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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #37 of 52: Inter-Gender Attraction | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #39 of 52: Is Consciousness Epiphenomenal? »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #38 of 52: Animal Territoriality

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Yesterday we talked grand metaphysics and God. Now let us return to the here and now world.

By the way, one must be able to shift ones mind from the metaphysical to the physical. One cannot afford to live in the clouds at all times; that would be fantasy. One must live in the here and now world and deal with its reality.

The here and now world has certain principles, laws, or call them what you like, and we must all deal with them.

I am not an escapist from this world, I do not negate this world, I deal with it, as it is, and nevertheless recognize the existence of another reality, the metaphysical world. I deal with the laws of physics, what the Romans called Natura-natura, nature.

I deal with natural man while acknowledging that there is more to him than meets the eyes. I tell you this because some folks often make the mistake to think that I live in the clouds and act out and I immediately put on my hardball hat and treat them in manners that they do not expect another human being to do. I can be very severe, for I do not mess around with human beings.

I know that human beings, in their present ego states, are as Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan) described them: very selfish and look after their self interests at the expense of social interest. Thus, when they act to place their self interests ahead of mine, I immediately descend on them like a ton of bricks and punish them.

I have no pity on selfish human beings, I treat them like one treats animals, for if a person is only selfish he is living in the animal mode and ought to be treated as an animal.

I particularly treat Nigerians as animals, since they have chosen to be selfish and not be socially interested. In choosing self centeredness they have reduced themselves to animal status and are treated without respect.

Only caring for each other, love, makes us different from animals.

Animals, human beings included, are territorial creatures. This means that they tend to demarcate territories as theirs and try to keep other animals away from entering them. A lion would consider a certain territory as its own and not permit other lions to enter it (except a lioness, for obvious reasons). If another male lion tried to enter his territory he chased him away and if the other is also an alpha male and does not mind fighting for his rights the two lions fight it out. Whichever wins the fight takes over the territory (and whatever harem of lionesses is there). To the victor goes the boothies.

Nature is fierce and full of what Charles Darwin called the struggle for the survival of the fittest. In the wild, make no mistake about it, the strongest animal survives at the expense of the weakest animal. Strong, big fish eats small weak fish. This is just the way it is in nature. Do not deceive your self with misguided religious sentimentality.

Human beings are always struggling for access to the scarce resources that exist in the world. Generally, the strongest get more than the weak. This is reality.

If your parents were strong men they probably had land etc for you. If they were weak persons they probably left you with no land. Such is life. Make no mistake about it.

Life is not the nice thing they teach you at Sunday school. Life is characterized by the struggle of wills. You may not like it but such is life.

I recall spending some time in my Igbo village. I observed my grandfather. Very few persons dared talk when he talked. If you did you might wound up punished and your land taken away from you. That was the way it was and still is in a different form.

Do I like what I see? What has what I like got to do with anything? I am interested in reality, not fiction.

I became interested in animal territoriality when I was in college. It was a white college. There were just a handful of black student there. Because there were just a few of us, one had the opportunity to learn a few things about ones self.

As a minority, you enter into your animal mode and operate as an animal, pure and simple. You consider yourself in enemy territory, not consciously, perhaps unconsciously, and do what you have to do to survive.

I would go to a class and was the only black face in it. Imagine typical undergraduate classes, particularly introductory courses, sometimes with over two hundred kids in them. So there I was in the sea of white faces.

Then I began to notice that on the first day of class I would go to a chair and subsequently went there. If, for any reason, another kid, white kid, sat on my chair I felt angry. I mean angry. I felt: how dare he take my chair?

There you have it. How dare he take my Chair? Since when was a chair bought and paid for by White Americans an African’s chair? There you go.

Rationality apart, I still felt angry if another boy took my seat. I would look at the boy with menacing eyes. If the occupant is a female, I was a bit angry but not as angry as if he were a boy. (Men compete with men for control of their territory, not with women? Men want to take care of women and children?)

