[ExI] Asabiyyah

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Oct 26 22:19:19 UTC 2015

(From one of my current projects:)

There is some research suggesting that parochialism or in-group 
favouritism is a pretty common thing, often based more on internal 
cooperation rather than out-group derogation.
This tendency seems to be proportional to the cooperation level.
Conversely, competition between groups can actually lead to increased 
contribution to public goods inside the group and increased effectiveness.
Men tend to have higher levels of parochialism, cooperating more than 
women inside their group but also have higher out-group conflict proclivity.

What substrate does this phenomenon run on? I don't think we need to 
blame genetics or intelligence, culture is more than enough. A strongly 
male dominated, competitive situation, perhaps with highly mobile 
people, would tend to produce a situation where tribal identity and 
parochialism become strong. And of course, once you are parochial you 
will develop memes that maintain your group and explain why this is the 
right way of life.

Note that high-trust societies are typically small and homogeneous, or 
have reliable institutions that can fix conflicts. But why do we trust 
the institutions? This is very much a cultural training thing: for rule 
of law to work people actually have to think there is a rule of law, and 
this may take generations to build up. There is a lot invested in the 
social capital of advanced societies. We better take care of it.

On 2015-10-26 20:23, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> Nations differ in the quality and degree of social cohesiveness. 
> Traditional tribal societies have very strong kin loyalty, especially 
> where endogamous marriage is practiced but very weak bonds to non-kin. 
> They say "Me and my brother against my cousins, me and my cousins 
> against the world". More evolved societies, especially the ones west 
> of the Hajnal line and the ones comprised primarily of their blood 
> descendants, tend to have a more atomized familial life, and yet their 
> large-scale organization is more integrated and better functioning. 
> There appears to be a trade-off between the asabiyyah that binds the 
> clan, giving its warriors the strength to fight to the death, and the 
> more abstract bond among Westerners, that gives them the ability to 
> peacefully cooperate.
> I wonder what is the specific biological mechanism involved in 
> generating this social organization difference. Is it a different 
> sensitivity to early social imprinting? Is it based on detection of 
> genetic differences by smell? Is it simply a matter of intelligence? I 
> never found any references to mechanistic, genetic and biochemical 
> research on this subject, although there is some arm-waving evo-psych 
> speculation in some corners of the internets.
> The billion-genome genetic research of the next 50 years will no doubt 
> shed some light on this issue.
> Rafał
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20151026/f305cc32/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list