Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part 7 – The Quality of Paleolithic Social Power

This is a blog post rendition of my 1-hr presentation at The 21 Convention in Austin, TX in August, right after I gave a 20-minute abbreviated version of same at the Ancestral Health Symposium, 2012, in Boston, at Harvard University School of Law.

Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. — Artistotle

I began this series writing about the quality of knowledge in a Paleolithic context;  i.e., animal tracks, weather, climate…all very real stuff. That was juxtaposed with the quality of knowledge in the Neolithic; i.e., bibles, priests, politicians, authority in general.

What’s interesting to me is that contrast or difference is only possible by virtue of society, and we’re social animals. Sure, if anyone wants to be Mountain Man, have at it, and you’re guaranteed to take the Paleolithic quality of knowledge as guide, should you wish to survive.

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Where are the guns? The police?

As social beings, we live our entire lives in a give-&-take scenario, by nature. So, in a hyperbolic sense, we’re “socialists” and “commies” at heart. That’s the root of the problem…no; actually, it’s not. The root of the problem is that the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived are of good heart morally—which is to say that they have distinguished between right & wrong generally, and in the vast swath of history, have willed themselves to make right most of the time. We would not exist, otherwise. Unfortunately, that essential virtue gets turned inside-out and is a bad combination with the foregoing socialism.

It does not scale beyond the evolutionary norm. Now let’s see why.

What happens when, as most people do, you treat a domesticated dog or cat as it ought to be treated? They’re universally lovers, in exchange for the love and care you bestow upon them. What happens when trailer trash morons take a pit bull and punish him, deprive him, and intend him to be mean?

You get a politician, except one more honest and direct. My point? We’re domesticated as well, being treated as trailer trash treats pit bulls. Fortunately, most humans are still of good heart virtue in spite of all catechisms…from holy books to federal statutes, all admonishing you to be a thief and murderer, by proxy. …Yep, you can put your claws and fangs away. God & State have it covered for you. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Where’s the City Council?

In a scenario where your survival, happiness—the well being of your family in the face of nature—depended upon your efforts to success, combined with the efforts of a lot of others, you become socially mature, adept. Some are always more capable that others, some better suited to just do laborious things, and some forward looking, and a list would go on.

Ever noticed in any given family how over time, strengths and weaknesses shine through and everyone naturally gravitates to an equilibrium of contributing what they contribute best? How do you think hunter-gatherer groups managed to survive over aeons, migrating the globe from equator to arctic, sea level to thousands of feet…no 7/11, McDonald’s, Mega-Market or election of their next King in sight?

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Talking about the next election, or something important?

Yep, it’s primitive. The fallacy is in concluding that their simple social system is the cause of their primitivity. It’s not. They simply didn’t contemplate agriculture. Every single comfort you have rests squarely upon the technological domestication of grains and animals.

The people in all of these pics have one thing in common: none of them have a single thing worth stealing.

But agriculture and animal domestication was the single biggest boon to humanity ever, and you really can’t fault anyone for that. It has given us everything materially—not least of which is leisure, pure pleasure in life, down time, vacations, and so on.

Screen Shot 2012 11 27 at 3 43 38 PM
“And then, I shot that politician right through the neck.” (He had no heart)

Where there is something to steal, you will have thieves.

…Protecting yourself from theft increases your costs. And what is the natural tendency? You socialize costs. That’s what we have done since we had brains big enough to know where to take a proper shit. It’s in our genes, as social animals. Families do it all the time and have, for all time. It’s all a give & take; everything is shared, both profit and loss. And, that is as absolutely essential for a group of 30-60 primitive people, as it is for a wolf pack.

But it doesn’t scale. See? It just does not scale, and it doesn’t for myriad reasons. You may not mind Korg from across the camp coming over and messing in your shit while you’re asleep, because he deems he needs it. You can always deal with him as the world turns. It’s a far cry from Guido messing with your shit at gunpoint because Judy and her kids, 3,000 miles away, need something. And of course, Guido get’s his cut, too. A simple example, but an enormously important distinction, because, guess what? We’re social animals. There is absolutely nothing social or even communal about you having to give even a runny shit about anyone but your own peeps you can look square in the eye.

