chapter  11
Pages 14

The survival of a theory depends on the support that accumulates around it, or the number of people that accept the theory. People will only sustain a theory if it continues to accommodate their interests. These interests include most fundamentally the interest in security, the sense of being protected against real or imaginary dangers. They include factional advantage in society – ascendancy over others, giving a greater share of whatever physical or psychological advantages are available. Power is the height of ascendancy, generating the greatest physical and psychological advantages. They include the common interest in the means of making a living, generally the more comfortable the better. They include also interest in the truth about the world and human society, arising perhaps from an innate curiosity in humans, but if not that, then from recognition that there could be adverse consequences if we act without understanding what we are about. The first concern regarding the theory of support-bargaining is its validity as the truth about human behaviour. Some account was provided in Chapter 6 of the evidence relating to support-bargaining, but there is scope for the assembly of more. The neuroscientific evidence seems particularly important. It covers only the ‘buzz’ emanating from our brains, rather than giving us access to the basic biological processes that are ‘thought’, but it nevertheless provides measurable evidence as to whether the theory of support-bargaining is consistent with what we know of the functioning of our brains. The neurological evidence cited in Chapter 6 is consistent with the theory of support-bargaining, but is limited to the consequences of social rejection. There is potentially neurological evidence to be acquired regarding reactions in the mind to expressions of social approval. Neurological research is a rapidly expanding field. The theory of support-bargaining may suggest to researchers new interpretations for output of research already completed. It suggests also where new research might usefully be directed. Much importance was attached in the previous chapter to the association of support-bargaining with symmetry theory. Symmetry theory is important to the understanding of how humans make choices and how they are able to agree choices in groups. Humans make selections that fit their situation by reference to symmetry. Symmetry thus has a central role in the psychology of supportbargaining. Support-bargaining is not only consistent with symmetry theory, but

dependent on it. The understanding of human behaviour has to be associated with symmetry theory in a universe that displays such evidence of symmetry as a fundamental determinant of its state. Beyond the truth about human motivation and behaviour, there is the question of what factional interests might be sustained by support-bargaining. In this context, the most important factor may be the changes it makes in existing distributions of support. Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been one of the most influential theories ever formulated. Its impact on societies around the world has been incalculable. Any changes to the theory, by way of amendments or additions, can be expected to have correspondingly important effects. The argument of this book is that Darwin’s theory of natural selection omitted an essential part of the process by which humans have been able to survive. Darwin’s theory explained natural selection very effectively on the evidence of observed physical characteristics of species and the fossil records – the material evidence. But it was unable to cover social phenomena with anything like the same assurance. Darwin outlined the social processes that he thought were important, but he was unable to establish a theory of social processes supported by the sort of evidence he used to sustain his theory of the narrow biological processes of evolution. The social processes did not yield to his skills as a natural scientist. Nor was anyone else able to develop the outlines he left in a way that gave them the status necessary to stand on an equal footing with the physical account of natural selection. In consequence, much social theory has been built on the physical account of natural selection, involving combative individuals in a struggle for existence. Other social theory, that which is broadly inconsistent with the combative, individualistic view of human natural selection, has been obliged to proceed independently of natural science, and consequently without the support that attaches to natural scientific findings. Combative individualism has received disproportionate support because the theory of natural selection lacked proper account of the role of group formation in social behaviour. Society has been more tolerant of individualism and aggressive behaviour that it would have been with a more complete theory of natural selection. The omission from Darwin’s theory of natural selection has had as much influence as its content. The identification of support-bargaining as the means of group formation reveals the scope for cooperation between individuals in a variety of activity. It shows how human insecurity can result in the formation of cooperative groups. It does not, however, imply that violence is of little account. It means only that violence is generated in a different way. Instead of an overwhelming primary instinct for violence, humans have a strong instinct for self-preservation that causes them to form groups for their protection. The mutual support within groups develops the confidence of the group and the aggressive instinct is more strongly expressed. Support-bargaining is first a means of assembling the necessary numbers for effective violence. The common dichotomy in modern ideology of aggressive individuals and peaceful cooperators is mistaken. The first fruit of cooperation is increased capacity for violence.