that war is the result of evil capitalists. 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 5



What ought to discredit a group is if it seems one where only the men are left talking ... and they hardly notice, with the last female participant amongst them deemed by the rest some fluff who isn't serious enough for inclusion. 

Temperament is what I'm looking for for my psychohistory/psychosociety (I think I could do away with almost all of the history; one full deMausian historical cycle of societal growth to societal purge -- the most recent one -- being enough). If someone out of all choices in the world dove headfirst into that swill we call history without at least some reproach, I'd be kind of wondering if I shouldn't just take the gal who said, no dice, too many rapes -- I'm doing art therapy/English MFA instead! for her possessing the only attitude I'd respect to vouch for accuracy ... and to be spared weirdo attachment, if we do need to take the plunge. 

This is real; I've read a ton of history and ... I just can't go back there much anymore. We've improved. We're warmer company than ever before. It's sane to like people as they are in the present. It's sane for people who think the same to think they might the ones most empowered to make peace in the world, and to treat those who've loaded themselves up with history, as if they'd bizarrely welcomed in a contagion. They'll never see war, ever, as a righteous thing ... not many historians can make claim to that.   

Don't we see this all the time? I see it in literature studies ... the student, the complete newbie, who can see the material best for possessing the most emotionally evolved mindset, balked for a moment or maybe a year or two by the professor who can for now intimidate by seeming just one loyal component of a huge institution, that's gone over the material for ages. 


Alice Maher
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May 6



Thanks, Patrick, for referencing the feminine so I didn't have to.

Brian et al, I'm familiar with the way psychoanalytic theory addresses The Problem of Woman, and I would be very interested to hear more about the way that topic is addressed in the study of history.    

I may be old fashioned, but I'm pretty sure that I think differently from the way the Stereotypical Man does.  I'm the reason women weren't considered smart enough to vote for their favorite warmonger until just last week.  .;)


Brian
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May 6



Patrick, you make a good point about the gender imbalance on this list. However, you are mistaken if you think I don’t want Alice on the list.  In that case, I would have given up a long time ago trying to communicate with her.  I would not have published a front page piece on her work in Psychohistory News
(see http://www.psychohistory.us/resources/IPA_14_1_winter.pdf ) or encouraged her to do presentations at the IPA conference. Alice has said that she thinks we all need to learn how to communicate what we really think and feel.  That is all I have ever tried to do on this list, but there are limits to uninhibited self-expression.  Yesterday I crossed the line, and owe Alice an apology.

Alice, I hope you will accept my apology.  I strongly believe in your work, and believe you have an important contribution to make to this list.  I want you to succeed in this community.  I strongly believe that can only happen through genuinely reciprocal engagement with others, and that has always been my mantra with you.  Separately and apart from that message, I have frequently botched the message by rebuking you publicly, which is grotesque and should have no place on this list.  Ralph and Ken have gently and skillfully reminded me of that fact, and for that I am grateful.  If I do that in the future, I deserve a chorus of boos.  Tell me to stop being an asshole.

Also, if anyone has a binder of women psychohistorians, to steal and adapt Mitt Romney colorful phrase, please send it to me. J .

Brian


Alice Maher
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May 6



Thanks so much, Brian. I really appreciate this. I love you guys and I'm quite okay with the occasional regressions that happen here, with all of us at different times. :)

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6



Alternately, I can pull away from Clio until I'm well enough versed in historical literature to reach the more palatable conclusion that war is the result of evil capitalists.

I still think this was an inspired contribution by Alice ... history as something we do so that the path we were going to go down anyway, seems fully informed; a matter of lengthy, mature deliberation. Temperament, emotional well-being, is key ... and the psychohistorical problem remains that history is a nightmare, so how goth do we have to be to want to venture down there?  

This whole next decade looks like its going to be about every leftie (I'm socialist, by the by) in the room rioting against evil capitalists. I'd love it if somehow psychohistory/societyiens had them at least considering that the nature of the childrearing, the degree of suffered parental abuse, in the nation was such that these same capitalists owed their power to the perverse psychological needs of those they crushed. These same people won't just take down capitalists -- that is, true regressives -- but the most progressive alive as well, as they'll represent the "spoiled" child they must refute to feel worthy of finally acquiring their neglected mothers' love. 

I believe this is Florian Galler territory as well. I thought she was female, so someone I could recommend, but I just googled "Florian" and got a lot of male pictures, so I guess not.  


—————-

jhsturges
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May 6


Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

Brian,

We'll have to disagree about there being an inherent human drive to death and war. I see it everywhere.

Would you agree there is a sex drive? If so, what evidence do you have other than that humans want it, and most engage in it when given a chance?

Also, I happen to think that world government would equal world tyranny. Like capitalism, what makes things acceptable (to the extent that they are) is some healthy competition.

Incidentally, calling the death instinct "pseudo science" is incorrect, at least by the definitions of Thomas Kuhn, who I happen to agree with. The correct term for all of our areas: psychoanalysis, psychohistory etc. would be "Protoscience." This means there is no defined and repeatable "paradigmic experiment" in the areas of depth psychology.

Actually, I think that is the trap of the behaviorists, academics and other similar ilks who try to treat psychology as a science when its subject matter is inherently non-observable, being by definition subjective material.

————Jim


Trevor Pederson
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May 6



Hi Jim

I think that understanding the exception to the rule is always important. Yes there's been a lot of war, but like heterosexuality, it's not universal. There are some primitive political economies that don't engage in it, or that get bulldozed by others who do.

Freud's very point about sexuality is that the penis and vagina connection found in most animals (there are some homosexual mammals and Bonobos kiss, engage in bisexuality, fellatio, etc.) is extremely more plastic in humans.

I think psychoanalysts rightly got a lot of flack for wanting to view things as eternal and failing to appreciate how sociological/technological changes might have changed "human nature".

Do you ever study the exceptions? 


Brian
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May 6



Jim, Trevor, and all.  I agree with Trevor that universality is required if we are going to talk about instincts or drives.  If we see a lot of gratuitous destructiveness in the world around us but nevertheless some individuals and some cultures are non-destructive, then the cause of all the gratuitous destructiveness cannot be a universal principle such as a drive or instinct.  Also Occam’s razor tells us to keep it simple and not multiply explanatory principles needlessly.  If traumatizing people makes them destructive or self-destructive, and abusive childrearing practices are widespread, why do we need to invoke some kind of innate destructive principle to account for widespread destructiveness?  The theory of a death instinct is both unnecessary and inconsistent with the fact that not all individuals and not all cultures are destructive.  One in-depth study of a non-violent culture is Barry Hewlett’s Intimate Fathers: The Nature and Context of Aka Pygmy Paternal Infant Care.

