Growing up in a family close to the “law” and military pushed me towards a skepticism of war and the rule of law, and later I wondered why I and almost nearly everyone I knew was raised on violent sources of nutrients….but I digress, yet don’t. There was a recent study released in Nature on “the phylogenetic roots of human lethal violence.” Going down the rabbit hole for this I stumbled upon a terse and insightful response on the evolutionary level of human violence:
there was a strong correlation between both sociality, territoriality, and violence among the species…The authors divided human groups into four types: “bands” (hunter-gatherers and the like), “tribes” (small groups that live in semipermanent places, with egalitarian societies composed of hunter/horticulturalists), “chiefdoms” (hierarchical non-industrial societies pervaded by kinship ties), and “states” (“politically organized complex societies”). Here are the data, which show that “historic” bands and tribes didn’t differ significantly from the phylogenetic “ancestral” level of violence, while historic chiefdoms and contemporary bands and tribes have significantly higher levels of violence than presumed in our ancestors. In contrast, both historic and contemporary states have considerably lower levels of violence than the ancestral estimate, probably (as the authors note) because in such societies the state takes over the imposition of violence. That, in fact, is one of Steve Pinker’s hypotheses in Better Angels [of Our Nature (video where he implicates “anarchy” multiple times, and praises states–vomit)] for the historical decline in violence over the last five centuries. Jerry Coyne
Well, the current “state” of affairs is still too violent and theft-centric for my tastes, and there are plenty of humans that appear to still need some incubation time to evolve beyond violence and theft-mentality, whether it is the violence of law, the violence of the state, capital hegemony, or how humans live and fuel their lives. We can do better than the past, and the current “state” of affairs, and can keep evolving, not devolving.
More “democracies” than autocracies Pinker, really? I don’t suppose he means the US is a democracy? it’s a republik, where the tyranny of the billionaire continues violence without killing as much as enslaving. Authority knows it’s not smart to kill a cow for milk, it’s smarter to milk a human with bilk by making economies scream.
Under corporate capitalism the relationships of exploitation are mediated by the political system to an extent unknown under previous class systems. Under chattel slavery and feudalism, exploitation was concrete and personalized in the producer’s relationship with his master. The slave and peasant knew exactly who was screwing them. The modern worker, on the other hand, feels a painful pounding sensation, but has only a vague idea where it is coming from.
Besides its function of masking the ruling class interests behind a facade of “general welfare,” ideological hegemony also manufactures divisions between the ruled. Through campaigns against “welfare cheats” and “deadbeats,” and demands to “get tough on crime,” the ruling class is able to channel the hostility of the middle and working classes against the underclass.
Especially nauseating is the phenomenon of “billionaire populism.” Calls for bankruptcy and welfare “reform,” and for wars on crime, are dressed up in pseudo-populist rhetoric, identifying the underclass as the chief parasites who feed off the producers’ labor. In their “aw, shucks” symbolic universe, you’d think America was a Readers Digest/Norman Rockwell world with nothing but hard-working small businessmen and family farmers, on the one hand, and welfare cheats, deadbeats, union bosses and bureaucrats on the other. From listening to them, you’d never suspect that multi- billionaires or global corporations even exist, let alone that they might stand to benefit from such “populism.”
In the real world, corporations are the biggest clients of the welfare state, the biggest bankruptcies are corporate chapter eleven filings, and the worst crimes are committed in corporate suites rather than on the streets. The real robbery of the average producer consists of profit and usury, extorted only with the help of the state–the real “big government” on our backs. But as long as the working class and the underclass are busy fighting each other, they won’t notice who is really robbing them.
As Stephen Biko said, “The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed. Kevin Carson, The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand