Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
No, the fact that the chimps don't do it isn't the reason for my distinction. I make the distinction between simple and complex tools because complex tools present a bootstrap problem.

Suppose you take a troop of chimps, take their tools away and displace them to an unknown area. They will be able to recreate their entire stock of tools in more or less the same state within a very short span of time. They have all the knowledge required, all the raw materials at hand, and all the cultural structure they need.

Now suppose you do the same with one of the early Sumerian city-states. They still have all the raw materials readily at hand. They have all the culturally embedded knowledge. They have all the craftsmen and laborers they had in their city-state. But they would not be able to bootstrap a Sumerian civilization before they starved and died. Because they would not have the tools they would need to build the tools with which they were familiar. They would not have the irrigation systems that their forefathers built up over generations. They would not have the granaries to stockpile food, or the roads to transport it in from the farms. Or even the strains of food crops carefully cultivated and domesticated.

I argue that this, more than anything else, is what distinguishes chimpanzee and human politics. Because the rest is a lot more similar than most people give the chimps credit for.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 21st, 2013 at 11:03:10 AM EST
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