Animals Like Us - Animal Politics

Animals Like Us – Animal Politics



ambition competition coalition domination these are the weapons of the political animal such as the human race wrote Mark Twain often it does seems such a pity that Noah didn't miss the boat if politics is the art of the possible what does it really take to reach the top in the animal kingdom [Applause] animals like humans have learnt to live together for millions of years our political Odyssey around the globe will meet the warring tribes cruel despots and Democrats that make up the animal world well before humans develop the political skills of a Hitler Gandhi or Kennedy animals evolved an array of strategies to make their communities work and impose their will on others so is man that much cleverer or cunning than a monkey bird or insect and can we find in their world a perfect political system power tends to corrupt absolute power corrupts absolutely this was the British historian Lord Acton's epic warning in the second half of the 19th century so vividly conveyed by Charlie Chaplin in his numerous political satires since time immemorial political tyranny has led to war and slavery in the animal world slavery is a most effective political weapon well it's pretty quiet right here in this dry forest but about two hours from now this is gonna be the site of a battle royal slavery remains a hidden scourge in some parts of the world even though formal human emancipation occurred well over a century ago it didn't extend to the insect world powered top of the Museum of Natural History in Arizona has been a keen observer of slave making ants for twenty years it's the staging area warfare between two groups of ants the ants in this nest are going to attack a species a hundred yards away steal their young bring them home and turn them into slaves nations empires were built on the backs of slaves for Polly urges ants slavery is a matter of survival they need a forage for food look after their young or Queens nor clean their nests their method is chillingly simple enslave other species to do the work for them the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle justified slavery as long as the interests of master and slave were the same is this what he had in mind two prototypes seemingly made for each other a polyergus raid is on cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war even Shakespeare could not have imagined the next act the Pali urges ants use chemical weapons to overpower their enemies in this case Formica ants the defenders panic some try in vain to rescue their queen others to protect the cocoons but it's already too late a Polly urges Queen ready to lay eggs joins the attack her goal to seize power unconditionally in the enemy nest and here's the cruelest part the Polly urges are not just out to enslave their enemy but equally their enemy's offspring dragging Formica cocoons back to their nest ants born into slavery so when a polyergus queen gets into a Formica nest first thing she has to do is find that Formica queen and kill her but interestingly when we have the observations in the laboratory on this killing process we found now not only is the polyergus queen killing the Formica queen but she's licking her all over her head her thorax her abdomen she licks her for maybe 20 minutes and only after this licking process do the workers of fo Micha adopt a poly or just clean as their own so we thought that perhaps what's happening in this here is that the power of this queen is getting the chemicals the pheromones funder Formica queen laboratory tests confirm howard top offs hunch he and his team drew up chemical profiles of both Queen's Polly urges and Formica before the raid they looked quite different each with their own distinct chemical identity but after killing the Formica Queen the Polly urges begins to change her chemical ID becomes a dead ringer of the assassinated Formica Queen a perfect disguise to dupe the unsuspecting Formica workers in their very own nest this could be a blessing in disguise for the Formica ants ignorance is surely bliss when a foreign Queen tricks you into slavery the slaves first job is to tend to their new Queens eggs the eggs will hatch into their future task masters when they're fully grown they'll raid more Formica nests to keep slave numbers healthily high slavery has far from disappeared beneath the earth slavery and fascism of the ugly faces of ancient and modern politics but instead of one powerful dictator some societies buckle under coalition's of hard like-minded troopers the kingdom of the Hama Trias begins in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula here these male desert baboons are true troopers to the course with each adult male retaining exclusive rights over a harem of females only negotiation can keep the peace in this macho society power rests in the hands of the few in Hamad riah society and exclusively in the hands of the male like in many human societies these desert baboons on the Arabian Peninsula believe a woman's place is in the home in ancient Greece Aristotle opined women are without authority less capable than men of leadership so they should be excluded from the affairs of state here a single male leader dominates a group of females exercising exclusive rights over his harem females endure constant surveillance their movements are severely restricted if a female strays too far the male leader intervenes promptly anything goes to remind the fairer and weaker sex of her place intimidation and