Acknowledging that other people have an inner life of their own: that’s called Theory of Mind iirc, and it’s a developmental phase for all humans. But it can be short-circuited by mentally classifying the other person as a lesser person, so that whatever inner mental/emotional states they may be experiencing do not matter. It can also fail (during personality development) which produces the type we call a sociopath, one who is incapable of perceiving other people as fellow humans.

One of the oddball aspects of patriarchy as a cultural tradition is that it defines manhood partly as sociopathic. Deficits like stunted empathy, arrogance sufficient to defeat theory of mind, uncontrolled outbursts of rage (poor impulse control), inability to compromise, are valorised by warrior culture. Given that we are band-oriented primates who have relied consistently on cooperation and group bonding to get ahead (or even get by), this seems oddly maladaptive. But evidently it worked well enough for enough groups of people over enough time to get us to where we are now. It doesn’t work so well in complex civilised societies. Most of the behaviours lauded as Heroic in myth and legend were (and are seen today as) simple criminality.

Presumably this is why we observe today a political backlash from a strident minority of angry white men, rooting for the core tetrad of barbaric values: misogyny, racism, nationalism, homophobia. Their inner definition of manhood is not compatible with civilisation, democracy, diplomacy, civil rights, the rule of law, compromise, all the trappings of a functioning complex (and peaceful) society; they would rather tear that society down and revert to barbarism, than question an antiquated definition of manliness.

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

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