Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book Tribe with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Junger explores the human need to be needed and the challenges facing many individuals in modern society who struggle to connect with others. His studies of communal connection include soldiers in a small combat unit and American Indian society in the nineteenth century.
United States


00:00:04Welcome to e Con Talk part of the Library of Economics and Liberty I'm your host Russ Roberts of Stanford University's Hoover Institution Our website is e contact out or or you can subscribe comment on this podcast and find links and other information related to today's conversation We'll also
00:00:21find our archives where you can listen to every episode we've ever done Going back to two thousand six Our E mail addresses melody con talk dot org's We'd love to hear from you Today's December seventh twenty eighteen and my guest is journalist and author Sebastian Younger is the
00:00:39author of The Perfect Storm Fire A Death in Belmont War He is a contributing editor Vanity Fair and special correspondent at ABC News Is covered major international news stories around the world It has received both the National Magazine Award and a Peabody Award His latest book from twenty
00:00:55sixteen is Tribe on Homecoming and Belonging which is the subject of today's conversation Sebastian welcomed a con talk Thank you very much Now it's fitting This is probably going to be the last episode of twenty eighteen might end up being the first one In twenty nineteen we'll see
00:01:11but I took a rough look and counted I probably read twenty five or twenty six books this year Free con Talk And as you may have noticed many of them and many of my guests have been a little different than in years past Going outside of economics Alise
00:01:25narrowly defined Tribe is a pretty powerful way to end this year It's a very short book It's one hundred thirty six pages and it's the print's pretty big in the margins for re large also but it it really is extraordinary book and I recommended to everybody Part of
00:01:44me just wants to read the book out loud That would be so interesting But you'll see why Because it brings together many many themes that we've been talking about And I've been thinking about this year as part of the contract So let's get to it Sebastian you're Brooke
00:01:59starts with a crazy bit of anthropology When America was settled by white Europeans in the seventeenth century going forward into the nineteenth century a lot of folks found the life of American Indians appealing and for various reasons found themselves in American Indian society and tribes Oh and decide
00:02:23to stay there and not go back to so called civilization But very few of any American Indians found civilization appealing described that phenomenon and what you learned from it Yeah I mean it really rankled eh conservative Christian society that the what they call the he Vince in the
00:02:42wilderness Satan's territory the heathen society seem to be more appealing to young people from from Christian culture thin their own culture was And and we know that because people like Benjamin Franklin and other writers and thinkers of the time would comment on it was some real consternation Why
00:03:03is it basically that asked Why is it that our young people keep absconding from the settlements along the frontier and running off to join the savages and as they called them and but the other The reverse never happens And but more interestingly in some ways even people who
00:03:20are captured along the frontier I my my family dates back One line of it dates back to the Pennsylvania front here and there There little cabin in the woods was attacked by Indians and the two teenage boys were killed on their doorstep The mother got away with a
00:03:35four year old and an infant escaped into a cornfield So my family is also from that era and that kind of situation off on these Indian raids What they were doing I was trying to get captives to replace casualties of war so that the tribal societies were constantly
00:03:52looking for young people particularly young women to sort replenish their ranks And what's really interesting is that when these people are captured often his teenagers boys and girls both within a year or so if they're not recaptured within a year or so there often eso establishing their adopted
00:04:11society their adopted tribe that they don't want to be repatriated backto white society to European society They want to stay with their tribe the people that captured them right and often kill the rest of their family and that that was really disturbing to thinkers at the time And
00:04:27one of the explanations I think was Benjamin Franklin who put this forward One of the explanations was that the basic egalitarian nature of tribal society was what was appealing Of course European society is not at all egalitarian And of course we have to not just talk about the
00:04:48egalitarian nature It was dramatically or even then even in the I would say late seventeen hundreds early eighteen hundreds the lifestyle of Americans was I think my understanding is of it is it was better than many European standard living but it certainly way above in terms of material
00:05:07well being the spare the living of the American Indian And yet they prefer it Yeah I mean the truth is the material wealth doesn't does not necessarily lead to happiness doesn't lead to a sense of living a meaningful life People want autonomy they want respect and they want
00:05:26good relations with their community I mean those thing is in part incredible sense of well being And if you're living in a I mean of course not all the NATO tries We're sort of at the hunter gatherer level but they were pre um so pre technology in the
