The Human Hierarchy

Human society, like the society of other related primates is built upon a hierarchy. Our status within it tells us everything we need to know about ourselves and our relationship with others.

A homeless person in the street is below you, and the prime minister or the queen is above you. I am below you, but above a homeless person in the street. A ex-criminal recenty released from prison is above a homeless person in the street, but below me, you and the prime minister. Most of the time we compete with our friends who are usually peers among the hierarchy. We often think of ourselves as above them while being aware that they are thinking of themselves as above us.

I hope that my illustration of the system indicates its stupidity because people, like hamsters or any members of a species, are really just the same. You should recognise that the hierarchy is part of our genes, the design of the human species, and all people feel it even if it opposes logic. Feelings of inadequacy come only from our perception of ourselves within the hierarchy. Those people who consider themselves below someone else feel unhappy because they feel inadequate.


Once the hierarchy is understood, one can work towards exiting or ignoring it. Those who leave are level with all others who have also left it. Many species exist without hierachical societies, and all species that are not extinct are equally successful. Feelings that humans are a better species than others, like feelings that one's nation or race is better than others, also stem only from the status driven nature of the human species. It is worth noting that intelligent species all appear to be hierarchical. Humans, (probably) the most intelligent species of all, can with reason choose to ignore the status hierarchy, but like ignoring any genetic predisposition this is very difficult.

Mark Sheeky, 13 Feb 2005