yesterday I heard a very inspiring story. it is about a young boy and his grandfather. the grandfather tells the boy about two kinds of wolves which live in every human. there is the kind wolf, who is loving and caring, who looks after others, cares for others, and cherishes company. and the angry wolf, who is fierce with hatred, he looks after himself, wants to be right, wants to dominate, and does not want to share. the boy asks: “which wolf is stronger to dominate in me?” and the grandfather answers: “the one you are feeding”.
homo homini lupus.
this story makes me rethink the theory of hobbs stated in leviathan, which is often ascribed to have a negative view on the human nature, when stating that every person is another persons wolf. the real question behind hobbs’ theory seems to be which kind of wolf people are to another person. yet the notion of wolf seems to be read as a negative determinant, that is said to be implicit in the wolf’s nature. which, on the closer glance, however, seems to be a wrong ascription to the wolf, when looking at the social connection and cooperation in a pack of wolves.
so, if we turn the thought around and take the wolf as a social mammal, the focus on human anthropology, highlighted in hobbs’ saying, may be read as an ascription of human nature being more likely to feed the kind wolf.
one might argue now that hobbs’ theory continues, saying that because humans are (like) wolves to each other, they enter into a form of social contract with the state to gain safety in exchange for some liberties. but even this argument can be read from the perspective of the kind wolf by reading hobbs’ statement as an assertion of the social nature of wolves and humans alike: just like a pack of wolves has a leader, who is responsible for keeping the group safe, humans form into groups and follow a strong and/or wise leader as a natural reaction of social behavior and survival. it is not so much a bitter trade, but a logic tool for survival immanent in the social nature of human beings.
taking this turn of reading hobbs a step further, realist theories of international relations need to be questioned in their fundamental assumption, that states are “like humans” a wolf to each other and therefor they must be in a constant state of alarm, ready to defend themselves at any given time. what if the state is a kind wolf, caring for its group so much that it would not risk a fight with another pack for the mere sake of doing so or to enlarge its territory? what if the groups coexist without a constant worry of someone taking advantage of a group being not sufficiently armed and or ready for attack?
the only other what if that needs to be considered, in context of wolves and humans is – what if the resources are scares and they get hungry? moral codes are a luxury of good times and only few maintain them when it is about survival. in conclusion, the main question to the human race is, whether it can prevent this scarcity to happen.