All Us Hunter Gatherers
Among the Hadza, males are dominant over females and adults over sub-adults, but even in these two respects, the difference is slight compared to more complex societies. Some men are clearly much better hunters than others, but this does not result in a dominance hierarchy. Hunting reputation does seem to come closer than anything else to capturing what little status variation there is. There is also no clear hierarchy among adult females, although older women are afforded a little extra respect, as are older men.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND any event without the appropriate context.
For example, some current events:
- The nuclear crisis in Japan, and the current propaganda in the United States concerning the safety and wisdom of nuclear energy.
- The recent revolts, both peaceful and violent, in the middle east, and the tactics of the regimes involved against their own people, including violence and deception.
- The parallel revolts in many states in the U.S. over laws designed to kill unions, and the tactics of the state governors and legislatures against them—including deception, and (in one case at least) the consideration of violence.
- The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (Citizens United) giving corporations free run to buy elections with unlimited campaign spending, and the current case (McComish v. Bennett) which could make it impossible for campaign finance laws to level the campaign playing field with public money.
- The Bush tax cuts for the richest in the country, GE's $0 tax bill, and the tax breaks given to the wealthy by those same states when they are claiming to be broke.
- The current recession, and the financial crisis which led up to it.
All of these events, and a slew of others, make a lot more sense if we put them in a much longer perspective.
A much, much, longer perspective.
Like hundreds of thousands of years.
During the last few hundred thousand years, we humans separated as a species from the ancestors of our nearest relatives, the great apes, and became the species we are now.
Our lifestyle over most of that time consisted of hunting and gathering, much like our ape cousins.
But if you were to go back in time and observe a group of humans and a group of apes, you would immediately notice a huge difference.
We were both social animals; we both lived in small groups.
But the ape groups were (and are) organized as a hierarchy, in which the stronger (physically or politically) forced obedience on the weaker, against their will.
The higher an ape was in the hierarchy, the more access it got to food, to females, to most anything it wanted.
The lower the ape was in the hierarchy, the more it had to make do with whatever was left over, or even with nothing.
By contrast, if you were to observe a group of humans, you would find a quite different picture.
Humans, apparently by both genes and culture, maintained an egalitarian culture—without a hierarchy based on coercion.
This doesn't mean they didn't have bullies in their midst—but any human who tried to force another human to obey would quickly find the entire group turning on him, and if he refused to back off he might find himself shunned, or abandoned, or even killed.
And this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Next: The Native Human Political System...