(FB 1550842386 Timestamp)
DOMESTICATION BY EXTERMINATION OF ALPHAS
by Skye Stewart
–“Curt are you in agreement with Wrangmanâs general thesis as explored in this essay?”–
—âA decades-long, painstaking experiment by two Russian geneticists working in Siberia showed that reduced brain size, thinner bones, and all of the other markers of domestication syndrome are merely incidental byproducts of a primary adaptation: reduced reactive aggression. In organisms selecting against such aggression, the migration of neural-crest cellsâa special kind of cell that carries developmental instructions throughout the embryo and fetusâis delayed, resulting in smaller bodies, smaller brains, hormonal changes, and the rest.
âStudies have been fairly clear on this. What has been unclear is why human communities selected against reactive aggression. For Wrangham, the answer is that group life requires a minimum of stability. No trait is more disruptive than reactive aggression, which fuels such behaviors as quests for dominance and demands for submission; arrogance, bullying, and random violence; and the monopolizing of food and females. That is a behavioral profile of the alpha male, the arch-reactive aggressor. Communities must either endure such pests or eliminate them. Once humans could communicate (the origin of language canât be further narrowed down than three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand years ago, but empathy or âshared intentionalityâ appears to be independent of language and might be sufficient for communication), the die was cast. The origin of domestication, Wrangham proposes, was the group execution of alpha males. Civilization is founded on capital punishmentâor, to give it its anthropological name, âcoalitionary proactive aggression.ââ—
Exactly. I quote this all the time, and it’s pretty well thought through in the literature. I mean, it’s the dominant theory. Which is why I use it.
“Once we had spears, the alpha was doomed”
The related argument FYI, is that language was invented to rally spear carriers against alpha males, and this is where female GSRRM comes from: undermining all power in order to preserve her freedom of choice in reproduction.
Women don’t know they’re destructive. They do it out of instinct. So the problem is CONSTRAINING the destructive power of women thru undermining, JUST AS MUCH as constraining the coercive power of dominant males.
(Note: someone else mentioned that this theory is from Christopher Boehm of Jane Goodall’s clan. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but that would make sense.)