Sunday, December 7, 2014

Child Abuse, Violent Adults, Miller and Silber (Updated)

In response to Race Realism and Quantifiable Superiority, Sven writes:
I think Silber's psycho-social argument is very convincing too, so its hard to quantify the relative effects of nature and nurture.

Arthur Silber's arguments about "tribalism" (which he uses to mean primarily parentally-imposed conformity) are mostly an American retelling of Alice Miller's arguments. For those not familiar with Miller, she was a Jewish woman who managed to leave Germany before the concentration camps really began to fill. A heavily simplified summary of her work is takes on how excessive adult physical and emotional responses to children's behavior (abuse) tend to produce children who are reliant on, fearful of, and obedient toward authority. Famous primarily for her work on parenting styles during Nazi Germany, she and her supporters suggest that German traditions of emotionally and physically assaulting children created adults who were willing to idealize their parents in order to repress the truth about what their parents did to them, because to acknowledge the truth would be too painful. Ergo children must, as adults, revere authority figures who abuse them, because they've learned to believe that abuse is love. They had to believe that, to keep their minds intact after being raised with a desperate need for love from parents who treated them poorly. Parents who literally hurt them, in secret ways that go beyond what most people dare discuss in public.

Ergo Americans, Miller's argument might go: poor whites vote for Republicans who cut taxes on the rich and cut jobs for poor whites, and the laboring minority poor and white-ish middle class votes for Democrats who cut social benefits, raise taxes on the middle class, and ships all their jobs overseas. Actually, I guess it works out the same for either group, no matter what they call themselves or why they think they're doing it.

It sounds like a great argument, particularly in the context of fascist America or Germany; all the parts seem to fit. Why do these idiots keep cheering on those who abuse them? Because they have to. Their entire mind has been developed around the foundation, Those who hurt me and lie to me and fail me actually love me. They will spend the rest of their years vesting understanding and respect in some distant authority figure who goes out of his way to ruin their lives. They will violently resist any and all attempts at logic, because logic hurts so badly; to perceive that Obama lied about net neutrality or healthcare would be the same as perceiving that Mommy Didn't Love Me, and Thou Shalt Not Be Aware of that.

(Incidentally, I know a guy who's the heavily-beaten son of a Nazi and didn't turn out that way [so far as his associates know and his radically anti-authoritarian politics would suggest], but Miller would say he must've had a "helping witness" along the way, or just been an aberration for some other reason.)

Miller certainly had a point, but the parenting theoretically exhibited by many African Americans (e.g., a higher degree of physical coercion of children, on average, than whites) would earn more of her ire, rather than less.

And yet, African Americans are more likely to resist totalitarian regimes--even though, per Miller's work, they should be more conditioned to accept authority, rather than less. At the same time as Miller suggests that harsh German parenting made Germans susceptible to fascism, modern white supremacists suggest that non-white parenting makes non-whites less respectful of authority: more rebellious, more defiant, more likely to resist politicians and police officers. How the heck does that work out? Certainly, there's some correlation between violent upbringings and violent people, but not everyone (or not even most) who has passed through violence has become violent themselves. Rather, it seems more likely that some humans are violent, and there's always a way to retroactively justify it when it happens. This isn't to say that no aspect of hindsight is correct; rather, the African American experience shows us that political totalitarianism is more aided, not less, by the kind of touchy-feely helicopter parenting that docile middle class white populations offer, rather than the firm reality (if you will) that (in theory) more African American populations offer.

Anecdotally, we should all know older people who were raised by a belt or a switch, or who were raped, or whatever, and turned out to be either assholes, or normal, or incredibly sweet and almost pacifistic. For many people, surely, childhood repressions have shaped their personalities--but remember the story about twins who were separated at birth, then rationalized their cleanliness around the house by saying...first twin: "I guess my parents were so dirty I just had to be clean once I had a place of my own" Second twin: "My parents always taught me that cleanliness was the most important thing in the world."