00:05:41sense that we mean it I mean there was they had no metal work They're very very limited agriculture They lived generally in close knit small communities where everyone depended on each other on DH There were no because There was no real accumulation of wealth They were not hierarchical
00:05:57rankings in society There was no one who was the one who was more what more authority than anyone else who could impose their will Leadership was wasn't imposed It was It was it was won by the leader and that that really makes people feel good You also talk
00:06:14about I found this I really thought provoking this one Brief some remarks you made at the end of the introduction of the book You say humans don't mind hardship In fact they thrive on it What they mind is not feeling necessary Amount of society has perfected the art
00:06:35of making people not feel necessary And certainly and a quote And certainly in that ah quote primitive society less developed society Everybody was pretty necessary Yeah and you can see that in modern Western societies that experience a crisis that catastrophe all of a sudden the hurricane the tornado
00:06:56the nine eleven attack whatever it may be a few things almost always seemed to happen People very very quickly come together and share their resource is they offer cooperation and help to the group They depend on the group for their own survival Um and and they they they
00:07:17start very instinctively They start putting other people first They stopped thinking about themselves and there's a very good evolutionary reason for that Humans are social There's where social primates humans do not survive alone in nature they die They die almost immediately The reason we survived and the reason
00:07:38Reason In fact we thrive because because we work in groups where the individual contributes to the to the common good and the group insures the safety of the individual And that basic reciprocal arrangement has allowed humans to thrive for hundreds of thousands of years So in a crisis
00:07:56whatever the crisis may be in a crisis And I would argue that hunter the hunter gather economy is an ongoing low level crisis of survival in a crisis People and I saw that I've seen this in combat with soldiers People put others first because their survival depends on
00:08:17the goodwill of others There is no survival without the group And so all of a sudden everyone is thinking in group terms And you can see that in crisis after crisis in this country Nine eleven in New York White black rich poor All those distinctions fell away in
00:08:32Manhattan right after nine eleven A za result of suicide rate went down after nine eleven the violent crime rate went down People really stuck together and they stopped making those ghastly distinctions of of of affluence and race that are such a curse on our society today For some
00:08:50reason I'm reminded of Les Miz So both the book and the musical the character the characters of the thirty dears Who Who's the He's the Master of the House and that song the comic relief of that But he's also the the nasty grasping Person who always looks for
00:09:11a chance to exploit a new opportunity and we don't think of that of him is clever But he's despicable And it's just interesting to me how ah those storms that you're talking about of of group putting the room first and I would add for after reading your book
00:09:30you didn't mention it But putting your taking risk physical risks to enhance the group's security or the safety of individual members which economists might call irrational if they're bad it defining what rational really is And I think that's a big problem for a professional You know acting in
00:09:49a self interested way is often equated with rationality and there are many times in life is I'd like to point out that doing what self interested is wrong it might be better for you in the short run It might even be better in the long run but it's
00:10:03a moral in certain settings Not all many not But I think the ability to recognize that especially in a crisis and do what's quote right is it's deeply fulfilling Yeah I mean I think there's two in evolutionary terms to things going on here it clearly is adaptive to
00:10:23think in group terms because your survival depends on the group and the worst the circumstances that more Your survival depends on the group and as a result the more pro social The behaviors are the worst Things are the better people act But there's another adaptive response which is
00:10:39self interest Okay so if things were OK if the you know if the if the enemy is not its hacking if there's no drought if there's plenty of food if everything is fine then in evolutionary terms it's adapt of your need For the group subsides a little bit
00:10:57It's adaptive to attend to your own interests your own needs On all of a sudden you have invented the bone marrow You know all of a sudden you've invented the iPhone whatever I mean that that having the band with and the safety and the space for people to
00:11:11sort of drill deep down into a nayda a religious idea philosophical idea technological idea clearly also benefits the human race So what you have in our species is this constant ta going back and forth between group interest selflessness and individual interest on individual autonomy And so when when
00:11:30when things are bad you're way better off investing in the group and forgetting about yourself when things were good In some ways you're better off spending that time investing in yourself Onda Ta goes back again when things get bad And so I think in this in modern society
00:11:47in traditional small scale tribal society in the in the natural world that talking back and forth happened continually There was a dynamic tension between the two that had people winding up more or less in the in the middle The problem with modern society is that we have for
00:12:05most of the time for most people solved the direct physical threats to our survival So what you have is people in again It's adaptive We're wired for this attending the to their own needs and interests but that but almost never getting dragged dragged back into this sort of
