Click here for home, brianrude.com

Let's Do It Together

Brian D. Rude

September 1995

      The idea of "teamwork" is entrenched in our society. I expect it is prominent in any society, although perhaps not in forms that would be immediately recognizable to us. I have observed the rhetoric of teamwork in many different contexts. In the army it was drilled into us under the name of "esprit de corps". I think it's heard all the time in sports. I think it's often heard in business. In all these areas domains are also important, but for some reason not discussed. By domains I am simply referring to the idea that an important part of working together consists of knowing where each person's responsibilities, authority, privileges, or jurisdiction, begins and ends. Part of this is just practical, a matter of coordinating effort, but also part of it is a matter of status, ritual, and courtesy.

      Actually, we start learning to respect domains in kindergarten or before. Little kids are expected to learn to respect other's property and privileges, especially adults'. Domains are very important in just about any area of life. Those who do not learn to respect the domains of others get themselves into trouble. Team work is desirable, but respect for each other's domains is also desirable. Conflicting goals must be balanced. Yet the rhetoric seems very unbalanced. Rhetoric of teamwork is very common. Rhetoric of domains is very rare. It might be argued that teamwork, by definition, includes recognition and respect of domains, but I have never heard such considerations given much emphasis.

      Why do we so often hear this irritating rhetoric about teamwork? Part of my perspective on such things is contained in this question. I called it "irritating" rhetoric. If it irritates me then doesn't it irritate everyone? Perhaps it doesn't. Perhaps I am different than others.

      Of course I am different than others. But I am not leading to the point that there are individual differences among people. That is obvious. What I am leading to is a discussion about the individual differences in a trait that I will call "groupiness". My thesis is that groupiness varies widely among individuals, that people of varying groupiness have quite different perspectives on many things, that these differences in perspective have very important consequences, and that these differences in perspective and consequences are very much underappreciated.

The Origin of the Premise

      People want to do things together. This seems to be an innate urge found in all people to one extent or another. I will call the phrase, "Let's do it together!" a premise. Of course it is not a premise in the usual sense. It is a sentiment, a motive, a feeling, or an urge. I will call it a premise because it gives rise to other sentiments, consequences of this "Let's do it together!" premise. Before discussing these corollaries I will first give some conjectures on the origin of this "Let's do it together!" urge.

      I am starting with the idea that individuals are "groupers" or "non-groupers" to varying degrees, and that this tendency is largely a part of inborn temperament . A grouper wants to do things together. A non-grouper wants to be left alone to do his own thing in his own way and at his own time. People vary in this trait along a continuum, and percentile ranking is a convenient way to express one's position along this continuum. A 90th percentile grouper (which would be a 10th percentile non-grouper), for example, is more "groupy" than 90% of the general population. I don't know if any test has ever been devised to rank people in this way, but it certainly could be, and I think it would be beneficial to do so.

      I do not mean to imply that persons low on the groupiness scale have no group feelings at all. I think all people are groupers to a greater or lesser extent. Fifty percentile groupers are very much groupers, just not as much as fifty percent of the population. Even people at the fifth or tenth percentile, (where I subjectively place myself) have some need for groups. A parallel with height is useful here. A person only four feet tall would be a very short person, perhaps at the first percentile in a ranking of height. But that does not mean he has no height at all. A height of four feet is a lot closer to a height of six feet than a height of zero feet. Similarly a person on the first percentile in groupiness might still be a long way from having no groupiness at all. Humans are social animals.

      I believe that groupiness developed because it has survival value. Through several million years of stone age existence, groupiness was, on average, better than non-groupiness. It caused people to cooperate, and, over the long run at least, cooperation has benefits. But of course groupiness is not an unmixed blessing. For a trait, physical or behavioral, to be important in evolution over a long period of time it is only necessary that it be slightly more beneficial than detrimental.

      This groupiness that developed over several million years of stone age existence has many forms. In this article I am talking about only one form of groupiness, a rather subtle form, that I will call the "political form of groupiness". I am not talking about the groupiness that impells teen age boys to form gangs and violently defend their turf, or men to seek out enemies and fight wars. That is tribalism, as I will discuss momentarily. Nor am I talking about the groupiness, if one may call it that, that impells one to compete for status. Nor am I talking about the groupiness that motivates one to form personal bonds with others. Nor am I talking about the urge to form families and procreate. The groupiness I am talking about, the "political" form of groupiness, does not usually manifest itself in dramatic ways. It is generally a benign form of groupiness. It doesn't usually motivate people to make war on others, or to enslave them. I feel it is best expressed by the phrase I have chosen for the title, "Let's do it together!" I further believe that it is a very important form of groupiness, even though subtle. It is a strong urge in most people, and it has important consequences.

      A grouper, in the sense I am concerned with here, is not necessarily a person of good will. Doing things together implies a certain degree of good will, but only to those with whom we are cooperating. One can shun, or even hate, an outgroup, while having good will and wanting to cooperate with the ingroup. I use the term "tribalism" is for this type of groupiness. Tribalism, this duality of hostility to an outgroup coupled with loyalty to an ingroup, seems characteristic of humans. Again it developed, presumably, because it had survival value in the long stone age existence in which the human species took its present form. It is a very important form of groupiness, and it manifests itself in very dramatic ways, but it is not the subject of this article.

      Also the type of groupiness I am concerned with here is not simple gregariousness. A person can be gregarious, wanting to be with people, and at ease with people, without wanting to regiment people. The grouper I am concerned with in this article may be gregarious, but more importantly he wants to design and control the social structure.

      A very similar form of groupiness is what I have called "identification", or it might be called the "ideological" form of groupiness. This is similar to political groupiness, but the one important difference is that with identification one very much wants to defend the collective face of the group, to announce and display to the world one's ideological affiliation. In political groupiness this facework is not important. One may very much want to do things together, but not feel impelled to broadcast one's group identity, or to salute one's flag, so to speak. The political form of groupiness, the subject of this chapter, is subtle, and generally benign, but that does not mean it is not important.

      In this chapter I feel like an outsider looking in. I am not much of a grouper. On the percentile ranking I described I would probably come out in the 5 to 10 percentile range. The phrase "Let's do it together" has very little appeal to me. In fact it elicits negative feelings in me. Yet over the years I have observed that is not the case for all people. For many people there is a great appeal in the sentiment.

      Groupiness is neither good nor bad (other than in an evolutionary sense it apparently is, on balance, more good than bad), just as height is neither good nor bad. But we need to be aware of it. Just as a very tall person must duck for doorways and a very short person must climb on a chair to reach a high shelf, so must extreme groupers or extreme non-groupers sometimes make adjustments. Normally this adjustment simply is a matter of understanding how the other person's perspective can be very different from one's own. It may be a simple adjustment, but I think it is seldom made, because we are very unaware of the phenomenon of groupiness and how people vary in it.

      I will structure most of this chapter in terms of a premise and its corollaries. I do not mean to use these terms in their strictly logical sense. Rather it is just a convenient approach that I think is beneficial in explaining behavior. The central premise that motivates a grouper is the sentiment I referred to above, and that I expressed by the phrase, "Let's do it together!"

      Usually a premise is a statement of fact, or a statement of something we believe to be a fact, or even a statement of something that might be a fact. So perhaps I ought to restate the premise a little. It could be "We ought to do things together." or, "There are benefits from doing things together". The trouble with these forms of the premise is that they are too analytic, too explicit, too rational, too conscious. The premise that I seem to observe in many people is not conscious and rational so much as it is simply a gut level urge, a barely conscious but strong feeling of "let's do it together!"

      I am not advocating this premise. I am not promoting it. I don't feel it myself. I don't even like it. But I observe that I am not the same as others. It appears that this premise has deep roots in the human character. I observe many people doing many things that seem to me to derive from a gut level urge. People seem to have a need to do things together. It can certainly be argued that this is productive, indeed that civilization itself is a result of doing things together, that without this urge we would be nothing more than another species of ape foraging for roots and berries. And it can even be argued that it brings people a great deal of pleasure, that our peak experiences in life come from doing things together. I agree. That is approximately what I said a few paragraphs back when I said it has survival value. But I also observe that there is a down side to it. It can keep people enmeshed in frustration and rancor. At worst it keeps cultures down in the gutter.

Nine Corollaries

1. Rules

      The first corollary to the "let's do it together" premise, and I think perhaps the most important one, is the "rules corollary". It could be stated simply, "We have to have rules". To do things together implies some standardization, some unanimity of purpose and method. Without this standardization we might not be doing it together. We might be working at cross purposes. So it seems quite natural to a grouper to establish rules. Only by establishing rules can we be assured that we will be working together, not against each other. Rules make a social structure, and groupers want a social structure.

      But rules are not always helpful, especially when they proliferate. There can be a point of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns, and even negative returns, of too many rules is something a non-grouper is painfully aware of, but something groupers seem oblivious to. I will give examples from several areas.

      As a young teacher many years ago I struggled with more than my share of discipline problems. One response to this unpleasant situation was to try to make a rule to cover every situation. In my first year of teaching I discovered the limitations to this approach. It can become a game. Students listen carefully to the latest edict from the teacher, and within a day or so the mischief makers devise a way to break the spirit of the rule while adhering to the letter. The class then is embroiled in a debate between teacher and mischief makers about the rules, a debate that is very unpleasant to the teacher and most of the class, but great entertainment to the few brash students who misbehave. The problem is momentarily resolved by a new rule, or set of rules, laid down by the teacher, and very shortly the cycle begins anew. Rules, I discovered, are not the key to discipline in the classroom. They have their place, of course, but are at best only a part of the total problem of classroom discipline. My classroom rules in this example were not motivated by a "let's do it together" perspective, of course, but my point is that too many rules, for whatever purpose, can be counterproductive.

      Government and politics provide many examples of proliferating rules and the problems that ensue. In 1972 the Democratic National Convention was very interesting. The Democratic party had been earnestly trying to improve themselves in the late sixties, and much of this effort was directed toward rules. They wanted rules to make things better, more fair, more inclusive for everyone who wanted to be included. I do not fault them for their good intentions, but I believe the results were far from what they wanted. They made news when they unseated Mayor Daily of Chicago and his supporters. Then they picked a nominee, George McGovern who was not near the center of American politics and therefore did very poorly in the general election. I cannot help but think that their proliferation of rules was counterproductive. I also think that in this example, unlike my classroom rules example, the "Let's do it together" perspective was an important motivation.

      As another example consider the Atomic Energy Commission, or AEC. Through much of my life it was uncontroversial. Like many state and federal regulatory agencies it was seen as useful and needed. But in recent years I have heard criticism of it. Instead of being the peoples' watchdog over the industry, it was accused of being a part of the industry, and it was proposed that another agency be set up to oversee the AEC. The redundancy of this was apparently lost on the proponents of the proposal.

      Regulatory reform of one sort or another is commonly proposed these days. I think it is needed. Airlines and telephone service has been deregulated in recent years. The results are not to everyone's liking, but certainly have not been disastrous. I think that in general the sixties and seventies saw an increase in rules proliferation. The "Great Society", pushed strongly by Lyndon Johnson in the sixties, depended on, or at least developed as, a vast edifice of rules. In the eighties and nineties we seem to be turning away from the idea that rules can solve problems, from the idea that "if some rules are good, more rules are better". We may turn too far away from this idea and throw out useful rules. That is a matter for political interpretation and decision making.

      Perhaps the most extreme example of diminishing returns from proliferating rules is the former Soviet Union. Communism, it can be argued, was based on good intentions. It certainly was based on the "Let's do it together" perspective. Communism was supposed to be socialism, and socialism, government ownership of the means of production, is an extreme manifestation of the "Let's do it together" sentiment. Unfortunately at some point, probably in Lenin's time, the fundamental decision was made that force was justified to carry out these good intentions. The result, of course, is history, tragic history. The part of that history most pertinent here is the idea of "central planning". The central government was going to control everything, for the good of the people, of course. Central planning did not work. Central planning required a proliferation of rules probably unparalleled in world history. Those rules could not make the country work. It collapsed of its own weight.

      In emphasizing "diminishing returns" of too many rules I am taking a utilitarian perspective. This is not all there is to it, especially to a grouper. When discussing rules a grouper may use arguments of utility, but I would argue that to a grouper the rules are not seen as a means to an end - rules are an end in themselves. Rules make a group. Rules provide structure, a social structure. A grouper wants the group. Therefore a non-grouper arguing against a particular propsed rule may not get far if he sticks to utilitarian arguments.

      The non-grouper does not like rules, at least when they impinge in him directly in some negative way. But obviously rules also impinge negatively on groupers at times. Does the grouper have a greater tolerance for such rules? Perhaps he does, but I think there is also a lamentable tendency on the part of those who make rules to exempt themselves. Congress has done this, shamefully I think, for many years, until finally in the 95 session that was changed. On a lower level I think it is very common. Just the other day my 13 year old daughter was complaining of such an incident. In a girl scout activity there was the rule that shorts could not be worn because of so many ticks and other bugs at the campsite. It was also very hot, and jeans were not very comfortable. My daughter complained that one of the leaders who had made the no-shorts rule was herself wearing shorts. I don't really know whether this person could be fairly accused of hypocrisy or not. It is possible that she loves to make rules for others but routinely violates them herself without a thought. If that is the case then I would certainly condemn her for it. But it is also possible it is not so simple.

      The limitations of rules are obvious to me. They ought to be obvious to others. But apparently they are not. I think this is basically because people high in groupiness naturally look to rules, and they don't understand the perspective of non-groupers. And, of course, non-groupers don't understand the perspective of groupers.

2. Intrinsic Value

      The second corollary is, "Group endeavor has intrinsic value". Or it might be stated that togetherness has value apart from the practical results of what is to be accomplished. This idea was suggested in the last section about rules, but I wish to develop it a bit further. Consider this hypothetical example: Country A, like Canada, has a socialized health care system. It is a result of conscious national debate and legislation. Country B, like the United States, has a health care system that simply developed. It is the result of a lack of national debate and legislation. Assume for the moment that each country's system basically does the job equally well. Clinics and hospitals exist. Health workers are trained and paid. When people need medical help they get it. Assume also, that each country's system gives rise to an equal degree of chronic dissatisfaction, that the system's inadequacies give rise to frequent news stories of problems encountered by people under the system. According to this "intrinsic value" corollary a grouper would favor the socialized health care system. A non-grouper (or perhaps a 50 percentile grouper) would not favor either system.

      One might go so far as to quantify the "groupy value" of such a system. Suppose, in the above example, Country A and Country B do not have equal practical results. Suppose Country A, with socialized medicine, produces statistics of cost, access to service, mortality statistics, and so on that compare unfavorably with Country B. Suppose further that every few years Country A considers legislation scrapping, or at least reforming, the whole system. The "intrinsic value of groupiness" might then be considered to be the measurable inferiority of Country A's system compared to Country B's system. If that measurable inferiority of Country A's system becomes pronounced enough that the country actually does away with it system, then the "intrinsic value of groupiness" is very visible. The abolition of the system indicates that in the collective judgment of the populace the measurable inferiority of the system exceeded the intrinsic value of groupiness.

      On the other hand if the statistics favor Country A, then the intrinsic value of groupiness is invisible. There is no question of scrapping the system. The practical benefits dictate that the system be kept. The intrinsic value of "doing it together" is just an added bonus. The intrinsic value may still be very real, but be impossible to measure, since it is masked by practical benefits.