brute force on meted out without ceremony a bite on the neck a tug of the tale all's fair in love and war when a female is on heat the noose tightens even further this female is kept on a very short leash her only option is to court favor with the male and submit to the unwavering laws of the harem social hierarchy dictates the female with the highest status stays closest to her master if she's unhappy with her lot she runs the risk of being stolen by another male when a female does fly the coop she's fair game for frustrated suitors the stakes are high everyone is watching claiming a loose female and forming your own harem can only enhance male social status and status is always up for grabs no matter how brutish the behavior but as the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius cautioned when anger arises think of the consequences even in this macho environment patience is a virtue a passive bystander can seize his chance while the others fight it out on the face of it baboons seem to have a one-track mind building and preserving their homes with brawn not brain scientific surveys now cast hermit areas society in a more generous light a young single baboon can integrate peacefully into a harem biding his time patiently before forming his own and acquiring the status of leader a successful young pretender builds up trust with the dominant male and his females before exceeding to the ultimate prize sexual impulse is a double-edged sword it ferments conflict but also instills harmony despite their fierce canine teeth and muscular build desert baboons use a network of male alliances to keep the peace clans of two or more harem band together these bands in turn form troops cooperation and negotiation are the building blocks of the Hermit aureus political order and well before Machiavelli tailed the Prince of Italy how to keep political power but boons were well-versed in one of his cardinal principles never plunder another's property we'll take his woman by force in spite of stiff competition the rule is generally respected troops marched to the same tune discrete signals ensure rules are crystal clear a reassuring pat on the back everyone knows where they stand peace abroad means peace inside the harem their homes may function in much the same way as polite human society where the occasional burst of aggressive behavior between males is tempered by respect for the property of others in this case female desert baboons a world away from the repressive desert our aims are the permissive playgrounds of the African jungle the Vale has no place in this society female bonobo chimps in the Democratic Republic of Congo offer themselves up a sexual favors to any interested male bonobos of all ages enjoy free love this must be male paradise but there's no catch wait a minute she wants a snack and so does she it's all part of a deal this is the deal unlike the possessive baboons of the Arabian Peninsula male bonobos do not covet females as sexual trophies to be guarded at all times sex is traded freely for food and to avert conflict it's a political language that fosters social harmony in heterosexual homosexual and incestuous combinations like humans they even do it facing each other but no bows make love not war in an egalitarian free society much like the hippie movement of the 1960s sex is not just about reproduction it's about appeasement harmony and free trade fancy emigrating soldiers in the name of democracy let us all unite Winston Churchill once joked it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time but this democracy purely man-made or does it resonate elsewhere in the natural world known as The Forbidden Island because it was once privately owned by a wealthy English family the island of rum off the west coast of Scotland is an unlikely setting for popular politics local people were clears long ago to make way for sheep and deer and it's the 350 Red Deer or colored and marked for scientific observation that beat the Democratic drum every day they descend the mountain to graze in the valley then settled to digest and rest shy retiring animals these deer hardly seem ready to vote with their feet so what moves them not much to the frustration of the cameras is it motherly love and who rules them a single leader obviously not him the cameras keep rolling patiently very patiently at last a second deer stands to be counted than a third and a fourth we seem to have a majority but in favor of what one by one the deer stand stretch and nibble without the slightest indication that anything else is afoot or is it after 15 minutes they do seem unanimously agreed on something simply to move on together that's democracy on the Isle of rum the deer seem happy to quietly chew the cud but they're outwardly submissive nature belies a strong Democratic streak power politics have no place on this remote Scottish Island now he pauses before a woman with a child our politics work best when the public is easily swayed easily manipulated the successful power politician must be as cunning as a rat this is the dark side of politics it's an underworld of stealth deceit and fear where politicians keep their cards close to their chest hugging the margins of public life to avoid transparency nocturnal animals do the same rats are opportunists of the first order feared and detested for spreading disease their intelligence and pervasiveness also make us uneasy whether our people there are rats and they're always one step ahead of the game at the slightest threat rats emit