00:12:22idea of group concern That is part of our human heritage And the irony is that when people are part of a group and doing something essential to a group it gives an incredible sense of well being And so what we're losing We have this great autonomy from the
00:12:37group and from the needs of survival And there's a lot that is a lot to say for But but what we lose is this basic human experience of Wow I'm needed and I would do anything for these people These are my people I would do anything for them
00:12:53that ironically that feels very very good When you deprive people of the chance and the necessity of acting heroically and generously for other people you deprive them of a fundamental part of what it means to be human what it means to have a meaningful life and in a
00:13:10fundamental way of feeling content and happy And in your in your life I'm phrase it as we have a longing to belong And you know that it's adaptive in crisis obviously that longing But it's still there even when there's not a crisis And we we ignore that I
00:13:29think at our peril We'll talk later about the political implications of this because I think they're quite a few But so it it's not just that it crisis People get along better They have more meaningful lives Which is ironic Heard this great proverb recently I'm not going to
00:13:46do it well in English it's Chinese Evidently no food One problem Lots of food many problems And that's our rate That's our Western dilemma I think to some extent we have lots of problems That's the good news But we don't have one problem when you have one problem
00:14:04in his food Life's very hard but it has a ah vividness crisis and challenge and hardship have a bring a vividness that that we've lost And of course we seek it in many ways outside of our normal scheduled life because we miss it Oh absolutely And you can
00:14:24see that sort of group grouping behavior in sports fans and in neighbourhood committees neighborhood watch groups You know whatever I mean people instinctively do it all the time In fact they long for it And you know if you go to a copy coffee shop the seats are not
00:14:38pointed towards the walls where you can have your privacy They're all pointed towards the middle because people go out partly to encounter other people and have even a fleeting sense of Oh okay we're here right now I don't know who these people are But we're all having coffee
00:14:52in the same place And maybe I'll meet someone nice you know whatever Like that that's just wired into us And you know I got to say like the most connected and heart of a group that I've ever felt was in the most dangerous circumstances I've ever been in
00:15:06which was in in combat In war I was I wasn't a soldier I was a journalist and I was with a American platoon of combat infantry in a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan Nicole Restrepo and the closeness both emotional and physical in that little outpost It was twenty
00:15:27twenty odd men and we're in combat constantly You were never with You were never further than a few feet from another human being ever Right So it was this wonderful feeling of closeness and belonging and being needed and kneading and all that stuff and all that good human
00:15:43stuff But one thing I long for in those circumstances was just to be alone for a while like just give half of our guy But of course to be alone in that environment means you're in mortal danger so that's not you just can't go for a nice walk
00:15:58up the mountainside Yeah I wantto we want to be careful not to romanticize some of the nature of your primitive crisis situation We had run Gran Rana permits key on the program talking about kibbutz life and kibbutz life in its heyday Less so now it's not its heyday
00:16:16and most of the couples him that um there were purely egalitarian have stopped doing that There are a few left They tend to be religious rather than the secular Today's the kibbutz movement but I think it was Ron's grandmothers said after she left the kibbutz When people would
00:16:38say Where you're going she's a modern life She'd say None of your business I got I stop telling people that we're human rights and there is an oppressiveness of the other example I would suggest is you know small town life has that feeling of connection The movie It's
00:16:55a Wonderful Life captures that beautifully Most of us don't want to live there or struggled to want to live there and small town life can be oppressive People are none of your business You don't have privacy Yeah it is It can be very hard for certain types of
00:17:12people in hard for lots of types about right Absolutely I mean let's not romanticized group group life My my point is that as a species as a social primates our evolutionary heritage is that we evolved to live in small groups of thirty forty individuals Exactly what chimpanzees the
00:17:29size of a chimpanzee troupe by the way and that were clearly adapted to feel at our most safe and arguably most meaningful and content in the close proximity of others That doesn't mean there isn't stresses that come with that Of course there are I would argue that that
00:17:46there is even greater stresses that come with being isolated And we know that that as affluence rises in a society the suicide rate tends to go up The Depression rate tends to go up PTSD rates ten could tend to go up Child abuse rates tend to go up
00:18:03Addiction rates tend to go up And all these things that are bedeviling America right now they they all are partly a function of affluence And affluence brings great things too you know So the point is you you cannot actually have it all That's that's that That's the point