Following Occam’s razor, I am a minimalist with respect to innate psychological mechanisms.  We have basic bodily needs including sex.  We have language.  We have the fight/flight response, which is a clearly adaptive inheritance of natural selection but which is also easily deformed by trauma, resulting in chronic and irrational fear and rage.  Finally, human infants make shrill noises when they need something, which is adaptive because it gets the attention of any nearby adult but also sets them up for abuse if efforts to meet their needs do not make them stop crying.  These innate building blocks of human psychology, taken as a whole, have vast explanatory power.  If it turns out that they cannot explain some phenomenon, then and only then does it make sense, in my opinion, to create a more complex model.

Brian

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 7 (23 hours ago)


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

 One in-depth study of a non-violent culture is Barry Hewlett’s Intimate Fathers: The Nature and Context of Aka Pygmy Paternal Infant Care.

Steven Pinker was probably intending to make anthropologists look silly by essentially saying they've been abuse-apologists all along -- every one of them that was ostensibly peace-loving, had so much to teach us moderns, turned out more war-intent than George Bush. Rather than something to learn from their childrearing, he glues the word "infanticidal" to them, and leaves it to us to try thereafter to add some warm glow.

I think we need to take care that we don't end up seeming to make the case that tribal cultures deserve all the attention we give them -- because there's something humane about them ...  something better than us, from which we need to learn. Because what we're doing is making our interest in them seem conditional. It is not just because they were stigmatized by regressive Europeans who projected their own demons on to them, but because we look close and we find human treasures of care and kindness that we moderns have lost, that we uphold their intrinsic worth and protect them from harm. 

If America turns nativist and provincial, I wouldn't want to leave any group of people out there vulnerable to maltreatment if it turns out they're not as nice as we've all been lead to believe. This holds true with how liberals have been defending Islamic cultures. What we hear -- even from Pinker -- is that most are peaceful, and we're dealing only with fringe. And with this, we seem to make a non-war like stance conditional on their having "compartmentalized" religion and being mostly peace loving, just like everyone else in the world. But we know from the 1930s, when peaceful Weimar Germans suddenly switched and became as a whole populace war-craving, whole peoples can suddenly become "monsters." Any deMausian would know that the only people who war, who hurt their children, who genocide, are massively unloved people, who are actually gaining revenge against their own "guilty" striving and vulnerable selves in their killing the innocent. No matter how awful people get in behaviour, they never lose our love and support, even as others must be protected from their aggressions. 

I agree with you Brian -- no death instinct; just too many children in their infancy fearing being apocalyptically murdered by their mothers ... that's why the "strange" phenomenal of 5 year olds knowing death.  



jhsturges
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May 7 (11 hours ago)



Trevor, I think I understand your point about the importance of exceptions . . . I just can't think of any with respect to the idea that pacifist societies cannot long exist, at least not without protection from another.The Swiss come to mind; yet, the Swiss are very capable of defending themselves in those mountains if anyone ever tried to invade. Every adult male has military training and is armed.

———Jim

———————————


Joel Markowitz
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May 6




I think that we know what psychohistory is.  As Paul's journal's   
cover said quite accurately it's the "understanding the "Why" of   
Culture, Current Events, History and Society." 

Historians tell us WHAT happened.  Psychohistorians should tell us   
WHY it happened.  That refers to illuminating the deeper "machinery"   
that made the events happen. 

And it very often refers to the psychodynamic determinants that made   
people and the minds of the various groups decide to do what they do. 

I don't see how one can understand psychohistory without   
understanding human dynamics. 

Which is why I disagree with Denis's belief that a lot of   
psychohistory has been written.   It depends on what you call   
psychohistory-- where you draw the line. 

It's primarily because Freudian-based psychodynamics is still so   
effectively avoided that very little psychohistory has been written. 

As I've suggested (which Alice seems to understand), Clio -- the   
collective entity--  still actively cleaves to the Christian Era   
attitudes, and avoids the deeper psychodynamic determinants of   
psychohistory. 

I disagree with Brian about Alice.   I think that she's closer to   
being a psychohistorian than are most contributors to Clio. 


Joel 



dr.bobstern
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May 6



"...still actively cleaves to the Christian Era attitudes"

Joel, I'm a newbie. Others may understand precisely what you're saying, but what do you mean by the phrase Christian Era attitudes -- and how does Clio hold onto them?

Thanks.



me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6



Yeah, and not too much deference to our great, gracious predecessors, and all their generosity. If they're worth anything, it'd be an insult to them, for they'd be asking themselves what's with all this fawning ... and where the hell is our obnoxious hippie! I know it's academic convention, but every time I sense too much hat-tipping I fear you've got people who want to masochistically manage themselves so their efforts are just one small brick into an already noble edifice. Sad enough, this weird self-winnowing, but I fear you've also got people who'd see a crowd of emerging, more brazen young, partying on the lawn, skipping classes, and beginning greater dreams than ever before ventured, and see a total lack of self-discipline as well as ample disrespect!


Barney
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory
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My old mammy would say, "Patrick, watch your tongue!”


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

I aim to be the guy girls bring home to revenge against their mom. 


Barney
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory
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I like a man with high goals.

B


Brian
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May 6


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Patrick, I’m glad to hear you say this, because it has always seemed to me that you are unduly deferential to Lloyd deMause’s ideas. 

I am not one to quibble over labels and definitions.  I have no use for people who feel that their labels and definitions are the only correct ones, which is both a power grab and a logical absurdity.  The meaning of terms needs to be negotiated, which is a social process, and I strongly believe that the process needs to be egalitarian.  However, this also applies to people who want to redefine a term that already has a widely accepted meaning.  We cannot, like Humpty Dumpty, make words mean whatever we want them to mean.  It is just as authoritarian and absurd for Joel to say that only his version of Freudian psychohistory is REAL psychohistory as it is for any practicing psychohistorian to insist that his definition is the only correct one. 

Further, the person who feels that the field is too narrowly defined and wants to propose a new definition needs to be at least superficially familiar with the range of work that is currently called “psychohistory.”  Otherwise you are just confusing the conversation by promoting false information about what is currently called “psychohistory.” What I mean by “superficially familiar” is having read a least one seminal book or article from each of the main schools of thought in the field.  Is that too much to ask? 

Who would find it acceptable for someone to say they understand what psychoanalysis is if they have read little or nothing of the Freudian literature?  Now someone may not be interested in this literature, which is fine.  But  in that case what is going on when that person rejects what they think is the Freudian concept of psychoanalysis (based on little or no actual reading) and says that HE is the real psychoanalyst, not all those misguided folks in the American Psychoanalytic Association.  It would be like me saying, “Queen Elizabeth thinks she’s the queen of England, but she is mistaken.  In reality, I am the queen of England.”  OK, Humpty Dumpty, have it your way.   

