nonviolent-communication

Stop Desecrating Flags and Preach Love Instead

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”

-Maya Angelou

I want to see more love and acceptance during “Memorial Day“—and on every day—not just from people who worship flags, but from those who hate them.

I do not like seeing people murder and die for mythology and government; this is true. I also understand and resonate with why we burn flags. But I also believe that unsophisticated and edgy tactics like desecrating bits of cloth only incites hatred against anarchists, as well as creates an air of confusion and miscommunication. (more…)

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Anarchy and Emotion: A Heart-Based Philosophy for Transforming Society

I study counseling psychology. I learn to use skills that help people deal with personal issues, trauma, mental issues, and stress. But saying I “help” someone is actually a misnomer.

In reality, I empathize with an individual; I leverage the desire to connect with another human. I do this to show a person that they possess their own ability to cope with the stressors of life. In other words, I help them help themselves. My relationship with a client is what the counseling profession cleverly refers to as the “therapeutic alliance.”

The therapeutic alliance states that a counselor joins with a client and together they form a bond. They enter into an emotional rapport, which accounts for any healing that takes place. Current research in counseling states that the client and therapist bond is what contributes to positive outcomes. This is the open secret of all therapy. Healing occurs because client and counselor share an authentic connection. (more…)

Anarchism Takes Courage: Helping People Escape the Cult of Normalcy

Anarchism is about courage. It takes poise to help people escape the cult of normalcy, wherein they revel in a haze of disinterest and violence and depravity. But when anarchists attempt to persuade people to discard love of their culture coma, of blood and carnage, they usually get a counterattack in the form of dismissive slander and appeals to State piety.

But it goes without saying the aforesaid defensiveness will crop up. Anarchism is not a philosophy one can peddle and not expect backlash. Anarchists require gumption to spread their ideas. They need not hide in the basement and avoid attacks; the anarchist must eventually emerge from the basement and lay siege to the idea of Statism. They must not be too fearful to communicate, lest they become miserly in their attempts to liberate the downtrodden. (more…)

You and I: Discovering our Natural Opposition to Authority

Bear it aloft, O roaring flame!
Skyward aloft, where all may see.
Slaves of the World! Our cause is the same;
One is the immemorial shame;
One is the struggle, and in One name —
Manhood— we battle to set men free.
“Uncurse us the Land!” burn the words of the Dead,
Written-in-red.

~Voltairine de Cleyre

Me

I am naturally opposed to authority; it is in my bones. But I did not always know. It was buried alive deep inside of me and I had to coax it out. It just took time and experience to expose this truth. But once I grasped it, I was forever changed. Now I do not see the world in the same hazy, drunken stupor. I no longer harbor the lemming mindset. If I come marching down streets, I come with my fist raised and head held high.

If someone tries to tell me how to live without my consent, they will have a bad time. If they try to command me to do as they wish, I will indulge the opposite. If they try to make me get down on bended-knee and genuflect, I will mock them. If they try—resistance they will meet.

I am sovereign.

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What Reading “For Your Own Good” Taught me About Violent Parenting (Part 1)

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Insight into childhood and how early trauma spills over into adulthood is an important facet of psychology—one of the most important.

I had not previously considered all of the implications of what violent and coercive parenting can do to children from a psychodynamic or Freudian perspective. After reading, “For Your Own Good,” by Alice Miller, I gained a clear understanding of the psychological damage that results from punitive forms of parenting.

Miller’s exploration into totalitarian parenting put tears in my eyes. She was able to instill in me a further conviction that all forms of “child-rearing” and “pedagogy” are terribly destructive for a child’s psyche.

The Poisonous Pedagogy and Abreaction

Miller said the truth behind the poisonous pedagogy is that its teachings benefit parents and not children. It makes parents feel less pained about their past. Parents thus take vengeance against their own parents via their children. This is a form of abreaction, which is an expression of a previously repressed  emotion.

In other words, parents use their kids as outlets and scapegoats for their past suffering. This is what perpetuates the vicious cycle of child abuse. Miller said:

The reason why parents mistreat their children has less to do with character and temperament than with the fact they were mistreated themselves and were not permitted to defend themselves (Miller, 1983, p. 105).

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People May Not be Naturally Violent

Even though Miller criticizes parents, she does not buy into the notion that people are naturally evil. Miller takes a stance against the idea that people are inherently bad.

I agree. I am of the mindset that violence is a result of nurture and parent-child relationships.  Although, considering modern evidence, it is clear that some genetic basis in personality control levels of violence, but the psychological impact of the poisonous pedagogy is clear.