00:18:20But you have to be cognizant of what you're giving up and getting for whatever level whatever kind of life and society that you're in You find it interesting how hard it is though for most people to make a different choice So the kibbutz movements dying out it's not
00:18:38growing An appeal is people become are isolated I wrote it on the metro this morning Everyone's looking at their phone No one's making eye contact God forbid Frightening If somebody makes eye contact with you people aren't moving back to small towns They're staying in him somewhere because rents
00:18:54are high and cities tumble outboard building to take place But I find it fascinating that you know how are you going to keep him down on the farm after they've seen Paree is the modern dilemma People with a few exceptions the Amish which you mentioned your book being
00:19:13an exception Most people find the seductiveness of that isolated more lonely life Very appealing Yeah I mean I think it's possible to have a collective life in an urban setting I mean there's a or urban rural split which is different from a community isolation split And um So
00:19:33my my first marriage which ended a few years ago Um my wife Daniella was from Bulgaria and she grew up under communism Um and the wall fell when she was seventeen I think something like that And no she you know she lived in a communist apartment block outside
00:19:52of Sofia I mean in some ways the most sort of like impersonal mom modern turn ghastly and accept that it was socially very close So all the families knew each other that all the doors were open The kids could run in and out of it from people's apartments
00:20:10They multiple multiple generations living in one or two rooms in an apartment I mean really close collective living It had two stresses but it also was an incredibly rich and comforting and secure way for a child to grow up There's always natto addled around There's always people to
00:20:30play with and there's there's There's incredible sense of community and children really thrive on that Well let's turn to that Reminds me of a friend of mine who ah they family four had a two bedroom apartment The parents had round room and the two boys share the other
00:20:46and they would go out to the suburbs to visit their friends and they would come back The boy's were I think about eight or nine years ten years old at that point and they would say they felt sorry for the people of the suburbs Why Well the kids
00:20:59have to sleep by themselves and your book you mentioned that in passing to some extent but it's more than just in passing that Ah we raise children in a way that's in the West That's very different from our our evolutionary heritage Yeah I mean you take a baby
00:21:21chimpanzee and put it in a cage by self that its mother and it will go crazy pretty quickly I mean it will develop obsessive very very anguished behaviors really really quickly What I mean the the young are vulnerable they're vulnerable to predators and they instinctively know that So
00:21:41young child I mean that's how I grew up a lunch Young child has put a room in the dark by itself at night It knows it's going to get eaten Write it doesn't know that it's not in the jungle If it has no idea that it's in a
00:21:52suburb right It the child's a year old or whatever And all of it's wiring is telling it like scream till help comes because you're really vulnerable right now Um what I tell people is that you really should You should act with your children in terms of sleeping arrangements
00:22:11and closeness and proximity Know that act with your children at home is as you would have your camping in the wilderness like you were camping in the wilderness You would put your child in another tent right Thirty feet away right No the child would be with you in
00:22:25the tent If you tried to put the kid in another tent it would be unhappy And you guys wouldn't get any sleep either because you'd be worried Right And just the fact that you live in a safe physically safe environment doesn't mean it's emotionally safe and doesn't mean
00:22:37that that that separation is in evolutionary terms That it sounds like is psychologically sound So people generally sleep in groups The bigger the group you're with the safer you are I mean I've you know I've gotten I've gone camping in the wilderness alone You don't sleep very well
00:22:56It's not fun Every crack of every twig you wake up I sleep great in the middle of a platoon in combat out of a combat operation No problem right I'm forgot through thirty well hard guys round me like no problem The physical threat is is way less disturbing
00:23:15The real physical threat is way less disturbing In a group than the imaginary threat is disturbing when you're by yourself in the mountains of New Hampshire So there's a lot of advice you get is a parent When you're when you have your first kid and then we continue
00:23:32to have kids people still gave you advice And sleeping is a big issue for most parents How to deal with it There's not a lot of good scientific evidence on it It's not a lot of good random recognize control trials People run their own and they're course flawed
00:23:50by what the kid ate that night And with there's light being whatever But I thought that the most interesting casual piece of evidence that you provide in the book and I've never thought about it before is infants Children's attachment to um a stuffed animal which I was never
00:24:08really thought about It like Yeah they like the family I like animals Oh it's what's weird about that That's well they like animals It's Maybe it's found something Yeah I mean Anglo Northern European English English society Um is really the only society in the world that puts children
00:24:29such children in dark rooms by themselves to try to go to sleep And that started pretty recently a couple hundred years ago The this isn't in my book by her I heard this since my book came out Yeah it was the gin epidemic in London in the seventeen