Brian


Joel Markowitz
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Brian,

I do believe, as you know, that Freudian-based psychodynamic principles are closer to valid than are other psychodynamic theories.   My bias.

Let me correct here for my bias.  Labels and definitions are necessary; and we should use Paul's excellent definition that psychohistory illuminates WHY the events happened.   I know no better definition; and I've been using it

long before I read it on Paul's front cover.  

Simply remove "Freudian-based" from what I wrote.   Let's say that ANY theories approach being psychohistory if they help us understand determinism more-deeply than historians have dared to do. 

in the more-sophisticated future, psychohistorians will be historians who deeply understand history.   Who know both WHAT happened and WHY it happened.


Joel


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

I think deMause nailed it. There's an upcoming issue of Clio's History where I believe people will be discussing ISIS and that German pilot's sacrifice of innocents, and all I want to do is direct them to deMause's explorations of the subject (here, and here, specifically -- the later link takes you to a large chapter wherein you'll find the Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City bombing discussed). I can't write anything. I'm great at noticing his changes of emphasis, and feeling how it colours his works, how it affects the overall message communicated -- no small thing. But other than sort of chastising him for never discussing his mother, a big lapse, and a poor example, given how much importance he gives to "mom" on the whole fact of human society thing, and to admitting how your own life is influencing your work, I can't beat him. (Actually, there's another thing I chastise him for -- he says history is a nightmare and wants to cure the world by spreading helping-class therapists across the globe, yet never seems to have discouraged people from too taking the plunge into the historical morass of child-infanticiding meanies he acknowledges is history... shouldn't he have been concerned, that is, that this was his way too of doing the sort of evil thing of taking the young and innocent and scaring and scarring them with ghouls and ghosts?) So despite my being wonderfully egotistical and knowing myself a unique blessing on our beloved Earth, I give the guy his due. Pretty much, start here.... Gives me actually a lot of fresh ground anyway. There's nothing there in his works about how to phenomenologically best to experience life, the ground of poets and artists. His work, despite its astonishing truth, will as we evolve, eventually get waylaid. 

It feels weird to even say the word "history." I reference the word ...and I feel a hundred girls dropping my class. I mean this isn't quite fair, there was near an even 50/50 split of sexes in my history classes. But women predominated in both English and Psychology, and it seemed to have less of the stink of a male hiding place. So it's my own aversion, really ... psychosociety seems .... fresher, appeal to a new sensibility, maybe. Maybe it'll catch on?

I'm familiar with psychohistory, but I guess you're afraid I'm waylaying people. I'm not sure I'm doing that ... more lending courage to those who feel the same implications from history being a nightmare, something maybe sanish to be averse to, as I do.

Joel doesn't say his bit in a way that persuades me. I think there is something of a tantrum in Lloyd's(?) "realpsychohistory," and I respond to the idea of everyone just putting forth their best take, and being delighted if they can be surpassed or proven wrong, because they can now come even closer to something that is true, and as well have the delightful reminder that they're living in a world that can challenge you at your very, very best. But, like I said, I think he's right ... and also that we're living in a period where, owing to his focusing on the person we all fear most -- our mothers -- the primary source of all our traumas and terrors (you never experienced that? really?), our point is going to be able to prove to Her than we're quite willing to back away some. Someone's going to need to make a call to that well-enough loved part of ourselves that won't part known truth for a safe hiding place in these willingly cowering, self-sacrificial, self-admonishing, great-suffering-generation times. 



me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

our point is going to be able to prove to Her than we're quite willing to back away some. 

should have read, our point is going to be to be able to prove to Her that we're quite willing to back away some. 

A little bit of sloppiness in this post; sorry about that. 


Ken Fuchsman
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

We have had discussions on what psychohistory is and is not, what it needs to explore, and more.  For our edification and pleasure, I propose that we again post books on psychohistory we find to be essential and exceptional.  

Here off the to of my head to get started is my list.   ,   

1. Erik Erikson (1958), Young Man Luther

2. Richard Hofstadter (1965), The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays.

3. Alan Elms (1994), Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology

4. Joanna Bourke (2000), An Intimate History of Killing.

5. Jacques Szaluta (2001), Psychohistory: Theory and Practice

6. David Beisel (2004), The Suicidal Embrace 



jhsturges
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

I always thought that "Real psychohistory" was to distinguish it from that of Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov's fabulous Foundation Trilogy.

I always wondered if Lloyd was aware of Asimov when he started using the term. The simple fact is that Asimov's use is about a million times more famous; and predates Lloyd by decades, so I always thought the choice of the term, or whichever psychologist first came up with it, was a little bit unfortunate.

For those who may not know, Asimov's field of psychohistory was mostly statistical patterns of history. The thesis was that if the field was large enough, i.e., an entire galaxy, that by the law of large numbers the predictions would become extremely accurate.

In later books, however, there is a character call the "Mule" who is able to exercise some form of mass hypnosis. So that was when Asimov crossed a little out of the statistical area . . . though I don't really think he knew anything about psychology.

He was a great writer though. Boys of my generation cut our literary teeth on him and Heinlein.

———Jim



Barney
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Dear Jim,

How good to find somebody who knows of Asimov. I had the pleasure and privilege for a year to edit most of Asimov's non-fiction essays, articles and scientific publications, which were many and varied. He lived in NYC, I was living in Texas, we never met face to face but I spent untold hours on the telephone with him listening to his very, very funny stories and marveling at all that he knew and how he knew it. 

He was prodigiously prolific (probably half a billion words, maybe more), and he crowed about that record continually, but it was not un-endearing. About the only time he stopped writing and boasting was to eat. Like all of the best writers that I've had a chance to edit, he was easy, never fell in love with his humor and cleverness (but I at times did; he was that good). My way to edit is that if something looks to me a bit rough or fuzzy or incorrectly ambigious, I'll ask, "Can this be said better?" and 99% of the time it could, and he did. 

Was Asimov the first psychohistorian? We never discussed that matter directly because it was never an issue. Psychologically he was awesomely acute and historically he was prodigious in what he knew and how simple and clear he could express it. He was a brilliant anthropologist, in my opinion, and his behavioral descriptions of mankind are so right on that readers often laugh out loud. If anyone hasn't read Asimov's Shakespeare and his The Bible they are in for a long and delicious feast. 


I often recall the Asimovian mind and how listening to him think aloud was like drinking from a fire hose.  Yet above and beyond the everyday ways of super-genius Jewishness (he felt that only Carl Sagan and Marvin Minsky were his intelligent equals or betters) there was something Spockishly ethereal and plugged into another reality, or actuality. He observed life on earth with the curious perspective of a compassionate alien and metrically he missed little or nothing. 

