Bizarrely enough, modern intellectual thought has actually managed to make most people forget what human nature is and how it works. Here are a few passages that will help to remind us:
Young people seek power and status. This is natural. It will always be the case. However, they are young; so they seek not the things that will bring them power now, but the things that will bring them power when they are of age to rule. Not, of course, that this is a conscious strategy; it is more a matter of evolutionary biology. But it still works. The number of former ’60s radicals in positions of power today is remarkable.
Thus, it is better to say that young people seek potential power and status. If an elite is open to new talent, they will seek it in that elite. If an elite is not open to new talent, or if the process of entering it excludes much of that talent…
In this case, we see a prerevolutionary condition. The classic case is late 19th-century Russia. Young elites, instead of being attracted to careers in the administrative or clerical arms of the Czarist state, were attracted to revolutionary activism – plotting to replace that regime. They seek a different path to power – not an existing path, but a potential and hypothetical path.
Physiologically adult humans are not meant to spend an additional 10 years in a school system; their brains map that onto “I have been assigned low tribal status”. And so, of course, they plot rebellion – accuse the existing tribal overlords of corruption – plot perhaps to split off their own little tribe in the savanna, not realizing that this is impossible in the Modern World. The teenage males map their own fathers onto the role of “tribal chief”…
Sociobiological theory also has profound implications for the nature of the family. Generations of psychologists have presumed that evolution (or some very powerful force) must have intended the family to function more smoothly than it generally does. A naive model of the nature of the family assumes that it is harmonious under ideal conditions, since that is allegedly how it was designed. But it was not so designed. Like the male-female pair, it is an association among individuals with partly distinct evolutionary purposes. Family members are often at odds with each other’s ultimate (not merely temporary) purposes, and their relations are naturally conflicted rather than naturally harmonious. This conflict is not friction in what should or could be a smoothly functioning system but is intrinsic.
~Melvin Konner, Only The Reckless Survive and Other Secrets of Human Nature