Animals are born endowed with a whole repertory of movements and the stereotyped response occurs even when the stimulus is presented for the first time. Certain behaviors develop according to the instructions received by the genetic code and unfold according to an established pattern: song of birds, weaving of spiders, catching of moving objects by frogs, etc. Instinctual behavior, especially among birds, does however not equate with uncontrollable behavior. Most instincts are reinforced through experimentation, in accordance with success and failure: instincts are submitted to biological intelligence.
The human species belongs to the Primate evolutive line and there is no reason to believe that Man escapes the phylogenetic adaptations developed by this group. The programs to which Man obeys are identical throughout the various cultural levels, are determined by biology and this universal determination establishes the fundamental unity of the species. The social behavior of Man is programmed but subject to adaptations according to experimentation.
9.1.1 Aggressiveness and appeasement
An aggressive pulsation is detectable in all human infants. Defense of a place, fear and intolerance of foreigners, attachment to property, establishment of dominance are universal marks of infantile behavior. This aggressive pulsation is usually accompanied in children by signs of shame after excessive demonstrations of intolerance. The children endowed with the smallest intellectual quotient are the most aggressive in defense of their territory because aggressiveness is a very primitive instinct controlled by the most primitive parts of the cerebral cortex. Territory is extended, in later life, to other goals. People dedicated to the accumulation of money, land or medals are, generally, of a simple mind.
An aggressive pulsation is detectable at the most primitive human cultural level, that of the African Gatherer. However, like the Eskimo, the Bushman knows no warfare although both cultures allow frequent exteriorization of the aggressive pulsation. The cultural ideal of the Bushman is a harmonious, convivial and pacific communal life. He largely succeeds in this not because he lacks aggressiveness but because he secondarily represses the pulsation. For the Bushmen, aggressiveness is no virtue1. The Bushmen have culturally reinforced the instinct of appeasement and love inherited from primates, which developed as a counterpart to the aggressive pulsation. Signs of appeasement and love, such as kissing, smiling, grooming, bringing a child forward are found among primates, and man has developed additional signs such as shaking hands, taking off one’s hat, saying hello and good morning, etc. The huge propaganda needed to induce men to kill their congeners in war, i.e. consider them as prey, indicates that the desire and willingness to commit murder are counterbalanced by a desire of love and altruism.
Some cultures reject the phylogenetic adaptations of the human species. For Frenchmen, smiling to a newly met stranger is considered a weakness, unbecoming to an adult self-conscious individual. The French culture will be discussed later. Shaking hands is a common habit in the West, practiced by Papuans and, in embryonic form, by chimpanzees. It is not commonly practiced by Englishmen and is strictly forbidden between women and men by integrist Moslems and Jews.
All aggressive superior vertebrates living in groups demonstrate a phenomenon of hierarchization. Sometimes, as among some geese species, rank is hereditary. The offspring of dominant parents is encouraged to attack, under protection, adults of an inferior rank. In humans, we have examples of this with the mandarins of the Chinese Empire, the nobility of medieval Europe, the Brahmans of India, the samurai of the Nippon Empire. This instinct of dominance is counterbalanced by an impulse toward subjection, necessary to end quarrels. Once a social hierarchy has been established, it should be avoided that it be perpetually put back into question. The status of dominance and subservience are acquired, in most animal groups, with a minimal amount of fighting. Among Humans, rank and prestige play an immense role, even in overtly egalitarian societies as the Bushmen. Most cultures consider obedience a virtue. Docility, cooperation and fear in the face of authority are general rules. The stronger the hierarchy, the stronger the subservience.
The fear of strangers is a universal fear found in all human cultures. Bushmen wandering on another clan’s territory will not go astray from their assigned path and will announce frequently their arrival. We do the same when we knock at doors, tap in our hands and ring doorbells. Pacific intentions are manifested as soon as visual contact with the other clan is established. This rejection of strangers favors the formation of families and allows the raising of children on an individualized basis. It may lead to a magnified family that may end up in a nation.
Among all the innate behaviors evolved by the Primate phylogenetic group, the way aggressiveness is handled is the most important. Man is programmed but remains largely subject to the influence of the environment. Education can alter enormously the basic trust and confidence that man has in man. In most cultures (e.g. Brazil, India, Pakistan, Spain, France, Iran, Russia), a universal distrust pervades all relations among citizens and between administrators and administered. The contrary is true in rare other cultures (e.g. Sweden, Germany, the US, England, Holland). Violence is cultural. If accepted, it leads to the aberrant situation where the most primitive and brutal members of the group take hold of the leadership.