The literature on spanking is replete with evidence that hitting children causes harm to the child’s brain and can lead to criminality and self-destruction through drugs.

There is almost no room left for counterargument. All that remains is getting people on board with truth, but I am not opposed to considering and weighing other evidence. It is just that current facts against mistreating children are legion, and they are near-indisputable.

Children Have been Seen as Less than Human

Miller bolstered her arguments by examining specific case studies and pedagogical texts of the 18th and 19th centuries. I was surprised to learn that throughout history it has been customary to see children as less than human, as evil little wretches in dire need of constant subjugation and punishment.

The goal of these child-rearing texts was to stamp out willfulness in children, to crush their spontaneity and spirit — to make them absolutely obedient.

At first, I was upset that Miller quoted these pedagogical works at such length, because it seemed like she was not going to elaborate from her own perspective. However, by the end up the book, I understood why she delved into the aforesaid texts: to show that children have rarely had rights or been treated with dignity.

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Psychohistory: The Perennial Mistreatment of Children

Miller delved a bit into the controversial subject of psychohistory, and the work of Lloyd DeMause. Psychohistory is a controversial topic and it is not taught at any major university as part of coursework.

This field of study asks two pertinent questions: what psychological reasons cause people go to war? What caused things like human sacrifice and witch burning?

The answer from psychohistorians has been unbearable for most people, so their responses have been pushed into the recesses of academia and censored. Their response is jarring.

Throughout time, most “civilizations” have treated children poorly. The further back one explores the worse children have been treated. Many early civilizations also practiced culturally sanctioned infanticide. Children have been a particularity detested segment of society as a result of cultural rituals and mores, and the state of society has suffered as a result.

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Parent’s Believe Violent Parenting is “For Their child’s Own Good”

Another aspect of pedagogy that I never considered is that when parents administer violent teachings on their kids, they destroy their ability to express themselves emotionally.

Miller pointed out that even though parents act cruelly towards their children, they do not realize they are doing it. It is not purposeful. They have no clue it is destructive because they were taught themselves that what was done to them was for their own good.

Thus, they unthinkingly repeat the sins of the past by making the next generation suffer in kind. This is why some people grow into emotionally unstable adults, and have blank spots in their memory about their childhood.

FYOG

Parent’s Destroy their Children’s Emotional Circuitry

Pedagogical violence also happens to children at such a young age that they do not even consider defending themselves, because they internalize their parents love them and maltreatment is normal.

However, when children’s spirits are crushed to this extent, they lose the ability to healthily emote and share genuine emotions. It is no wonder that so many people develop psychopathy and other mental disturbances.

If they were raised under the guiding principles of pedagogy, it is likely they never knew what was happening to them. Their empathy circuitry was obliterated in the process.

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Empathy Erosion in Children; The Good of Nonviolent Parenting

I read a book that validated my view called “The Science of Evil: on Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty” by Simon Baron-Cohen. In a part of this book he examined how controlling parenting styles alter the empathy circuitry in the brain, leading to empathy erosion, which creates the sociopath or psychopath.

When I compare Alice Miller’s psychological work with Cohen’s neurological studies, it makes sense that empathy circuitry and child-rearing go hand-in-hand. Horrible child rearing can actually create evil people.

This insight has made me a firm believer of the promise that wholesome, nonviolent parenting can heal the world.

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Sterlin Luxan is a visionary thinker, cryptocurrency junkie, connoisseur of psychology, an MDMA high priest, and the Mr. Rogers of Anarchism. He writes for bitcoin.com, runs a consultancy business in the crypto space, and public speaker. He created the doctrine of relational anarchism and contributes to many causes in the thriving liberty ecosystem. 

sterlin good

Miller’s exploration of the pedagogical texts also led to an even greater understanding about what the poisonous pedagogy results in: totalitarianism and dictatorship. Child-rearing is the roots of violence. It is what leads to all governments. She mainly talked about how bad parenting leads to the dictatorial State’s, but I believe government in itself is an institution devoted to violence; and in my opinion, it crops up as a result of careless and coercive parenting, everywhere and at all times. I realize that most people expect their government to lead them through life cradle to grave, as if it were a paternalistic figure. The correlation between parenting and government is vague, but it exists. The notion of authority is what ties them together.

