Imagine a group of apes. They live in a small extended family group and find food from the area surrounding their nesting place. When food is scarce they move on. Other groups do the same. Occasionally there is conflict between the groups when they come into each other’s areas. Always there is conflict to a lesser extent within the group itself as hierarchies are established and challenged. This is the human race barely 100 lifetimes ago. Barely 10 lifetimes. In fact, the same rules apply for many today.
Let’s now take those apes and put them in huge cities. The family group is now so big it doesn’t know who is family and who isn’t. The hierarchy has evolved so that the alpha of the group is alpha for a huge group of subgroups, and a complex system has developed to prevent endless fighting over position and resources. Those great cities become part of a global tribe. This is where we stand today.
No, this is where we stood yesterday.
Yesterday we stood – 9 billion apes – with a global system that has been built up based on the same principles our cave-dwelling ancestors lived by. If there is plenty, we hoard. If there is little we move. If others move to us and there is little we fight. Thus has it always been. The difference today is that socialism, unionism, acceptance of human rights, global peace treaties, war crimes tribunals, globalisation, democracy and a host of other 19th/20th century interventions have established a system that fights against our apish instincts and, where allowed to, allows the weak to survive and thrive, forces the richest to share their hoards and prevents the inevitable fighting that occurs when the hungry, war-weary or persecuted move.
Today the politics of neo-liberalism are popular – despite being disadvantageous to all except a tiny minority who will hold the wealth when the above safeguards are removed. The popularity is because it speaks to our apish nature. It is the politics of the cave. Of tribal self-service. Of primevil hoarding. But when hoarding is no longer necessary (we can now globally grow food enough to feed all 9 billion of us) there is a different name for hoarding. Greed. Unfortunately, hoarding is a survival instinct built up over millions of years – the fact that it is no longer necessary (in fact, detrimental) requires a constant fight against our instincts.
Out of our city-caves comes another anachronism. Our tribe is so large we cannot tell who is one of us and who isn’t. So we make sub-tribes within the tribe – people with same interests, same clothes, same skin colour, same sexual preference, same political views – and maintain our cave-based need to belong based on arbitary similarities. Those outside our “tribe” become potential enemies. When our resources are threatened (for example when the capitalist system breaks down as in 2008) we look to the other tribes amongst us to fight. It’s natural. It’s human nature. We’re all racists in one way or another.
What is important is that we have a political system which does the following things:
1) Ensures that our instinct to hoard is regulated for the common good.
2) Ensures that no tribe or sub-tribe or potential new sub-tribe is left outside of the system or disadvantaged
3) Ensures that there is a safe outlet for the inherent tribalism in the form of sport, humour, culture etc.
4) Educates the population to recognize that we are apes and the consequences of acting like apes. That seen from outside the human race is a parasite and how to avoid being parasitic.
The political elite has neglected our evolutional heritage, and nationalism, populism and radicalism are the results. Hardly surpising really, as the mainstream politics of our age is based on parasitic ape-like economic theory. It’s time whilst celebrating our tribes, to remember that there is wealth enough for us all – remember: half the world’s wealth is in just a few hands. Remember: Austerity is a political ideology, not a necessity. Anyone looking for a tribe that is responsible for the desolation we witness is the economic lives of the population of the “west”? I present you – neo-liberalists. No, not muslims – they have nothing – NOTHING – to do with this mess, other than that many muslim majority countries have also been victims of neo-liberalist (oil) hoarding (and consequently a disproportionate number of people having to flee from war zones call the god of the old testament “Allah” rather than, say, “God”)
We don’t need a world war. Wars are not as fun as they look in Hollywood. Please people – Don’t drop more bombs. Drop neo-liberalism, drop tax havens, drop bankers’ bonuses, drop Front National, drop Brexit, drop politicians pay rises, drop Austerity, drop 3rd world debt, drop Trump. Drop voting like a cave dwelling ape.
Feel like you can’t make a difference? That the alphas have all the power and which ever way you vote the politicians get in? Trump and Brexit both proved that people can overturn the establishment through voting. Next step is to vote for something positive instead of voting to hit your neighbours over the head with a club.
Most important – think all the time: “Am I being an ape”? Because we all are, all of the time. It’s what we are. Being aware of it allows us the possibility to stop being one when it hurts other people – or potentially the entire planet.