Tag Archive | animals

Western Nihilism 3: Biology Versus Social Justice Warriors

Be warned: if you haven’t read Western Nihilism Part 1 and Western Nihilism Part 2, some of this may seem unsupported or even nonsensical. So the links are provided there, since we’re building off that framework with a more specific example.

See, I just read a 1400 word whine from a partner of Vice about how she’s totally judged because of her height, how her height makes her life difficult, and how she often intimidates people. The article ended with a link to a partner article about how standards of age are a form of bias. We’ve really reached this point, then? We’ve genuinely forgotten that we’re animals to the extent that we can’t recognize the real, primal, and largely uncontrollable reasons that we sometimes find tall people intimidating and short people adorable.

Little Things Are Cute

We’re programmed to think that little things are cute. This is part of the human operating system–it’s not a third party program that some people installed. We find kittens adorable, puppies adorable, and babies adorable, for the same reason we find one-inch figurines cute. Those things are immediately read as helpless, and that’s what we’re drawn toward (in the absence of imminent danger).

People finding you adorable because you’re short is a simple byproduct of how genes programmed us to protect our offspring. Because let’s be real a moment: what defense does a pooping, peeing, and crying baby have? None. It survives by two biological processes–the first I’ve already mentioned. Being cute is the baby’s first line of defense against the innate tendency humans have to discard things that cry and poop everywhere. The second is the parental bond, of course, but the parental bond can’t explain it all, because just about any human would do anything in their power to protect a baby.

Helplessness is generally what humans find cute–helplessness makes the thing precious to us, like kittens and babies. We recognize on deep, primal levels that these things cannot fend for themselves, and that this marvelous living creature needs our protection and love. This triggers endorphins to release in the brain and triggers, “Oh, my god, he’s so precious!” to come out of the mouth.

Just think about anything you’d call “precious.” Now think about anything you’d call “adorable.” There is a 1:1 correlation between those things: whatever you find precious, you’ll find adorable, and whatever you find adorable, you’ll find precious. This is just the way humans work.

Demanding that we cast off all of that biological programming and cease letting ourselves think short people are adorable is nihilistic. It’s an attempt to undermine, consciously ignore, destroy, or mitigate the very biological processes that cause people to like babies. So you having people say “You’re super cute!” isn’t really that big a deal, is it? Not when stacked against the evolution of our species and, hopefully, the continued evolution that happens when people find little things cute and when the perception of helplessness (being a kitten, being short, whatever) is what triggers the endorphin release that makes them gush over infants.

So get over yourself.

“I’m tall, so I intimidate people.”

Bull.

“I’m tall, and I intimidate people,” is what one should say. Being tall–within ordinary human limits, not talking about people like Shaq–is not inherently intimidating. If you’re intimidating people, it’s going to be because of:

  • Being very tall and very large (fat or muscular)
  • Body language.

It’s almost certainly going to be the latter. Most people don’t pay any attention to their body language, but doing so would fix these issues people are having. I learned in my last year of college that i intimidated the crap out of people. Muscular, wearing A-shirts (“wifebeaters”), wearing eyeliner, shaved head, intelligent, a bit over six feet tall… But it was my demeanor that intimidated people, not my height, intelligence, or any of the other excuses I could list to wriggle out from under the fact that my demeanor was intimidating people.

Of course I had a litany of viable excuses ready to go. Perhaps it was the chains on my Tripp pants? Maybe the eyeliner. Maybe the shaved head. None of those things were “on me,” and that’s the difference. “I’m just being myself, and I can’t help that, so if people are intimidated then it’s their problem, not mine.”

It wasn’t any one thing; it was the whole package that was “my presentation,” and it intimidated people. The biggest part of that was certainly my body language.

Height isn’t really an issue.

I couldn’t guess how many people I’ve met in my life, and I can only think of one person who truly intimidated me. His name was Joe, and he was the manager at a client’s office. He was enormous, possibly seven feet tall, and stocky. He had a deep voice and a No Nonsense attitude. Square jaw and square chin–looking at him was like looking at a cinder block that decided one day to grow a body. I avoided him whenever possible.

His height had little to do with that. It was the whole package (his demeanor) that was intimidating.

My ex-wife is now married to some old dude who is even taller than I am. We knew him for years (and no, there was nothing going on there–it seems she just latched onto the first guy she found after me), and I have never in the least intimidated by him. The drummer in my band then was almost the same height (I’d guess about 6’5″), and he was never intimidating, either.

