In the tooth and claw world of Monkey Politics, we might expect it to be the biggest and baddest ape who always ascends to alpha-hood; it is true that often a bullying thug will get ‘elected’ to power-
Note: apes choose their leaders in pretty much the same way as humans do, i.e. with public shows of support, presenting of gifts, and offers of sex.
-The troop’s new Tough-Monkey will terrify his enemies with shock and awe acts of violence and authority. Neighbouring troops will quail in fear. Sadly, the reign of terror is usually pointed inwards too, and the weak and out of favour in the bully’s home troop will also suffer.
More often than we would expect though, it will not be an egotistical thug who ascends, but a wise and friendly contender who is helped by his allies to climb the greasy-branch. A successful Love-Monkey’s authority will not come from threats and fear, but from a coalition network built on trust and reciprocity.
Monkeys are not moral philosophers. These two styles of Ape governance are a record of what works—Darwin has taken care of all the strategies that don’t—and not abstract utopias thought-up by inscrutable bearded academics pontificating about how the world ‘should’ look.
The politics of Love-Monkey and Tough-monkey—the embryonic Left and Right—are both valid answers to the question of how to structure a primate society.
Monkey-left believes that all apes are inherently and fundamentally good, and if you treat them with respect and dignity, they will reciprocate and behave in an acceptable manner.
Monkey-right, on the other hand, understands a tooth and claw world. It knows that when the shit hits the palm, the neighbouring troop will always be looking for an advantage and even unsupervised members of the home troop are watching for an opportunity to cheat and steal.
Taking these ideologies to human extremes:
Right sees a hard-knocks jungle out there,
while Left wants a garden of unconditional love.
Any parent knows that neither extreme is viable.
Too much love without tough discipline builds mollycoddled, indignant, tantrum-prone children—who will probably grow up to take positions as entitled social sciences professors.
Tough discipline, with too little love, will give rise to a brood of cowed, uncreative monsters who will one day make daddy proud by becoming bullying sociopathic CEOs.
Listening to the Monkey within, we recognise that we actually need a mix of both: leaders who are realists and accept the world’s inclement truths, while still possessing enough compassion to protect us from that beastly base reality.
Tough, without the Love, is just survival of the thuggish.
Love, without a dose of tough, only suffices to pave our paths with the fragile good-intentions of wishful thinking.
Success depends on a mix. A society run on only unconditional love will eventually be eradicated by any violent neighbour who sees their world a little less rosy; just as any society ruled by authoritarian tough guys will inevitably become irrelevant as the free-flowing creativity of the peoples around them produces better ways of doing stuff—including napping flint and sharpening sticks…
But I’m repeating myself!
We know all this!
Even Monkey knows this!
So why do we spend all our time fighting about whether Red or Blue is best?
If this was a Disney film, it would probably come back to the pantomime troop of evil baboons hiding behind the curtain of palm fronds… the ones expertly playing one side of chimps against the other so that they can steal all the bananas… [you know who I’m talking about].
Stop wasting time bickering folks!
Its Monkey logic!
To paraphrase the economist Walter Williams, ‘Dispassionate analysis [Tough], enables Compassionate policies [Love].’