Being who I am, an introspective type, I began to wonder why this seeming innocuous event bothered me. I talked to other boys and they said that they generally had mild irritation when some one took over their seats but moved on to open sits, without sweating the issue.

I have a hang dog mentality and when an idea enters my consciousness it becomes obsessive-compulsive and I won’t let go until I understand it.

So I went to the library and did a little research on the subject. I came upon the writings of Conrad Lorenz (Ethology) and others who wrote on animal territoriality. I was so fascinated that I did a paper on the subject and the professor asked me to turn it into a thesis and I did. In the process of doing the research for the thesis, I practically read everything written on the subject of territoriality.

I will not bore you with scholarly literature review. My job here is to put complex ideas into simple language that high school kids can comprehend. I am writing at tenth grade level, I think.

Animals are territorial creatures. They demarcate areas of land and call it their own and defend them. This behavior accounts for the nation state.

Each nation state is a territory staked out by certain human animals and defended by them. They keep out other human animals from their territory. If you tried to enter their territory they could kill you.

(Mexicans try to enter a territory White Anglo Saxon Protests, WASP, from North West Europe, a Germanic group, staked out for themselves and are arrested and sent back. Papists Spaniards are not desired in Henry the eight’s protestant country.)

Germanic Europeans came all the way from Europe and warred with Indians, defeated them and took over their territory. They marked off their land. It is called national boundary. If you entered that territory without their permission you have invaded their space and you are treated with severity.

Animals do kill other animals that stray into their personal space, at the individual and group level. At the individual level, each of us has his own territory. (Three feet around each person is his personal space; if you come too close he moves back and if you do not get the message to stay out and keep coming closer he attacks you.)

Human beings have their houses and yards and fence them off and that is their little territory. If you entered somebody’s house he would feel violated and might kill you.

I used to think myself a mild mannered Christian person until one day, I came home from work and found that a thief had broken into my house and stolen some of the electronic equipments that littered the place. I felt depowered, violated and furious. When I feel attacked, my God, I go into offensive mood. I called the police and stayed on the case until the punk was arrested and jailed. I could not let go until he was behind bars. You get the point. I am very territorial. I protect my house, my yard, and my properties. You also do the same. We do so because we are territorial animals.

Given the fact that folks are kept out of countries by those persons who claim and defend them as theirs, and that the land so claimed are not naturally belong to the folks who claim them as theirs, that only their aggression seem to make it theirs, until other aggressive persons drive them off, if you are the aggressive alpha male type, you probably have felt irritated that countries keep you out? I used to ask: if the birds have a right to fly to wherever they want to fly to, why should I not go to wherever I want to go? I resented being kept out of certain countries. I did whatever I had to do and have practically being everywhere. And I feel at home wherever I go to. I do not permit other people to tell me that I am a foreigner and that they own the land. I felt at home in Scandinavia as I feel in North America or Africa. The world, all of it, is my home. The right that I grant myself I grant to other people. Thus I see white folks as belonging in all of Africa, as Africans belong everywhere in this world. I support white Afrikaners being in South Africa, as I support Africans in Europe. I am totally consistent in my philosophy.

Why am I telling you all these? I am telling you these facts so that you deal with facts and stopped that sentimentality I see in Africans that makes me sick to my stomach.

Our life on earth is really as Thomas Hobbes described it: perpetual war. We are at war with each other. Each person is motivated by self interests and will attack other persons and take from them if he could get away with doing so. The other persons would defend themselves from your attack. The result is that life on earth is nasty, brutish and short. Life on earth is life in a jungle, a human jungle. It is a dog eat dog world and we all feel insecure in that jungle.

To reduce our personal and collective insecurity, we formed civil governments. We selected leaders and made them rulers over us. We pass laws and bid certain authoritative persons to implement them with the objective of protecting our individual lives. Without laws we revert to the jungle and live insecure lives.

