The fundamental unit of behavior in a hierarchy consists of a political triangle: two attempting to intimidate a third. When four possible political triangles between four individuals socially interact, the individual with the most alliances ends up at the apex of a stable social pyramid in which all four members are bound together by bonds of dominance and submission. Within a group, all permutations of these triangles crystallize into the simple geometric form of nested pyramids. This hierarchical order reduces the level of disruptive behavior inside the system, and therefore enhances the collective security and survival of all the participants. A robust dynamic stasis is naturally obtained in which the “fittest” political practitioners dominate/intimidate those below at each nested level.
Just as birds became specialists in the spatial ecology of the air, primates became specialists in the emotional ecology of the dynamic hierarchies of their groups. Far from physical, this ecology is comprised of a fluid, publicly held registry of a group’s most recent social interactions. In the book Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind (2007), authors Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth determined that every single baboon knows exactly where he or she stands, at a particular moment in time, in their somewhat fluid hierarchies of approximately one hundred animals—and all behave according to the hierarchical rules (which are at the heart of all conservative philosophies*):
1) dominate those submissive under you
2) submit to those dominant
Find alternative rules to live by here.
* A glimpse of human progress from the hierarchies of the past is the idea of legitimacy in the rule of Saudi Arabia.