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Thread: “Bring the coon-skin home and hang it on the wall” LBJ

  1. #1 “Bring the coon-skin home and hang it on the wall” LBJ 
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    “Bring the coon-skin home and hang it on the wall” LBJ

    This West Texas home spun hunting language brings us clarity as to our human propensities dressed in the animal motivations driving human viciousness.

    We have an animal nature that drives us to aggress on the world in order to gain the energy-power to conquer our inner most unconscious motivations. Basically power is derived from food; as we study more primitive societies we see that power is derived not from food alone but also from the sacrificial meal.

    Being a meat-eating hunter, man has naturally incorporated the power of other animals within him self. Being a particularly weak animal, humans have become very sensitive to the nature and source of power: we are the only animal conscious of death and thus are sensitive to our great need of power for self-perpetuation.

    We became aware of the two sources of power: physical and symbolic. Trophy taking, as LBJ alludes to, was part of power acquisition. We humans have always taken and proudly displayed animal parts that were killed in the hunt as a manifestation of our bravery and skill. These displays provided social honor and created in others fear and respect.

    The animal skins gave comfort and power; the scalps of the enemy is, I guess, all a part of this motivation; it was all “powerful medicine”, “which contained the spiritual powers of the object they belonged to…so trophies were a major source of protective power: they shielded one from harm, and could also use them to conjure up evil spirits and exorcise them.”

    An additional and very important aspect of this activity was the visible proof of survivorship, i.e. by winning the contest I manifested proof that the gods favored me above other. Therein we can glimpse just why trophy hunting and display was an obsession among more primitive peoples as well as our modern society. Therein I display power over life and death.

    “The ability to wage war and to impose collective human sacrifice has remained the identifying mark of all sovereign power throughout history…Why has mankind remained locked into such a demonism of power throughout history?. It is based on a continuation of the anxiety of primitive man in the face of his overwhelming world; the megamachine tries to generate enough power to overcome basic human helplessness…[b]Once you start an arms race, you are consumed by it. This is the tragic fallacy of power that it leads to a fundamental distortion of reality.”

    In our human quest to safe guard our self and our megamachine we are willing to sacrifice almost anything. “This is why the megamachine represents the major historical challenge facing western man; to see through it and get control of it is the focal problem of human survival in our time.”


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  3. #2 Re: “Bring the coon-skin home and hang it on the wall” LBJ 
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    This is a very well written, even literary piece, yet I find its thesis unconvincing. I hope, Coberst, that you will take this critique in the positive spirit in which it is offered.
    My lack of conviction may stem from the many demonstrable inaccuracies within the writing.
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    ..... the animal motivations driving human viciousness.
    Do we have animal motiviations? Certainly, we are animals. Are we vicious? Some humans, on occasion, can be vicious. This sentence and the entire piece suggest (claim?) this viciousness is much more edemic, more often expressed and quite central to our humanity. I think you need to offer considerable justification for such a statement and you have offered absolutely none.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We have an animal nature that drives us to aggress on the world in order to gain the energy-power to conquer our inner most unconscious motivations.
    This, at best, is a circular argument: We have an animal nature (responsible for our inner most unconscious motivations) that drives us to agress on the world in order to gain the energy-power to conquer our inner most unconscious motivations (which arise out of our animal nature).
    Since it is Christmas, I shan't say what the passage is at worst. :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Basically power is derived from food; as we study more primitive societies we see that power is derived not from food alone but also from the sacrificial meal.
    You are confusing the two types of power, the literal (physical enegy) and the metaphorical (political control).
    My study of primitive societies is limited, but I do not recall any works that demonstrate, as you clearly imply, that food is the main (only) source of power (of the political kind). Of course, you have doubtless read further than I in this field. I look forward to suggestions for further reading that would confirm this view.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    we are the only animal conscious of death and thus are sensitive to our great need of power for self-perpetuation.
    Quite incorrect. Elephants and the other great apes are certainly aware of death. The list may be longer - the fashion of anti-anthropomorphism amongst animal behaviourists suppressed relevant observations for decades.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We humans have always taken and proudly displayed animal parts that were killed in the hunt as a manifestation of our bravery and skill. These displays provided social honor and created in others fear and respect.
    Now you get much closer to the truth of the matter. But this has nothing to do with an expression of our vicious nature, and everything to do with getting laid and occupying the best seat in the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    “The ability to wage war and to impose collective human sacrifice has remained the identifying mark of all sovereign power throughout history…Why has mankind remained locked into such a demonism of power throughout history?. It is based on a continuation of the anxiety of primitive man in the face of his overwhelming world; the megamachine tries to generate enough power to overcome basic human helplessness…[b]
    This grand statement is offered with no supporting justication whatsoever. In contrast there is a wealth of information in the literature that points to a complex of instincts, coupled with our technological and social development, that explain our propensity for war.

