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Is hierarchy an innate trait for humans?

0 votes
I was having a debate on one of my Facebook posts, and this guy argued that hierarchy is a genetic trait of humanoids.  He provided pretty compelling evidence, such as a 50 page study on human beings and pride (the link will be below).  As an Ansyn, I don't support a forced hierarchy, but this argument is by far one of the most threatening arguments against anarchism that I've seen so far.
https://www.pnas.org/content/105/33/11655
asked Mar 27 by SmashTheState099 (120 points)
i guess only if you think that pride or shame is synonymous with hierarchy.  certainly i feel both pride and shame, but still hate rigid hierarchy.  i would like to propose that rigid hierarchy and rigid social systems in general might amplify the feelings of pride and shame, and also the (often violent) effects of it.  imo these state and hierarchical structures often end up as just prestige seeking, ie pride seeking.
how much of the world has to be destroyed for the pride of Big Men and their Numbers?
if you read the abstract of the study you linked, it actually states that their findings included a discrepancy in the pride felt by people brought up in 'highly individualistic, self-expression-valuing cultures', in their words.
i also think a discussion about the nature of 'scientific' studies, and the particular methodology of studies of non-verbal responses to verbal stimulae i.e. victory and defeat of a nation at the olympics, would be interesting.  i really dont think this study in particular is in anyway a challenge to anarchists ideas, especially considering it was 'measuring' the response to the verbal notion of a unified nation state, a notion i think is in itself pretty antithetical to anarchist ideas.
were blind anarchists tested?
further studies are required

you can also find studies showing compelling evidence that non-whites are less intelligent than whites, among many other studies supporting outcomes desired by those in power. often these studies - or the conclusions drawn from them - contradict each other, regardless of how reliable and "scientific" (i'm thinking of "the bell curve" and "the mismeasure of man" for example).

studies are always suspect; follow the money for starters.

ultimately, does it matter? if some convincing study demonstrated that the desire/need to rape is in fact a genetic human trait, would that make it acceptable?

ps: i like the questions asked by nihilist below. as well as one more: what is "human nature", if such a thing exists?

i hated hierarchy from as early in life as i can remember (and still do)....so it doesn't feel "innate" to me...no document or study will "threaten" that feeling...although some humans have tried...

I don't see this study as conclusive of anything outside it's own circular discourse which, like all philosophical discourses (not simply 'philosophical' but scientific interpretation/explanation, politics- including anarchism, theology, etc), or if you prefer, (thought) worlds, the tendency to over-determine the "human" is quite strong. Personally I tend toward Laruelle's insistence (in context of racism) that, "If there is a radical argument against racism, it is this: mankind is indeterminate." It seems to me similar with 'innate' hierarchy.

This doesn't mean we can't learn something from studies like this, but that your interlocutor believed he sealed his argument (Philosophy, once again) with this one is a case in point of over-determination cutting lived humans conceptually and building upon that through policy, policing, etc. After all, we can't even think/imaging ourselves for fuck's sake, only cuts and pieces, and so much of the time believe our thoughts are sufficient.

edit for clarity

That also works as a good argument against speciesism.

I think that science in general offers a ton of interesting insights into the world we live in, but studies and their conclusions should always be taken with a grain of salt, they're not any more valuable than someone telling you a story or recounting their experience to you, and sometimes they're far less valuable.

I think any scientific "human nature" based argument for hierarchy, which i realize is not even what that paper is about, is more or less an argument for submission and the current hierarchies. People say things like "oh, well, so what if you don't like work, you're always going to have to work" but this isn't really true. I think that people would be better off dealing with work and money if they first realize it's just part of a temporary social condition. I don't see the fact that not working at all is basically impossible and undesirable as a reason for some sort of innate goodness in work.
N: "That also works as a good argument against speciesism."

It can, yes. But it can also undermine those anti-speciesist arguments pertaining to 'subjects' and/or those which base themselves upon 'sentience'  too, since they inhabit the ambit of their presumed self-sufficiency more often than not.
i have more questions than answers.... much like nihilist's answer containing questions...

what does "innate trait" mean?

using oneself as an example, how would one decide if they "have" this "innate trait"?

and defining "hierarchy" would certainly help too.

and then, how would a person know/determine if they possessed "an innate trait of hierarchy"?
b@; hello again!

i wonder if definitions are as important as the presumed self-suffiency of these discourses. for example,on this occasion, StS099 seemed spooked by the authority of Science and his interlocutor seemed (per StS099) to wield it as a power to do just that: as authoritarian. that's been (partly) the gist of my recent posts pertaining to the tendency of over-determination within the enclosures.of a discourse.

perhaps taking a posture which simply views each discourse (here Science and Philosophy) as material, nothing more or less. it has a strange way of 'democratizing' or 'communizing' them by undermining their authority. yes, asking such partisans to define their terms might be helpful in some instances, but perhaps after undermining the imposition of the authority of their position?
hey af....good to "see" you again as well!

i think i follow you....at least some of the way...

perhaps i asked to define terms as a way to "undermine the imposition of the authority of their position"....

in other words, i don't know what the questioner wants to know. i want to know if they have asked something i can answer, or if they more intend to make some sort of statement. and even if they have made a statement, what do they mean by it, by describing their own experience of it...like, describe to me how you came to think you have (or don't have) an "innate trait of hierarchy"...through what experiences, relationships, thoughts and emotions, did you decide this? what does an innate trait of hierarchy look like in action?
Ba@, just curious, did you read/skim the study?
af, i very briefly skimmed it.

from what i read, it made the question here even more unclear to me.

yes, inference should raise questions if one is using the sciences. something those believing in Science so often forget (great swaths of the 'secular age' it seems), which seems to include StS099 and their presumed interlocutor.

my point about definitions pertains to the rather nasty habit of their becoming enclosed, once again, in another discourse and used accordingly: as authoritarian, rather than 'communized' material in the World. in other words, another way to conceptually dismember, cut, lived humans even when in the name of 'anarchy.'

i mainly wanted to say that i don't know what this question asks....so unless STS comes back with some more discussion, i don't have much to add.
@AmorFati:

N: "That also works as a good argument against speciesism."

