“Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the ‘fear effect’ and the end of ideologies” By David Brin

from IEET:

“In fact, while the models of Freud, Marx, and Machiavelli (also Madison, Keynes, Hayek, Gandhi etc.) attracted followers, I think a stronger case can be made for tribalism as a driver of history.
Shouldn’t any theory of our nature apply across the long span when that nature formed? Indeed, Freud, Marx and Rand shared cluelessness about Darwinian evolution, animal behavior, pre-agricultural anthropology, or ethology.


(…) Over and over, we see how devotion to a group, clan, or nation overwhelms individual self-interest. Indeed, for most of the last million years, any man or woman who lost the faith and confidence of his or her tribe was in great danger. Often effectively dead.

Ask any kid between the ages of ten and nineteen—how urgently youneeded approval of a small group of friends, coincidentally about the same size as a prototypical Cro-Magnon tribal band. And if that group turned on you, remember the pain?

Sure, parents tell their kids—“Don’t worry, you’ll make new friends.” At one level, in the rational prefrontal lobes, we know this to be true. And yet, the gut still wrenches, as if life were on the line… which it would have been, back in olden days, if the tribe ejected you from its circle of comradeship.

Oh, but humans can be very flexible defining what is “my tribe.” More often than not, the major determining factor is fear. (…)

1) There is a “Worry Horizon”… what threats concern you and your neighbors. Here we see that worry is quite a different thing than Fear! (…)  Fear controls what it is that we are worrying about. And how far we’ll look for it.

2) There is also a “Time Horizon” having to do with how far into the future you devote your attention (…) The better, more productive and secure civilization (…) empowers you to look farther, to more distant, dangerous horizons.

3) Another might be called the “Otherness Horizon” – where one looks not for danger but for opportunities, adventures, new allies, new mating partners. (…)

This could also be called the “Horizon of Inclusion” since it is partly about deciding how many people you want to deal with as worthy fellow citizens and negotiating partners, and where you draw the line, calling others foes. …” read full article