Saturday, March 10, 2007

Of dogs and humans

Back to this article Megan posted about dominance theory in dogs. I thought it was interesting how easy the wolf pack dominance idea is to believe because it fits right into some major human mythos: wolves and the alpha male. I see political correlation here too especially with what he actually found, compared the alpha male myth. Follow along...

Alpha male myth: You will dominate others by physically subjugating them to your will. Physical weakness, or the perception of physical weakness will result in your down fall.

Now compare that to these key points on how a group of dogs actually work when observed by Frank Beach.

• "Alpha" does not mean physically dominant. It means "in control of resources." Many, many alpha dogs are too small or too physically frail to physically dominate. But they have earned the right to control the valued resources.
• Middle-ranked animals squabble. They are insecure in their positions and want to advance over other middle-ranked animals
• A small minority of "alpha" dogs assumed their position by bullying and force. Those that did were quickly deposed.

Why is this political? Because I see the alpha male myth projected as US policy right now. The US is attempting to subjugate others to our will by bullying and force and the world is responding by rejecting us as their leader. And right wing pundits and our current US president are all saying we are loosing in part because we are being perceived as week by our enemies thanks to the questions of domestic critics. (I like the term The Green Lantern theory of geopolitics). Here is a nauseating clip of Sean Hannity with a perfect example from this week with the first 1:30 being the prime vitriol. (via C&L)

This is the foolish and dangerous thinking. The US is being perceived as week right now because we are fighting someone we never had to fight. Doing that alone was a sign of weakness, not a sign of strength. World politics is far more complicated than the physiology of a pack of dogs, but I believe that the alpha male myth is central to understanding the US conservative movement right now. And I think that the fact that it is not even true speaks volumes.

1 comment:

Bjorn said...

I think the alpha dog defense is a smoke screen. It isn't about weakness, it isn't about safety of Americans or anyone else. It's about money, looting the treasury as fast as possible, and keeping secure the future economic streams from the middle east. The alpha dog myth is something that appeals to a certain group of people, they understand it, they feel good about imagining the US as some giant guy pummeling everyone else.