It does not scale, and it never ever will. The fantasy that it can is actually even more pernicious than the “personal god” fantasy of child-adults. Shit, most “atheists” really only turned in their God badge for a terrestrial substitute in the form of the State. Just like the original commies.

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The Ultimate Social Power, Able to Take Down Generals

That was intended as a funny slide during the presentation, but it is quite interesting qua social power, when you consider the latest political BS.

Neolithic social power was as important as it needed to be, and was, because we’re here.

Screen Shot 2012 11 27 at 3 44 05 PM
It does not scale to thousands, millions, billions

Sorry, but it doesn’t. It never will.

We evolved from primates, not bees & ants. I have no idea what it is with so many people, that they seek a hive existence.

…In Part 8, we’ll have a very good laugh contrasting Paleolithic real social power with the laughably impotent Neolithic social impotence where people strut around pretending they have power. Yea, not just children. Actually, children instinctively know better. You have to be trained to be as stupid as you can possibly be.


Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. AllanF on November 27, 2012 at 21:31

    There’s also “10,000 Year Explosion” which shows an ability to knuckle under in exchange for “security” (AKA domesticate) co-evolved with agriculture. To hoard is to be a farmer. Of course, once one has a hoard, one needs to keep it secured. Fair-minded security forces today are police-state thugs tomorrow. (power corrupts)

    Contrast that with the many indigenous tribes each with a gifting culture. It’s the antithesis of farming and hoarding. And it follows as no surprise those indigenous cultures faired the worst when slammed up against modern civilization.

    Richard, I sometimes think your ill-adaptation to the modern diet is part and parcel to your ill-adaptation to modern civilization. 😉 Then, when you share stories of the rest of your clan, I think doubly-so. The hunter-gatherer hasn’t been bred out of your line quite well enough. In dog terms, pit bulls and golden retrievers each have their propensities. They can certainly be overcome, but it’s a lot easier to work with nature than against it. Read any ‘Golden Retrieve Malls 5 y.o.’ stories lately? Me neither.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 28, 2012 at 06:22


      Yea, the origin of the state itself was simply from bands of thieves realizing its better to stay put, “protect” the settlement from other thieves, and exact taxes. In essential terms, the state originated as a protection racket and nothing has changed.

      The pit bull thing is interesting. Couple years back I went to a pit bull dog show. 300 pit bulls, every single one as gentle as a kitten. It’s that bad people overwhelmingly choose pits for their dogs.

      • AllanF on November 28, 2012 at 21:07

        And why do bad people overwhelmingly choose pit bulls? 🙂

        I think of nature/nurture an the 80/20 rule. Working with nature gets you 80% of the way there, wherever there may be, for 1/2 the effort. Working against nature gets you 20% of the way there for twice the effort. In both cases you’re still going there, and will eventually get there with enough effort.

        In the old days when everyone was a farmer and raised animals, nature and breeding were taken for granted. Indeed, it’s a common theme in 19th c. literature. It’s only in the 20th century, after everyone moved off the farm, that the gene-denialists have been able to get themselves taken seriously. I suspect their motives started out honestly and with the best of intentions (likewise, I believe T. Colin Campbell and his ilk started with honest intentions), but where I come from scientific scrutiny and knowledge are inherently good. But I digress. 🙂

      • Richard Nikoley on November 28, 2012 at 22:26

        Oh, you can likely turn any dog into a mean attack dog. They choose pits because there is nothing quite like them in terms of raw strength to weight ratio. A medium sized dog with the punch of the biggest dogs.

  2. Scott Miller on November 27, 2012 at 19:24

    Have you read the book, The Evolution of God? It’s a 2010 release, and up on a lot of our paleolithic history. It’s insightful to the formation of social groups, going from “alpha male” leadership, to leadership backed by supernatural forces/entities. Alpha males can only lead groups up to 150 individuals on average, and beyond that overthrow by alpha wannabes and other forces is too great. It wasn’t until supernatural oversight and punishment was invented, that the alpha male system expanded into tribal chiefdoms (with shamans), and later kingdoms (with priests).

