The Inevitability Of Us vs Them

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 4 2012 @ 8:44pm


Our love of sports, politics and religion all come down to our tribal instincts, according to E.O. Wilson:

Our bloody nature, it can now be argued in the context of modern biology, is ingrained because group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are. In prehistory, group selection lifted the hominids to heights of solidarity, to genius, to enterprise. And to fear. Each tribe knew with justification that if it was not armed and ready, its very existence was imperiled. Throughout history, the escalation of a large part of technology has had combat as its central purpose. Today, public support is best fired up by appeal to the emotions of deadly combat, over which the amygdala is grandmaster. We find ourselves in the battle to stem an oil spill, the fight to tame inflation, the war against cancer. Wherever there is an enemy, animate or inanimate, there must be a victory. Any excuse for a real war will do, so long as it is seen as necessary to protect the tribe. 

(Photo: A Palestinian protester rolls a tire to burn, as a man throws stones towards Israeli soldiers on March 23, 2012, during a protest against the closure of a road during the second Intifada (began late September 2000) by Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Kadumim, in the West Bank village of Kfar Kadum. By Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)