I am listening to the audio version of the book “Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World” by Malcom Potts and Thoman Hayden. I have covered about 40% of the book so far, but I think I get the point that the authors are trying to make.
The authors quote many examples of war crimes and aggressive behavior among chimpanzees to show some very interesting parallels. Young males in some animals species have a predisposition for team-aggression: the individuals gang together and carry out systematic attacks on out-group members of the same species. The attacks can be lethal or sexual. The authors describe some of the atrocities on women that are so common during wars. They also quote many examples from animal observers such as Jane Goodall; the way male chimpanzees form groups and carry out gruesome attacks on neighboring chimpanzee tribes makes for some chilling reading.
Team aggression may have been an evolutionary necessity for survival. But on today’s world, with our planet overpopulated with close to 7 billion homo-sapiens, survival of the species does not need aggression, if anything. But millions of years of evolution and genetic programming does not get change in a few thousand years of modern social life that our species has led.
The authors say that communities or countries with a larger proportion of young males are likely to have a lot of crime and aggressive behavior. The wars and the terrorist attacks of today’s world are the result this deep-rooted aggressive traits that are carried in our genes, they argue.