I was enthralled when I got to the chapter covering Hitler’s childhood. Prior to reading “For Your Own Good,” I had the general impression that child abuse, in all of its forms, can lead to violence and hatred. But I have never studied violent politicians or dictators child histories. The case of Hitler made me see what childhood violence can accomplish. Hitler’s father was a monster who beat him regularly, and his mother took on the appearance of the loving Madonna figure, yet still allowed the father to do violence to young Hitler. The interesting thing about this character or case study is that the “abuse” that Hitler suffered was not considered abuse at the time. Based on the pedagogical studies, in many parts of mainland Europe, beating and hurting children was the norm. This also confirms the suspicions of the psychohistorians.

I do not believe much has changed either. Poisonous pedagogy is still alive and well. People just refer to it as “raising a child” or “parenting.” The statistics suggest that most parents hit or spank their children often, and much of the time they do it while they are in a state of emotional volatility. Miller would have taken the position that this can even be considered abusive. Any type of violence, even when it is concealed by euphemisms, represents violence against children. For instance, “spanking,” because it harms and humiliates the child would be considered wrong and harmful. Miller referred to what happens to children when they undergo this type of pedagogical “education” as soul murder. The child’s soul is destroyed in the sense that they do not even realize what has happened to them as they mature, and then repeat those on future relationships.

One of the things that I disliked about Miller’s book was that she offered very little guidance for parents who did not want to accidentally hurt their children by administering the poisonous pedagogy. I found one really good answer throughout the whole book, granted it was not a “how to” text.  She said, “To prevent absurd, self-destructive behavior from developing in adulthood parents do not need extensive psychological training. They need only to refrain from manipulating their child for their own needs, from abusing him by undermining his vegetative balance, and the child will find the best defense against inappropriate demands in his own body” (Miller 1983).  The author could have at least assuaged my fear that there is “no cure” for the poisonous pedagogy since most of it happens unconsciously. I am just glad to know that Miller distanced herself from psychoanalysis later in her life, in part as a realization that psychoanalysis validated child abuse through its methodology. That is what she believed, anyway.

I am glad I read this book. It introduced me to several new topics within the spectrum of child psychology, and it also touched an emotional chord and gave me insight into my own youth. I was absolutely astounded by the details about how psychological abreaction and unconscious drives direct us to hurt our own children, simply because it was done to us. The anatomy of human psychology is sprawling and multi-faceted, and this book opened whole new vistas of discovery, and I am certainly convinced that all forms of purposeful “child-rearing” as just ways for parents to take culturally acceptable revenge against their parents on their children. That was the point that hit home, and it makes a lot of sense. I just want to make sure that I take heed of Alice Miller’s warnings when the time comes for me to have my own children; I never want to do anything to them I believe is for their own good.

References

Miller, A. (1983). For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

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How Anarchists can Communicate more Compassionately

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

 -Rollo May, Existential Psychologist

I want to emphasize the power of therapeutic and compassionate communication to anarchists. Both online and offline, we often rely on rhetoric lined with insults and hate instead of peaceful dialogue. Employing this language is not persuasive, but I am not suggesting that we should be perfect or that we cannot react defensively when provoked. These tendencies are natural.

But the mark of the psychologically minded anarchist is his ability to employ empathetic understanding and active listening. I know that it is difficult because we are dealing with fellow humans who are complicit in violence and tyranny, but we must try to remain steadfast and patient if we are to help them understand the beauty of individual anarchism.

Even when we maintain control and marshal arguments in an artful manner, most people’s natural response is to feel judged and criticized, leading to an emotionally charged argument, characterized by both parties speaking past one another. This is where being a psychologic-anarchist shines.

If we can reign in the lizard brain (fight-or-flight mechanisms), we can make the argument more fruitful by inserting true communication rather than knee-jerk reactions. I have realized that the compassionate approach has garnered more support. Aimlessly spatting hate and nastiness, however, does not win a lot of friends.

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These are a Few Compassionate Communication Tips

Here are multiple communication tips that I recommend:

0)  Be conscious of the three axioms of communication:

A: One cannot not communicate

Even if a person is quiet, she is still saying something. Body language and other non-verbals are always being transferred from one person to the next. We are communicative creatures by nature, even if we do not speak a word.

B: The message sent is not always the message received

When we convey verbal or nonverbal messages, it is possible the receiver will interpret the message inaccurately. Even when we say what we intend to say, its meaning can be transmogrified. Thus, it is always important to strive for clarification, and check our own feelings about the messages we receive.

