Chimpanzees have pushed the dial to the right, by males banding together under an alpha male. This leads to more violence and greater incentives to selfishness and destructive behaviour.
One of the things about human nature that I wish to emphasize is that humans are capable of doing just about anything, but we almost always live in societies where a range of behaviours are prohibited. This is how we set the dial in contrast to the great apes.
We can see that, in fact, human pair-bonding and egalitarianism are two sides of the same coin. Pairing humans off implies rough equality between males and prepares the ground for equality between the sexes, something that had not seriously been taken up until the twentieth century, when Feminism became part of Western popular culture.
It’s not at all like humans, where we may live with or visit our in-laws so they can see the grand-kids. In the great apes there is no consistent recognition of paternity and except for Bonobos, no friendly relations with other groups. Part of the reason for this is that there is an incentive for females to hide paternity so that infants are not killed by rival males. Another reason is that if each territory is ruled by an alpha male then relations with other groups will always be hostile.
The majority of men, who are poor, with less access to women to marry, are less likely to have any interest in doing anything for the public good, and more likely to be involved in acts of crime and violence. This is not a good recipe for social stability.
With humans, there is no default mode, we never grow up in a vacuum because we consciously use cultural conventions to encourage social behaviour and to discourage anti-social behaviour.
When we traded king alpha’s rule for human culture we traded institutionalized selfishness for constant social- work. The pay-off was in a stable division of labour and males cooperating in raising children.
The superiority of humans over the apes comes from our ancestors overthrowing the alpha male in the dawn of prehistory and successfully maintaining pair-bonding during the huge span of time that we were hunter-gatherers. For this made the basic foundations of human culture possible: kinship, language, technology, and exchange with other groups. Tune in next time when I explain how.