You need hierarchies in order to wage in war. That’s my point. If you aren’t engaged in war, you don’t need a central authority or leaders, and humans didn’t have those until they started fighting each other on a regular basis. H-G tribes were made up of about 20–50 people, so decisions were made collectively. That’s the way many modern H-G tribes still are today. Tribes with chieftains are a different type of organizational structure and have different social dynamics that it would take too much time to go into here.

I don’t know how they did it in early Neolithic villages with 10K people, but from what I’ve read, they were staunchly and vehemently egalitarian. In both Paleolithic and early Neolithic villages, the closest thing to someone to look up to would have been the clan mother (oldest woman) or a priestess of the central deity, but even she didn’t get to live in a bigger or nicer house. It’s a bit like the difference between highly individualized Western societies and more group-oriented ones like the Chinese. It’s just a different mindset.

I imagine that some people were more admirable or whatever, but that’s still not the same as creating a social hierarchy. I have a background in sociology, so I look at that term from that perspective. Liking something or someone better than something else is a preference. It’s not really a hierarchy in the true sense of that word. You don’t start having rich and poor, elite and plebe, master and servant, more and less important gender, more and less important race, more and less important class, until the advent of patriarchy 10K years ago. That’s when social stratification and true hierarchies began for the first time.

That’s when the good of the tribe or village is no longer the guiding principle and instead, it’s “what can I get and hold onto for my personal family and my personal heirs.” That’s why you have to begin sexually controlling women for the first time and getting and maintaining power through violence, coercion and fear. That’s another way that war and hierarchies are linked. For the first time ever pottery and art begin to glorify death and conquest, powerful chiefs, slaves, weapons, etc. It’s a complete shift in the way that society is organized.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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