ultrasonic signals to warn their own The Three Musketeers are off if you can't stand the catwalk try the sewers in the event this time-honored lifeline proves a mixed blessing for the Musketeers they feel like well cornered rats because this is foreign territory and with old whiskers on their tail who knows what else lies ahead thank God that one of us but beware friends not equal to yourself Confucius is back with a timely reminder this colony of sewer rats could offer the Musketeers our bed for the night but would that be a popular move the dominant male must make a decision resources are scarce the intruders might stay the people clamor for protection negotiations are out of the question but a combination of gentle persuasion and intimidation will go a long way the people expect one by one the Musketeers swallow their pride now they go to face another day Old Spice BOTS mystical pink mission accomplished the dominant male reinforced his position in the colony by seeing off an external threat an unexpected flood puts the rats under renewed pressure and at the drop of a hat or a carton of chips a social structure emerges the presence of food will test the rats political mettle when the chips are down and the stakes so high manipulation cunning and courage are called for he who hesitates is lost this takes courage because political necessity sometimes turn out to be political mistakes is it not more cunning to wait and reap the fruits of someone else's labor after all domination is an art which Karl Marx called the peaceful enjoyment of the blood and sweat of others but never be discouraged by the weakness of others nor the difficulty of the task at hand courage and tenacity peppered with selfishness of the ingredients of success a measly carton of chips brings out the best and worst in a small colony of sewer rats three dominant personality traits would seem to emerge the exploiter be exploited and the enterprising bring about our own politicians would blush at any comparison the successful politician must unite his party to maintain power there's strength in numbers no place on our planet better underlines this lesson than the ocean depths a family of jacks patrols the Barrier Reef's of the Atlantic most of the time they live in sparse schools but at the first sign of trouble the jacks regroup they must now move as one for their own protection any stragglers are dead in the water but how do they do this Jax have a sixth sense special cells on their sides detect the vibrations of their neighbors when one jack on the exposed outer flanks swerves suddenly the others synchronized instantly the Sharks struggle to press home the attack but the jacks can't hold out forever the Phalanx tightens not for defense but for attack predator turns protector in this ingenious strategy to use the enemy as a shield the lesson is clear rally and move as one to advance the common good but where in nature do animals abuse the common good we're about to find out a politician builds his integrity on image and reputation he must act the part Machiavelli sold the Prince of Italy he did not have to be good merely appear to be Birds of a particular feather in Australia appear to live happily together the chuff is a cooperative bird it inhabits Australia's rich eucalyptus forests during the reproductive season they band together to build nests incubate and eventually feed and protect the chicks parental responsibility extends to the whole community every member plays a part even young chuff's must help keep the ration line moving in return for the protection of the group this collective effort means birds can cover a wide area to find food in the knowledge that the nests are not left unattended in fact everyone is minding everyone else's back adults and young helpers take turns finding food on the forest floor and return to surrender the pickings how selfless can you get but there's a quid pro quo a little give-and-take you might say this is where Machiavelli picks up the story again for some childminding in return for group protection is not enough after all it's not exactly the sort of work you volunteer for to all appearances this is just another feeding session one helper feeds the other waits is turn or rests reassured the nest is in good hands the first helper flies off to find more food it's all about trust back at the nest the second helper is alone and can do as he pleases he seems to tease the chicks like an adolescent might an infant but this is no game it's a profitable political strategy down the hatch his own hatch not to put too fine a point on it he's pretty chuffed because nobody will tell were they and she wouldn't know his integrity as an active member of the group belies all the cunning and duplicity of Machiavelli himself putting the individual ahead of the common good animal politics matures into a remarkably sophisticated art at the Arnhem zoo in the Netherlands Pierre primatologist Fran's de Waal pierced through the window into the political life of chimpanzees the males among themselves have an enormous complex political life and I've written about it I've written a book sympathy politics which is about all the coalition's they form and divide and rule strategies that they have and so males work this out all among themselves in the temple tea Society for the first time ever captive chimpanzees live together in conditions as close as possible to those found in the wild so for Arnhem zoo Reid reality TV the idea is to study the chimps social behavior close up and