00:24:43hundreds where people were going to bed drug and sort of rolling on to their children and crushing them They got doctors Say listen you should put the kid in a cradle You should put the kid in another room to keep them safe because they did the doctors and
00:24:56get people to stop drinking No So so that the truth is if you're not overweight if you're not on sleeping pills if you're not drunk if you don't smoke cigarettes if you're clear minded and healthy you will not crush your child in bed Right If you did it's
00:25:12a wonder that we would have waited that we as human the human species would have survived Right Like I mean here we are clearly co sleeping couldn't have been a mortal threat to the young And the There's a wonderful website called Evolutionary Parenting that talks about our evolutionary
00:25:30origins and how to incorporate norms that have been around for hundreds of thousands of years in terms of parenting how to incorporate those norms in a healthy way into a modern society where of course whatever we have to we have to weigh have to deal with the world
00:25:45we live in and it's an amazing It's an amazing website and they talk a lot about co sleeping and all that stuff Well let's um come to what seems to be a radically different topic If you type in together in the book which is PTSD post traumatic stress
00:26:02syndrome the are that people can go through after a crisis ever Certainly after war and I just I just read a fascinating book called It's called D Day through German Eyes And Well it's a set of first person accounts of the landings on D Day from the German
00:26:22side which nobody pays any attention to course they lost For starters German soldiers don't have a lot of emotional sympathy in the world you know last sixty years But there are a set of verily beautifully interesting coincidences These interviews got done in the fifties ten years after D
00:26:41Day by journalist who had interviewed them in nineteen forty four right before D Day So ten years later this man comes back and I have to say I have a little bit of skepticism about it because their accounts or so poetic and powerful I just I wonder how
00:26:59you want to hear the tapes right Yeah like put that to the side It is any any account of war has in the modern era and in the past doesn't matter has horrific accounts of things that human beings can do to each other with with weapons of death
00:27:18And this is particularly powerful because it's extremely vivid It's detailed and graphic and it's not from the people that you're sympathetic to and it's still unbearable A lot of these were I'm just gonna mention it pass because we're on the topic But it's it's it ties into the
00:27:38episode We do with your Amazonia about nationalism versus a more universal approach One of the stranger parts of this But these accounts is that many of the soldiers were surprised that the allies were angry at them and fought with such ferocity because they saw themselves They've been propagandize
00:27:54so effectively to believe they were defending Europe and that they were part of something good They didn't see the films that we saw They didn't In fact they talk about on imaginable thing They of all places Some of the prisoners could send Idaho and they're talking about how
00:28:12incredibly well treated they are and how good the food is not guilty They feel because they don't people back in Berlin their relatives reading rats And he said it was great until they showed the films And he said three interviews is what films the liberation of Auschwitz and
00:28:27when when they saw what was going to the concentration camps first always said all the American guards stopped talking and it would It would just wouldn't talk They were cruel Just stop talking to him Stop being friendly and treating them normally And they had an inner debate about
00:28:41whether they were propagandized where they're effectively photo shop because they were so horrific and a couple of them you know he said Now the SS that's that's really that's really powerful You think OK if you didn't If you live through that on either side and you can watch
00:28:57you know for poor man's furs you go march the first five minutes of Saving Private Ryan and get the most trivial a flavor of what this is about You could argue You can understand That would be very dark Horrible You can understand why survivors of concentration camps and
00:29:15in Auschwitz and end of the Gulag in the Soviet Union never talk about it because they can't You know it's a classic thing And Jewish circles that children of Holocaust survivors never heard one thing about what they went through So we all understand that And yet your book
00:29:33sort of a long introduction Your book gives a very different take on why someone coming back from a horrible experience like that struggles to reintegrate into normal life So talk about Yeah well I mean first of all understand that our evolutionary past must have been filled with trauma
00:29:50and horror for for individuals And if trauma was was psychologically incapacitating for a majority of people For most of their lives the human race would have died out right You need someone around After the lion attacks the camp someone's gonna have to go hunting the next day And
00:30:09if if they're in bed with PTSD everyone's going to start right So so clearly as a species we are wired to adapt to trauma pretty quickly To recover from a pretty quickly trauma usually happens Two groups of people I mean throughout human history because people live in groups
00:30:31So when trauma happens is often to a group But then recovery from trauma also happens in that same group and what it's seen What seems to be like if you take a rat and have you traumatized by exposing it to a cat in a cage and you save
00:30:45it before it's killed You take that rat and you put it into a cage by itself The trauma reaction that it has will never go away If you take that If you take a rat expose it to a cat and save it before it's killed and put into
