What Apes Can Teach Us About Korea (Video)

4 Apr

Bonobos Are Always FuckingFor a moment, think of the world as full of apes – non-hominin apes – the cute kinds of adult primate, like chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos.

If this world was a bonobo planet, would the North Koreans be on the bottom or top? Would the Americans, and two Koreas have a threesome?

It might just be easier to discern how hominids in this world interact if we could imagine a world where reciprocity and fairness operated without a brain that excels at language. The abuse of justification and culture as it has evolved disguises how basic human social interactions could be.

Now, on the peninsula, what if we conceive of the impasse between the Koreas and North Korea and the United States as a kind of relationship, not as a breakdown, or the acts of a sane protagonist and an insane opponent? What if we just have not gamed the possible relationships and interactions enough, to realize the best outcome? Or, what if we are on the right path – one of us or all of us.

What if the grape is in our reach – one more tug of the rope? What would John Mitani say?

Chimps avoid single combat. To fight successfully, they must maintain complex, collaborative social networks—suggesting that only by bonding within groups can chimps engage in violence between such groups. This has big implications. It may be the ability to form bonds with strangers was forged by the demands of war. Thus, the human tendency to coalesce around abstract concepts such as religion or nation, which underpins civilisation, may well be an evolutionary legacy of a violent past. Signs of anything similar in a species that, albeit a close-ish relative, parted company from the line leading to humans at least 5m years ago are therefore interesting.

And, could save lives.

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