      The intrinsic value of group endeaver usually is impossible to measure, because the alternatives are only hypothetical. In America we have a socialized highway system. This is not the only possibility. If our history had been different a system of private toll roads might have developed. Indeed we have some toll roads in existence now. Would such a non-socialized system be better? Are we paying a price for the intrinsic value of socialized highways? Or did socialized highways develop because only government is large enough to build large projects? I have no idea. We are not going to abolish our system of socialized highways, obviously. Any alternatives will remain purely hypothetical. The "groupiness value" of our socialized highways will remain impossible to measure.

      America also has a long and cherished tradition of socialized education, though for some reason we don't like to call it that. I think the intrinsic value of groupiness in this is evident in the commitment we show to public education. It is not easy to measure that groupiness value separately from its practical value. American education does work, though of course it is chronically subject to criticism. To know just how much we value socialized education we would have to know the alternatives. This is impossible. We can only conjecture on what alternatives there might be to public education, and what the costs and benefits would be.

      I will not argue for or against socialized education in general. However I have some strong opinions about "group activities" in the schools. Educators seem to be groupers, and therefore value group activities. As I child I did not at all care for group activities at school. Some of my earliest recollections of school are of the awkwardness and unpleasantness of group activities in which I felt insecure. One memory must be of about first or second grade. I was part of a group coloring a big poster. I don't remember what was on the poster, and I don't remember if we were using crayons, water colors, finger-paints, or what, but I distinctly remember the feelings of not knowing what to do. Should I color this area here? If not, what should I do? I would ask another kid who seemed to be a leader and proceed on his or her directions. But that task would be quickly done. Then what should I do? I was out of my element. I was uncomfortable.

      Of course this perspective of things would not occur to the leaders of this activity. Children who were assertive, competent, and social, probably did quite well in such situations. But I did not. I was a very shy child, and not particularly social. So these kinds of group projects were just something to put up with. It was so much more productive and pleasant to me to be doing regular school work on an individual basis.

      As a young teacher I remember visiting, with a group of colleagues, the boys' training school for juvenile delinquents in our state and watching a shop class. This school obviously had a steady stream of visitors going through. The students (or inmates) were working on a grandfather clock. What I was supposed to see was a group of boys engrossed on a group project. What I saw was two or three boys mindlessly and half-heartedly rubbing sandpaper over any convenient part of the clock. They were not engrossed in the project. The evidence of this was their demeanor, their behavior, their lack of interest in what they supposedly were doing. They were just putting in their time and trying to stay out of trouble. This evidence may be subtle. I expect I am very sensitive to this sort of thing. I immediately recognized it as an unpleasant situation, the kind that I had experienced many times in school. Someone whose experiences in such a situation were quite different than mine would probably miss all of this evidence

      The picture in my mind of these boys is very much like photographs that appear very commonly in newspapers and magazines or on TV. The press is conditioned to look for a good story, a good picture. When they want to do an education story they look for kids engaged in a photogenic activity. A photogenic activity is almost always a group activity. A recent advertisement comes to mind, a bright color photo of kids supposedly engrossed in something on a computer. Their expressions were appropriate to the advertisement. But of course it was not a candid photo, it was posed by professional actors who could smile on cue. What struck me was the number of kids. There were eight of them in front of one computer. To me that is a guarantee of inefficiency and frustration. In an actual situation, such as this photo suggests, one child would be typing at the computer. The other seven would be waiting. One or two might actually be interested in what they were doing, but most of them would be simply waiting. Perhaps they would take turns at the keyboard. That would relieve some frustrations, but bring in other frustrations. The idea that this scene could represent a sound educational activity appears ludicrous to me.

      Of course in an actual situation those eight children would be quite varied. A child who is high in groupiness, high in social competence, high in general abilities might enjoy the activity and benefit from it. Such a child would be a leader. He or she would be running the show, or at least actually involved. A child in the background who is low in groupiness and low in social competence, even if endowed with good general abilities, would find it trying. Of course I am imagining myself in the picture. Such a child is not a leader. Such a child is naturally a follower. Such a child does not value group activity. He is just putting in his time. This is not to say that the natural leaders are tyrants. They run the show because it falls to them by default. If they did not exert leadership the whole activity would fall flat. Then everyone would be unhappy instead of just the non-groupy followers like me.

      I discussed the intrinsic value of group activity in a very analytic way, by making an attempt to quantify it, and to relate it to practical benefits. However I think that very approach is a reflection of my non-groupy perspective. The analytic nature of my discussion belies the very nature of the phonemonon. If group endeavor has intrinsic value, and if that value is substantial, then the eight kids before the computer shows a desirable activity. A least reporters and advertisers think, if they think about it at all, that the general public will interpret it as a desirable activity. I would simply argue that we pay a cost for such a group activity. Part of the cost is in the frustration of at least some members of the group. This frustration may be very invisible to groupers who get a warm feeling from this type of thing, but it is very real. Another part of the cost is in the efficiency of learning. Even the kids who are enjoying the activity, I would argue, are not learning efficiently. Efficiency of learning is important in education. There is a lot to learn and only so much time to learn it in. Of course some educators would argue that group learning is efficient. I very much disagree, but that is not immediately relevant to the groupiness that I am discussing here.

      We hear much about rights these days. I would like to hear some rights for non-groupers. If I, as a student in school, am thrust into a group project in which each member of the group will recieve the group grade, and in which I am frustrated because others want to do things differently than I want to, then I would feel my rights are being violated, my individual rights, my right to be treated as an individual and not be dragged down by a group not of my choosing. Yet current educational rhetoric makes no mention of this. Group activities are extolled as modern and progressive, as "teaching the whole child", as "teaching cooperation, not competition". I find such sentiments empty and irritating. If a school is concerned about students' rights it ought to include a right not to be forced into group activities.

3. Group Loyalty

      The "assumption of group loyalty" is a third corollary of the "Let's do it together" premise. The premise, as I have said, is not a logical, or even a conscious premise. It is just a gut level feeling. If one has that gut level feeling then it is not surprising that one also expects that others will feel the same way. If others feel the same way, then it is a very short step to assuming loyalty on the part of others. But others, at least many of them, do not feel the same way. Many others are non-groupers. They don't feel the basic premise, so why should they be expected to feel any loyalty to the group?

      Education again provides the setting for a good example. "If people have a say in the rules they must follow then they will support those rules", educators are fond of saying. (At least educators liked to say this in the sixties when I was a young teacher. Perhaps we have a more modern way to say it now). Obviously there is some truth to this, and not just in the classroom. Indeed in America we highly value self government. But there is a considerable amount of fallacy to it also. A much more important truth is that people do well under good government, and poorly under a bad government, whether it is a democracy or some sort of dictatorship. This may sound heretical to Americans with our traditions of self government, but I believe there are a number of countries in the world today that show its truth. I think we rightly value self government, but because it is, in the long run, not going to turn into tyranny, not because it governs better in the short run. Also we should remember that a classroom is not a democracy, and it shouldn't be. A school is a system of coercion. Bringing in some degree of self government into the classroom may be beneficial at times, but it is a mistake to assume group loyalty, which is not going to be present in all members of the group. To a grouper, who highly values group endeavor, it may be the simple truth to say that "We made the rules, so we support them". But to a non-grouper this is not the case at all. As a child it meant very little to me to say that my class had discussed and voted on some particular course of action. In fact, even as a child I think I was cynical enough, and observant and analytical enough, to feel that such a discussion and vote would follow a script determined in advance by the teacher. I do not mean that such a script would be totally a matter of selfish manipulation. Rather it would be a matter of the students acting and speaking in ways that are expected by society. But the fiction of group consensus was just that, a fiction, and being a non-grouper I felt no loyalty to this fiction.

