#57: Narcissists, Strongmen, and Technocrats pt. 2
(01/01/2022) Why are states incapable of navigating the ecological crisis? We progress to the third of our six explanatory levels for comprehending any sociopolitical condition—species-typical behavior—in pursuit of answers to this question, describing the process of state formation as the imposition of a dominance hierarchy onto an existing social form. We contrast this with the standard narratives of states (and many social scientists), which describe dominance hierarchy as necessary for social complexity, surveying the extensive evidence that sedentism, agriculture, and urbanism always precede the formation of states. We describe the cross-cultural and cross-species modes of egalitarian power that prevent aspiring autocrats from attaining dominance, the unique degree of cooperation found in despotic and egalitarian human societies alike, the role of costly infrastructure in generating social cohesion, the psychosocial profiles of despots, the relationship between civilization and domestication, the chaos of meaningless violence states claim to protect us from as an evolutionary dead end found in no species, the biological mechanisms that generate social stability by ritualizing aggressive displays and diminishing the need for actual violence, and the factors shaping social organization in species ranging from leafcutter ants to lions, woodpeckers to chimpanzees.
Bibliography for episode 57:
Boehm, C. (2001) Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Harvard University Press.
Boesch, C. (2009) The Real Chimpanzee: Sex Strategies in the Forest. Cambridge University Press.
Brown, D. E. (1991) Human Universals. McGraw-Hill.
Childe, V. G. (1950) The Urban Revolution. The Town Planning Review 21(1):3-17.
Churchill, W., & Vander Wall, J. (1990) The Cointelpro Papers. South End Press.
Clastres, P. (1987) Society against the State. Urzone Books.
De Waal, F. (2007) Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes. The John Hopkins University Press.
Dembitzer, J., et al. (2022) Levantine overkill: 1.5 million years of hunting down the body size distribution. Quaternary Science Reviews 276 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107316.
Diachenko, A., & Menotti, F. (2017) Proto-cities or non-proto-cities? On the nature of Cucuteni-Trypillia mega-sites. J World Prehist 30:208-219 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10963-017-9105-8
Formicola, V. (2007) From the Sunghir Children to the Romito Dwarf: Aspects of the Upper Paleolithic Funerary Landscape. Current Anthropology 48(3):446-453.
Fukuyama, F. (2011) The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Gimbutas, M. (1991) The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. HarperCollins.
Gowlett, J. A. J. (2016) The discovery of fire by humans: a long and convoluted process. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371: 20150164. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0164
Graeber, D. and Wengrow, D. (2021) The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Green, A. S. (2020). Killing the Priest-King: Addressing Egalitarianism in the Indus Civilization. Journal of Archaeological Research, 29(2), 153–202. doi:10.1007/s10814-020-09147-9
Holldobler, B. & Wilson, E. O. (2008) The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. W. W. Norton and Company.
Hrdy, S. B. (2006) Comes the Child Before Man: How Cooperative Breeding and Prolonged Postweaning Dependence Shaped Human Potential. In: Hewlett, B. S., & Lamb, M. E., eds. Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods: Evolutionary, Developmental, and Cultural Perspectives. Aldine Transaction.
Hrdy, S. B. (2009) Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Isaac, B. L. (1977) The Siriono of Eastern Bolivia: A Reexamination. Human Ecology 5(2):137-154.
Jennings, J. and Earle, T. (2016) Urbanization, State Formation, and Cooperation: A Reappraisal. Current Anthropology 57(4):474-493.
Jones, R. (1984) Hunters and History: A Case Study from Western Tasmania. In: Schrire, C., ed. (1984) Past and Present in Hunter Gatherer Studies. Academic Press.
Junger, S. (2016) Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Twelve.
Lachman, G. (2018) Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. TarcherPerigee.
Lalich, J. (1988) Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults. University of California Press.
Lee, R. (1984) The Dobe !Kung. Holt Rinehart and Winston.
Lorenz, K. (1954) Psychology and phylogeny. In: Lorenz, K. (1971) Studies in Animal And Human Behaviour vol. 2. Harvard University Press.
Maher, L. A., Richter, T., and Stock, J. T. (2012) The Pre-Natufian Epipaleolithic: Long-term behavioral trends in the Levant. Evolutionary Anthropology 21:69-81.
Mallory, J. P. (1989) In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, Myth. Thames and Hudson.
Martin, P. S. (2007) Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America. University of California Press.
Puhvel, J. (1989) Comparative Mythology. John Hopkins University Press.
Sapolsky, R. M. & Share, L. J. (2004) A Pacific Culture among wild baboons: Its emergence and transmission. PLoS Biology 2(4):0534-41. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020106
Scott, J. C. (2009) The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia. Yale University Press.
Scott, J. C. (2017) Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. Yale University Press.
Webster, T. (1908) Primitive Secret Societies: A study in early politics and religion. The Macmillan Company.
Wilson, E. O. (2013) The Social Conquest of Earth. Liveright.
Zerzan, J. (2008) Twilight of the Machines. Feral House Press.