occasionally throw a spanner in the works [Laughter] a single dominant male rules in chimp communities other males compete for influence and challenge the leadership jambo has just outed jing as group leader body language confirms the situation is now stable the group for the time being looks to Jambo to assure its safety while jing broods alone on his fate the onus now falls on Jambo to strengthen his authority by inspiring confidence rather than fear he must be a father figure not a tyrant the leader stature depends on healthy social bonds as long as he guarantees their security they will guarantee his uneasy lies the head that wears the crown like humans evolution blasts chimpanzees with logical thought they can consider the future and calculate the odds all good political tools watch a simple experiment and see how the chimp masters political trickery Jambo may have restored harmony but the group is only the sum of its parts individuals like this female have their own interests at heart she knows where an orange has been hidden if she's not careful she'll be forced to share in the words of the 19th century French statesman priced at a lire on a court is merely an assembly of noble and distinguished beggars the trick is to wait for the right moment time to act patience and careful planning are rewarded but there were two oranges another chimp is wise to it he too considers all the angles calculating the odds and are setting the stage before acting individuals put on their best behavior at the leaders table Jambo feels compelled to flaunt his share because food is a perennial source of conflict and frustration he wants to set a good example a good leader is a servant to his people and Jambo understands the importance of sharing this can only enhance jambo stature in the group and build up credit for his future as leader but old scores remain to be settled the former dominant male King returns to square up with Jambo and on lookers better make themselves scarce Jambo must find a way to save face in front of the group and deal with Jing once and for all at this point the role of females in restoring peace to the group emerges a female leads Jing towards Jambo Jambo acknowledges the female showing his boss he ends up paying her homage in the best way he knows sexual foreplay not on your life political foreplay the female has served as pretext for Jing to sneak up on Jambo without making uncomfortable eye contact calculating female mediation works wonders Jambo like every good leader set an example by smoothing over any remaining differences everyone hopes this is the last chapter in this very mail feud if female chimpanzees are skilled in managing conflict often they become the butt of it shambo's desire is her command other males either put up or shut up the leader enjoys a complete monopoly on any female in heat Jambo stallion says Carrie great political weight his genes must come first so how do you get a look-in if you're not the boss any overt attempt at reproduction in front of the dominant male is asking for trouble it was a brave effort but none too subtle for zuly secret rendezvous are the only answer he assumes that what Jambo doesn't see he won't know but Jambo has cultivated allies spies zuly has sown the seeds of more trouble Joey sets out to betray zuly Jambo acts quickly he must an ill wind blows through the community sulie comes out of hiding and raises the stakes he imposes himself on the group pressing home the treachery in the hope of winning allies to confront Jambo but sue Lee's bravado fails to impress it's a major miscalculation and he knows it collective indifference to Zhu Li only add salt to his wounds he felt his frustration on the females easy targets for him to show off his strength the eldest female mama bears the brunt of Zhu Li strange that only brings our young impulsive chimp further into disrepute mama moves to jambo side appointed Li symbolic gesture in the end zou Lee's capitulation is so complete shambo's inaction speaks volumes the last thing Jambo wants now is to reignite the conflict their stability is paramount the moment of truth Jambo hardly bats and eyebrow if zuly wants back in that's up to him zuly stuff political rights of passage is complete it's one which he won't easily forget for jambo magnanimity and victory will keep them on his side for now at least a week is a long time in politics so what a Zhu Li learnt where did he go so wrong he failed to build allies cultivate political bonds before making a bid for power [Applause] if Zhu Li learns these lessons his day will surely come as Margaret Thatcher is often quoted as saying you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it Zhu Li should know in an ideal world politics isn't just about grabbing power it's as Aristotle said a noble practice to keep citizens happy in the palace or city-states the key to running this state organization but is this the noble life Aristotle had in mind Greek democracy considered all citizens equal that's after excluding women foreigners and of course slaves that you're a forest of Switzerland are home to one of the most organized and egalitarian societies on the planet where else would you find the complete submission of the individual to the good of the state than inside an anthill welcome back to the world of Formica ants but here they're no longer slaves of the poly urges ant in these forests they live among themselves in peace and over many miles in an intricate network of colonies that eclipses in organizational terms