      Loyalty is not necessarily a simple matter. A person may have strong loyalties not connected to the type of groupiness I am concerned with in this article. Remember in this article I am talking about only one aspect of groupiness, which I have called the political aspect. "Tribalism" is a term I used to describe the duality of hostility to out-groups coupled with loyalty to the ingroup. Even ardent non-groupers may feel, and express, sentiments that on the surface appear to be group loyalty. But if this loyalty is more a matter of tribalism than the "Let's do it together" type of groupiness, then it is something quite different. Ardent individualists may be ardent patriots. They may wave the flag as vigorously as anyone. This tribalism type of loyalty may motivate great sacrifice in times of crisis, but be utterly irrelevant in everyday life. So groupers should not only try to be aware that others may feel no loyalty to a group endeaver, but also there may be misleading evidence of loyalty shown by others.

4. Group Perspective

      The next corollary is what I call "the assumption of group perspective", or sometimes it should be called the "fallacy of group perspective". If we are going to "do it together" then we ought to share feelings about whatever it is that we're doing. Perhaps this is not a corollary of the basic premise so much as it is just plain ignorance. Unless we are aware of what other people are thinking, then it is reasonable, or at least natural, to expect they think like us, that they have values and perspctives the same as we do. This is very evident in politics. Political parties, of course, expect their perspective to be shared by their members. Democrats want to paint the eighties as a "decade of greed". I would argue that that is a very shallow perspective. Primarily it was a decade much like any other. Some events and trends in the eighties support this perspective, but most do not. The groupiness aspect is that once they decide on such an interpretion they expect it to be shared.

      It has always been a mystery to me how people could be forced to believe in something. In a country in which there is a state religion and other religions are not tolerated, as I believe exist in the middle east and probably other areas of the world, it always seemd to me wrong to say the people believe in that religion. If they are forced to believe, it seemed to me, then they may say they do, but they probably don't. Now I think my perspective was wrong, and groupiness explains this to quite an extent. Groupers automatically do accept the group perspectives. It is part of their rationalization process, of course, but I think it is more than that. A grouper takes the group perspective. If the group says something is right, then it is right. . Loyal Democrats really do believe the eighties were a decade of greed. And people who are forced to believe a particular religion really do believe it. Of course there will always be a few free thinkers who really don't believe it, and a few of those will make trouble, even history. But I expect the vast majority who are forced to believe really do believe.

      Non-groupers are less likely to take the group perspective, but remember that all people are groupers to one degree or another. We are social animals.

      In any society there will be dissenters. In a society in which only one religion is permitted there will be a few religious dissenters. It is tempting to think that dissenters are free thinking non-groupers. I think, however, it is more complicated than that. Some dissenters may be non-groupers, but also some dissenters are groupers who give their loyalty to a subgroup rather than to the dominent group. Such people may reject the large group perspective, but blindly accept the subgroup perspective. Dissenters may be acting more on a tribalism type of groupiness than a political type of groupiness. If this is the case then the subgroup is given loyalty as the primary "in-group" The dominant society is given hostility as the "out-group". Not all dissenters are free thinkers.

      I think it can also happen that a strong grouper can be a skeptic or a free thinker, but in general I think groupiness works powerfully against free thinking. I think mental compartmentalization enters into this. A free thinker who is strong in groupiness will not apply that free thinking tendency to anything that might reflect badly on their group loyalties. Free thinking will be applied only to neutral subjects

      An article in the local newspaper the other day had a headline something to the effect that domestic violence used to be a "dirty little secret" of our society. This headline offended me a little. It implied that as a society we used to be aware of domestic violence, but chose to do nothing. My interpretation is quite the opposite. My interpretation is that until perhaps the sixties or seventies, we were, as a society, quite unaware of the problem. Of course there were child welfare workers before the sixties or seventies. We knew such problems existed, but they were seen more as individual problems, as abberations of the norm. This is quite a different thing than thinking of it as being a dirty little secret. I believe society progresses. Every decade our sensitivity increases. Every decade we discover issues that previously we were insensitive to. This is due to a number of reasons, which is not my subject here. My point is that it is a grouper mentality to assume that "we", that is society in general, shared a group feeling in this regard. My perspective would be that in an earlier age, say the fifties, deomestic violence was certainly the "dirty little secret" of individual families, but not of society in general. To attribute it to society in general, it seems to me, is to fall for the fallacy of group perspective.

5. Societal Decision

      Another corollary of the groupiness premise might be called the "societal decision fallacy", or the "group design" corollary. This is the idea that things are as they are because of conscious group decisions. (In fact it has occurred to me that this is the premise, of which the "Let's do it together!" sentiment is a corollary. But, again, these corollaries are not linked by strict logic.) The idea that we are a free people because of our societal decision to be free would be an example. There is some truth to this, of course, but a lot of fallacy. Circumstances were such that in the founding of this country that's the way things worked out. In the example I gave above about domestic violence the group decision fallacy would be to assume that it was a societal decision to keep domestic violence a secret. As an individualist I would argue that domestic violence was never a secret, and it was not a societal decision to keep it, or not to keep it, a secret. Our society's attitude about domestic violence is a result of a multitude of individual decisions. As this multitude of individual decisions accumulate, then, of course, group decision can come into play. When government passes a law, or even a resolution, then that is indeed group decision, but not until.

      Committee work often is powered by the "societal decision" sentiment. By committees, in this context, I am not talking about congressional committees, in which, I presume, power is brokered and actual results are hammered out. Nor am I thinking of committees in which there is a concrete task to be accomplished. I am thinking more in terms of committees in churches or schools attempting to accomplish a poorly defined task, the type of committee in which it seems applicable to describe as the "incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unneeded". Only once in my life have I been on such a committee. It was not an unpleasant experience, such as the school group activities I described, but neither did it seem productive. I volunteered because I knew my fellow committee members well and liked them. They were easy to work with. Our task was to formulate a "mission statement", or something like that, for our church. It didn't seem intrinsically important to me, but there was a practical reason for it. At the time, as I recall, it was needed as part of a grant application or something similar. We met every week for a month or so. After a few weeks I felt we ought to be winding it up, and discovered others felt we were just getting started. It became apparent that they took the goal seriously. I did not. The difference, I believe, is the grouper's perspective versus the non-grouper's perspective. The grouper thinks that what we were doing would have consequences. After all, things are as they are because of group decisions. We, in this case, were the group making the decisions. Therefore it was important. What we decided would determine the future of our church. But to me, very much a non-grouper, that was not the case at all. In my view our church had developed primarily as a result of a multitude of individual decisions and actions. We had dedicated and talented people. We had good communication, good relationships, and a large pool of common goals. But our success, in my perspective, was still the result of a multitude of individual decisions and actions, not a result of group design. Thus what we did as a committee was not of great relevance. The future of our church would continue to be the result of a multitude of individual decisions and actions, not a result of formulating and adopting a mission statement.

      The committee process which I really thought was irrelevant seems to be a process commonly advocated. As I write this I have fresh in my mind an article in an education journal. The subject of the article is how to implement "OBE", which stands for "outcome based education". The author's idea of OBE is that people in a particular school district decide on outcomes to be accomplished, and then design their curriculum and practices in accordance with these agreed-upon outcomes. This is to be accomplished, of course, by committees. The author advocates on a massive scale what I found to be little more than busywork, and would find very hard to tolerate on a large scale.

; 6. Social Contract

      The next corollary of this groupiness is what I call the "social contract" corollary. This also is a fallacy to quite a degree. The gist of this corollary is that each individual has a contract with society, a moral, if not legal, contract. The individual agrees to live by the rules society lays down and in return society promises certain benefits. Part of this ideal is very real and legally enforceable. Part of the contract says that if we obey the law we will retain our rights. This is a very important part of our American culture. In a very real sense it is a legal contract. But other parts of what individuals perceive as their social contract is not at all so real, and not at all enforceable.