C: Nonverbal communication is always more powerful than verbal communication

Nonverbal communication can tell you a lot about somebody, even if their verbal communication does not. It can provide clues as to an individual’s state of mind. If you are debating or speaking with someone in person about anarchism, always observe their body language to help determine how they feel about the debate or conversation. You will know whether to back off or continue debating.

These axioms play into the importance of all subsequent techniques.

1) Try not to blame or judge the other person. This does not mean you have to sidestep or omit truth. It is just that judging, blaming, condemning, or trying to control the person is a surefire way to thwart communication and understanding. In Choice Theory psychology, this negative communication method is referred to as external control psychology. External control psychology occurs when we pathologically try to get what we think we need out of another person, rather than helping them understand and empathize with us.

2) Show empathy by reflecting feeling and understanding. Repeat emotions and thought patterns back to people so that they know you are connected with them; try to use similar words or language so they do not misunderstand. And if you make a habit of empathizing with the other party, communication becomes a de facto interpersonal connection rather than two people battling over who is right. In counseling psychology, the empathy techniques are called basic communication skills, and they are the bare bones of compassionate interaction. Never leave home without them.

3) Actually listen. Listen deeply and intently. It will surprise you how much a person may already agree with you. Make observations based on your listening, and if you are in person, make sure you’re body language says that you are there with them. Listening also proves that you are not a cult leader who is trying to recruit people into your Jim Jones world of sex orgies and Kool-Aid drinking. Active listening is indispensable.

4) Be psychologically minded: understand why you react the way you do to statements or behavior. There is often a subconscious reason why you respond to other people in hostile ways. If you can pinpoint these reasons, you can grow as a person and learn to communicate better, because you know why you become emotionally volatile. Self-growth is thus a priority in order to get in touch with other people on a fundamentally humanitarian level. See the psychological literature on self-actualization by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

5) If someone is outnumbered by anarchists in the debate, such as in a forum or social media, tell them how courageous they are for taking the time to argue with you and your friends. This is important for creating a lasting relationship, possible friendship, and allowing them the time to internalize anarchism without getting annoyed about being attacked. This is also an act of kindness and call for mutual valuing.

6) Confrontation is also important. Confrontation does not mean be aggressive toward people, though. It just means point out inconsistencies thinking process, or between emotions and thinking.

In counseling psychology, confrontation usually implies showing people discrepancies between their body language and verbal communication. In everyday debate, it means pointing out logical fallacies and errors in thinking. However, anarchists should confront in a compassionate and non-spiteful way while employing empathy and listening techniques. If done appropriately and with finesse, it will not put the other person into fight-or-flight mode and compromise the efficacy of the interaction. We do not want want scare people away from the philosophy.

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You Have “Lost” if They Block You; Leveraging Neurology

Also: regardless of popular opinion, if someone blocks you on social media, it is not always because you won the argument. You likely lost if they blocked you, because that person is no longer listening or valuing what you say.

Matter of fact, they probably insulated themselves from you and your views altogether. This likely happened because you abused confrontation or acted in hateful ways. Some anarchists do this as part of their routine or desire to express machismo, but experience has told me that it is detrimental to the process.

As a side consideration: arguing with people, especially random strangers, is a stressful. It causes our brains to release cortisol, which is a hormone responsible for setting off the fight or flight response. However, high levels of this hormone can damage protein synthesis and dampen brain growth. So we never want to argue to the point of causing harm to the brain. This is more likely to occur if a person is so volatile that it leaks over into intimate relationships as well as activist confrontation.)

On the other side of the coin, if anarchists can create medium levels of arousal in themselves and the people they are arguing with, these medium levels of arousal can actually be beneficial to brain growth, and everyone involved can grow their brain connections. In other words, their frontal cortex does not get overwhelmed by cortisol, but they are still stimulated for intellectual and emotional work. For more information on this, see Louis Cozolino’s book The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social Brain)

Communication is a super important skill to master for anarchists. As connoisseurs of the nonviolent mentality, we are trying to use words rather than guns to change people’s minds. This is important. It underpins everything that voluntaryism stands for; it underlies the idea that relationships and human interpersonal expression are the most desired traits in society. There is no reason why anarchists should reject compassionate communication. There is no reason why they should use hateful language. It is my belief talent in communication will inevitably bring more people into anarchism, and create a tipping point for a paradigm shift.

Below is an introductory video by Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of nonviolent communication. The internet is replete with information on this topic. Also feel free to email me for more on the therapeutic aspects of compassionate communication and active listening.

 

compassionate communication