No, not making an argument for genetic determinism. This one thinks Miller's scholarship has a lot of merit to it. But like analyzing the "why" behind African American family violence, the studies are often being used by the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, paid for by the wrong money, in order to get a bunch of proles to believe something. Even if black athletes were hit too many times as children--a truth--that doesn't mean the motivations, or social-policy conclusions, of the respected researchers are good or correct.

Miller's work is very interesting, but the application of her theories ultimately fails. Of secondary importance, there are several unfortunate problems with her personal and professional situation that may have contributed to this failure. Firstly, Miller is a suspected child abuser of the children that she had with her Roman Catholic husband shortly after World War II. One of her frightened sons initially lied to the public about how it had only been the father, and how Alice had intervened to help him; later in life, he changed his story to confirm that she had "been present," but "not intervened."

Uniquely Evil

Secondly, Miller's fame was wrought on the Anglo-American train designed to turn little truths into the new-Versailles-style of scathing explanations for Germany's loss. The retroactive crafting of the twentieth century's history has been one of blaming the "assassination of an archduke" and "accidental secret alliances" on the battle over a bunch of unspeakably filthy emperors to divide up Europe and Asia and Africa between themselves, where every party involved had concentration camps, assassination squads, and gunned enemy serfs into mass graves. And yes, Nazi Germany was a land of vile bastards--a suitably historical companion for the peasant-starving, Jew-beating, white supremacist, mass-imprisoning tyrants who ruled the other great empires.

American soldiers routinely anally-raped Japanese prisoners with glass Coca Cola bottles, beat them to death, and gang-raped all the Okinawan chicks they could get their hands on; if you want to remove the Asian from the equation, and just focus on the horror that comprised each of the empires of World War II, pick up a copy of Savage Continent, and read all about the British and French raping every woman and shooting every baby they could get their hands on after the peace had already been declared.

But Germany lost, so everyone else is sweet and lovely (except, sometimes, Stalin), and Germany becomes the unique shithole of the world. No one can say "Me so solly" on American TV anymore without being called a racist, but put some flamboyant actor in an Oktoberfest scene, give him the smarmiest "German" accent in the world, and suddenly, racism and bigotry is progressive.

Subhuman German Scum

Miller's career was built around the rationalization of Germany's "unusual" behavior--a case of intelligence agencies using science™ to prove that Germans were different. And they did that by using operatives like Miller to take basically-true things (such as, too much child abuse can hurt people psychologically) and twist them into targeted models. At first, this became Germany, early in her work. Later, as Germany once again become an industrial and energy powerhouse with cleaner streets and better medicine than America (and a bulwark against the then-latest completely unique evil, personified by the same mustachioed madman who sat with Emperor Churchill and Emperor FDR at Yalta), it became cool to use those analyses on others, but the unique hatred for Germany's interwar anti-interest banking policies cannot be let go by the world's great creditor-priests. So London and America have never stopped trying to obsess over how utterly unique and different Nazis were.

The lamentably obvious irony was that these critiques became, as such critiques must, eerily Hitlerian in their expression. If you're familiar with academic literature, for example, you'll know about Daniel Goldhagen--the Jewish academic from Harvard (which is not affiliated with the CIA) who is literally worshiped in some circles, for his conclusions that Germans are evil subhuman scum. Yes, you read that right. His Mein Kampf, a.k.a. Hitler's Willing Executioners, is almost a direct parallel to Hitler's work in its employment of collective judgment and discussion of ethnic purification and racial inferiority. (Goldhagen's parents, incidentally, just like Alice Miller's, managed to make it safely out of Germany just before World War II, so that they were not killed along with the gypsies, communists, homosexuals, and darker, poorer Jews.)

Goldhagen's work, like Miller's, has some merits, in that it discusses some of the ways that ordinary people can be led to commit atrocities by social conditioning. No reason to examine anywhere but Germany, of course, being that Germans are such an inferior race. Don't worry, though: academics continue their work on a final solution to those silly-accented Nazi clowns!

For other academic work on the subject, consider Lloyd DeMause. Of the three major figureheads we've discussed, his work is the most interesting, because he discusses the history of child abuse in great detail (although he sites it exclusively in the hands of individual parents, rather than where it belongs, in courts and various State organizations. Still, a great read, with a lot of interesting and useful research).