00:30:58a cage with other rats Within a week the behavior of the traumatized rat is indistinguishable from the other rats So I think what's happening in modern society is that people are going to war in a group Bye They're getting traumatized in a group and keep in mind only
00:31:15about ten percent of the U S military is exposed to combat s Oh but we're we're talking about that ten percent They're exposed to trauma in a group and then they come back and all of a sudden they're dispersed to their communities which often are not very cohesive
00:31:31And they're filled with people that didn't experience combat And you know Auschwitz survivors don't talk about Auschwitz They talk about it with other people who were in Auschwitz right So soldiers are coming back to a group of people They didn't go through what they went through so of
00:31:44course they're not going to talk about it And the thing is and I get this to like I've you know I've lost some very very close friends who I wasn't war with And I don't like to talk about war because you talk about it for more than three
00:31:56minutes you end up talking about people you love who died And then and no one likes to cry in public And that's what that's what happens if you have a real conversation about war So they avoid it except when they're with each other And my my the woman
00:32:11I'm married to you right now Eyes The youngest of twelve and her father I was fifty five when she was born and he fought his way through the entire all of World War two from North Africa Sicily Italy D day on the south coast of France most of
00:32:31it on foot He was combat infantry Lieutenant Captain Road Just a ghastly number of letters to parents I mean I mean that was probably the most traumatic thing for him in the war Was writing those letters You know that young men under his command Yeah Gets kids who
00:32:46were killed Yeah You know young men under his command He was in his late twenties That you know the boys he was commanding where seventeen And he would have to right their parents but I can't even begin to imagine And he lost his entire platoon you know over
00:32:58and over again because they just kept getting chewed Up and they replace them with new guys and those guys would get killed And on they went and and we ran out of Basically the Germans ran out of tanks and men before we did That's why we won the
00:33:10war At any rate he was the whole damn thing right into Austria And he came back to Wisconsin to Kenosha Wisconsin and all of his six brothers had also served And they all lived within a few blocks of us And I'm sure every man in that neighborhood had
00:33:27served And even the people that didn't serve the families um they all there were enormous sacrifices that were made by the public during that terrible time And you know of course he was radically altered by those experiences But he wasn't incapacitated right He came back he was the
00:33:44mayor of Kenosha and he ran a bank you know And I think he in terms of honor and all that stuff like I think he I don't know I didn't know he passed away but I never had a chance to meet him But I'm guessing that he saw
00:33:58his service to the community as the mayor and as in running this small community bag just he saw that is Justus important as his service overseas fighting the Germans I'm guessing in terms of sort of honor and dignity and service to the country he didn't draw here They're
00:34:14very different activities but in terms of what the nation needs thank you for your service I mean we should be thinking school teachers for their service in some ways you know I mean well we should be thanking everybody I mean it takes everybody You run this thing you
00:34:26know So I won't for saying thank you for your service Well what I would say is let's understand That is not just soldiers is an awful lot of good people are working very very hard to keep this thing going You talk a number times the book about that
00:34:40phrase Thank you for your service has a supposed to be And it's just a dignity I think Teo The status of a veteran And in some ways it's unbelievably condescending I say it a lot I say When I see soldiers I say I want to see police Policewoman
00:34:57I Aye but it's it's cheap Talk to a large extent for obvious reasons than I think when I want focus on the in this conversation about returning veterans is thie Sort of two things it seems to be One is the society you returned to as a say in
00:35:18American is individual somewhat isolated depending on your choices but can be very isolated and lonely and it's the way I would describe it is potentially emotionally thin Ah it must be a part of what we're talking about is missing that camaraderie the combination of doing something with people
00:35:45for cause across its higher something that's higher than yourself depending on others the way you talked about earlier about about the need to be needed Ah and the vividness of everyday life and to come from that even if you didn't have to endure horrible trauma to come from
00:36:03that too The comfortable life that most of us get to enjoy which I'm really love my life It must be very powerfully difficult Yeah I mean one of the things um about combat is that even the smallest details can have catastrophically large meanings So you know if you
00:36:23tie your shoe laces or not it's not really a big deal in society Um if you trip on your shoe laces in combat you might get killed or their guy next you might get killed and so it s so for example at night often the attacks would come
00:36:38early in the morning And so you you know you were up on this rocky hilltops and if we got overrun you didn't want to be running down the hill in your bare feet It was pretty rugged terrain But you also didn't want to be trying to tie and
