Build Bridges – Resource Links

Random list of possible resources for bridging political divides

Coalitional Instincts

John Tooby  – https://www.edge.org/conversation/john_tooby-coalitional-instincts

Every human—not excepting scientists—bears the whole stamp of the human condition. This includes evolved neural programs specialized for navigating the world of coalitions—teams, not groups. (Although the concept of coalitional instincts has emerged over recent decades, there is no mutually-agreed-upon term for this concept yet.) These programs enable us and induce us to form, maintain, join, support, recognize, defend, defect from, factionalize, exploit, resist, subordinate, distrust, dislike, oppose, and attack coalitions. Coalitions are sets of individuals interpreted by their members and/or by others as sharing a common abstract identity (including propensities to act as a unit, to defend joint interests, and to have shared mental states and other properties of a single human agent, such as status and prerogatives).

Wilson quoting Stephen Crane

The Invisible Hook: How Pirate Society Proves Economic Self-Interest Wrong – 2017 December 21  – David Sloan Wilson

Stephen Crane in his short story “The Open Boat”20, based on a real-life experience in which a ship he was aboard sank off the coast of Florida and he found himself in a tiny dinghy with three other men, rowing for their lives toward the shore. Crane could have cared only for his own life, but that was not his psychological experience.

It would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him. The were a captain, an oiler, a cook, and a correspondent, and they were friends—friends in a more curiously iron-bound degree than may be common. The hurt captain, lying against the water jar in the bow, spoke always in a low voice and calmly; but he could never command a more ready and swiftly obedient crew than the motley three of the dinghy. It was more than a mere recognition of what was best for the common safety. There was surely in it a quality that was personal and heart-felt. After this devotion to the commander of the boat, there was this comradeship, that the correspondent, for instant, who had been taught to be cynical of men, knew even at the time was the best experience of his life (p 353).

I can’t speak for pirates, but countless soldiers have told similar tales of devotion to their comrades during life and death situations and a psychological merging of the self with the group. This is called “fusion” in the psychological literature and is particularly strong in terrorist groups21.

Crane, S. (n.d.). The Open Boat. In Complete Short Stories and Sketches of Stephen Crane. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.