Because it’s not about height. It’s about demeanor. It’s about the whole package you’re presenting, not one aspect of it.

Escaping Personal Responsibility

Seeing as they view personal responsibility as some deprecated, gross thing that should be rejected because “It’s everyone else with the problem, not me. I’m perfect!” it’s not surprising that we see here another way to lift blame from the one responsible (The one presenting the demeanor) and shifting it onto people who aren’t responsible (The ones witnessing the presentation).

If you made a PowerPoint presentation using terrible font choices and horrific colors, would you blame the viewers if they said your presentation sucked? “You’re just biased against people like me who love these fonts and colors!”

Sure, that’s true, in a limited, narrow, and asinine sense. There are biological reasons that we prefer complementary colors, largely due to how our eyes evolved first seeing only light and dark, then red and green (if I recall correctly), and then the other colors incrementally until we had the vision we have today. At the heart of it are more biological processes that we don’t have any control over. We like clear, readable fonts in vibrant, contrasting colors. Dark blue script fonts on a black background won’t be appealing to many people. And that’s not our problem.

It’s yours, because it’s your presentation.

We Are Animals

And we have forgotten that. We are compelled by genes and biological processes that we’re only beginning to understand, but the shocking revelation has been that it’s not really the survival of the individual that our subconscious minds care about; it’s the survival of our genes, which led to the term Gene Machines.

If you spit on everything that helped ensure the survival of those genes, then yes, you’re certainly being nihilistic. In and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but this nihilistic tendency is really starting to dominate western society. After all, we’ve legitimately reached a point where someone writes an article about being stereotyped because if one aspect of their demeanor, and how everyone else is at fault, and the writer isn’t laughed off the internet for being ridiculous.

Corporations, Communism, and Nihilism

I want you to imagine a group of people who communally share their resources. No one person owns anything; everything belongs to The Group, not to an individual. Each individual contributes according to the rules of the group, and they receive some restitution for their labor. There is a hierarchy in this group, however. At the top of the pyramid are elected people who set the policies that they are voted to set, and, though these elected people have authority, none of them can just take the group’s resources and run. Instead, what allotment of the resources these elected officials receive is determined by a sort of another group–a board of people.

When a person needs to use part of The Group’s resources for something, they fill out some paperwork, which is in turn sent to people who are higher on the totem pole, and someone approves or disapproves of the requisition. However, each person is guaranteed a specific amount of the resources as part of their labor agreement, and these guaranteed resources can be used in whatever way the individual wants. Strictly speaking, additional resources could be requisitioned for any reason the individual wants, too, but it’s more likely that a requisition will be approved if the request for additional resources is more an investment than a consumption.

What did we just describe?

Socialism? Communism?

Or a corporation?

We have to focus more on what things are than what they are called, and this is precisely why. If I were to tell someone that corporations are socialist in nature, I would be laughed out of the room. Yet here we are. The above description could describe either a communist society or the inner workings of a corporation. This is not a word game. It’s not a pun, and it’s not clever linguistics. This is what they are.

Putting anarcho-communism aside for a moment–because the majority of communists aren’t anarchists, and neither are most socialists–the one distinguishing factor between corporations and the socialist society would be that, ideally, in the socialist society, everyone’s personal “restitution for labor”–that is, “wages,” but I avoided that word purposely–would be equal.

This is always a question that we must ask the communist: do you truly believe that the McDonald’s worker and the President of the United States deserve an equal wage? Does the socialist truly believe that the Wal-Mart stocker and the Congressional official deserve an equal wage? For those rare individuals who would answer affirmatively, there is little more to be said; we cannot argue with people who believe that these people are making equal contributions to society.

The question of wages is a strange one, because we have not long been selling our labor in such numbers. Throughout most of human history, a person’s sold labor was a supplement; we did not buy food and clothing, because we grew our own and made our own. We sold our labor when we needed to purchase those things that we could not produce ourselves; when we needed to visit the blacksmith, for example. While there were blacksmiths, of course, who did primarily sell their labor as a means of living, they were still rare–artisans, craftsmen, and tailors constituted a middle class.

Recent times have redefined human society such that virtually everyone sells their labor, no one grows their own food, and your kids would be laughed out of school–you might end up facing criminal charges, as well–if you sent your children to school in clothing that you made. This is a relatively new state of affairs, though. Throughout most of human history, you put in the work to grow your own food and, if you did not, you starved.

