Primate Theory of the State


Thomas Hobbes argued that humanity can escape the state of nature, in which lives are nasty, poor, brutish and short, only by surrendering some natural liberty to the common power of Leviathan. "The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men," declared Hobbes.

Or in the case of macaques, to "one assembly of monkeys." Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute removed 3 of 4 dominant males from a troupe of 84 macaques and chaos ensued. The New Scientist reports,

Without monkey cops, group cohesion rapidly disintegrated. Feudal cliques formed and social networks broke down. Communal activities such as playing, grooming and sitting together all decreased. Meanwhile, the amount of violence escalated, with no one to broker the peace. "Individuals had significantly more play and grooming partners in the presence of policing," say the researchers.

Question: Why do monkey cops permit "play and grooming" to flourish, while human cops are so often called upon to stamp out comparable human activiities (sex, drugs, rock-and-roll)?