It can, yes. But it can also undermine those anti-speciesist arguments pertaining to 'subjects' and/or those which base themselves upon 'sentience'  too, since they inhabit the ambit of their presumed self-sufficiency more often than not."

I've been meaning to ask you about this, you kinda lost me here. Could you further explain what you were getting at? I look at anti-speciecism as just a disagreement that there is a hierarchy of certain beings, or perhaps a rejection of scientific "species" all together.
oops I appear to have been sectioned :(. this makes sad.  these people are just trying to help, but all I want is a nice long walk!!! oh hierarchy can be funny sometimes!
my room is quite nice tho, and having people around is almost always nice.  plus they let me keep my phone too!! we
mustent panic! we mustnt panic!

aaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhh!!!! (Babs, chicken run, 2000)
@nihilist, pardon the delay in responding to your question. i didn't see it until now. one has the choice of neither rejecting nor affirming 'species' in any over-determined way. 'species' can work well enough occasionally, but it lends itself to over-use far outside those contexts as if we have enclosed lives within the term, lacerated them to fit the corral. 'there is nothing but the survival of the species' etc.

the notion of subjects is always a split, a binary between 'it' and that which transcends it: so often, the Object, the World, God, Nature, the Future, Progress, the Earth, etc, but it's always *subjected* to the authority of that transcendental due to its presumed 'finitude.'

as to 'sentience' i've always felt it a bit anthropocentric and contiguous with these other determinations. as i quoted above, ' mankind is indeterminate.' here both the gendered language as well as the notion of species are at work, the point being we can't even think/imagine our lives except by cutting them, deciding what we'll think/imagine in any given moment and yet speak so authoritatively on others, our relationships, and so on. hope that helps.

2 Answers

+1 vote
There are many innate traits for human beings and all forms of life. Luckily for us humans, we have over-sized brains (my judgement here), and therefore the range of behaviors that we engage in are relatively endless. Pride and shame are human emotions, and those are also vast. To talk about one particular trait as being innate begs more questions:

- what is a hierarchy?

- is there one particular trait that's more important than all the others?

- is it possible to make a distinction between "innate" and "learned"?

- how are traits acquired?

Saying that hierarchy is an innate trait implies that humans somehow need it, and under given circumstanses and within certain sociological systems I would say "yes, sometimes". However, humans also have a rich history of disliking hierarchy and rebelling against authority figures, so in that sense they constantly search for something else or alternative hierarchies.
answered Mar 27 by Nihilist (-720 points)
+1 vote
I'd suggest that we have to look at what a human being actually is, rather than accept whatever explanation seems most plausible.

Consider this... Intelligence is certainly innate, however it can be molded into whatever shape an external force decides. Take religion as a prime example. Look at the logic contained within their argument. Superficially it is quite compelling, and with acceptance, completely so. So much so, people have killed for their religion... even when told killing is a sin.

We could say, "well religion is innate", however I would say it is not religion but ignorance which is innate. Only via ignorance can any form of belief be. Only via ignorance can the logic of religion be viewed as logical, as such logic is the logic of fear.

Genetics itself is so much belief rather than fact when it comes to human action, choice, emotion, etc. To me it's a bit like a speaker which will reproduce whatever sound is played thru it, reproduction of a source. Understand the source and you understand.

Hierarchy is itself another manifestation of fear rather than an individual innate quality or trait. Only the arrogance of ignorance can establish itself as superior... and thus take pride in whatever achievement. Isn't that self evident? Look at the history of humanity, which is one of forms of knowledge/belief being replaced by others.

All in all, we have to understand what we are; not the imprinted material... the contents of our memory, but that which is our essential self. So many talk so superficially when talking of "innate", of "our nature". Our nature has been obscured, corrupted by nurture.
answered Apr 1 by edclear (510 points)

edclear:"Language isn't authoritarian in any way, that's like saying a knife is authoritarian."

who are you responding to here? it can't be me, since i said nothing of the sort.what i did say :"what i do refuse, however, is their (words)   authority and the authority of discourses which gird them". its seems obvious i wasn't speaking of language in toto, but the authority given (and taken as given) to words-in-discourse.

i'm done conversing with you at this time. best.

To Nihilist

Trolling, never been fishing in my life. If you mean the more modern meaning, not so. When someone comes out with "words have no basic meaning", I think the obvious has to be stated. Dictionaries would not exist, teachers of language would not exist, etc. Indeed, we'd just be grunting, pointing, and generally leaping around trying to make ourselves understood. One second thoughts, maybe a shared language doesn't exist.

Yep, I know the feeble attempts at justification for all manner of issues, large and small, but they'll always be just that... attempts.

To AmorFati

"Authority"... "Authoritarian", same difference, one leading naturally to the other.

edc, after thinking about it some more, and reading your most recent comments, i don't think i have anything to add at this point that would help you to understand  any further what i've already expressed about my word choices...

different people use/don't use different words to communicate....i think we can agree on that.
Sure thing, maybe I'm just overly curious.

Bye.
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