Make Love — Like the Bonobo Apes
Updated: 21 May 2008, 22:56
Originally written: 11 October 2005
Socialists are told that socialism cannot work because humans are naturally uncooperative and violent. We are told to look to the animal kingdom to see that our forbears were uncooperative and violent.
From the scientific community, it has been suggested that perhaps the best comparison exists between humans and bonobo apes. Violence is infrequent (maybe even unusual) among bonobos. It is thought that relatively frequent, non-procreative sexual activity helps reduce the stress in bonobo social groups. Without the stress, the violence does not occur. The bonobos seem to use sex in stressful situations to avoid violence.
According to Frans B.M. de Waal (from the March 1995 issue of Scientific American, pp. 82-88):
The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations—and not just between males and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner combination (although such contact among close family members may be suppressed). And sexual interactions occur more often among bonobos than among other primates. Despite the frequency of sex, the bonobo’s rate of reproduction in the wild is about the same as that of the chimpanzee. A female gives birth to a single infant at intervals of between five and six years. So bonobos share at least one very important characteristic with our own species, namely, a partial separation between sex and reproduction.Put quite simply, our forbears may have been more cooperative and less violent than human society today. Put even more simply, the animal kingdom does not prove that humans must be violent and uncooperative.
The anti-human perspective condemning us to hell on earth is false.
Now that we know that, let us get on with building socialism.