Self And Selfishness In Predatory Explanation

To look at it from the opposite end, Predatory Explanation involves an uncompromising denial of the doctrine preached by almost all the religions, that there is something nasty in the heart of humankind per se. As of course there must be. How could it possibly be otherwise?

All life on Earth is based on ferocious competition, from the level of “the selfish gene” on up. When bacteria combine to create cells, and cells combine to create organisms, competition is merely shifted to another arena. The tranquil forest is, for example, a slow-motion war in which trees strive to poison one another and shade each other out; birdsong is a form of territorial deterrence; and so on. Living things are out for Number One – or at least for Number One’s closest relatives, with whom they share some of their genes. The name of the game is a multitude of progeny, and the game is lost if you fail to mate and have children, or if you see these children perish by the wayside before they have their own offspring. Reproductive failure is not hereditary! There is no difference in the objective for which men and women are so to speak “hardwired” here, namely to have the maximum number of great-grandchildren, only in the strategies required to attain that objective – including those suspicious and unstable alliances between potential rivals that we call “pair-bonding”.

All the higher religions set their faces against open ruthlessness in pursuit of our own interests – and even though these religions are too easily subverted by what they seek to counteract, they never entirely stop trying. Most such systems regard qualities such as unselfishness, altruism, solidarity, submission to the will of God, detachment, ahimsa, and so forth as having to be inculcated by extremely hard work, through processes of upbringing, education and subsequent self-improvement, and sometimes only through the “top-down” intervention of the deity. But how can or should a baby be altruistic? In its state of total dependence, it lives or dies by its success in manipulating adults into caring for it; and baby “designs” that failed to do this were out-competed and eliminated millions of years ago. Indifference to survival is not hereditary either!

Babies have a will – indeed, they are a will, and precious little else. As children grow up, they are corralled, channelled and taught how to express their wills and pursue their desires in more socially acceptable, i.e. more devious, ways. Boy babies and girl babies are in the same predicament, except that the identity-creating and self-differentiating tasks vis-à-vis Mother look quite different. Socially acceptable forms of self-assertion and self-will can also differ quite radically, generally to the girl’s disadvantage; on the other hand, girls can look forward to greater success in dressing up self-will as altruism, as most people ever question what is done in the name of mother-love. And there is no such thing as a “Little Mr. Perfect”, condescending superiority is a pose learned only by small girls.

The bottom line of life on earth is that every Self will maximise its own interests unless otherwise persuaded or prevented. Since both women and men have (or rather are) Selves, this imperative or temptation will be equally present in both. Both sexes have (or are) a Will, and that cannot but mean potential conflict with the wills of others. It is these facts that the Predatory Explainer needs to obscure by means of complex explanatory structures that remove the spotlight from her own will, objectives and the means adopted to achieve them. This is also the main reason why the Christian doctrine of universal sinfulness is so unpopular.

The Predatory Explainer needs to maintain that “selfishness” is a part, not of human nature but of male nature alone, meaning that women are inherently and effortlessly altruistic, cooperative and harmonious. However, these qualities are by no means synonymous with softness and docility. Most modern women passionately desire to be told that they are “strong”, at the same time as reviling men for being, or vainly imagining, that they are “strong”. Whenever it suits her immediate interest, the Predatory Explainer should portray women as inherently stronger and more strong-willed than men; and when it suits a different immediate interest, the Predatory Explainer should portray women as inherently altruistic. Vigorous self-assertion is always to be portrayed as an evil if engaged in by a man, but as a virtue if pursued by a woman.

How can a woman be “strong” and “assertive” without having at least the potential for stomping on other people, for the “selfishness” that the Predatory Explainer wants to define as purely male? How does she prevent people observing that, even if most women are indeed altruistic and cooperative, she herself is neither? The Predatory Explainer operates on the unexamined assumption that female selfishness is somehow like an empty reservoir, which needs several centuries more filling before there is any danger of its overflowing. This will not happen in our time, and anything she does is therefore part of the attempt to create a healthy self-assertion. Another metaphor is the swing of the pendulum; the fact that your male opponent was not responsible for the historical wrongs whose overcorrection now justifies the Predatory Explainer’s every action, and may not be around to enjoy the final equilibrium, should not be unduly emphasised.

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