2The Crisis of Identity

The trouble with reading Desmond Morris's famous work The Naked Ape (1967) is that, once read, it's difficult to view people as anything other than sophisticated monkeys. Yet – at least according to Morris and other sociobiologists – that's exactly what we are: monkeys, with outsidership no more than a facet of our evolutionary roots.

Nearly all primates are hierarchical, observes Morris – even tyrannical. Usually, the dominant males fight for singular control of the troop, with periodic changes of regime caused by the slowing of age, which opens up opportunities for the ambitious. As humans evolved, so autarchy developed to enforce hierarchy over greater numbers. And this led to the development of tribes, run by a ...

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