    It’s also insightful in showing that tribes that embraced supernatural oversight benefitted in numerous ways, such as:

    o People were more afraid to steal or do wrong against their tribal family because of being seen and punished by the supernatural law givers.
    o People with supernatural beliefs were better at fighting other tribes to gain land and women, because they had the fear of supernatural punishment pushing them forward, and also the belief that the same supernatural entities would help them in battle.

    Many other great insights like this, too. It really is ironic that belief in the supernatural gave humans a survival advantage, and the required ingredient to grow tribes beyond the size limit of the alpha male system (still seen in primates). We really do have a “god gene” as it’s been called — an evolved predilection to believe in supernatural entities.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 27, 2012 at 20:20

      “We really do have a “god gene” as it’s been called — an evolved predilection to believe in supernatural entities.”

      Well, we have cancer genes and all sorts of other garbage, too.

      I don’t dismiss the notion that a propensity to believe when no explanation was forthcoming (see how I restate that?) helped and motivated us along, but I see this as more of a consequence of hierarchy, something to steal, and a few clever, bad people with bad hearts.

      We’re social animals. Noting wrong with Alphas. there is something wrong with predators and the latter ought to have been escorted out of the village and “disappeared” thousands of years ago.

      • Scott Miller on November 27, 2012 at 20:40

        I’m making no judgment on the “god gene,” just that supernatural belief seems to have given *social groups* a survival advantage, with less law breaking behavior, and with a more fierce fighting nature (similar to patriotism).

        Grains, likewise, allowed city-states to exist, by providing high enough energy density within local transport distances (and via long-term storage). This allowed people to think about other things than their next meal, thus allowing for the development of technology by giving people the time to think about such things. Grains, like religion, can be considered a necessary evil to get us where we are today (assuming we prefer to be where we are, versus hunter-gatherers). But I think we’d both agree that both of these have outlived their usefulness.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 27, 2012 at 21:07

        Oh, I get your drift well, Scott, and I agree in large measure; or, I agree that the hypothesis is sound & reasonable.

        This is why I write in the post that we pretty much owe everything in terms of modern comfort to agriculture and domestication, i.e., grains & dairy. But, no individual needs to consume either and neither do they need to believe in anything not in some measure of good evidence.

        I’m quite certain we agree on that.

  3. Mark on November 27, 2012 at 22:08

    Amen. Socialism doesn’t scale. Something I’ve been saying for awhile.

  4. rob on November 28, 2012 at 02:33

    Where people go wobbly is when children are brought into the picture.

    “I don’t give a rat’s ass about some guy on the other side of the planet who I have not, and never will, meet”
    “Okay I can understand that”
    “I don’t give a rat’s ass about his two year old child either”
    “You fucking bastard!”

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  8. napoleon1815 on November 28, 2012 at 18:05

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  9. Contemplationist on November 29, 2012 at 00:17

    I really despise anarcho-commies. Honest (and smart) anarchists such as yourself realize that decentralization is the key and one can’t change human nature, therefore family and tribe will always be unit of a decentralized anarchist space.

  10. Elenor on November 29, 2012 at 05:49

    Richard: “I have no idea what it is with so many people, that they seek a hive existence.”

    They’ve been SO horribly deracinated (i.e., de-“tribed”) that they will grasp onto ANYthing that gives them a sense of tribalism, a sense of belonging! What’s the biggest (maybe only?) “virtue” of churches?! Community! Religion creates a FALSE tribe; created (I’d say intentionally) to control and maneuver people by creating a replacement tribe (for the actual tribe was that removed originally by *outsiders* to make the folks malleable and controlled; you know, make them deracinated!). We ARE social animals, and so when we’re deprived of that ‘society’ (of 30-60 “us”), we either go crazy or ‘make’ a tribe…