Whenever I think of Asimov, this story comes to mind: One day I asked Kate, my daughter, who she would most like to talk to of anyone living on Earth if she could, and she surprised me with "Isaac Asimov". I told her his UWS address near Central Park, gave her his telephone number. But what with her school work and assignments and whatever, she didn't make an appointment right away, and before you know it he was dead (1992). 

C'est va. He left a megaton of immortality behind. 

Barney



me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory
Other recipients: kfuchsman@gmail.com

Lloyd deMause. Emotional Life of Nations.

Lloyd deMause. The Origins of War in Child Abuse.

Joseph Rheingold. Mother, Anxiety and Death: the catastrophic death complex. (and not just for its title!)

Patrick McEvoy-Halston. Draining the Amazons' Swamp. (by a virtual unknown, who saw the 'horror' and returned to talk about it)

Teri Apter. Difficult Mothers.

John Updike. 

Add that all up and shake it around a bit, and you've got my psychohistory drink of choice. 


Barney
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Dear Jim,

You may recall some of these observations by Asimov:






Joel Markowitz
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Dear Barney,

Asimov was, of course, unique.  No one has ever approached his verbal productivity-- nor, we might say, his fund of factual knowledge.

His wife said that he was always at his typewriter.  But that doesn't begin to explain his unique talents, his productivity, and knowledge.

I would always read his notes on Shakespeare before going to a Shakespearean performance.  It's uncanny that he had the time and energy to dig up information about those productions 

that no other critic seemed to know.

But he was not psychohistorical.   One evidence (and I noticed several) was his take on that (perhaps) greatest of literary debates: Hamlet's motivation.

Asimov accepts the traditional explanation.  (So did Coleridge and other very good critics.)  They  largely accepted Hamlet's explanations.

( Except for some Russian critics.  Their understanding was bizarre. )

Shakespeare intuitively knew better than to believe Hamlet.  One is EXTREMELY grateful for his inclusion of the scene in which Hamlet approaches Gertrude's bedroom-- and for his behavior in her bedroom !!!

It's fundamentally unnecessary to the play.  But it does compel us to believe that it was Hamlet's extreme oedipal conflict that destroyed him.

------------------------------------

Clio isn't happy with my focus on oedipal determinism.  Clio members may roll their eyes when I return to it again and again to emphasize its fundamental role in our development-- individually and collectively.

But that will continue to be my role in this group.

Joel


Joel Markowitz
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Patrick,

You write that I don't persuade you.  Let's speculate on why I don't-- and won't-- "persuade" you; nor will you persuade me (re: e.g., deMause).  We will most-probably keep our opinions-- as Clio will probably 

keep its (collective) opinion.

That will probably be the case for the same reason that Freudian-based thinking hasn't persuaded far more people than it has over more than a century.

Which has nothing to do with intelligence.  Einstein's theories are enormously difficult to understand; yet many physicists and mathematicians have-- by means of enormous effort-- been able to understand them.

That so many people can do advanced calculus gives me great respect for human intelligence.  For our ability to understand...

Freudians will say that our RESISTANCE to Freudian theory has to do with RESISTANCE.  Opponents condemn that theory as contrary to the laws of Logic.  Which it is.

To understand Freudian-based determinism is far more important to humankind than to understand Einstein's theories; yet Freudians insist that humans are still resistant.

Why?

Why will some people insist on Mother's PRE-OEDIPAL role as being of primary important in our later development-- while others will emphasize the primary importance of the Oedipus Complex-- and Father?

----------------------------------------
  
The Freudian-based answer would be that the Christian Era still compels us to avoid oedipal determinism.   The Christian Era mindset permits us to emphasize pre-oedipal dynamics-- i.e., mother's nurturing role.

We are still forced to repress and avoid conscious knowledge of phallic fantasies and impulses.

And that that influence still dominates our thinking.

( "Phallic fantasies and impulses" are:  the genetically-based need in humans (and other higher mammals) to defeat-destroy-replace Father and possess Mother sexually. )  

According to the Chr. Era, such alpha-male strivings are OK in wolves, lions, baboons, etc.  but God made us superior to /different from animals.

deMause (and so many others) are ALLOWED TO say that Mother is so much more-fundamental than Father because Mother's PRE-OEDIPAL and ASEXUAL love is nurturing and innocent.  

The Christian Era permits non-oedipal thinking.

---------------------------------------------

Mother's pre-oedipal influences are very powerful in shaping much of our earliest development; no one denies that.   But following the brief oedipal 4-year-old period, the boy heavily represses and suppresses his investment in Mother.

Father is the threat-- and is fundamental to his future.  To  establish an effective alliance and identification with Father becomes his preoccupation.  He unconsciously sees his survival and successes dependent on that focus.

Again: the other higher mammals demonstrate that far more-clearly.  The male cub quickly outgrows his need for nurturing from mother.  He wrestles and mock-battles with other cubs in preparation for his challenge of

the alpha-male-- i.e., Father.    If he can win that crucial battle, he can mate all the females; if not, he may never have a sexual experience.  ( Many male lions, wolves, and baboons never mate. )

Sexual need creates the mating season.  But the ongoing preoccupation of mature males is with Father and the hierarchy of males.  Mating with females is taken for granted.

Similarly with people (though this is changing).  Throughout history, wars and the male hierarchies dominated human affairs.  Female influences were avoided and even feared as "feminizing" the group.

The universal (and not unrealistic) fear was that a "feminized" group would be easily conquered.  Males congregated with males, and groups exaggerated male-stereotypical thinking.  It was with men throughout their lives, 

and was institutionalized in groups as a fundamental principle.

--------------------------------------------

Because we're in a Transition heading toward mature psychosexual development, that latent-oedipal ("preadolescent") principle is changing.  The psychosexual period following preadolescence is maturity.

As we evolve toward mature thinking, the importance of women is increasingly acknowledged.  Women's Liberation announced that would be the case 40+ years ago.

That unique change is happening and escalating, not primarily for moral. but for practical reasons. Natural selection favors groups that  increasingly exploit women and female influences.

But this change is very recent.  It has a long way to go.  This Transition also has a long way to go.

-------------------------------------------

In this Transition, humankind is distributed in a spectrum extending from the Christian Era toward advanced preadolescence and early maturity.

We all occupy different positions on the spectrum--  of how far along we are toward post-Christian-Era thinking.   

I have a brilliant acquaintance who lives like a scholarly monk.  He's far more scholarly than I could ever be, and it's delightful to discuss issues with him.  

Soon after I first met him, he made a remark that seemed to me to be strange.  I asked him why he thought that what he said was realistic.  He said-- matter-of-factly, "It's in the Gospel."  ( Of course, I changed the subject.)