Subhuman Arab Scum

The British Empire turned the banks loose onto anti-banking Russia and China, then Africa (foothold via Palestine), almost immediately after it had crushed Germany, so during the twentieth century, we've seen not only the subhumanization of Germanic peoples, but also the same treatment levied upon Russians, Chinese, and Arabs. The major problem with the type of research that we've considered in this essay--Goldhagen, Miller, and DeMause--is that their conclusions all explain why Britain and America are essentially good, while Germany is essentially evil. Goldhagen is explicitly racist in his work, while DeMause is more indirect.

Here's one specific example: DeMause argues that British society was superior to German society because the British were kinder to their children. Now, in so making such an argument, he has to do a number of big, blinking things that give him away:

1) Ignore British workhouses and orphanages;

2) Ignore British colonies in Ireland;

3) Ignore the abandoned/exposed children of all western Europe, which were often called "gypsies" (or just Scotsmen or Irishmen) when they managed to fall in with a group and survive to adulthood.

If you know anything of any of those subjects, you know that there is nothing--nothing--Germany could have done to its children to outdo Britain. Of course, Germany did the same things as the other fascist empires throughout the 19th century; Germany created its own sub-class of "barbarians" and "traveling folk" by exposing (not in the "naked" way, but in the "left in the forest to die" way) unwanted infants. But DeMause, like Goldhagen and Miller, compares the worst German examples (the abuse or abandonment of children by working class Germans) to the best British examples (the governesses and expensive boarding schools of higher class Britons), and decides that, therefore, Britain (and by extension, America) was better with children than Germany, ergo more intelligent and smarter.

Updated: Pinker Modernizes Old Methods

The national security agencies' work in that time period mirrors that of Steven Pinker in the present. A brief bio of Pinker reveals that the renowned professor at Harvard [which is not affiliated with the CIA] self-identifies as a white-non-observant person of Jewish heritage, who married into a family that also produced some moderately-popular corporate authors and poets. By combining some genuinely good historical research on human behavior in one place, then selectively comparing it to choice pieces of modernity, Pinker, like the rest of the crew, uses the "half-truth" approach. The research is all real, but by omitting vital details, a plausible, well-supported narrative can be created; an isolated slice of evidence can prove, by ignoring the effectiveness of modern trauma wards, that deaths from assault actually are lower (and they are; see the latter link), but then twist that conclusion into an argument about moral improvement, rather than improved surgical equipment and faster EMT response times.

Child abuse in Britain, unlike Germany, came perhaps primarily from roving gangs of unsupervised children, nuns, teachers, and boarding school headmasters. Parents in Germany were likely to strike their own children, whereas Britain had begun the modernized process of delegating abuse to the 19th century's equivalent of "daycares"--terrible, starvation- and disease-ridden children's poorhouses, where children raped and molested and beat and killed one another. But that behavior doesn't appear in the record if security agencies look only at "parental" abuse. It also doesn't look at the proportion of abuse committed on street children by unrelated adults, which is a vast and staggering number in the London the world knew before Dickens showed up to portray a nicer version of the place.

In Germany, then, parents struck children for disciplinary purposes; in Britain, parents pushed children outdoors, where they were beaten and molested by older children and homeless adults, or "fagged" by older students in boarding houses as part of hazing rituals. Look only at recorded, biologically parental acts, and Germany seems to have a worse record of child-rearing. The whole picture, though, shows quite the opposite.

So too with modern America, where black fathers are statistically more likely than white fathers to spend time with their children. Generic white people leave their kids in filthy, overpacked daycare hells, where unsupervised bullies beat and terrorize younger, smaller, or queerer children; then, because their own hands are "clean," they can claim that they are better at raising children than people who actually raise children. This tactic is similar to how modern Americans (and Pinker) claim that they are less violent than regimes of old. Because their rape/torture/murder is more confined to "foreign policy" and "legitimate prisons" and "peace officers," a white community can congratulate itself on being "more peaceful" than a lynch mob of old Georgia--even when more people are being beaten and killed and raped overall, selective social partitioning can make the process appear cleaner.

