All humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance. Like the positive attributes in humanity, some of this is biological, some of this is because of societal pressures.
We evolved to maximize two outcomes – our own survival and replication. In order to maximize this, we evolved to cooperate socially in order to build up a tribe – a community of people with similar interests that add to the collective strength and efficiencies of the group.
We also evolved to be competitive. We are competitive because we get energized by driving toward something – even if that thing is at the expense of others, and because we are rewarded for winning in competition. Being engaged in a task comes from this drive – this want to succeed. Being engaged in a task focuses the mind. Focus allows us to be present in the moment, which can be used to be productive and accomplish or to have fun.
We are also competitive because we are rewarded for winning in competition. This applies across all games – all opportunities to be competitive, and it applies interpersonally as well as socially. There are winners and losers in life. Some people live longer than others, one guy marries and has children with the hot chick, and one person’s company gets funded and goes on to make billions of dollars. This happens at the expense of others. One guy settles for a woman he sees as less attractive. Another dies early. Employees at one startup work hard for years but get crushed when they don’t get additional funds while a competitor does.
There are psychological rewards for success across any of these games. By “winning” we are given the satisfaction of a job well done. We reap fruits of the hard effort we put in. Accomplishment is a big motivator. It gives us meaning, and reinforces that we are valued by society when we do a good job. This allows to have confidence in what we do, which manifests in mental strength and more confident actions and decision making in the future. This is why positive reinforcement has been proven to be much more effective than negative reinforcement in order to get results.
Likewise, social rewards come in many forms. Socially, we can get public recognition for a job well done – such as our name in the newspaper, a bonus, or a pat on the back. In the sexual market, we are rewarded for being more attractive. If we are best able to communicate our ability to appeal to a woman’s want to survive and replicate, then we can be given access to sexual favors from that woman (or women). It is in this competition that we seek to be better than others. Humans will out-work and out-charm other humans at the expense of other humans.
Another aspect of competition is the jealousy and greed that emerges as a result. When people achieve and reap the rewards society has to offer, we look at them with contempt. It takes a wise man to be unfettered by the success of others. Jealousy is a very natural feeling. Jealousy emerges when we are not being rewarded by society at the rate of others. We become resentful because they pose a threat to our ability to appeal to the other sex, to money and resources, or the status of being a leader in the in-group.
Similar, greed is the obsession of the accumulation of things. This usually comes at the expense of others too. If someone controls wealth and power, they will be rewarded with sex, status, and control over others. These things feel good when they are experienced, and they reward with more material goods, which also feels good. Greed is a reinforcing loop that leads to more greed, which comes at the expense of others.
While jealousy and greed can motivate an individual to build the skills and knowledge necessary to climb a dominance hierarchy to achieve the status and wealth he set out to realize, there are downsides these traits. Jealousy and greed make us wanting of more. They reinforce that we are not good enough, or don’t have enough things, and in doing so make us want. When we want, we are necessarily not content with what we currently have.
Wars and acts of terror happen for these reasons. We feel threatened by another group, or we are greedy for resources that other people have. So, we seek destruction and dominance in order to satisfy our cravings, which can surface at an individual or a societal level.
When we aren’t content with what we currently have, we have two options. We can acquire more (status, things, etc). This is more likely to be chosen by people that are greedy and jealous, because they have been rewarded for their greed and jealousy in the past. The other option is to stop wanting. This requires psychologically detaching ourselves from the wants and needs of a given competition. Most of these competitions are externally pushed onto us. We can reject them, and learn to be happy with what we have.
Finally, human beings are inherently violent because we despise the routine. We hate being bored, and we actively seek things to interrupt what is normal. We get drunk after a good day (or bad day). We change sex positions into something more risqué. We travel somewhere we’ve never been.
If we were given a “perfect society”, where everyone was happy and received what they want and were also rewarded for their efforts, it would not take long for people to destroy the whole system. We would bring the perfect system to ashes because it’s boring. We crave adventure. We crave the disorder that keeps us interested and motivated to learn how to overcome that disorder – to create order out of chaos.
In summary, all humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance because:
- We are competitive and compete for status and sexual favor.
- We are jealous, manipulative, and greedy.
- We despise the routine.