Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: serialised in quotes IX: from the few to the many

The root of such calamities [civil wars, the collapse of empires, and the like] is that humans evolved for millions of years in small bands of a few dozen individuals. The handful of millennia separating the Agricultural Revolution from the appearance of cities, kingdoms, and empires was not enough time to allow an instinct for mass cooperation to evolve.

How do you get people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism. First, you never admit that the order is imagined. You always insist that the order sustaining society is an objective reality created by the great gods or the laws of nature.

Like the elite of Ancient Egypt, most people in most cultures dedicate their lives to building pyramids. Only the names, shapes, and sizes of these pyramids change from one culture to the other.

The inter-subjective is something that exists within the communication network linking the subjective consciousness of many individuals. If a single individual changes his or her beliefs, or even dies, it is of little importance. However, if most individuals in the network die or change their beliefs, the inter-subjective phenomena will mutate or disappear. Inter-subjective phenomena are neither malevolent frauds nor insignificant charades. They exist in a different way from physical phenomena such as radioactivity, but their impact on the world may still be enormous. Many of history’s most important drivers are inter-subjective: law, money, gods, nations.

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