Back to the Stone Age III: Natural Men B
Let us begin by refusing to set aside the facts. The human species is, in material terms, mammalian, a fact that stipulates rather different roles Males rule, hunt, and kill; females submit, gather food (though among some predators they also hunt), and nurture children. Homines sapientes are not just mammals but primates whose closest living relatives are chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. While it would be nice to have closer kinship with gibbons than with the chimpanzees. Gibbons form couples and, while they defend their territory, were considered by Chinese Taoists to be the gentlemen of the woods. Chimps, as we knew, are sexually promiscuous, violent, greedy, and quarrelsome. They are about as charming as baboons. Watching them in the zoo, we become decidedly uncomfortable, especially if we have teenage boys of our own or seen film footage of a Chicago flash mob.
A number of pop anthropologists (Robert Ardrey, Fox and Tiger, followed by George Gilder) pushed a thesis of human natural violence by comparing us with baboons. This is simply not legitimate. Baboons, langurs, macaques are not that closely related to us, and their sometimes tight and violent social structures, dominated by thugs, can be explained as an evolutionary response to environment. Chimpanzees are more varied in behavior, more inclined toward problem-solving, more fluid in their hierarchies. Chimpanzee children require more prolonged care, some of the responsibility for which devolves upon aunts and even on male members of the tribe.
Jane Goodall began her work with rather unrealistic assumptions about the nonviolent nature of chimpanzees, but when she had a baby, she realized that her inquisitive charges looked on the baby less as a specimen to observe than meat on the table. Chimps cannot seem to get enough meat to eat and have to be satisfied, much of the time, with vegetable substitutes. Nonetheless, they have an all-too human craving for meat and will do almost anything to get it, including snatch human babies from their mothers' arms.
A side-note: We big-brained apes have a constant craving for meat and salt, both hard to procure in the wild, and both necessary for neurological development. To hunt game, we need bursts of energy, which can be stimulated by sugary foods--fruits and honey. And since the biggest game we primates play is competitive reproduction, everything is slanted toward having as much sex as we can with females who will raise our offspring. In this sense, the life of urban welfare dependent males today is natural, if atavistic. Cramming their bodies with McDonald's junk washed down by high fructose soft drinks, fighting violent turf wars accompanied by chants more savage than we have heard from any ape (rap), and endlessly fornicating with females. It is the American dream.
To be continued