A Better Angel of Our Nature: Democracy and the Way of Bees

If alpha-male behavior (dominating, hierarchical, authoritarian) is, at some level, natural, it’s also possible that democracy too is natural.

These contending impulses—the authoritarian personality and the democratic personality—may be competing evolutionary strategies that, in fact, take up habitation in different parts of the human brain, contending with one another.

It’s true that in the animal kingdom there are hierarchies (as among chimps), but bees are curiously democratic.

Did you know that?

Bees do it (democracy), so why can’t you and me do it?

Maybe what’s most natural for human organization is not kings and queens and centralized planning, but democracy and dispersed decision making.

Or maybe our curious existential ability-to-choose means we can be done with the natural; we can do whatever we want.

So what do we want to do?

I vote for the way of bees. We can vote with our feet; they with their wings.

This is the way of freedom.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to A Better Angel of Our Nature: Democracy and the Way of Bees

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Bees also don’t reproduce as individuals, but rather as a collective. If my offspring and yours are in competition for resources then cooperation seems much less attractive. I prefer authoritarian family units acting independently from one another. Democracy is no better angel, just a scam by those who want to take the notion of loyalty (formed through evolution to favor and work for one’s own kin) and use to to make themselves the authoritarian leaders of a larger tribe called a country.

  2. mhasegawa says:

    Why does a family have to be authoritarian? I grew up in a family where my parents generally made mutual decisions. My husband and I consult each other. And I don’t believe that democracies are authoritarian either. We elect people as a group to make certain decisions for us. We can try to influence their decisions and if they make too many with which a majority disagree, we can vote them out of office. Ask Scott Walker about that.

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