That's all the more ghoulish a way to do it. In actuality, the deceptive sanitizing of our violent habits produces more violence, and more sustainable violence, along with a disconnect from reality that turns the world into a consequence-less game of Call of Duty XIII. (If you've come to the point where you understand that, it's time to take your own look at the connections between the people and methods used in the deliberate sanitization process.)

Resuming Subhuman Arab Scum

DeMause takes the dehumanization arguments of his fellows farther, calling Britain and America the most advanced, modern way of dealing with children. As opposed to those evil Chinese "tiger moms" we keep hearing about, who are subhuman and who force their kids to, like, study and learn to play the violin. (The one who wrote the recently popular book on the subject is not actually writing about her Chinese children, but her Jewish-Chinese-American children, who are the children of her husband the Harvard professor, and Harvard is not associated with the CIA, it's simply a private university.)

If you enjoy news about Palestine, you'll also be interested to know that DeMause says that American and Israeli children are peaceful, because of their parents' exceptionally good and advanced parenting practices. However, Arab children, says DeMause, are raised by mothers who emotionally abuse them. This is why there are suicide bombers. It has nothing to do with the military empires, oh no. It's because of bad minority parenting.

How can you get your children to be more giving, peaceful people? Teach them to follow the ways of the British and American Empires. Make sure they don't pick up anything foreign, or they might get violent.

What separates Balrins from Barians with regards accepting life as tax livestock? Is it that Africans genetics are, actually, more able to provide a sense of individual autonomy and collective responsibility than European genetics? Do African Americans apply corrective violence to children in a different way than German Americans? Do African Americans really abuse more heavily than whites, or are they simply more honest, because they haven't been taught, like whites, that you're not supposed to repress things?

Do "indigenous peoples" or "rediscovered tribes" really abuse children the way European archaeologists like to believe they do? How loaded are the questions that researchers ask, when they visit a tribe with money and supplies to learn about how corrective violence is applied?

When a child is struck by an adult in a tribe, as part of a necessarily swift lesson within a warm, functional community that proves its caring daily, is it a completely different act than when a child is struck by an irritated adult in an atomized modern family? Certainly. How does this interact with African genetics in making African American punishments more effective at causing children to respect individual liberties, privacy, and physical autonomy more than whites, who are so happy to be patted down by men in thick black armor? And if the Germans were just "the empire that lost" rather than "the uniquely evil empire," what does it say about Anglo-American universities funding so much research about how (1) African peoples are terrible parents because their children don't respect authority, and (2) German peoples are terrible parents because their children overly respect authority?


  1. Interesting!

    I really enjoyed Alice Miller, but I felt like she was missing a piece of the puzzle. I'm not sure what that piece is.

    As to black folks being less willing to comply with totalitarianism, I'm not sure that's quite right. There's a stereotype about uppity black folks that tends to taint the evidence, but I think they are actually more compliant, less willing to be defiant. To rebel for black folks would be to get an education, have some success, create a strong marriage, to defy the soft bigotry of low expectations. Many manage to pull that off, but many more simply comply with what the world is telling them.

    Abuse itself is tricky thing to define. Nature also kicks in there. From having kids, I can tell you that some of us just have a defiant spirit while others by nature are just fairly compliant. If you abuse a defiant one with any taint of hypocrisy, you can create a pretty powerful rebellion. So when defiant kids are abused, they simply become even more defiant and any compliance you see is simply superficial, them biding their time.

    I suspect the answer lies not in abuse, but rather in the degree of genuine healthy discipline. Those who are abused often have these discipline wounds they are constantly seeking to repair. So they will waffle between one extreme or the other, either desperate to embrace the authority they were missing in their childhood or desperate to rebel against any and all authority when they encounter it.

