Trump’s Chimps

When Jane Goodall first studied chimpanzees in the wild she learned that they are peaceful animals for the most part. The problem with her first study was that it was limited mainly to female chimps, including the very good mother, Flo.

As time went on and more data was collected it became evident that chimp behavior could be anything but peaceful. Especially among male chimps vying for power. I say male chimps because unlike bonobos the males are bigger , stronger and more aggressive than females. And unlike gorillas, our more distant relative, the common chimpanzees live in larger groups with multiple males.

The political power structure of chimps centers around groups of males, supporting each other. One male chimp stands above the others. He achieves this role through violence and intimidation. He makes the other male chimps cower before him. Then he uses that collective power to maintain control of the group.

In order to keep that power he must continually reassert his dominance. Once in a while a younger chimp may challenge him. At that point his gang comes to support him and fend off the challenger. At some point, however, when he starts to get old and vulnerable another chimp will successfully challenge him and become the new leader. Demanding the same allegiance from the group. Subserviant males would approach the ruler and hold out a hand in demonstrating their complete loyalty.

Of course there will be males who simply leave the group run by the bully. It was noted in the group that Goodall studied. A number of males left the original group and went to an adjoining territory. The original males , led by their boss, tracked down the other males. But they did not attack them as a group.

They waited until they found a male alone, then the entire gang systematically attacked and beat the ex-patriot to death. They did this to each male as they found him. Ambushed. Brutal gang attacks on lone males. Those murdered males had been part of their society and probably related to some of them. The attacks occurred for no apparent reason since the break off group was not threatening their territory.

As we now know, chimpanzees are our most closely related primate. (Some claim bonobos are just as close or closer). Some anthropologists have suggested that human beings are, in fact, a type of chimpanzee. But, since humans make the categories they decided they were unique.

Which brings me to Trump’s chimps.

Are there some genetic components in human beings that demand the type of leadership Trump provides? Violent. Vindictive. Allowing no deviation from the leader. Total humiliation of others, even his closest supporters.

Do human beings, at least many of them, welcome the bully as leader. The tough guy who manipulates others to do his dirty work. The man who governs by intimidation.

Are democracies doomed by human DNA?

Julius Caesar. Adlof Hitler. Napoleon Bonaparte. Idi Amin. Pol Pot. Josef Stalin. Mao Zedong. Saddam Hussein. Donald Trump. Henry VIII. Putin. The list goes on.

No strong man acts alone. He intimidates others who buckle under his will. He eliminates anyone who defies him, further intimidating those around him. A technique so old and so often used that it is hard to imagine there is not some genetic component.

Perhaps Trump’s chimps are normal and those of us who believe in democracy are the outliers, genetically. Perhaps democracies are doomed to eventually give way to authoritarianism. Perhaps there is an inherent need for humans to reject the idea of group decision making in deference to a strong man. After all, democracy demands responsibility. Isn’t it easier to give that responsibility to one man and unburden the individual from thinking and acting. Easier to give up responsibility for society. Empathy is hard.

A frightful idea. That Trump’s chimps are the inevitable end game of our democracy.The “normal” ones. Encoded in our DNA.

5 Comments

Filed under government, Politics, Society, violence

5 responses to “Trump’s Chimps

  1. I remain the worried optimist, Joseph. If nothing else, the most dyed-in-the-wool Republican, Judge J. Michael Luttig, has made life considerably more uncomfortable for proponents of the Big Lie. A press that’s doing its job would be pressing Republican leaders and candidates on their untruthfulness every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. whungerford

    I think Trump will be a footnote in history. His election, defeat in 2020, and continued relevance are due to current social conditions rather than genetics. Over the centuries autocrats (emperors, kings, shahs and the like) have withered away.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. maryplumbago

    This post says what I’ve been trying to articulate in my mind for awhile. I ask myself over and over how anyone could support trump and I look at these super redneck types at the insurrection and in some instances the women who support them. I do definitely believe it’s some atavistic DNA or gene that is represented here with the primordial brain. These people are wired differently. The question is, is humanity de evolving and this will become more prevalent..a reversal of sorts. It would make a fabulous study for scientists and I will read Sound Eagles’s link in a bit. They look interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Joseph,

    Are democracies doomed by human DNA?

    Indeed, the overall situation and trajectory of democracy and humanity seem to be rather bleak, and even science and politics can provide little comfort in reducing the severity and frequency of some of those outstanding issues, for there are two major Achilles’ heels: Viral Falsity and Paleolithic Emotions. In addition, my own multidisciplinary perspective proposes that four of the most insidious and corrosive conditions have exacerbated these issues dramatically:

    (1) The prevailing anti-intellectualism
    (2) The cult of anti-expertise sentiment
    (3) The politicization of science
    (4) The prevalent manifestation of populism

    You are welcome to find out much more about these four conditions at my extensive and analytical post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“, which has been revamped and which you can easily locate from the Home page of my blog. The post deals with untruth-oriented epistemology, social epistemology, the media landscape and information ecosystem, as well as a large series of detailed discussions and analyses (distributed over twelve sections, each of which is instantly accessible via a navigational menu) in the domains of Behavioural Science, Cognitive Science, Critical Thinking, Cultural Studies, Environmentalism, Epistemology, Ethics, Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, History, Human Nature, Information Science, Journalism, Logic, Media Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Media and Social Science. I welcome your feedback there, as I am certainly very keen and curious about what you will make of my said post.

    Gathering all the diverse and important strands together in the grand finale of the said post, I have attempted to sum up and reflect deeply the state of affairs with hard truths, especially in the twelfth and last section named “Denouement: Democracy, Education, Legislation & Sustainability“, which even gives a very dire warning of what humanity is heading towards if there is still no concerted, meaningful and large-scale change for the better.

    Now, regarding the aforementioned Paleolithic Emotions, it pertains to one of the most important and crucial life lessons involving the awareness of and willingness in availing oneself to explore and understand as much as possible the complex issues that We have Paleolithic Emotions; Medieval Institutions; and God-like Technology, as discussed in great detail in my other expansive post available at

    😱 We have Paleolithic Emotions; Medieval Institutions; and God-like Technology 🏰🚀

    I welcome your input and feedback there. Please enjoy!

    Once again, thank you for sharing your concerns about democracy and the prevalence of wretched and violent behaviours in certain great apes and humans.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

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