      I have a picture in mind from television news. Elderly tenants are being forcibly evicted from an apartment house, so it can be converted into condominiums. I have no idea just when I saw this bit of news on TV, or where it happened in this particular case. I'm sure it has happened more than once. The social contract these unfortunate people are acting on is not hard to discern. They have paid their rent year after year. They have followed the rules. They have done their part. Therefore they are entitled to continue living in their homes. The tragedy is that their "social contract" is not real. It exists only in their minds. There are some contracts involved in this situation that are real, and are legally enforceable. They cannot be evicted on a whim. The landlord who decides to evict a tenant every few months just to "let them know who's in charge", would quickly find himself in legal trouble. But converting to condo is not a whim. In most jurisdictions it is the right of the landlord, and now and then it comes to the unpleasant scene I described.

      I think the idea of "social contract" comes easily and naturally to groupers, but not so much to non-groupers. Groupers and non-groupers alike want and expect fairness, but non-groupers are not as prone to see contracts where contracts do not exist. The grouper sees contracts where they do not really exist on the basis of the corollaries I mentioned. We have rules. We have group loyalty. We have group perspective. Things are as they are because of societal decision. All these things together make a contract. The elderly evicted tenants I saw on the news, following these corollaries, very much felt a strong social contract. Apartments and tenants exist because society has decided that there should be apartments and tenants. Rules exist because society set those rules, because we always set rules, because we need rules, because we do things together. The non-grouper does not think in these terms. The non-grouper is more aware that we live in a changing world, and sometimes those changes can hurt us. I expect for every evicted tenant we saw on the news there were several others who had faced the inevitable and moved out months previously. These early leavers, I believe, would be people lower on the groupiness continuum.

7. Community Property

      Groupers and non-groupers have different perspective on ownership. If we are going to do things together it seems reasonable that we will own things together. To some extent this is true. We own the air together. We don't pay anyone for each breath we take. We own the sunset together. We own the rain together. But when we get to land, things are not quite so simple, and land ownership is a good example to analyze here. We own national parks together. We own streets together. We own a lot of federal land in the west together. But we also own a lot of land individually. To the grouper and non-grouper alike this division of public and private land makes sense. But the boundaries between the two can be quite different to the grouper and the non-grouper. And the definitions of public and private land can be different to them.

      To the grouper a shopping mall is easily considered a public place. Therefore anything that one may do on a public street, one may equally do on a shopping mall. A non-grouper is much more likely to recognize that a shopping mall belongs to an individual or a company, and that individual or company has the basic right to do as he, she, or it, chooses.

      To a non-grouper ownership is seen as absolute. If I own something then I own it completely, and my ownership should be respected. A grouper, in contrast, is much more likely to see private ownership as only a subcategory of public ownership. To the grouper, private ownership of land may be more like the ownership a five year old child has in his bedroom. In a very real sense "Johnny's room" does belong to Johnny. But in a very real sense it doesn't. It belongs to his parents who own the house, and who have every right to sell the house. Thus a grouper is likely to think of laws of what may or may not be done on private land as natural and desirable, just as Johnny's parents may lay down rules concerning Johnny's room.. A non-grouper is likely to be hostile to laws limiting what one may do with private property. I, very much a non-grouper, am incensed by laws that say I must get a building permit to repair my roof or install an extra bathroom.

      In the past year or so Republicans have castigated Democrats about taxes. Democrats, they think, believe everything belongs to the government, and therefore it is the government's right to give back, or not give back, tax money. Republicans, at least some of them, are outraged by this perceived attitude. Democrats, they think, believe we must have some moral reason to lower taxes, that the beneficiaries of lower taxes must do something to deserve it. Republicans testily proclaim, "It's THEIR money!!!!", and see that as fully sufficient reason to keep taxes at the lowest possible level. I believe a very significant part of this debate is due to differing perspectives of ownership. Democrats are more groupy than Republicans. They may not believe in socialism, but tend to be moved by what might be called socialistic impulses. Republicans are more individualistic. Ownership seems more absolute to them.

      In my state of South Dakota the problem of hunting on private land seems to make the news every fall. I understand there is a tradition, if not legal principle, that the game on a piece of land is public property, not private property, even though the land itself may be privately owned. We also have, here in South Dakota, the rule that one may hunt on private land only with the express permission of the landowner. I think this situation is the result of a compromise between the differing concepts of ownership. I also think it causes problems every hunting season because the two sides are very much ignorant of what the other thinks.

8. People Belong in Groups

      Again this is not a strictly logical consequence of the "Let's do it together!" premise or of the other corollaries, but it seems to be acted on by groupers. If people belong in groups then it is natural to judge them in terms of their groups, to assume that their group identity is a primary fact about them. Sometimes this is simple common sense. When cheerleaders of opposing football teams greet each other before a game they are quite justified in considering their groups, their schools, as very relevant. At other times being members of different groups is, or ought to be, utterly irrelevant. A grouper, I think, considers groups intrinsically important. A non-grouper thinks groups are important only if there is some extrinsic reason.

      "Choose a group and support it!" This phrase occurred to me as I began my third teaching job. I was being pressured to join the state teacher's organization. I wish I could remember just what actions and words of my colleagues caused me to reflect on such things and verbalize it in those words. I do remember realizing how different their perspective was than mine. I realized that to at least some of them the phrase "Choose a group and support it!" was only stating the obvious. It was like saying "The sun rises in the east." Why would it need to be said? But to me it was very strange, a totally foreign perspective. But I am very low in groupiness.

      I have heard a number of times in recent years that political parties no longer command the loyalty of their members like they once did. This seems true enough to me, but I am suprised when along with this statement goes the value judgement that it's too bad. It used to be, so so the argument goes, that political parties could be depended on to turn out the vote. Now things have degenerated. Political parties can no longer depend on their members. There's no party discipline anymore. If people belong in groups, if one should "choose a group and support it", then this perspective makes sense. My reaction, however, is quite the opposite. I have always been an independent. I have always felt that party loyalty is not a good thing. People should think for themselves. The essence of democracy is not the hard core of each party that vote their prejudices. The essence of democracy is the mass of non-alilgned individuals who actually consider the issues and vote on the basis of knowledge and understanding. To me, therefore, the breakdown of party loyalty is an advance for civilization. Of course any advance can be expected to have some drawbacks. A decline in party loyalty would have some drawbacks. But in my perspective it is on balance an advance.

      Actually I am not totally independent politically. I recognize that I am definitely prejudiced for one party and against the other. But I consider this a fault of character, not something to be proud of. How can it be, I have often wondered, that what I consider a fault is considered by others a virtue?

      The answer, of course, (at least in part) lies in the groupiness of people. A grouper feels people should belong in groups. Groupers are probably not aware of this feeling, anymore than fish are aware of water, but it seems to be a deep and important feeling. Non-groupers, like me, do not feel this. A grouper assumes loyalty to a group. A non-grouper does not.

      This corollary, that people belong in groups, is also applied to race, unfortunately. I was about ten years old when school desegregation was decreed by the supreme court. I don't remember much about that period in my life, but I do remember the sentiment being expressed rather often that "It shouldn't matter what color a person's skin is, he should be judged on his merits." This could be expressed in a variety of forms, of course, meaning essentially the same thing. I was not politically aware at the time, but the sentiment made sense to me. People should not be judged on the color of their skin. They should be treated as individuals. That certainly seemed as self evident as anything mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. To say that "It shouldn't matter what color a person's skin is . . . " is simply to say that we should have a colorblind society. Of course we should have a color blind society, I thought. Who could possibly disagree with that? It's right up there with motherhood and apple pie.