    1. Vis-à-vis "to rebel," by your standards, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama are rebels. They have a lot of success, a lot of education, and high expectations. In the post above, we're looking at rebellion in the context of rebellion against an unjust society--not rebellion against the television's purported "social expectations." If we posit that America is a defective, murderous empire, then those who resist that empire are superior to those who dutifully serve it in exchange for salaries.

      Compare the examples of (1) white Christian anti-abortion activists, who claim to believe that abortion is the murder of innocent babies, and (2) black civil rights advocates, who claim to believe that police killings of blacks are very often the murder of somewhat-innocent men, women, and children. What percentage of members of each group (white Christian anti-abortionists v. black American anti-police brutality activists) have done the following:

      1) Physically resisted/assaulted State agents whom they feel are violating their rights;

      2) Engaged in mass civil disobedience, harming their future financial opportunities;

      3) Attacked State agents (licensed law enforcement officers or doctors) in empathic physical defense of the perceived injustice against another human being (embryo or fetus or post-birth black victim);

      4) Gone to jail for their cause;

      5) Forgone employment, and their own personal comfort, in favor of agitating for systematic change in a consistent, defiant, public way?

      Very few of the (1) group have done any of those things. There are occasionally small, peaceful protests against Planned Parenthood, and a few killings of abortion doctors, but those figures are absolutely nothing compared to how often blacks are willing to destroy the rest of their lives by becoming felons for defying what they see as a murderous police state.

      This is the same murderous police state that, to some anti-abortionists, kills so many babies per year. And yet, they don't resist it, even on the behalf of tiny babies, while blacks will shout and march by the thousands when the State kills a twelve-year-old, or even a seventy-year-old.

      To recognize that difference doesn't mean that anti-abortion whites and/or anti-police blacks are correct. However, it does show that blacks are more likely to act in congruency with their beliefs.

      If you actually believe that abortion is murder, and that doctors are killing X thousand infants a year, yet your resistance is limited to online posting, your character-trait "willingness to resist what you perceive as evil" is quite insignificant. American blacks, though--for right or for wrong--are far more willing to tear apart the streets, shove and threaten cops, and physically resist what they see as injustice. Maybe they're wrong, but on the whole, they're more willing to put their own bodies in harm's way to stand up for what they believe in. If white Christians had done that with abortion at the same rates of population percentage as blacks resist police brutality, it's quite possible that a constitutional amendment would've occurred by now.

  2. This is the problem, "blacks are more likely to act in congruency with their beliefs. " But who's beliefs are they really acting on??

    "...they're more willing to put their own bodies in harm's way to stand up for what they believe in..."

    They are also led to shoot each other in appalling numbers. So rather then a noble act of putting oneself in harms way to prevent injustice, I just see a whole lot of people blindly following the societal expectation that says, do everything you can to destroy yourself, destroy your neighborhoods, and kill each other off. They are rising to an expectation, a stereotype, (or sinking to one) somewhat mindlessly, rather then actually acting in their own best interests. So they have been so played, so manipulated into behaving a certain way, which then gives the state the justification it was looking for in the first place.

    1. Everyone shoots each other in appalling numbers (except, apparently, the Fins and the Japanese, or other similar places. In America, most murders are committed by people who know each other, ergo more blacks kill blacks just like more whites kill whites.

  3. Minus exceptions below, all of what you say is true, but I suggest you look at Silber rather than Miller, there is a reason I didn't just link Miller. Arthur Silber isn't paid by anyone, in fact he's about to starve to death and become homeless in March as of February 17, and relies entirely on donations from readers. He's also not suspected of child abuse, is not going to win an imperial award or press time anytime soon, and almost entirely writes about U.S. warcrimes, internal oppression, and what he calls the current U.S. descent into hell. He isn't a hypocrite as far as anyone knows, even if his heroine Alice Miller is. The kind of touchy feely helicopter parenting middle class white people do is much of what Silber is talking about. The example he uses in the Ravages of Tribalism is actually a middle class, probably white, American mother writing a feel good and very popular positive piece about her successes in abusing her child, for the Daily Kos. He isn't talking about violence specifically, so much as mental scarring and obedience indoctrination under threat of implied withdrawal of love by the mother, which the child interprets as implied withdrawal of life, which can be done with or without physical force, and which may be more effective without it because its more difficult for the victim to recognize (in Silber's case, his mother explicitly regularly told him she was going to kill him, as I understand it he was almost given shock therapy, and eventually abandoned for being gay as well- quite a common decision among white middle class American parents of gay and trans children today, see Leelah Alcorn, etc., etc., not to mention anyone else who violates systems of family, government, "political", and in some cases religious control significantly). He's attacking exactly what you say Miller should have.