This is where communists and socialists wholly break with nature. It is the responsibility of an animal to secure its sustenance, either through predation or production–hunting or gathering. That it would even be possible for one animal to contribute nothing to their own survival, yet still survive, is a new development. Remembering that compassion is a luxury, the Johnson family would not have been willing to share their food with the Lennox family when the Lennox family chopped down a few trees and proclaimed, “There. I tried.”

A fundamental truth has been lost in the nihilistic fervor of western society: the universe doesn’t give a fuck about us, we are animals, and it is the responsibility of an animal to ensure its own survival. In the event that it cannot, compassion should probably be afforded to the animal by those who can afford that luxury, if they so choose, but that we can have this conversation in the first place shows that we have lost all semblance of reason and sanity. What the hell do you mean that I must have compassion?

Suffering is made contagious by pity.

We have reached this point where we are today because of capitalism. Let there be no doubt about it. It was capitalism that allowed us the luxury of deciding that we must not send our four-year-old children to be maimed in glass factories. If you went to Victorian London, do you know what you would see?

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

During the Irish Famine it was not unusual for parents to sell their children. We look back on those 19th century atrocities and condemn them–as rightly we should–but we condemn them without understanding them. Parents sent their children to work in glass factories to be maimed for life because they had no choice. It was that or starve. Parents sold their children into slavery–or worse–because it was that or starve. What would you do, if you went back in time and saw these things happening? Would you come forward and outlaw it? Would you say, “No! If I see you sending your children to work in glass factories, I will throw you in prison”?

Then you would condemn them to death.

It was not legislation or happy feelings that put a stop to this practice. It was not people slapping their foreheads and proclaiming, “Oh, shit. You know? It’s probably not a great idea to sell our children.”

It was capitalism.

It was prosperity.

People stopped sending their children to be maimed in factories when it was no longer necessary, and shortly thereafter we condemned and outlawed it. It was a necessity born of poverty–a poverty that stretched back to the time when peasants grew their own food, something that had become increasingly unfeasible.

Look to China today. How much sweatshop labor and child labor is there in China today? Oh, there is still child labor and sweatshop labor, but it has been drastically reduced from what it was thirty years ago. People in China are now buying vehicles, building better homes, securing more stable electricity–why? Why are the Chinese prospering?

Because of capitalism.

We are such a curious species.

We use these tools to climb to such high plateaus, and then we cast off the tools and condemn them, insist that we don’t need them because we have better tools, and then we flounder on the side of the mountain, thrashing about and asking stupidly, “What went wrong? We had it all figured out!”

The greatest example of this is how Trump is being condemned for expressing that he uses his power, fame, and wealth to cajole women into sleeping with him. Even if Donald Trump never touched a woman without her consent, the same people would be condemning him, and for the same reason.

Fuck that.

Good for you, Donald.

We are animals–stupid, petty, violent, horny animals. Unfortunately, at some point during our evolutionary line we developed sentience, which in turn led to an out-of-control ego, which we immediately fed by convincing ourselves that we are anything but animals, despite all evidence to the contrary. All the evidence suggests that nothing but your own perceptions separates you from the chair you’re sitting in, and nothing but ego distinguishes you from the wolf.

The difference is that the wolf has forgotten what it is. It’s a stupid, petty, violent, horny animal, and it has no delusions about it. So the wolf survives, doing what it was programmed by biology to do. The wolf has no compassion because the only things the wolf could conceivably have compassion for is its prey–and it cannot be allowed the luxury of compassion for its prey; its own survival depends on it.

We humans, though… What is the soul?

The soul is two things. It is a delusion that we are immortal, and it is a symbol of our own vanity. Ask any person who believes they are immortal* whether animals have souls, and they will almost all answer the same: “No.” The soul is what allows this delusion to persist today, when, by all rights, it should have been cast off when it was proven beyond all doubt that personality is an electrochemical reaction in the brain, and that neither personality nor self exist external of the brain. Yet it persists, a delusion that we cannot let go of.

It is the greatest of ironies that, yes, we can be better. We can be better than the other animals with whom we share a planet and a lineage. We do have a sense of self, and we are afforded the luxury of compassion. It would be foolish to suggest that we forego this luxury in the name of some Neo-Luddism insanity. We are what we are, and “what we are” includes wonderful potential–a potential that has actualized and allowed us the luxury of compassion.

But we must not forget, as we exercise that compassion, that it is a luxury, and the very things which purchased that luxury are the very things we must control if we are to show compassion.

* Let’s not mince words about it–this is what advocates of “souls” are suggesting.