      But after a few decades I began to realize that my interpretation of that sentiment was not quite the same as others' interpretations. Some people, apparently, saw nothing about individuals in the sentiment. Rather than thinking that individuals should be treated fairly, the sentiment was interpreted that groups should be treated fairly. The "fairness" part of the sentiment was important, just as in my interpretation, but the assumption of groups was poles apart from my interpretation. The assumption, unstated perhaps, but strong, was that white people make up one group and black people make up another group. With the assumptions that people should belong to groups, and that groups count, there is little or no room left for individuals. White people would always be white people and black people would always be black people. They would never be the same, but they certainly ought to be treated fairly; the groups, that is, ought to have equal benefits.

      As I became older I became more aware of how far apart black people and white people often are. It is not too strong a statement to say that, in general, whites and blacks in America live in slightly different subcultures. So the group perspective made more sense. I also became aware that in some countries, Lebanon, for example, different groups are given constitutional guarantees of representation in the government. This seemed to make sense when groups that have little in common, indeed who hate each other, must try to somehow coexist. Reading of the terrible social divisions between Israel and its neighbors, and within Israel itself, made this type of recognition seem quite sensible and beneficial indeed. So perhaps, I thought, it makes some sense in America with regard to races.

      I have now reverted solidly to my original individualist orientation. A totally colorblind society is my ideal. Grouping by race may seem as natural to my generation as sunrise and sunset. But I believe race means less and less to every new generation. A non-grouper, I think, tends to take this for granted. But a grouper, I fear, does not take it for granted. A grouper does not understand it, and may actually resist it. After all, people belong in groups. Race seems a natural basis of grouping. Thus grouping by race is permanent. Groups ought to be treated fairly. If a group is disadvantaged in one way it ought to receive compensation in another way. This line of reasoning, I believe, is detrimental to everyone, and ought to be vigorously opposed.

      I remember a situation comedy on television a few years back that impressed me. I don't remember what comedy it was, and I don't remember any of the characters or even any of the plot. But I remember well that as part of the plot a black teen age girl was assumed to prefer rap music over some alternative. The writers, apparently, took that as a given. Black people like rap. She was black. She liked rap. That seemed to be all there was to it. I thought it was appalling. In my perspective people are individuals. Some people like rap. Some people like rock. Some people like cowboy songs. It is understandable for historical and cultural reasons that these individual preferences are not uniformly distributed. But that is a matter of statistics, and statistics are not determinant, or even relevant, to individuals. Yet in this comedy it seemed apparent that group identity was determining. I found this offensive. Of course this is a purely subjective judgment. Others might interpret this comedy quite differently.

      Unfortunately there is another issue about race and groups that embroils our society today, and that is affirmative action. Proponents of affirmative action seem to be mostly groupers. They seem to assume that grouping by race is permanent. After all people should belong to groups, and groups matter. Groups ought to be treated fairly. If a group has a disadvantage in one area, then a compensating advantage in another area seems reasonable. So from this perspective affirmative action makes sense. But it is not so sensible to a non-grouper. Groups are not that permanent. History makes culture. Several hundred years of slavery and another hundred years of reconstruction have left their mark. But cultures change, and cultures blend. Every year it makes less and less sense to assume that different races in America live indifferent cultures. I believe a colorblind society is not only possible in America, I believe it is inevitable.

      As a non-grouper, I want individuals to be treated fairly. When group identification is important, of course, then groups should be treated fairly. When one athletic team, wearing blue, is battling another athletic team, wearing green, then certainly the blue team and the green team ought to be treated fairly. But the game will end. The school year will end. Seniors will graduate. In the long run individuals count, not groups.

      Once I watched Louis Farakhan on a TV talk show. He has been criticized for being anti-white. He made the case that as a result of history black people are due reparations from whites. I thought he made a good case. I do not believe in hereditary guilt, and I don't believe in trying too hard to change history, but some form of reparations for past wrongs sometimes makes some sense. I can support some forms of affirmative actions as a form of reparations. But where will it end? I do not believe grouping by race is natural or permanent. I don't believe that black people naturally prefer rap to rock. I don't believe individuals have to belong to groups, especially when those groups are determined by birth. Just as the members of the blue team and members of the green team will grow up and the blues and the greens will blend into one culture, so, I believe, blacks and whites will blend into one culture. I don't think that's prophecy. I think it's process. It is a process that has advanced greatly in my lifetime. It is a process that should be allowed and encouraged. Thus affirmative action should, at some point, come to an end. I think groupers should define their groups on something other than race. And, even more importantly, I would like groupers to realize that not everyone takes it for granted that people have to belong to groups.

9. Group Recognition

      If people are going to do things together, and if people belong in groups, and if we want to treat each other well, then it seems reasonable to assert that groups deserve recognition. This may be obvious to a grouper, but not at all obvious to a non-grouper. I remember when I was in college the situation arose a time or two in which a fraternity would get into trouble of one sort or another and be threatened with loss of recognition by the university. That always puzzled me. The fraternity would take the threat with great seriousness. They would defend themselves vigorously. They would claim they didn't really do it, whatever it was that got them in trouble, and if they did they didn't mean to, or that the incident was misinterpreted, or blown out of proportion. They would also mend their ways, I believe, which was what really saved them. What puzzled me was why the threat had any weight. Why did they want university recognition? What did it matter? Why didn't they sever all ties with the university and go their merry way? They were ostensibly adults with adult rights. They could live where they wanted and with whom they wanted. They could party when they wanted and drink when they wanted. What benefit did they gain from official university recognition?

      I realized there were probably were some practical considerations. Freshmen, and perhaps sophomores, had to live in housing approved by the university. Perhaps an unrecognized fraternity could only consist of upperclassmen. This was the only practical consideration I could think of, but I realized there might be others. This didn't seem to account for the emotional response a fraternity would exhibit when faced with the prospect of losing their university recognition. Moreover, it seemed to me, they would gain some very real benefits from having independence from the university.

      I realize now that my perspective was totally wrong. It was the perspective of a non-grouper. Non-groupers don't join fraternities. Those who join fraternities tend to be groupers, not necessarily ninety percentile groupers, but those with a much higher groupiness rating than mine. Thus they attach an intrinsic value to their group, they have loyalty to their group, they have a group perspective. They make group decisions. As a result of all this, apparently, they want recognition of their group. This seems foreign to me. I can recognize that it must be so, but I can feel no gut level response to the idea. But again, of course, a non-grouper like myself can feel very little appeal to the idea of a fraternity.

      A few years back my wife, who is an occupational therapist, supported the state occupational therapy association in trying to get legislation passed that would require licensure of occupational therapists in the state (to protect the public, of course). I supported her in this, just because she thought it was important. But it mystified me. Why should they want a law that would restrict them? Wouldn't it just make red tape and frustration? Wouldn't it duplicate the credentialing by the national occupational therapy association? Wouldn't it keep out some good therapists and tenure some incompetent therapists? Wouldn't it be a lot better to just leave well enough alone? Over a period of a year or so they accomplished their purpose. South Dakota passed a law requiring state licensure of occupational therapists. Was it a good thing? Did it cause red tape and frustration? Did it exclude good therapists and lock in bad ones? Did it duplicate the credentialing of the national association? Did it actually do anything to protect the public? I have my opinion on all these questions, but that is not relevant here. What is relevant is the difference between groupers and non-groupers. All my questions are the questions of an individualist, and largely irrelevant to a grouper. Groupers want group recognition. A licensure law provides recognition. I'm not saying that's the only issue involved, but I believe it is an important factor, probably the most important.

