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eyes black and white

Vertical vs Horizontal Aggression

One of my dreams last night went into a discussion of political history. Feudalism is born as warring groups of all sizes develop structured alliances to defend against "horizontal" aggression by other groups. But soon enough, the pressure is towards the information and action focusing on "vertical" aggression between lords and vassals: you're in contact with them, you know them more and more intimately, and inasmuch as feudalism is effective, it does raise the costs and risks of horizontal aggression. This pressure has two effects: One, horizontal aggression diminishes at all levels but the top levels where it is concentrated: kings, dukes, earls, whoever has effective as opposed to nominal sovereignty. Two, power gets concentrated as the intermediate levels slowly get ground away from above and below through vertical aggression while the top levels grow through horizontal aggression, leaving centralized states as an end-game. The theory makes measurable predictions, that indeed horizontal aggression diminishes with time while vertical aggression increases; it doesn't actually stop at feudalism. And it was a pretty cool dream including diagram with fat arrows of horizontal inward and vertical outward pressure squeezing the aggressive action.


You may want to re-read Konrad Lorenz's On Aggression.
I will probably never read it, but the summary on Wikipedia is interesting. The mentioned "hydraulic" model of emotional or instinctive pressures is spot on. Thanks for the pointer. Maybe in my copious free time...
You absolutely should read it if you want to understand why people behave like they do. Lorenz was one of the founders of ethology, which since then became a real science - with quantitative mathematical models which do have predictive power when inputs can be accurately measured.

(You're probably heard about or familiar with quite a few of concepts he advanced, such as imprinting, ritualized aggression, "alpha"/"beta"/"gamma" etc roles in social hierarchies, etc). His main observation is that evolution is conservative, and constructs new behavioural patterns on top of existing fixed action patterns. He also explains the reason why the intra-species aggression exists in the first place - it is the simplest algorithm for resource allocation in territorial species.

He also traced evolution of aggression-related FAPs from simple species (such as reef fishes) to humans, showing that quite a lot of "puzzling" human behavior has genetic, evolutionary roots. Needless to say, the leftists were completely outraged by this book, and waged decades-long smear campaign against Lorenz.
eyes black and white

January 2018



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