00:36:47untie your shoes for five minutes during you know a dawn attack on the outpost Right So what I did I think a lot of other guys did this to is that you would tie your boots but super loose so that the places weren't trailing on the ground But
00:37:01you could dive your feet into them in a moment right and be up and running Even if you're in your underwear you could be up and running in two seconds That's just your shoe laces right And every single thing every article that you own everything you do in
00:37:17combat potentially can make a difference in whether you survive or not And that gives existence and the things of existence They'd little literally The physical world around you gives it an almost sacred glow right Because it all has to do with your survival and and again And it
00:37:35gives you a I would say almost a kind of Zen appreciation for the moment by moment the circumstances of your existence on Monday and isn't mundane anymore Yeah exactly Monday Right So the month So these these supposedly trivial objects suddenly are sort of glowing with importance Everything you
00:37:56do you think about an examined ideally and your connections to other people are your ticket to survival and to be connected to other people You have to act well too right You can't be selfish cowardly and a son of a bitch Right You'll get kicked I mean whatever
00:38:12like you will not be part of the put it right So those sort of norms of like All right we're up against it Everyone better act well We all need each other that it's a very ancient human adaptation And when people go through it it makes them feel
00:38:28very very good And they really miss it when they have to give it up And so people experienced soldiers experience coming back as this was suddenly have this great sort of plant itude of material uh possessions and and they're safe and all these so it's really nice things
00:38:47But if there's a great poverty of human connection and that's the thing that actually makes determines whether people feel good or not And that's the thing that they give up And there's a There's a wonderful movie called The Best Years of Our Lives about veterans returning from World
00:39:01War two Amazing amazing And so they you know they landed These guys get to know each other in the transport plane and they land at the airfield They decide before they disperse to their homes They're going to get attacks They're going to share a taxi and they're on
00:39:17the way That of course they pass the bar Hey let's just stop Have a drink right They have a drink They immediately get into a bar fight They get back so their families don't know they're coming right There's no Facebook There's no cell phones or nothing like these
00:39:27guys would come home unannounced and come come walking up their street right which probably was interesting sometimes and and complicated But that's how it worked And so so then they dropped one guy off and then they get to the second guy and they pull up in front of
00:39:42his house He doesn't want to get out of the car and he goes Can we just have one more drink And his buddies air like this and your family's in there They don't know You know they don't even know you're in the country like you have to go
00:39:52home You have to go home and start your life And he takes a deep breath grab his bag takes a deep breath and says I feel like I'm about to hit a beach I feel like I'm about to land under machine gun fire to take out an enemy
00:40:06position That's what going home felt like to that guy So this is not a modern problem I would say it goes back thousands and thousands of years very poetically in the book about Huh People adapt to those crisis environments despite their challenges during the blitz in London during
00:40:25the bombing of civilians in the city of London That the British government's afraid that people are going to go get hysterical if they were bombed every night They're reasonable thought seems to me And yet as you point out people very quickly adapted to spending evenings in the in
00:40:43the tube in the subway subways of London and makeshift bomb shelters and other things and people died every day Yeah but not the numbers that people thought that people died every day Yeah I mean they lost thirty thousand civilians and you know eleven times ten right And over
00:41:01the course of six months And yeah the government was worried about mass psychiatric casualties And but on the contrary admissions to psych wards went down during the blitz and then back up when the blood stopped Right What did seems to be is that you if you give people
00:41:18an urgent task there it gives them the opportunity to stop thinking about themselves And when you do that you cut short This sort of awful feedback loop of something is called anxious rumination If you give people enough troubled people I mean people have things on their mind right
00:41:35If you give them enough space to think too much They think themselves into a circle and they get more and more anxious and depressed And so a quota crisis does This pops them back into the present moment that again that sort of Zen idea like you're in the
00:41:47present moment right now be here right now It it pops them back into that and they can forget about their personal troubles And you know what One what one British officials said in amazement We have the chronic neurotics of peace time driving emulated That's what happens Yeah it's
00:42:05a wonderful book called My Brother's Keeper which is about American pilots who went to the Who went to Israel Tow fly the early plains of the Israeli Air Force in nineteen forty eight which were horrific horrible horrible planes I think they got it from like Romania They can't
00:42:23remember right now They were literally dangerous the planes and and they were primitive and they didn't work well and they didn't have supplies And and these were people who had just been in a war three years before and at what I was reading the book And there's a
