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of individuals in it, just as culture is seen as nothing but the collection of

disarticulated bits and pieces, individual preferences and habits.


Such a view completely confuses, partly by linguistic confusion, very
different phenomena. It is obviously not the case that Britain and Germany
made war on each other in 1914 because individual Britons and individual
Germans felt aggressive. If that were the case, we would not need
conscription. Englishmen, Canadians, and Americans killed Germans and
vice versa because the state put them in a position that made it inevitable
they did so. A refusal to be conscripted meant a jail term and the refusal to
obey orders in the field meant death. Great machines of propaganda, martial
music, and stories of atrocities are manufactured by the state to convince its
citizens that their lives and the chastity of their daughters are at risk in the
face of the threat of barbarians. The confusion between individual
aggression and national aggression is a confusion between the rush of
hormones that may be felt if someone is slapped in the face and a national
political agenda to control natural resources, lines of commerce, prices of
agricultural goods, and the availability of labor forces that are the origins of
warfare. It is important to realize that one does not have to have a particular
view of the content of human nature to make this error of individuals
causing society. Prince Kropotkin, a famous anarchist, also claimed that
there was a universal human nature but one that would create
cooperativeness and would be anti-hierarchical if only it were allowed free
play.23 But his theory was no less a theory of the dominance of the
individual as the source of the social.
Having described a universal set of human social institutions that are said to
be the consequence of individual natures, socio-biological theory then goes
on to claim that those individual properties are coded in our genes. There are
said to be genes for entrepreneurship, for male dominance, for aggressivity,
so conflict between the sexes and parents and offspring is said to be
genetically programmed. What is the evidence that these claimed human
universals are in fact in the genes? Often, it is simply asserted that because
they are universal they must be genetic. A classic example is the discussion
of sexual dominance. Professor Wilson has written in The New York Times,
"In hunter-gatherer societies, men hunt and women stay at home. This
strong bias persists in most agricultural and industrial societies [apparently,