We must keep in mind that over the past two thousand years, the most-esteemed people were  the monks and nuns.  They MOST-actively suppressed oedipally-based fantasies and impulses.  

Natural selection eliminated celibate groups.  The Jewish, Christian and Moslem groups were ingenious enough to reproduce, despite the preadolescent injunction against sexuality.  

--------------------------------------------

As a therapist, I find it necessary to know this and to use it with my patients.  I help my patients deal with their formative years' derived guilt, fear and other symptoms (which afflict them from within).

I also help them deal with the Christian Era influences that broadcast to them throughout their lives (and afflict them from without).

What about Clio and Clio's membership?   

Clio has survived several years now.  It has been productive of some interesting discussions which its members have enjoyed.  In their brief existence, websites have proven to be enjoyable sources of self-expression, debate, comradeship, 

and ideas.

We've discussed history and current events-- often with intelligence and scholarship.  

Clio has, I believe, been of benefit.  But I don't accept its claim that it deals with psychohistory.   If it were truly working toward becoming psychohistorical, it would accept that as a fact.  


Joel




me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Jim, I think I've heard of deMause hurting people's feelings by IDing them mini-deMauses. He can be testy, and angry at perceived abandonment. I really doubt it had anything to do with Asimov, just people avoiding everything he was saying as if it was radioactive. DeMause references french scholars like Barzun and uber-literate writers like Updike: I don't know how much pop American culture was his thing, nor how much of his upbringing was him and Heinlein. You guys might know. Asimov has written that he hates kids, so the association would be ironic. 


Alice Maher
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May 6


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Would the group be willing to read one paper and discuss it together, so we can outline the issues in the field and our own differences?  Long reference lists of books aren't anything I have time or interest to invest in, but a paper that's seminal but also somewhat controversial (DeMause?) could lead to an important and useful dialogue.  Any ideas?  Obviously I would prefer a paper with a link so it can be easily accessed.

On a different note, I have a question for Joel.  You may have talked about this before, but I'd like to ask you how you see radical Islam and ISIS in the context of your "Christian Era" model.


Joel Markowitz
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May 7 (23 hours ago)


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Very briefly, Alice, having been uniquely successful from their onset, the Moslem group didn't feel the need to repress primitive fantasies and impulses.  They enjoyed acting on them for centuries.

While they indulged their needs far more than did Christians and Jews, there was a terrible disadvantage.  They expended those primitive elements and energies.  The highly repressed Jews and Christians sublimated them creatively.

In time, Christian sublimations of those stored energies led to impressive Christian progress in all areas (e.g., the Moslems never had a Renaissance)--  including military progress.

After their defeat in the 16th C., the Moslems withdrew from the contest.  As the world "grew smaller," Christian groups didn't leave them alone, but took over their territories and resources.  

The Moslem situation deteriorated for centuries.

On 9/11 we saw evidence of Moslem rage-- not only for having been exploited for centuries, but-- even more painful-- for having been demeaned by Western groups over that long period of time--

and as a result of extreme feelings of inferiority.   

The most-angry and paranoid Moslem elements have dominated Moslem-group functioning following 9/11.


Joel


jhsturges
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May 7 (11 hours ago)


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Barney and Joel,

What a treat!  I had no idea that my Asimov reference would be treated with anything other than disdain on this list.

I have not read Asimov's Shakespeare; but, will certainly rectify this situation in the very near future.

Barney, I'm envious of your personal relationship. Asimov would also be on my short fantasy list of people to have dinner with. I am pleasantly surprised that you report he had psychological insight, as this was not really evident in his fictional account of psychohistory; but, of course, his analysis of Artificial Intelligence (well before its time) was profound, and is still given consideration today in the development of what are referred to as "Autonomous robots" -- meaning robots that can make their own decisions, potentially even to kill.

As Asimov elucidated, the Three Laws, as simple as they appear to be, can be very difficult to apply for a mind that can only think in 1's and 0's.

————Jim


Alice Maher
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May 7 (10 hours ago)


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Psychohistory

Thanks, Joel.  Am I the only person here who thinks Joel's idea is very original and very cool?  


————————


drwargus
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May 6



Alice, this article might fit the bill. 



Alice Maher
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May 7



Thanks for the suggestion, Bill.  Looks intriguing.  Would the rest of the group like to discuss this over the weekend? 



Brian
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May 7



I think this is as good a starting point as any for discussion and will comment on the article in detail this weekend.  Thank you for resurrecting the idea of a common text, Alice.  This one is so short and accessible that it can be read in a few minutes.  The piece is not psychohistorical, but it raises psychohistorical questions, such a global violence, that interest us.  It has the virtue of putting forward a big picture of what is wrong with the world and answers this question in terms of institutional factors.  I think it will be a useful exercise to ask how we, as psychohistorians, would go beyond this level of analysis.  

Some of us think institutional factors are unimportant and see psychohistory as a substitute for the kind of analysis this article provides.  My own view is that institutional factors are just as fundamental as psychological factors, and that psychohistory supplements rather than displaces the kind of analysis presented in this article.  In the past, our efforts to talk about these different pictures of psychohistory were hanging in the air and went nowhere because we didn’t have a common text and a specific theory on the table.  If we all read this article, we can have a more informed discussion with a well-defined thesis to critique.

Brian



Ken Fuchsman
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May 7 (23 hours ago)



Bill,

The article is certainly political, there is not much historical here, and I didn't notice anything that was psychological or psychohistroical.  What made you think this might be a good common text for us to read?


drwargus
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May 7 (23 hours ago)



All politics is psychological and this is speaking to psychological and cultural development. As life conditions change, the human institutions must develop and become more complex. I believe this is much of what Lloyd talks about in his developmental stages. If psychohistory is to remain relevant, I believe that it must be able to contribute to discussions like these.



me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 7 (23 hours ago)


Other recipients: drwargus@aol.com

The QDDR proposes a number of ways to improve its focus on these issues. For instance, it proposes a new investment on data-driven forecasting designed to predict conflicts and mass atrocities. If State Department diplomats have a better way of knowing countries are most at risk of serious violence, the theory goes, they can know where to invest resources in order to prevent those conflicts from getting worse.

This is what deMause provides.Those who had the least warm childhoods, those who had the least-loved and therefore least-loving mothers, will have learned that their own individuation and self-growth is "spoiled" and a bad thing, and if life "provides" them such anyway, they'll eventually need to re-bond to a maternal entity -- a mother nation, a maternal group ... whatever -- become her good boys and girls, and destroy everyone they've projected their own "sinful" vulnerability and striving selves into. The task will be to see if those most qualified by their emotional temperament to do so, will finally shorn themselves of their need to make everyone they've protected from neanderthal rightwing minds in their own countries as people of grace, courage and thorough beauty. 

