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One for All

One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict

Russell Hardin
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    One for All
    Book Description:

    In a book that challenges the most widely held ideas of why individuals engage in collective conflict, Russell Hardin offers a timely, crucial explanation of group action in its most destructive forms. Contrary to those observers who attribute group violence to irrationality, primordial instinct, or complex psychology, Hardin uncovers a systematic exploitation of self-interest in the underpinnings of group identification and collective violence. Using examples from Mafia vendettas to ethnic violence in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, he describes the social and economic circumstances that set this violence into motion. Hardin explains why hatred alone does not necessarily start wars but how leaders cultivate it to mobilize their people. He also reveals the thinking behind the preemptive strikes that contribute to much of the violence between groups, identifies the dangers of "particularist" communitarianism, and argues for government structures to prevent any ethnic or other group from having too much sway.

    Exploring conflict between groups such as Serbs and Croats, Hutu and Tutsi, Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants, Hardin vividly illustrates the danger that arises when individual and group interests merge. In these examples, groups of people have been governed by movements that managed to reflect their members' personal interests--mainly by striving for political and economic advances at the expense of other groups and by closing themselves off from society at large. The author concludes that we make a better and safer world if we design our social institutions to facilitate individual efforts to achieve personal goals than if we concentrate on the ethnic political makeup of our respective societies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2169-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Individuals and Groups
    (pp. 3-25)

    Damian Williams, then a teenager, while participating in the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, threw a brick at the head of a white truck driver, Reginald Denny, who had been dragged from his truck. The riots were a response to a seemingly racist verdict of not guilty that freed four white police officers who had been videotaped in the act of wantonly beating a black man arrested for speeding. Williams was in turn videotaped in his own racist act. Williams explained his action: “I was just caught up in the rapture.”¹ In essence, he was carried away by the spirit...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Group Power
    (pp. 26-45)

    There are three great categories of strategic interaction: conflict, coordination, and cooperation. If your actions affect my outcome, we are in one of these three kinds of interaction.Pure conflict interactionsare typified by such games as poker and chess and to some extent by such social interactions as primitive wars of annihilation and the scramble for natural resources. In a pure conflict one party can gain only if another loses.Coordination interactionsare the virtual opposite of this. In such interactions each party can gain only if others also gain. The most striking example of such interactions is the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Group Identification
    (pp. 46-71)

    How far can ethnic and nationalist identification in politics be understood to result from essentially self-interested behavior? At first thought, plausibly not very far. Nationalism and ethnic loyalty are commonly viewed as inherently irrational or extra-rational in the sense that they supposedly violate or transcend considerations of self-interest. Surely this common view is correct to some extent. Still, it is useful to draw out the self-interest incentives for such commitments and behaviors. There is yet another category of motivations—those that are a-rational. For example, you want only to sit on the beach and watch seagulls. This is not strictly...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Norms of Exclusion
    (pp. 72-106)

    To understand communal norms, we can best put them into comparison with more broadly directed norms. I wish to discuss norms in two quite general categories: those that redound to the benefit of members of a more or less well-defined subgroup within a larger society, and those that seem to apply universalistically to more or less all members of a society. In general, comparison of these two classes suggests that norms of difference and exclusion are especially tractable to rational choice analysis and that universalistic norms are less tractable. This conclusion is the reverse of what may be the common...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Universalistic Norms
    (pp. 107-141)

    Norms of exclusion can evidently be powerful in motivating individuals to act for groups. The logical extreme for groups is the group of all. By definition, this is not a group from which some other group can be excluded. Can a universal norm then motivate individuals in the group of all? Obviously, the answer must be in part that it can. But the answer also seems to be in part that it cannot motivate very forcefully. Universalistic norms, except for those governing essentially dyadic, ongoing relationships such as promise-keeping, truth-telling, and fidelity among close associates, are generally weak. They are...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Violent Conflicts
    (pp. 142-182)

    Suppose we face limited, relatively fixed resources. If some of us can form a group that gains hegemony over our society, we can extract a disproportionate share of total resources for members of our group. The remainder of the society has incentive to counter-organize against us to protect its welfare. If it does so, we are now two groups in manifest conflict. Any would-be political leader may find that asserting the predominance of a particular group is key to gaining substantial support. All that is required to make the conflict between the two groups manifest are plausible definitions of group...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Einstein’s Dictum and Communitarianism
    (pp. 183-214)

    In the penultimate scene ofThe Merchant of Venice, which is uneasily bracketed among Shakespeare’s comedies, Shylock wins his case for exacting a pound of flesh from the merchant Antonio, who has defaulted on a loan. Antonio had gladly accepted the default condition, so urgently had he needed the money. Portia, in disguise as a young judge from Rome, rules that Shylock may take his pound of flesh. But, on penalty of death, he may not shed a single drop of Christian blood nor take even a tiny fraction more or less than a pound of flesh.

    Shylock surrenders and...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Whither Difference?
    (pp. 215-232)

    Franz Kafka was a notorious failure at marriage, indeed, a preemptive failure who repeatedly failed even togetmarried. The issue evidently bothered him enormously and sparked many entries in his diary. The most telling of these is his observation that he did not envy any particular married couple. He only envied “the whole of marital happiness in its endless variety,” not its instances. Even in the most favorable case, he believed he would probably have doubted the happiness of a particular couple.¹ The idea of marriage is simply not matched by the reality.

    I will not speak of marriage,...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 233-260)
  14. References
    (pp. 261-270)
  15. Index
    (pp. 271-288)