Why Nobody Will Eat The Rich

Allan Milne Lees
7 min readJun 4, 2020

How hardwired patterns of human behavior reinforce social hierarchies rather than threaten to upend them.

Image credit: KFGO

Thanks to the fieldwork of ethologists over the last four decades or so, we now know a significant amount about the behavior of various primate species across a wide range of circumstances. As we humans are merely another group primate species, it’s not surprising that many of the research findings apply strongly to us as well. Furthermore, studies of various human populations have shown that yes, indeed, what’s true of baboons and monkeys is often true for humans too.

Given the time we are passing through, from the futility of Occupy Wall Street to the self-harm of today’s anti-police-brutality protests, it’s pertinent to understand our hardwired behaviors and why they will not result in any significant impact on those at the apex of society.

Or, in other words, why no one is going to eat the rich anytime soon.

Sure, it’s lovely to see people rioting. Right-wing folk can fondle their shotguns and tweet about “looting and shooting” while they cram a few dozen more donuts into their swollen bellies. Left-wing folk can gleefully virtue-signal by tweeting nonsense about eating the rich. And the mass media is grateful for a new source of context-free sensationalism now that they’ve exhausted SARS-COV2 and are reduced to writing stories like Trust Fund Yoga Instructor Millie Saint-Claire Says Coronavirus Killed Her Spirit Animal.

But the harsh reality is that all the behavior is predictable and is basically sound and fury signifying nothing in terms of social upheaval.

In fact, all the sensation so beloved of the mass media is actually reinforcing the current social hierarchy.

To see why this is, let’s commence with baboons in East Africa. Baboons are, like us, a highly social species and as such have a wide range of hardwired behaviors that facilitate group existence. As evolution has no goal in mind, and certainly doesn’t conform to our notions of what could be “nice,” these hardwired behaviors are simply those that on average across the baboons’ evolutionary history have tended to be good enough to permit the survival of the species across the range of conditions they habitually experience.

Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.