      Much of my life I wondered why diplomatic recognition was of any concern. We didn't recognize Communist China for many years. Who cares? Again I figured there must be some practical considerations connected with diplomatic recognition, and I just didn't know what they were. And again, of course, I was looking at things as a non-grouper. Groupers want group recognition. When communist China was recognized, Taiwan was "de-recognized" I thought that was rotten, though perhaps not important. But what motivated it? Was it not obvious that there were two Chinas? Shouldn't we recognize the obvious and recognize both Chinas? I presume the answer is that Communist China would not recognize our recognition if we recognized two Chinas. Recognition is important.

      I have described nine corollaries to the "let's do it together!" premise. For review I will list them:

      1. We want rules.

      2. Group endeavor has intrinsic value.

      3. People are loyal to their group.

      4. People in a group share the group perspective.

      5. Things are as they are because of group decisions.

      6. We have social contracts.

      7. We have community property.

      8. People belong in groups.

      9. Groups need recognition.

Consequences and Implications

      Now I will turn to examples of how groupers, who feel these corollaries, and non-groupers, who don't feel these corollaries, can have subtly different perspectives on many things, and try to explain how these subtle differences can be very important.

1. Commerce

      The first example starts in a personal, or at least local, way. My family and I live in a small town. It is a recurring theme for editorials in our local paper that we should shop locally, instead of spending our money out of town. The local merchants are quick to support this view, of course. And of course it is a losing battle. Every year it gets easier and more tempting to drive a few miles to shop in larger discount stores in other communities. The editorials paint this as being disloyal to our local community. Sorting out the motivations and perspectives of this issue very much involves groupiness.

      Proponents of shopping locally appeal to group loyalty. A grouper feels loyalty to his group. So if people feel the local community is their group, then they will shop locally. A non-grouper will not feel much loyalty. He or she will look for value wherever it may be found.

      I could have put this example in the section on group loyalty but I feel there is more involved, and leads to considerations of economic systems in general.

      For a couple of years I worked part time in a music store, before the owners finally managed to sell the business and retire. I think their store would have to be considered a success, as they were in business for about thirty years, but I think business must have been declining in the last few years, and I think this must have been heavy on the owners' minds, prompting some statements and actions that I find revealing in the present context. It seemed that the owners very much felt a social contract between themselves and their customers. There seemed to be a feeling that "We have set ourselves up in business. So people should shop here." They were offended now and then when they would hear of someone they knew who had made a significant purchase out of town. The situation seemed obvious to them. They had a social contract (though of course they did not think in those terms). The contract was being breached, so they were offended. The errant customers should mend their ways and shop locally.

      This was not at all my perspective, of course. There was no contract, social or otherwise, being breached when people didn't shop locally. The owners of the music store had no complaint if customers shopped out of town. They had no claim on the local customers. They had to compete with whatever competitors might appear. To be offended when people shop elsewhere is not only foolish, it would probably be counterproductive.

      There is more to this scenario that I am describing. At the start of the school year the owners of the music store would go out to nearby schools for an "instrument display". I was involved in several of these. The band director of the school would let parents of beginning band students know when we were coming, so they could come and rent, or perhaps buy, in instrument for their child. Geography was important here. For schools close by we had a monopoly, but for schools about half way between our town and another town with a music store we would have competition. We would set up our display on one side of the band room and the competitor would set up their display on the other side of the band room. I assumed that as business competitors we were bound to some basic ideas of business competition that had evolved in America. The boss had a different perspective. He would stroll across to the competition and talk a while. Part of this was just common courtesy and friendliness, but that was not all. He would be exchanging strategies. He expected that he and his competitor would agree to rent instruments on the same terms. That way they could divide up the business fairly. This seemed quite reasonable to him. A time or two I saw evidence that our competitors did not share my boss's perspective. My boss complained that he thought they had an agreement, but the competition undercut him and got most of the business. I understood the advantage of my boss's perspective, but I felt it probably also violated business ethics and laws. When big business does the same thing it's called "collusion" or "price fixing" and is illegal.

      A grouper, I believe, naturally wants to "divide up the pie" not to compete for it. They want rules that specify who gets what, (on a group basis of course). This makes for a structured, secure world, they seem to think. That's what my boss was trying to do, divide up the pie by gentlemen's agreement. Unions often show this "divide up the pie" perspective very plainly. They want their privileges written into legal contracts. They want to preserve their share of the pie.

      I am leading to the idea that groupers and non-groupers strive for very different systems of commerce and economics. A grouper wants structure, established customs and rules, established privileges and responsibilities. A grouper may want to "divide up the pie" fairly, but takes it for granted that it will be divided on a group basis, and that the division will be based on societal decision. Non-groupers, however, are not so comfortable with a static, rules-determined world. They are more comfortable with a more dynamic free-for-all world. Thus proponents of capitalism tend to be non-groupers and proponents of socialism tend to be groupers. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages, winners and losers, to both perspectives. The grouper thinks the non-grouper is an anarchist who wants to make the world a jungle. The non-grouper thinks the grouper wants to make a world of obedient drones. Both of these perspectives are gross exaggerations of course. Groupers and non-groupers differ in degree, not in kind. Both groupers and non-groupers make tradeoffs, find balances between conflicting principles. But their differing perspectives cause them to find the balances at very different points.

      In a very real sense the non-groupers, the capitalists, have won decisively at this moment in history. Communism has collapsed dramatically of its own weight. Formerly communist countries are frantically scrambling to learn capitalism. But history is not at an end. Socialism as envisioned by Karl Marx may be dead, but people are still groupy. Cutthroat capitalism that developed in the late nineteenth century is probably just as dead as Marxist communism. The world will continue to evolve and develop. Groupers and non-groupers will continue to struggle for their perspectives.

      When I say that "a grouper wants to divide up the pie", keep in mind that I am talking about a grouper in the "Let's do it together!" perspective, which I have called the "political" form of groupiness. Groupiness of the tribalism form is not so benign. Tribalism is essentially hostility to the out-group. I think it accurate to say that genocide was quite respectable throughout all of human life up to the last century or so, and in some parts of the world still is. That is tribalism at its worst. A certain amount of tribalism can coexist with political groupiness. So "dividing up the pie" sometimes means grabbing everything possible for one's own group, and leaving nothing whatsoever for others. That is not at all the groupiness that motivated my boss at the music store, and, I believe is not the type of groupiness that motivates most people. Tribalism is a very important form of groupiness, but not the only form, and not the subject of this article.

2. Raising Children

      Now I will turn to something quite different than commerce and economics. Consider the statement, "It takes a whole village to raise a child". This is a sentiment I would not have responded much to during most of my life. Rather I would think more in terms of the family as an island in a precarious, if not actually hostile, sea. I don't remember a great deal about my childhood years. One thing I do remember is the idea, "Just because everyone else is doing it is no reason for you to do it." This idea fits will into the "island in a hostile sea" scenario. I must have heard this sentiment many times from my mother. It always made sense to me. The idea that other people, even good friends, may have objectionable values, or may make foolish choices, or have objectionable customs or manners, seemed as obvious as day and night. One must be discriminating and cautious if one is to avoid being drawn into undesirable situations.

      Yet others, I discovered after I had grown up, do not think of the society they live as a precarious or hostile sea. They think of others as just like themselves. Society is more of a warm friendly sea in which one may freely venture. By this perspective the village is supportive, not hostile or precarious. By this "village" perspective kids can sleep over with friends with little concern or preparation. By this "village" perspective kids can roam around with their gang of agemates with little concern by parents. By my perspective, the "hostile sea" perspective, the gang of age mates is something to keep a close eye on, and sleeping over is to be done only with long time friends and only when the parents know each other well and make preparations.

