April 10, 2008


Cats posture. So do we. This one's from wikipedia.

Most of us have heard at one time or another that humans, like many animals, go into fight or flight mode when under stress or attack. But when you really think about it, those aren't the only two options, nor are they the most common.

As Lt. Col. Dave Grossman points out in his book On Killing, in most kinds of intra-species aggression, fight or flight usually turns into posturing and submission. Two bucks with butt antlers and one will give in without any being killed, etc., etc., etc. Two dogs or wolves or monkeys fight until one performs a submission ritual.

Many times, the animals involved will just make threat postures and Bad Noises to each other until the opportunity occurs for them to go their separate ways with dignity intact.

When El Cabrero was a teenager, I remember that a huge number of people had pledged to kick another person's @$$. The ratio of threats and posturing to actual @$$ kicking was probably close to 100 to 1.

Nor is posturing limited to those threatening physical aggression. I've known some pacifists who were really good at it too, although they were mostly trying to display righteousness.

A lot of actual warfare consists of posturing. Yells, intimidating weapons, exhibits of prowess or firepower are often used to persuade another side to back off, run, or give up. But posturing pervades the political, business, non-profit, and private world as well. Most of the critters at Goat Rope Farm do it all the time.

Probably one reason why most normal people have deep resistance to actually harming another person--especially at close range--is that posturing has worked so well for so long.

In fact, many kinds of primitive warfare were more about threats and posturing designed to make a foe retreat than about wiping out the enemy. This is one reason Native Americans were unprepared for European style warfare.

Current high tech warfare and desensitization to violence have reduced the element of posturing in warfare and increased the actual carnage.

UNLINKED. El Cabrero is still on the road so the links and comments aren't up today. That feature will return Monday.


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