This is not a sure thing. Salon's progressive editor, Joan Walsh, has admitted that mostly black Americans, for example, spank and hit and intimidate their children (Brittney Cooper, a leading black intellectual who contributes at her site, has said this straight-up, and argued that she will endeavour to do no such thing herself) -- that this has been going on for generations. But, she maintains, this has only been to prevent their children from getting killed by white masters if they appear too uppity. That is, she maintains who they are in fact are the most brave and loving of mothers, who do the very last thing they would do in the world, only because they love their children so much they did even this, to save them. 

It's nonsense. Liberals shouldn't need this to create an egalitarian, progressive society, that tolerates the abuse of no one. But the majority just can't do it ... I think because they experience some weird feeling that if peoples really were capable of this kind of damage, and there was no better reason for it other than they were angry or disinterested or just plain brutal or just didn't care, then these people maybe ....deserve scorn and hatred

... and sensing this, what-would-prove, self-oblivion for a moment arising in themselves, they lock in firm to seeing those whom they want to love and respect as more noble than you could ever imagine. And they'll fight you to the death if you diss them for it. 

In case I wasn't specific enough, what we need to do is chart childrearing across the globe -- levels of unlove and brutal treatment -- as well as areas of growth. If societal progress is becoming marked in any region where the childrearing wouldn't allow for it, these peoples will go 1930s provincial, new-things-hating, well-loved-people hating, Nazi. 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 7 (23 hours ago)


Other recipients: drwargus@aol.com

"mostly" should have read "most".


my apologies.

If you'd like a link to Joan Walsh's article, it can be found here: 

If you'd like to read what Brittney Cooper wrote about black childrearing, you can find it here


dr.bobstern
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May 7 (22 hours ago)



"...better governance"
What came up for me was that at all levels, from personal to global, humanity's rational ability for self-governance, to plan for the future, rely on facts and analysis, delay immediate gratification (governance over the selfish, immediate),  has been short-circuited by inflammatory politics, ideology, greed, fantasy.  And media technology has accelerated this degradation of self-discipline by allowing manipulators of human passion a powerful platform to inflame.

Here at home, we should be worried about our domestic future, as there seems to be no longer a commitment by electoral losers to be the "loyal opposition."  American politics has become a competitive zero-sum game where, at least for Fox News Republicans, governance is not a priority: winning the competition by whatever means necessary and undermining the opposition by whatever means necessary... is.



mfbrttn
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May 7 (20 hours ago)



In response to this article...  
Some years ago I participated in a conference of political scientists at Rutgers University, and heard one professor sum up  the tenor of things in his field as the Cold War was closing down:  "Understanding international relations from here on out reduces to the study of cognitive psychology."  As a therapist, I was struck that he said this at all, and that his sense of the psychology crucial to understanding such matters as historical violence and its avoidance lay with cognitive psychology only, and did not include anything from the clinical realm, from developmental psych, from psychoanalysis, etc., etc.  That said, on to the article... This is a first draft, so I apologize for it not being tighter.

In reference to this article, I am reminded of two of James Scott's books, Seeing Like a State, and The Art of Not Being Governed, where he suggests that there has from the first been a disconnect between the way governments map the societal world and the ways people informally work life out.  The close-to-the-ground realities of life are less conceptually neat than what the state cares about in terms of ability to assess and collect taxes, etc.  The state proceeds at a more conceptual, reduce-life's-complexities-so-we-can-manage-them, big picture level; ordinary life is woven out of the fine grain of everyday reality, with lots of variability -- personal and local relations perspectives are everything.  In my recent work with government managerial approaches, I see the tendency toward that gap over and over.  

With the best of intentions (or not), what goes on at the big level is not in contact with what goes on at the actual-life level. Louis Wirth (reported in Jack Saul's Collective Trauma, Collective Healing) wrote about this as an ecology of human relations, with a "meso layer" of organization required between the micro layer of lived life and the macro layer of these large institutions. There needs to be a linkage between the centers of policy and power on the one hand, and the people who live with the impact of those decisions on the other. That layer consists of intermediary organizations.   In my work currently, we are discussing the intentional creation, the building-in, of opportunities for "empathy-walks" between the larger layer and the actual people with the actual difficulties government is trying to address.  Rightly or wrongly, I read the state department's "fine bore" approach (as reported in this article) as a shift in that direction.  State does not propose to alter its fundamental aims, its structure, and it does not propose empathy either.  What it proposes is the currently idealized use of data mining to pick up on clues that conditions are ripe for violence in one place or another, so that prevention (whatever that might mean) can be initiated.  Data-mining may invite a tilt toward use of empathy in two ways:  determining what the categories are to pursue in the mining, and getting to know what's actually going on in a given locale or region such that these clues are being generated.  If you don't use empathy at both these stages of data mining work, reality will tend to surprise you; that may press state toward empathy in this project, just as social media may as well.  


In regard to the tension between institutional and psychological readings of historical matters, a long standing dialogue here at Cliopsyche.. I am reminded of Bergen and Luckman's work, the Social Construction of Reality, in which two perspectives always are operating, and no sociological phenomenon can be understood without both.  One is the perspective from the top, from the macro or institutional level, and the other is from the bottom, from the level of the individual.  

Systems thinking (e.g., Peter Senge's work) suggests that institutions and other large scale systems may be initiated by individuals working together, but systems/institutions can take on a life of their own and run away with us, creating consequences we do not intend -- and carrying us right along with them, perhaps with conviction we're doing the right thing and perhaps with a sense of being appalled by a current of events from which we cannot extricate ourselves, as in the Cold War.  Systems can own us, in part because here and now so many people's lives are  organized around them:  these are the roles we play in each others' lives and this is how we do it.  As Durkheim, and Berger and Luckman, argue:  this gives social/cultural arrangements a solidity much like nature seems to have.  This is "reality" to us because everyone else believes it is and acts accordingly.  And that creates the contexts within which lie the choices we can make, no matter what our childhood was like.  Childhood may change, but systems live on through their sheer durability, at least for awhile.  (This being the macro-down perspective.)