    Coberst, I could continue, but I think I have shown why I cannot buy into your assessment of what drives the bellicose nature of man . You have offered no evidence for your claims. You have made false statements (not deliberately so, just rather unthinking). You have made gross generalisations.

    For the quality of writing I'd give it an A, perhaps even an A+. As a well argued thesis I regret this critical thinker cannot venture beyond an F.


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  4. #3  
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    John

    It is a big piece and encompasses a great deal and I can well understand why one might offer a considered critique.

    Are there animal motivations for viciousness and are we subject to similar motivations and do we add to these our own symbolic motivations? My answer is just to silently point to the wars of the 20th century and such horrors as the concentration and extermination camps in Europe both during WWII and later in the Balkans, and in Cambodia.

    Our innermost unconscious motivations are due to our animal instincts and to our psychologically induced need to hide our eyes to our understanding that we are mortal. Repression is, as Freud informs us our constant shadow and self delusion our constant need.

    One technique used to maintain the slave economy in the Antebellum South was to outlaw any form of behavior that allowed the slave to become learned. It was necessary that the slave not only be illiterate but that s/he be isolated as much as possible from the world around them; if they knew little of the outside world they were more easily confined, constrained, and controlled.

    Ignorance in the free white community and the black slave community in Antebellum South was no accident. I suspect the depth of ignorance within the American population today is, likewise, no accident.

    Potlatch was a common characteristic of primitive cultural practice and ritual. Potlatch ceremonies were a common practice in the winter months because the summer months were busy times for gathering wealth for the family and community.

    Quickie from wiki:
    “Sponsors of a potlatch give away many useful items such as food, blankets, worked ornamental mediums of exchange called "coppers", and many other various items. In return, they earned prestige. To give a potlatch enhanced one’s reputation and validated social rank, the rank and requisite potlatch being proportional, both for the host and for the recipients by the gifts exchanged. Prestige increased with the lavishness of the potlatch, the value of the goods given away in it…The status of any given family is raised not by who has the most resources, but by who distributes the most resources. The hosts demonstrate their wealth and prominence through giving away goods.”

    In primitive communities social life was a continuous dialogue of gift giving and reciprocation. When there was food there was food for all when there was scarcity all shared in this scarcity. The successful hunter kept the least desirable parts of the kill for himself and gave the most desirable to the community. “This was the core truth in the myth of primitive communism.”

    Primitive man was judged not by the magnitude of his accumulated wealth but by the magnitude of his shared wealth.


    Present day economic theories are of a self-regulating system of markets. Such a social theory did not come from history. We are taught that this practice of private property and gain are the natural order of human social evolution; such is not the case. “Gain and profit made in exchange never before played an important part in human economy.”

    Adam Smith theorized that the division of labor results from man’s “propensity to barter, truck, and exchange one thing for another…This phrase was later to yield the concept of the Economic Man.” This observation represents a misreading of the past and a great fallacy that has led us into today’s culture of human social behavior becoming dominated by economic ideology.

    Anthropologists inform us today that there has been a remarkable sameness for all societies throughout earlier history and that sameness is “that man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social assets…the economic system will be run on noneconomic motives…All social obligations are reciprocal.”

    Our present economic system of acquisition with little or no regard for the rest of society is not our naturally evolved culture. This is a totally artificial system that we have been raised to recognize as a natural phenomenon. Our ignorance of many things is maintained by those who manage to control social policy and especially our educational systems.

    We are maintained in a semi sophisticated state of ignorance in order to prevent us from critically evaluating our institutions and changing them in a manner that is less alienating to our nature.

    Quotes from “The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time” by Karl Polanyi



    Many animals have a sense of death but I have never read of any who are conscious of their own forthcoming death.

    As to the grade of F for CT, you really know how to hurt a guy! I must disagree but I will say no more about that matter.
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