Carolyn Chute paints a picture that implies freedom in society is a fiction. “Treat Us like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves” gives definition to Ameri..Show More »can militias and aberrant societies that grow into rages against conventional government. In any aggregate of people in a society, a set of rules are created through dictatorship or representative government, with varying levels of individual apathy. Each society uses propaganda, advertising, and cultural norms to maintain its existence. If general acceptance of societies’ rules diminishes, totalitarianism rises.
Chute writes a story that shows how human cognition militates against society based on a Pavlovian reward system. Though the title is about bad treatment of dogs, Chute metaphorically reveals how Pavlovian treatment of human beings turns them into predatory beasts. Chute implies societies’ leaders, influencers, and propagandists attempt to treat people through self-interest and a reward system reminiscent of B. F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. Failure is inevitable because human’s rebel when self-interest distorts the general good.
"Treat Us like Dogs..." reinforces belief in Thomas Hobbes “Leviathan”. There can be no perfect form of government in society because of the nature of humankind. Humans are both good and evil. To form a society, people need rules of governance that protects them from each other. In setting those rules, freedom is infringed upon; without infringement, there is only anarchy. Absolute freedom in society is a fiction.
Chute’s story is too long. It has more characters than are necessary and its narration could be improved with the addition of a female narrator. However, “Treat Us like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves” remains a valuable explanation of how militias and aberrant societies ironically grow in western economies that emphasize human rights and freedom.