almost any other animal community on earth this is Arno Mader a biologist from the University of Lausanne and he's itching to guide us through this underworld prepare to enter the super colony for insects used to the cramped claustrophobic confines of a nest Formica ants also known as wood ants spread themselves surprisingly thin on the ground a hundred kilometres of pathways linked one colony to another in this remote swiss forest Arno Mader needs satellite technology to keep up his GPS tracking system records where one nest lies in relation to another it matched the super colony of one of the world's most organized and peaceful societies it's taken years and a lot of tracking for biologists to see the big picture so just what kind of a community does the wood ant inhabit like Switzerland the super colony is a federal state 1200 nests scattered within the superstructure of the Federation typically for these fussy insects one nest differs from another both in size and function for obvious reasons there are mother nests then temporary seasonal nests for gathering provisions and secondary nests which run individual sectors how many sectors 60 how many nests to each sector 25 wood ants leave nothing to chance they circulate communicate and trade over a vast area compared to the warring slave-making ants this is utopia and it's evolved over a long time ants have blanketed the earth for over a hundred million years their combined weight makes up 15% of our planet's biomass but to understand this Swiss super colony scientists through the textbook out of the window thus it's a city in this society there are 150 million ants which is phenomenal but even more amazing is that there are hundreds of thousands of Queens who coexist in perfect harmony there are no wars in the system which we can compare to a sort of Federation's without a leader completely self organized both based on a politic of mutual help and it never becomes anarchic no leader Aristotle would turn in his grave if we look carefully what we're seeing is an apolitical society of ants obsessively self-regulated just like a machine but who are we to put down the super ants when they're clearly so highly organized along highways and byways they communicate incessantly touching and exchanging odors warned of sector needs or intrusions ahead the information pipeline binds the super ants of the super colony together never tell a passing worker to mind his own business he's a control freak and a workaholic attention all workers food to sector 12 food to sector 12 in this feverish environment a worker must literally pull far more than his own weight feeding tens of thousands of mouths in a single nest is a task of biblical proportions and usually these wood ants adapt to any task at hand hunting foraging building anything to avoid lounging around plenty of workers died on the job others immediately replace them from a pool of reserves the super colony is a one-party state that caters for present and future needs if one sector falls short of workers parts a belief new blood must be found there's no shortage of queens to lay eggs where they're most needed this budding phenomena Queens pressed into service in a new nest cuts right across the grain of most animal societies Arno Mader and his fellow biologists are asking themselves a lot of hard questions in this society there's a real scientific paradox which is related to the theory of parental selection this theory means that individuals will help each other if they are related but in an anthill in a super colony you can have as many as 1500 Queens and therefore a huge genetic diversity which means that these individuals should not normally cooperate obviously we are now asking ourselves the reasons for this paradox in order to understand this stable social structure in this particular situation but then perhaps it is much more we can learn from them freedom of movement is a basic political right in the swiss super colony these are dyed-in-the-wool Federalists Arno Mader shows us how now sporting bright new shirts representing the nests they came from Arno returns the ants where he found them in different parts of the forest they're soon back to work freely interacting with each other no matter where they come from in the colony forget the colored shirts that's for our information it's the odor of the other that counts they all carry the same chemical signature they belong to the same super colony even if they inhabit different nests the ants go as they please still baffling scientists with the complexity and efficiency of their federal super state has our political Odyssey through the animal kingdom at last found the perfect society do these free Formica ants win your vote long before man first dabbled in politics animals were sleep Tinh the cruelty of slave labor the sexual politics of the permissive society Machiavellian self-interest and much more so look into your own community and find perhaps mixed comfort in the wisdom of Aristotle man is by nature a political animal [Applause] [Applause]

6 thoughts on “Animals Like Us – Animal Politics

  1. Interesting documentary, but a bit alarming that the author considers an aunt colony that resembles communism as the ideal political organization. He definitely thinks it is ideal for the individual to sacrifice themselves to the collective.

  2. I wanted something same made by presence of common study of all idealogy philosophers and d/f political ideology politician

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