The Amity/Enmity Complex: The Chinese Data Point

I’ve written about the Amity/Enmity Complex in earlier posts. The term describes an innate behavioral trait that predisposes us to categorize other human beings into “in-groups,” which are associated with good, and “out-groups,” which are associated with evil. The moral rules one is expected to observe in interactions with members of one’s in-group are generally those we associate with moral good. Completely different rules apply to the out-group, whose members are generally viewed with hostility and can be treated accordingly. It is certainly up there with the most ubiquitous, obvious, and pervasive manifestations of innate human behavior, which probably explains why it wasn’t “discovered” by most of the experts in human behavior until around a decade ago. Its impact on our species has been profound, accounting for the irrational warfare that has been such a constant factor in our history as a species, crossing cultural, geographic, and ethnic divides, not to mention racism, anti-Semitism, and countless other similar examples of seemingly blind and senseless discrimination.

Modern experts in human behavior have been forced by the weight of evidence to recognize the significance of innate factors on human behavior. When it comes to the Amity/Enmity Complex, however, they squeeze their eyes tightly shut. It doesn’t fit in their bogus narrative about how innate human behavior was suddenly discovered in 1975 when E.O. Wilson published Sociobiology, because it happens it was a central theme in the works of men like Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz, whose “archaic” theories not only had the impertinence to be true, but who also anticipated Wilson by at least 15 years. It’s also a bad match for the experts’ latest harebrained theories about morality, according to which we merely have to “turn up the dial” to include all mankind in our in-groups, and “human flourishing” will suddenly break out all over.

Occasionally I draw attention to the constant manifestations of the Complex, abundant as they are to anyone even faintly familiar with our history. One such data point of more than passing significance is the current ramping up of hatred of the Japanese occurring in China. There are countless others all over the world. The Complex isn’t going anywhere. It’s a fundamental part of what we are. Ardrey and Lorenz concentrated on describing such negative aspects of human behavior and proposed some tentative ideas for controlling them because they rightly concluded they have become an existential threat to everyone on the planet. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. We can learn to understand our own behavior and control it or continue to suffer the familiar consequences. The former course seems wiser in view of the fact that, in the future, the consequences will include nuclear weapons.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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