    (I’d suggest) It’s not really a “hive” — it becomes a hive because it’s false. Because the “not-us” — the outsiders — who create and run these false tribes have long-since removed the basis of tribes: BLOOD relatives! (Oooh, you’re not allowed to point that out in today’s pathological “society”!) A tribe — just like a herd or pack or flock — of social animals is mostly related by blood; it’s, on its base, a (blood-related) FAMILY! Because we humans (well, we modern, western, mostly white, humans: ooh, yah can’t say that either! {eye roll}) have had our tribes and tribalism destroyed or diluted, we grasp and cling to the false tribalism that has been *specifically designed* to create a hive, not a tribe! (You can’t create a tribe, it’s blood related!) (And before anyone whips out the racist card: let’s recognize that other groups have retained some or much of *their* tribalism! They are allowed to recognize, celebrate – or even just BELONG to — their *family* connections: Aztlan, anyone? Congressional Black Caucus? “Right of return”? Everyone else gets (something closer) to their own tribe. Why do you think the whole paleo thing is (perceived as) so lily-white? It’s a *celebration* of (a version of) a tribe!

    (These are hard concepts to think about: we’re punished for saying it; we’re herded and forced and molded and brainwashed and socially mandated — and, hell, even financially/legally mandated to “turn your eyes aside.” (Orwell’s “group-think,” anyone?) But, if you’re gonna ‘go paleo’ you might want or need to consider expanding your view from “it’s just about the food” to the foundation of human life, of humanity, of who is CONTROLLING “just the food” — and why…)

  11. Elenor on November 29, 2012 at 05:52

    Scott: “Alpha males can only lead groups up to 150 individuals on average, and beyond that overthrow by alpha wannabes and other forces is too great. It wasn’t until supernatural oversight and punishment was invented, that the alpha male system expanded into tribal chiefdoms (with shamans), and later kingdoms (with priests).”

    My late husband Michael used to point out: societies are run by lies or violence: priests (storytellers) or warriors.

  12. Elenor on November 29, 2012 at 06:10

    AllanF: “which shows an ability to knuckle under in exchange for “security” (AKA domesticate)”

    Oh, I strongly disagree: the ability to “knuckle under” exists in primates (and “earlier”) mammals. Any war band, any gang, any tribe, has (must have) its leader and its hierarchy. The LACK of an ability to “knuckle under” would have to result in constant challenges, constant fighting for ascendance, and the resultant destruction of the tribe (herd, pack, flock). This is the (well, {frown} “a”) flaw of anarchy: if you do not band together, then it’s every man for himself. And if you DO band together, there must, of *necessity*, be a hierarchy!

    And no, packs and bands and tribes do NOT have constant challenges, they have *rare* challenges, only when it seems likely to the challenger that he (and it’s nearly always a “he”) will win. (Alison Armstrong describes men as “calorie conservers” — they (I claim, she doesn’t: genetically — e.g., it has grown innate via evolution) will generally not attempt some task unless they have a pretty good chance of succeeding / winning. Otherwise, it’s a waste of their life energy: they’re not going to attack a dangerous animal unless they’re reasonably sure they can succeed; to do otherwise is to risk injury and death. (Same, ladies, as: they’re not going to risk asking you out, if you don’t give some signs that you’re receptive to their approach; think about that the next time you’re in a tight, closed group of women *hoping* for men to approach you.)

    “Knuckling under” to a LEADER — to YOUR leader — is a normal natural part of everyone’s heritage. But if the leader is not worthy (and such are nearly non-existent today!), then knuckling under may not be worth the effort. (Michael made me chuckle because he described a man (not a “male,” a MAN) entering a room and (innately) scanning the other men to determine: “are you a dog or a bitch? Can I take you or do you outrank me? Will you be a friend or an enemy?” But it IS quintessentially masculine: there is no “loss” in knuckling under to someone who is obviously superior. And humans are perfectly adapted to that!

  13. […] the last installment, Part 7, I did essentially what I did in Part 1, where I outlined the quality of Paleolithic knowledge; […]

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