A Chomsky afterthought.

Dogs wouldn’t treat other members of their pack like this.

(I realise how the heading and the sub-heading don’t appear to have any correlation but stay with me please!)

It’s widely known, I’m sure, that the wolf, from which the wild dog and the domesticated dog evolved, lives in packs of around 50 animals.  The size of the pack offers a cohesive, stable structure for the wolf, and other pack species, ensuring group survival and well-being. In a very real sense the way that wolves live is a fabulous example of the power of community.

Just be sidetracked a moment by the following graph, presented on the Berkeley University website:

My understanding of early hominids is pretty basic but if ‘Homo habilis‘ represents the evolution of modern man then our species goes back less than 3 million years.

Compare that with canids. The website WolfWeb states,

The Dog linage began 37 million years ago in North America in predators that had distinctive pairs of shearing teeth and ran down prey. Early canids reached Europe seven million years ago.

Thirty-seven million years!  Now that’s what I call an example of  “group survival and well-being“.  The power of community.

As stated elsewhere on this blog,

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

The ten dogs we have here at home are split into two groups of five.  What we call the bedroom group: Pharaoh, Cleo, Sweeny, Hazel and Dhalia, and the kitchen group consisting of Lily, Casey, Ruby, Paloma and Loopy.  Both groups are separated by wooden fences so are more than aware of each other.

Something that is clear is that whenever one of the dogs is hurt, all the other dogs take notice. Others in the same group will come up to their hurt ‘buddy’ and offer comfort in a variety of ways.  Sadly, I can’t give you a better example than our poor Loopy who is suffering badly from the dog equivalent of dementia.

Here’s a picture taken of Loopy on Wednesday afternoon.  You will notice the strange sleeping position that she frequently adopts.  That’s an aspect of her dementia.


The other dogs in her group all give her special attention.  Such as not grabbing her sleeping bed, not pushing or shoving near her, giving her a wide space in general.  The other dogs sense there is something badly awry with Loopy and accommodate that.

So what on earth has this to do with yesterday’s post Who owns the World?  Keep hanging in there!

A recent link in Naked Capitalism‘s daily news summary was to a story in the British Guardian newspaper.  Written by the Guardian’s Kevin McKenna, it was about the likelihood of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Scottish independence is fast becoming the only option

Even to a unionist like me, an Alex Salmond-led government is preferable to one that rewards greed and corruption

It’s an interesting article and I recommend you read it directly.  But what jumped off the page at me were these paragraphs.  Please focus deeply on the words and ponder on how foreign they are to the concept of community.

Yet we conveniently overlook the fact that London has already broken away from the United Kingdom and now exists as a world super-state governed by the greed of unhindered capitalism and recognisable as British only by its taxis and bad service. As the world’s most newly minted oligarchs continue to colonise the independent state of London, it becomes almost impossible for families on less than £250k to live decently there. Poor London families made homeless by the coalition benefit cuts are being evacuated as far north as Middlesbrough.

Last week, Goldman Sachs, one of the banks with its fingers in the till when global economic meltdown occurred, awarded an average bonus of £250,000 to each of its employees. The gap between the richest in our society and the poorest stretched a little more and we were reminded yet again that the UK government, despite its promises, allows greed, incompetence and corruption to be rewarded. (How many people do you think will go to jail for the Libor rate-fixing scandal?) Meanwhile, Westminster politicians are dividing the poor into categories marked “deserving” and “scum”.

Think a dog is just a cuddly animal that gives you a chance to do some dog-walking?  Again, written elsewhere on Learning from Dogs.


  • are integrous (a score of 210 according to Dr David Hawkins)
  • don’t cheat or lie
  • don’t have hidden agendas
  • are loyal and faithful
  • forgive
  • love unconditionally
  • value and cherish the ‘present’ in a way that humans can only dream of achieving
  • are, by eons of time, a more successful species than man.

Now compare that with the last sentence in Noam Chomsky’s essay from yesterday, “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.

Hatred of the vulnerable“; “those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome” are not expressions that resonate with the values of loving communities.  If we humans want “group survival and well-being” we had better learn from species lupus and canid. Pronto!


4 thoughts on “A Chomsky afterthought.

  1. Hello in wonderland! Beautiful?
    BUT…I don’t think that anything past, say, 30,000-35,000 years (even earlier, some think) can be proved. Theory is being taught as fact. PBS is pushing much of this stuff to push God out of the picture and make man appear insignificant. A growing number of scientists believe in the “Young Earth Theory.” Show me the proof of 37 mil. years.
    Be well.


    1. Marcia, thank you for your comment. And what a thought-provoking comment it is!

      The challenge, I suspect, is determining an absolute meaning of the word ‘proof’. A quick online look-up reveals:

      1. To establish the truth or validity of by presentation of argument or evidence.
      2. Law To establish the authenticity of (a will).
      3. To determine the quality of by testing; try out.
      4. Mathematics
      a. To demonstrate the validity of (a hypothesis or proposition).
      b. To verify (the result of a calculation).
      5. Printing To make a sample impression of (type).
      6. Archaic To find out or learn (something) through experience.
      To be shown to be such; turn out: a theory that proved impractical in practice.

      Which underlines the numerous ways of looking at ‘proof’.

      For example, the absolute proof of God is a tough call, and so on.

      Nevertheless, the archaeological evidence presented in relation to man, dog and wolf is extremely reliable. Bones can be reliable dated using radio-carbon dating, as I’m sure others who know so much more than me can attest.

      But fundamentally, this is all besides the point. Which is that our ways of living are broken and increasingly being seen as such.

      Hope you didn’t mind me going on a bit in my reply!



  2. I get what you mean,perhaps we’re too ‘smart’ to our own good, we tend (or fool ourselves to believe) to think we can do anything and can get away easily. In comparison, the animal world is fairly simple and less complicated, animals just only worry about survival, if their survival is not threatened, most of the time they do no harm!


    1. We have been watching a BBC programme called Wolfland about the history of wolves in Ireland. Early on in the first programme they describe how sensitive wolves are to their surroundings and the numerous ways that they pick up on the thoughts and intentions of other members of their pack.

      Just as it is with Pharaoh here at home (and to a lesser degree with the other dogs). At times Pharaoh seems to know what I’m about to do before I do!

      Sorry, got distracted! My guess is that the animal world is far less simple than it appears. Their social interaction, in particular, is extremely complex. But it has worked in a way that we humans can only dream about.


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