For two decades, I was focused on the evolution of the strengthening of political alliances between dominant and submissive individuals seen in chimpanzees as the most likely cause of the powerful group bonding that I had from the very beginning determined was the hallmark of the hominid advantage. I had written so frequently about it that I had drifted into condensed poetic images:
The broad sweep of the evolution of emotion that has been postulated shall be summarized. Imagine the fundamental intent of a beast stilled within a frozen picture frame of a fight response thrusting towards its prey; and within that same photograph, this prey is similarly captured in flight, intent upon escape; examining this “action shot,” the sole focus of both these animals, one in fight and the other in flight, is fixated upon each other. The one chases after the other while the intention of each is glued to and guided by the intention of the other. We have hypothesized that emotions of attachment slowed down this chase by the transformation of fear into separation anxiety and by “feeding” to the fight response the sexuality of association and attention. The socialized dominance mentality was now content to compete for control over the narcissistic attention of those submissive to it. With fifty million years of centripetal momentum these emotions of attachment, progressively selected by the mutual protection afforded by larger social groups, continued further to both pull and push together an ever closer association between fear and rage. Closely guided by the ceaseless fixation of their intentions upon each other, these two ancient foes suddenly locked into a fusion that would unleash a power destined to renovate the earth. The energy to flee thereby was released to swell the arteries its pursuer, two primordial forces welded into a new form of might. Now galloping upon the steed of fear, the power of the pursuer could outmatch anyone left merely on their solitary feet.
But for the same two decades, I was plagued by a crucial weakness in the argument:
But wait a minute, not so fast! Aren’t we are breaking Darwin’s golden rule that the individual’s behavior is but a summary of self-interested strategies. Is this not a most improbable bargain in which the submissive individual sacrifices rank in order to extend the power of a dominant partner in return for handouts on the “honor system?” Yet it is the very center of this narrative that this most important barrier was crossed at the very beginning, and that it defined our Family’s emergence following which all the miracles of the human mind flowed forth naturally and inevitably. All ducks must be lined up neatly in traversing over this evolutionary chasm. Flinging the first rope across this space and then firmly securing it mark the commencement of the construction of a sturdy bridge which eventually served to span the rent between the secular and the spiritual simply and directly.
It was only with the publishing of the Ardipithecus ramidus findings with the suggestion that monogamy had been established by means of sexual selection that I realized that it was the diminishment of politics that led to the powerful bonds that mark the hominid family. In the next post, we shall once again describe how it was the productivity of bonds and not their political power that led to their selection in hominids.