In addition, because institutional contexts are everyday reality for adults, the tenor of life within those institutions is reality for that very large subset of adults who are parents (practically everybody)... And that makes it the reality that infants are born into and children grow up in. For them, as Berger and Luckman note, this is how the world has always been, much as the sun's rising, the mountains standing there, etc.  Institutions are unquestionable, taken for granted (unless parents thought otherwise).  As adults we figure out our options within the roles, mandates, values, etc. of those institutions.  Institutions thus have a kind of cognitive hold on us.  In addition to that, current neuroscience research suggests that the emotional states of parents in response to the world as they know it become part of the fabric of the emotional self of children:  If the world is perceived and presented by parents as violent, controlling, gentle, empathic, or whatever, that becomes the experience children encounter and absorb emotionally, making it the foundational experience children have as to "what it means to be human around here" or "how I must go about dealing with others" -- which then becomes the core of how the child-grown-into-adulthood will be prepared to treat various parts of the human world when he or she grows up.  The macro world thus cycles through parent-child relations into the intimate world of DeMause; but equally, the intimate world of DeMause cycles forward through children's growing up and enacting what's been absorbed into the choosing of options in adult historical circumstances, the initiation of policies, the shaping of historical actions.  Childhood's early emotional relational experience thus cascades forward into the shaping of historical life some decades in the future.  Both dynamics reinforce each other, or create possibilities for change in each other.  This is not best understood as an in the moment snapshot, but rather as an across-generational-time dynamic.  But both are leverage points for intervention.  Change needs change at both levels:  the impact of adult situations on children, the acting out of a past-childhood onto adult decisions affecting historical life in the present.  What happens in childhood emotionally and relationally plays a powerful role in historical life, in this complex way.  However, you can also look at the institutional level apart from childhood and the emotional templates carried forward (a very measured way of expressing such powerful passions, attachments, distresses and loves).  

System dynamics are not only an interplay of levels, they are an enactment of motives having to do with control and power.  That makes them enormously consequential for real life.   Historical actions are in part re-enactments of prior experiences relating to love or control, violence and power, from early life, from teen age years, and from early adulthood (as Jervis showed many years ago).  And adulthood very often gets enacted onto or transmitted to children, who will then be prone to "speak" of those matters via action as adults in various institutional settings when they move into leadership roles.  (Cf. also Alice Miller).  That is the emotional dynamics from childhood side of it.  It is multi-generational, cascading forward, creating a kind of lag between what children were steeped in and when they will enact it on the stage of history.

The other side is that the institutions within which or against which historical actions will be initiated have dynamics of their own and can run away with our lives.  From the point of view of the ecological movement, the cumulative impact of myriad little decisions whose pattern is created by consumer capitalism has nothing to do with what ordinary folks want to bring about, but is bringing about those dire circumstances all the same.  And, also on this side of things, and pertinent to Brian's line of thought, I am reminded of Hans Morgenthau's analysis of power as the purpose of politics, the instrument by which those who govern make things happen, the tool they are forever sharpening, the motive for positioning for future conflicts, etc.  Here too, very different from Peter Senge's runaway system dynamics perhaps, is the dynamic of power pushing itself in certain directions just because that's what power as a context is about.

So there are two dynamics, each complex in its own right.  The childhood-to-adulthood dynamic has a complex, multi-generational dimension; the systems layer has both "systems dynamics" and "power dynamics" dimensions.  Instead of either-or, there seems to be a dialectic-over-time, with a built-in lag effect, in which these two complex layers interact, while yet being somewhat independent of each other.  Institutions as systems take on a life of their own, as Senge notes with his types of system dynamics and as Morgenthau spelled out in regard to political life.  Add in the reality that we are a world of many cultures, countries and peoples, all with our own overlapping and interacting institutions, and the possibility of system-run-away is clear, as also is the possibility of massive concentrations of power and wealth.  Things can move suddenly in ways the system-controllers are not expecting, as they can also move very rapidly in ways ordinary people are not expecting.  

The fact that things are organized in massive institutions, wielding enormous military, judicial-legal, and economic power, clearly creates enormous power differentials, leaving many people powerless and vulnerable to being killed, tortured, incarcerated, dispossesed, stolen from, exploited, abandoned, etc.  It is this enactment of ruthless, violent and exploitive power at the expense of the life-dreams, the hopes, the loves, the labors, the neighborhood connections, the communities, the cultural values, the physical intactness, the very lives of others, that brings to life the moral response, the caring, the sense of moral outrage, that says this all must be transformed into relationships in which respect for the lives of others prevails and organizes the particulars of institutional life, in which empathy and concern and generosity permeate the organizing and the policies and the conduct of institutions, a tying together of the work at the centers of power into everyone's ordinary lives in ways that are all about nurturing local family and community resilience and supporting life.  As Brian has articulated it, there needs to be a moral shift from harm-centered relationships between the macro and micro level, and genuinely collaborative relationships -- as in genuine worker-owned businesses, or truly collaborative worker-management businesses like the briefly successful Saturn car company.  This is the clinical goal if you will, a shift in how people encounter each other, engage each other, comprehend emotional life with each other.  It involves a coming out from the current managerial model that pervades governments and businesses for the most part, into a different way of being macro and micro together.  (It also involves a coming out from the pre-programmed emotional patternings of relationships and ignorance of emotional life that each upcoming generation absorbs from the adult world into which they were born, as Alice has articulated so beautifully.)  

How then to foster this kind of change?  There seem to be three levels of answers.  First, as Alice is pursuing:  education in emotional life and in how to do it better.  Not only does that help individuals and school systems do life better together, we can hope that as that thinking slips one way or another into the jetstreams of cultural discourse, it becomes a way of thinking more broadly accessible to institutional leaders, to media, and to the conversations, even among the powerful, about how power should be conducting itself.  Harmful power begins to yield because it loses legitimacy in its own mind, as in the release of Gorbachev by his military kidnappers in Russia not so very long ago.  

Second, as Brian argues, power yields to better ways because it can't get away with doing otherwise any longer, and that happens thanks to the development of a mesolayer of organizations that oppose the larger power of those at the institutional centers.  For example, there's a movement to teach town governments how to enact legislation prohibiting fracking within their boundaries (against which fracking businesses are mobilizing state-level legislation to prohibit town governments from exercising this kind of legal control over their own destinies).  This is the open battle of mid-level organizing against macro-level domination.  In situations of outright totalitarian control, Gene Sharp has a small how-to book for those who want to bring down the regime, hollowing it out by creating an alternative culture within, dramatic events that show the regime as powerless, etc.  Harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue.  In dealing with child soldier armies in Africa, one of the military-political strategies is to jump over an advancing army of children (in part so as not to have to kill them) and attack the adult commanders who are operating at the rear, thus making this particular calculus of power no longer safe and therefore no longer of interest; better to forget trying to raise armies of children on the cheap as they no longer make you invulnerable.

On the third level, perhaps, is the MIT Presencing Institute's ULab initiative, with 26,000 students worldwide engaged recently in an interactive web-based but also locally-sited, and person-to-person support group based, endeavor which tried to support people worldwide to take the reading of their own deeper sense of what is needed to transform this world and then setting out to do just that.  This is a form of seeding capacities for making culture anew, within governments and in the business world, to pioneer new ways of being institutions.  This is a world-wide revolution percolating from the top down so to speak, the generation of non-harmful forms of organizing economic liveliness and political life as well (Cf. the Presencing Institute's example in Indonesian politics.)  It is a bit like Gene Sharp's creation of an alternative culture as well.  The macro level can become coopted for other ways of operating by social innovators.  But the core power institutions themselves can also become populated by individuals with a different emotional culture who initiate new, more empathic, respectful and life-supporting ways of organizing their institutions because that's the wave of the future and the right thing to do. 