      I think it is the grouper who easily falls into the "village" perspective and the individualist who easily falls into the "hostile sea" perspective. This would seem to be a sensible consequence of the corollaries I discussed above. We are loyal to our group, the grouper thinks. We have rules. We see things the same way. Things are as they are because we have decided that is the way we want things to be. We are a group, so our kids must be safe. To a non-grouper these things don't apply.

      Here in South Dakota we have a significant native American presence, and there seems to be plenty of social pathology in their communities. It is common to hear sentiments from community leaders such as, "in our community we have strong family ties. We have extended families. If a family cannot take care of all their children their extended family will. Children may live with their aunts and uncles for periods of time when needed. Our extended family is one of our strengths."

      I do not wish to offend the people who express such sentiments, but I see this type of value as counterproductive, and I believe the sentiment contains a considerable amount of rationalization. Yes, close family ties can certainly be a strength. But if the extended family is dysfunctional then the extended family may not be a strength. A dysfunctional extended family may pull down the more functional of its members, especially if the rhetoric of "teamwork" is excessive and used manipulatively. In such a situation an individual family's best hope of progress may lie in adopting the "hostile sea" perspective, so as not to be pulled down.

      Having been a parent for some years now, I have changed my perspective a bit. I still view society as a hostile sea. But as a child I felt confidence that we could hold our own in this hostile sea. We could buck the foolish trends of the day. We could resist the foolish temptations that our friends would fall for. But as a parent I am not at all so confident. The sea may not be terribly hostile after all, but its pull is stronger than I previously realized. For example the school holds a dance for the sixth graders, and the sixth graders want very much to go. The parents who think it's a bad idea, that a party for sixth graders is quite appropriate but a dance is for older kids, must muster up a great deal of resolve to actually keep their child home that night. The admonition, "Just because everyone's doing it doesn't mean it's a good idea." doesn't make much impression on the child. The village, it appears, has power over the family. Thus one should choose his village very carefully. It becomes almost a matter of life and death to choose one's home among people who share one's values. Otherwise one's children will be subjected to strong pulls in the wrong direction. This certainly explains the resistance for forced bussing for racial integration. I could always understand this resistance. I always figured that moving out of the most desirable city would be a small price to pay to avoid forced bussing. I couldn't figure out how others could fail to understand the resistance to forced bussing. The groupiness perspective provides the answer. The hostile sea perspective is a foreign idea to the grouper. (Of course the affluent grouper would put their own children in private schools. Rule makers often find ways to exempt themselves from the rules they make for others, convinced that theirs is a special case.) I think it a sad commentary that many advocates of forced bussing would interpret resistance to it only in terms of prejudice. I always felt prejudice was only a small part of the such resistance. Now I can understand better how they would arrive at that conclusion. Groupers and non-groupers don't understand each other. Groupers, who have no conception of the hostile sea perspective are poorly prepared to relate to those for whom the hostile sea is a gut level reality.

3. Generations

      I have observed a different perspective on generations. In my perspective the different generations of a given culture have little difference. A suburban child and his suburban grandmother have much in common with each other. A ghetto child and his ghetto grandmother also have much in common with each other. But members of the ghetto culture have much less in common with members of the suburban culture. Society, in my perspective, cleaves along cultural or subcultural lines. I do not expect generational conflict other than the usual desires of childhood not always being too realistic. I do not expect members of one generation in a given subculture to have values much different from another generation.

      But others, I discovered at times, have quite a different perspective. They expect society's fault lines to follow generational lines. They think the ghetto youngster and the suburban youngster will have more in common with each other than they have in common with their grandparents. They think the grandparents will have more in common with each other than they have with their grandchildren. They take it for granted that the younger generation will make their own rules, work out their own values. And they take it for granted that generational conflict is normal and to be expected.

      These two contrasting perspectives could be called the "cultural perspective" and the "generational perspective". I think it is the grouper that finds the generational perspective more natural, and the individualist who finds the cultural perspective more natural, though I am not sure just why this should be.

      There are many examples in primitive societies to support the generational perspective, situations in which each generation shares, and is expected to share, values and customs that are not shared by other generations. Sometimes this is formalized by initiation rites or other cultural props. Following the idea that what we find in primitive societies tends to be what is "natural", we might conclude that society cleaves naturally along generational lines. I would argue, however, that it is not quite that simple. I would argue that in such societies the most important thing that members of a given generation share is status. Society does indeed cleave along status lines. If a society defines status in terms of generations, then certainly different generations will feel different identities. However in other societies status is determined along hereditary lines, and here, I would argue, the cultural perspective seems much more appropriate than the generational perspective.

      By this generational perspective the "sexual revolution" is easy to accept and understand. The younger generation has made its own rules. Those rules may offend us at times, but we should accept them as legitimate, for it is the younger generation's choice. The "sexual revolution" in my view, is greatly exaggerated. It is a surface trend, not deep. Young people have pretty much the same values concerning sex that their grandparents did. American society, I believe, does not cleave along generational lines nearly as much as along cultural lines.

Some Observations I mentioned in passing, at the beginning of this article, that I believe groupiness, or its lack, is largely inborn, a part of temperament. One's temperament may be influenced by one's upbringing, but there seems to be a core to temperament that is resistant to change. This is the old "nature versus nurture" controversy, which surely will not be settled any time soon. When I was young I came down solidly on the nurture side of the issue. The "blank slate" idea appealed to me greatly. However now I tend to be more on the nature side of the issue. There appears to be many traits of temperament that remain relatively stable over the individual's lifetime. Groupiness, I believe, is one of these traits. Those who are groupers while young tend to be groupers when old. I was frustrated by group activities in school when I was young. I will be frustrated by group activities, when I allow myself to be drawn into them, until the end of my days. Others valued group activities as children and will continue to value them when old.

      It may seem that I have painted a rather dismal picture. Groupers and non-groupers are as different as night and day, grate on each other interminably, and have no inkling of the existence of each other's hugely differing perspectives. This dismal picture is indeed accurate to some degree, and is what prompted me to laboriously string together some 14,000 words to describe the problem. But that does not mean the future is dark.

      First of all, I believe groupiness occurs along a continuum, it is not a polar phenomenon. In other words most people are in the middle in groupiness, not at the extremes. Consider these two graphs.

     

     

If graph A is an accurate representation of how groupiness is distributed then people are indeed divided into two camps, the groupers and the non-groupers. A 40th percentile grouper and a 60th percentile grouper have little in common. If graph B is more accurate then people vary in groupiness along a continuum just as they do in height, intelligence, and any number of other traits. In this situation a 40th percentile grouper and a 60th percentile grouper would hardly be distinguishable. They are both right in the middle of the graph. To establish which graph is the more accurate one would have to devise a test that would give an objective rating of groupiness and administer it to a large number of people. I think this would be a beneficial thing to do. I would predict that graph B would result, simply because the bell-shaped curve is how most traits are distributed. Most people would land in the middle range. I think it is true that extreme groupers and extreme non-groupers live in very different worlds. But most people are clustered around the middle. Thus most people can relate to both the grouper and the non-grouper, at least if they are aware of what to look for and be sensitive to.

      Secondly, I think that even extreme groupers and extreme non-groupers can learn to appreciate each other's perspective, not in a gut-level way, but at least in a rational way. All that is required to ease the tension and promote harmony between the extremes is awareness of the other person's perspective and a little good will. I do not have to feel a fraternity member's groupiness to rationally understand that university recognition of his fraternity is very important to him. And he does not have to feel my disdain for paternalistic laws to realize that my autonomy and individual concerns are of most importance to me. Good will, at least in our society, is generally not in short supply. We don't have to be alike in groupiness any more than we have to like the same movies or the same music, or to look alike or be of the same height. All we have to do is have some appreciation and respect for the other person' perspective and values.

      Groupers and non-groupers can get along. They can even like each other. But things go a lot easier if they understand each other.