    Hmm, first off most antiabortion advocates aren't so much pro-life as they are pro-birth, in the sense that they could really give a fuck what happens to children after they are born, whether those children live in poverty, are malnourished, or die, typically these people are the same ones fighting to slut shame single mothers, cut off payments to keep poor people and poor single parents from starving or not having (positive forms of) daycare, and supporting policies that ensure the poor don't get a living wage, imprison mothers who give birth to drug addicted children in Tenessee, and put them in the even worse foster care system, where they will be abused and put on more drugs, etc., etc. That isn't universally true, there are a small number of genuinely pro-life people out there who support various ways to help people after they are forced to give birth, and then also pro-choice feminists who oppose abortion for themselves, discourage others, but are activists for the mother's choice. I mention all of this because I think its better to contrast that black people generally actually have the motivations they state they do, i.e. not getting killed or seeing other black people killed. In contrast, the pro-birth crowd may genuinely believe they are motivated by opposing what they see as murder, on the other hand they may be lying or in denial, and actually be motivated by a desire to control women's bodies, restrict their lives, and uphold the virgin/whore dichotomy by punishing women who have sex in anything other than a situation where their bodies, finances and futures are controlled by men in a property marriage or romantic-happy-property marriage. Or perhaps a range of less completely dominated forms thereof. In that case, it isn't very surprising they don't use the same tactics: why would you sacrifice yourself when you aren't personally in danger and the whole point is domination and/or making sure you get seen as a good good good moral virgin, so very different from all them bad bad bad bad sinful whores (i.e. domination and self-policing due to internalized misogyny)?

  4. The inJustice Department does actually say that black people are convicted of 52% of of homicides, primarily of other black people they say. Part of that is definitely the nationwide disproportionately white, racist police force catching and framing black people more, and doing "quality of life policing" of black neighborhoods, but its still a high number, provided they didn't just make it up, which I'm pretty sure they can't do out of thin air because of consistency issues and fact checkers (I'm not sure, widely read journalists are all corporate controlled, and no one reads academia, so its possible). Its also difficult to separate how black children are raised by racist U.S. society as a whole from how they are raised by their parents specifically, and until you do that, its difficult to compare the effect of differences in parental actions with white children who aren't experiencing systemic discrimination and institutional racism. That isn't to disagree or agree, you could still be right that this invalidates Miller and Silber, I'm just not convinced yet. Provided they merely are angry in an atomized way, and don't actually organize effectively and consistently (as black people may now be doing), it's also probably useful to have black people as a bogey man for white people so they will see black people as deserving the racism which conveniently makes them have to be low wage labor for corporations and the state which abuse, exploit and kill all of them, but especially poor black people.

    1. The evidence invalidates the parenting portions of Miller's/Silber's arguments to some degree, but their arguments are still really good ones. It seems more likely that they were on the right track, but failed to sufficiently refine their criticism. E.g., "Heavy physical and emotional discipline during parenting can cause a strong commitment to either good or bad ideologies." If the ideology is bad--say, supporting a mass-murdering state--then the parental discipline looks worse by comparison, whereas if the ideology is good--maintaining individual dignity even when threatened otherwise by a mass-murdering state--then the parenting techniques might start to look acceptable, or even necessary.

      The problem with singularizing the Nazis for these types of arguments is that it fails to distinguish between the Third Reich and the whole rest of the Euro-American war cartels, almost all of which have not changed or vanished since World War "2." Unfortunately, at this particular juncture in history, we're supposed to find the Nazis unique.