Why do we need to know this? Nigerians are sometimes so dumb that it makes you want to puke. See, they allowed their country to revert back to jungle status where insecurity reigns. They do not seem to understand the primacy of law in civil society.

In civil society law must be supreme. If a fellow disobeys the law, we must arrest him, try him and put him away. There should be no misguided sentimentality in the matter. The society must be draconian and treat antisocial elements without pity.

In fact, a developing society like Nigeria, where necessarily there is tremendous disparity between the haves and the have nots and the have nots are tempted to by pass the arduous road to acquiring wealth, ought to have more draconian laws. There ought to be capital punishment; criminals ought to be immediately hunted down and captured and jailed.

Criminals should have no rights, whatsoever. Garbage must be treated like garbage. You do the crime and you do the time. You kill other people you get killed. That is all there is to it.

Why you committed crimes is for you and your shrink to figure out, not for society to worry about.

You should not commit crimes and if you do, in my book, you belong in jail, period. I have no misguided sentimentality on this issue. If I had my way, I would pack most Nigerian politicians and bureaucrats off to prison. I would turn the Sahara Desert into our own Siberia and send prisoners to there and have them plant trees in the arid land and try to transform it into habitable land.

I would have prisoners feed themselves, for law abiding citizens have no business feeding those who chose to disobey the laws of the land. I am totally a law and order type of person.

Natural man is capable of unimaginable evil and you do not need to deceive yourself with misguided sentimentalities about him. Your Church going and seeming nice neighbor could sell you down the river, if it serves his or her interests. See, for a thousand years (900-1900AD) Africans sold each other into slavery, first to Arabs and then to Europeans.

Arabs and Europeans used African labor to develop their countries. I am not being sentimental here, for it takes two to tango. Africans sold their people, and others bought them. Both Africans and non-Africans were culpable in the crime of slave trade.

The lesson is that all human beings are capable of criminal behavior and if left to their devices could enslave each other.

Human beings are always looking out for ways to reduce the labor they expend in their efforts to extract a living from their impersonal, harsh environment. If they could employ other persons labor for free in their efforts to extract living from their world they would do so.

Your smiling neighbor could be your slave master tomorrow; therefore, in dealing with him or her; do not deceive yourself, be tough minded. Do not trust his professed good nature; pass laws that prevent him from enslaving and using you and you him.

In the law I trust. I do not trust in good human nature. This is hard nosed realism.

Human beings are territorial animals. Do you disagree with this observation? If you do, let us hear your argument. And I do not want to hear sentimentalist or socialist drivel about how man is good. Jean Jacque Rousseau (Social Contract) wrote that man is by nature good, is born free but everywhere is in chains. He thought that in nature we are good. He talked about the Noble savage who is uncorrupted by civilized living. Unbeknown to him the noble savages, Indians, were chopping off each others heads in senseless wars.

Hobbes remains the most realistic political philosopher in the world. Read Hobbes, Locke, Machiavelli, Montesquieu etc and you would be a political realist.

Karl Marx and his cohorts appeal to our feelings not to our heads. Life is: on your marks, get set and go, and some win and some lose. There will always be winners and losers in the game of life.

Of course, the winners ought to help the losers. Bill Gates, a winner, ought to give some of his money to universities to support research. That is how winners ought to help losers, not by giving folks free money.

Give money to train the poor and homeless, but never, repeat, never give these people free money, for in nature there is no free lunch. You want to eat an orange? You climb an orange tree, risk been pierced by its thorns, and pluck an orange. If you wait for an orange to fall down and you pick it to eat it you will eat rotten oranges since only rotten ones fall down. This is reality, my friend.

Life is struggle for the survival of the fittest, Herbert Spencer tells us and my own experiences confirm for me. So let us get on with realism. Part of that realism is that human beings, along with other animals, are territorial creatures.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 01:02 AM

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