Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


This is coolbert:

The most recent edition of the National Geographic magazine has a most interesting interview with Edward O. Wilson.

Professor Wilson, one of the most eminent scientists in the world. A man of profound learning. An esteemed person to be greatly admired.

Professor Wilson, the "ant man". Has the study of ants as his specialty. Is perhaps the foremost expert on ants in the world??!!

From having see the Professor on TV, Professor Wilson is just such a mild mannered man and has what seems to be just such a pleasant personality about him. Somewhat similar to the late Mr. Fred Rogers.

It is hard to believe that Wilson is the point of so much controversy.

From his observations of ants, Wilson has come to some very particularly pointed and even to some persons disturbing conclusions.

The contention of Wilson is that the complex social structures of ants are all biologically based. They organize themselves for what they do from biological imperatives that cannot be driven by thought, as ants do NOT have brains. What they do is merely react to chemical stimuli.


From the interview of with Wilson: [I have extracted the most pertinent and relevant passages and comment in bold]

"The colony is the next level of biological organization. The colony by group selection . . . it's a unit of activity and evolution.. One colony against another."

Evolution here is at the level of colony against colony. That colony, for what ever reason, possessing superior traits that allow it to prosper and survive will eliminate and triumph over those colonies that are LESSER!!

"It has to do with defense against enemies. Naturalists have discovered more and more groups that have altruistic workers and soldiers - - ants, termites, certain beetles, shrimp and even a mammal, the naked mole rat. What's consistently the case is that these animals have a resource, usually a place to live, with food, that's very valuable. If you're a solitary individual and you build a chamber like that, somebody could chuck you out. The idea is that these lines are going to find it advantageous to develop sterile castes for maintaining and protecting the colony."

Protecting the colony is the soldier ants. And now such "soldiers" are found in other species as well. Including the naked mole rat. And more to be found all the time, I am sure!! It should be noted that these soldiers and workers are STERILE!! The do not reproduce themselves.

"Anthropologists now pretty much agree that a major factor in human origin was having a habitation . . . the pressure for predators must have been pretty intense."

Predators in this sense would NOT only include wild animals, but OTHER bands of humans coveting the resources and space of the other.

"a resource, usually a place to live, with food, that's very valuable"

YES, and MUST be defended against all comers.

"No, we have a a division of labor. That is very true. And that's a fundamental difference between us and insects and these other creatures . . . human beings are so flexible and intelligent, we can divide labor without physical castes."

Here Wilson is commenting upon the fact that humans do not have sterile castes as part of their social organization.

This is not exactly true.

The Janissary regular army troops of the Ottoman Empire were pledged to celibacy during their time of military service. They had a tie not to a family structure but to the Empire [colony] and the Emperor of the Empire [queen ant]. A "sterility" made so voluntarily by celibacy.

[Since the Janissary were legally nominally slaves, one would have to wonder how voluntary this was!!??]

Also, the Hindu caste system does break the division of labor down according to certain rigid lines and is based on a reasonable interpretation of the functions of the human body.

* Priest - - head [brain].

* Body - - merchant.

* Legs - - worker.


* Arms - - warriors. The kshatriya caste. The rulers and warriors. Use "arms" with swords to defend the realm [colony]. NOT celibate or sterile, but still a caste.

"Sure enough, we're the only highly social vertebrate with altruism and high levels of division of labor, though not sterility, unless you want to thrown in the priestly caste"

Again, Wilson is overlooking the Janissary troops of the Ottoman Empire who were celibate. I would include the Chinese eunuch generals, such as the one that was one of the two generals that defeated Genghis Khan in battle, but those men were lone individuals, and not a WHOLE BODY OF TROOPS AS WERE THE JANISSARY!!

"And ants are constantly at war. Well, so are we! But they are the most warlike of animals . . . It may be that highly evolved societies with this level of altruism tend strongly to divide into groups that fight against each other. We humans are constantly at war and have been since prehistory"

Humans, as evidence by the great epic poems of mankind, have waged war at a highly sophisticated level ever since prehistory, and even probably before then. Well thought out weaponry, tactics, etc. The Indo-European people, from which the kshatriya warrior caste began, can be said to be at least 6000 years old. Even at that time, a highly developed warrior class was already in place and probably had been for some time before that.

"I know a lot of people would like to believe that this [war] is just a nasty habit we developed, just a cultural anomaly, and all that we have to do is get enlightened and drop it. I hope that is true"

Well, you see where all this goes, don't you? Warmaking is part and parcel of the human biological imperative. Strong reasoning, of a biological nature, whether we realize it or not, is behind what people do AS A SOCIETY [colony]!!

[this is not what folks like to think!! That is why Wilson is so controversial!!]

Do I personally think people will become enlightened and war will just go away??




Anonymous JSBolton said...

Suppose that there is genetic variation as to which lineages, within a nation, become soldiers. Further, suppose that, in the extreme case, one populous lineage appeared 100x more frequently at service academies, than the average. Would this be a matter of great concern for the US, or other governments? Suppose that they were visually identifiable fairly often, what would be the implications, in terms of national security, as currently understood?

2:36 AM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home