All of this reflects a number of clinical values.  These are moral values that transcend clinical work, of course.  But they do reflect the reality that clinical thinking, which permeates psychoanalysis as we would hope it would, is value-charged.   First, less physical violence is better.  Second, a shift from callousness to relatedness, empathy and concern is a good thing, not just as feelings but as the core of how actual relations are conducted. These both bear on human-to-human relationships, across the micro, meso and macro levels.  

Third, facing reality is better than denying reality when there are things that must be attended to and can be attended to.  This is interconnected with the fourth: self-care is better than self-neglect.  It is better to take care with real life than to indulge any number of alternatives, not only individually but as communities, peoples, countries, and globally.  These two  values bear especially on our human-to-Earth relationships.  

In short, it seems to me that the psychohistory discussions to date articulate a multi-leveled understanding of dynamics that are themselves multi-leveled, powerful, and interacting.  They suggest, to me, that there are multiple points of leverage in the system-as-it-is that can help the system-as-it-should-be emerge in its place.  All these interventions aim at the same enormous cultural shift toward a more mature, more fully human-capacity-based (empathy, foresight, moral sense) way of making life together.  All seem to me worthy of respect, worthy of investment, worthy of energy and commitment.  They seem different and yet natural allies in this great endeavor of cultural transformation.  Which, to return to where I started, is the point in clinical forms of psychology as contrasted with cognitive:  We are all about transformations in thought but also transformations of heart that engage real life, in its actual complexity, in ways that reflect greater wisdom and integrity within self, greater integrity in the conduct and shaping of institutional and everyday life together, greater empathy, concern and generosity, such that we grow in our shared resilience and do life better together.  (Cf. Jack Saul's Collective Trauma, Collective Healing).

Michael Britton



Barney
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May 7 (19 hours ago)


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Display images in this post - Always display images from Barney - Always display images in Clio’s Psyche

Dear Michael, 

"For example, there's a movement to teach town governments how to enact legislation prohibiting fracking within their boundaries (against which fracking businesses are mobilizing state-level legislation to prohibit town governments from exercising this kind of legal control over their own destinies).  This is the open battle of mid-level organizing against macro-level domination.  In situations of outright totalitarian control, Gene Sharp has a small how-to book for those who want to bring down the regime, hollowing it out by creating an alternative culture within, dramatic events that show the regime as powerless, etc.  Harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue.  In dealing with child soldier armies in Africa, one of the military-political strategies is to jump over an advancing army of children (in part so as not to have to kill them) and attack the adult commanders who are operating at the rear, thus making this particular calculus of power no longer safe and therefore no longer of interest; better to forget trying to raise armies of children on the cheap as they no longer make you invulnerable."

Altogether an admirable draft, in my opinion, maybe because I entirely can see what you mean in most of it. 

With the paragraph above I'd appreciate a bit of elaboration, especially the boldface statement. (What is the name of the little Sharp book?) 

I'm going to re-read the piece later so I can enjoy it twice.

Thanks,

Barney


Alice Maher
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May 7 (10 hours ago)



Bill, at the risk of being a bad girl and adding a 4th post for the day, I have to tell you that I really liked this article.  It resonates with me not just because it seems valid, but also because it helps explain differences in the way some members of this group feel about the perspectives of other members.  

"The world's institutions are no longer adequate for today's problems."

Some people here are focused on the "institution" of psychohistory.  They see it as provocative when some of us say that we need another, deeper, overarching model to help psychohistorians make a leap to addressing ancient and future problems in a way that opens the door to new insights and transformations.  Some of us - Brian, Ken, Denis - are focused on making psychohistory an intellectual, scholarly subject of study.  Others - me, Joel - want to trash the existing psychohistorical theories and figure out new ways of looking at old stories.

I found this article to be very helpful, not just in understanding the new global world order, but in understanding myself and the dynamics of our group.  I don't know what your understanding and intent was, but I'm grateful to you for sharing it.   


Brian
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12:04 AM (8 hours ago)



This gives my take on the article and responds to Michael.  The author is correct that the international system is not working very well—I think we all knew that already—but does not provide an analysis why.  If I am mistaken about this, would someone please summarize in one or a few sentences the author’s analysis of why the international system isn’t working?  He is reporting the findings of a State Department Report, so by extension it would appear that the authors of this report do not have an analysis either.

This is a familiar scenario.  It is called “The Emperor has no clothes.”  This report was written by people working for the State Department, so it is extremely unlikely that the authors of this report are incompetent or poorly informed.  I will leave it as an exercise for people on this list to figure out why the article contains no analysis of why the international system isn’t working.  There is a very simple answer to this question, but I don’t want to give it away before others have had a chance to work on this puzzle.

Given the absence of an analysis, why do I think it is worth reading this article?  Because it shows that the people running the State Department  recognize the need for global governance in order to solve the interconnected global problems that humanity faces.  Anarchy is not working.  Jim said that he thought world government would be tyranny.  Well, it certainly could take that form, but the same can be said of any government whatsoever.  Is the solution to abolish government, or is the solution to create institutions for keeping the power holders accountable?

Now for Michael’s post.  First, data mining seems to me like an extension of what already exists.  The CIA has long had a vast apparatus for analyzing information from all over the world and using it to predict what will happen in every part of the world.  Data mining just extends this apparatus.  The really important questions are how we change the purposes to which this knowledge is put.

Michael, your discussion of “the social construction of reality” is right on point.  In a previous post I suggested that we need to talk about the way social systems and individuals interact, which is exactly what you’ve done.  I argued that holistic explanations were the thesis for deMause, and his “methodological individualism” was the antithesis, and that we now need a synthesis that integrates systems and individuals.  Your thinking on this, including your discussion of the centrality of power, is exactly where we need to go as psychohistorians, in my opinion.  I was also glad to hear the name Gene Sharp in this discussion, probably the most important theorist of power in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Like Barney, I’d like to know the title of the particular book by Sharp you mentioned.

Finally, I love the way you think about the world and how to change it: “In short, it seems to me that the psychohistory discussions to date articulate a multi-leveled understanding of dynamics that are themselves multi-leveled, powerful, and interacting.  They suggest, to me, that there are multiple points of leverage in the system-as-it-is that can help the system-as-it-should-be emerge in its place.”  Right on!

Brian



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