00:42:37ah really nice documentary made about the soldiers Bye Nancy Spielberg books written by Jeff Weiss and his brother I think it's Craig but the and we interview So why'd you do this now There's sixty seventy eighty year old men and their answer is you know they say things
00:42:54like well Jewish identity I want to do something for the Jewish people But part of it was they missed it They missed the risking their lives is it's just hard for us to understand It is a great is a great author of Better Combat veteran Marine veteran named
00:43:09Elliot Ackerman and he's coming out with a book in a few months that I just read and what he goes back to Yeah he was in Iraq and Afghanistan and then he got out of the service And now and so Then there's a civil war in Syria and
00:43:26he goes back not to fight it but to cover it as a journalist and always have this challenge Tio and he said so He said He described the war in the Middle East as he described going back there and his interest in the Syrian civil war He's he
00:43:42described it as thie interest One has in in an ex girlfriend that dumped you like Wow Well how is she doing now Like I want to just check up and see Does she have a new boyfriend Like what's going on with her Right That was him going back
00:43:54to Syria Order to Southern Turkey actually to just sniff around and see what it felt like again And we did an episode with Paul Robinson on the norms that emerge in these types of stressful situations And economists I think are prone to talk aboutthe self interested part and
00:44:12at the urge to they get a disproportionate share of a limited amount food prices that gets punished very quickly And you talk in the book about how they don't need the police tow take care of people in these during the blitz They didn't They don't need ah handbook
00:44:30People very quickly figure out what's right and wrong And the group enforces it very quickly Yeah I mean serving yourself at the expense of the group is a mortal sin And and and in in human society I think probably quite often punished with death you know I mean
00:44:48you're hoarding tricking water and crackers on the life raft while everyone's dying like you probably could go overboard right No one needs someone like that And it's really interesting because these you know these human norms aren't called upon very often a modern society because technology and the industrial
00:45:06Revolution has solved a lot of those immediate survival problems But once in a while there's a crisis And and even when there isn't a crisis Hollywood well when one of things we do is we love to watch movies about communities where people are communities that are facing a
00:45:23crisis And we want to see this story told over and over again of people at ordinary people acting well in a crisis We we'd love that stories like a bedtime story for adults right And I did Some really is not in the book But I did some research
00:45:36about this because I felt that Hollywood movies or maybe our version of a folklore of tribal miss right that is what we have a za mythology And so I thought Okay let's look at what the roles in a disaster movie whether it's the Martians invading or an earthquake
00:45:58or whatever Whatever it is whatever Hollywood cooks up what What are the roles that people take on in these films Because I felt like the scripted rolls would actually reflect cultural values And so I found a company that does like market research and they show films and get
00:46:14people to respond to films than they tailor the ending You know whatever it's all we were business But so I talked to them about these sort of classic roles in these films And you know of course they will advise the studios to change characters or change endings depending
00:46:28on what people want Well what people want is this is going to be very un PC But this is what the audiences say they want They want a If there's a physical threat to be countered they want a man to do that right Trustworthy upright good courageous man
00:46:45Jamie Stewart right No right Tom hat They want a woman associated with him who was sort of dealing with the group right there Not literally with a machine gun facing down that whatever But they're dealing with the group dynamics which is intending to the wounded which is equally
00:47:01important right So where there's no hierarchy of importance here but one very common character in this is the selfish guy is always a guy It's the thirty years Yeah that's that's the rest of the house and they always end up falling into the pit of love Are getting
00:47:14eaten by a saber toothed tiger or you know whatever Whatever Like that guy the guy who puts himself before the community always dies And then there's a fourth is that there's a final fourth character It's very common is the Is the husband who didn't act well was on
00:47:32the outs with his wife wife and kids and he's been cast out for bad behavior And then the crisis comes and he comes home and saves the family and saves the day and she takes him back And that's like any eternal human story that we all love to
00:47:46hear told Star Wars Saracen for in the first Star Wars you know selfish A guy who doesn't do his duty This is irresponsible but he comes back He comes back and it's the right thing right So let's try to put this in a bigger perspective and think about
00:48:07some of the issues that we've been talking about on this programme of eternity The Enlightenment progress We had John Grey on here talking about There isn't any progress We have material progress Is it socially were struggling Is your book really is He says struggling It's the nature of
00:48:23human beings Hey would argue it that we made no progress on those fronts And you're suggesting actually we're kind of maybe fallen behind a little bit I want to read rather really beautiful summary of the way I've started tow Think about these issues for better for worse having
00:48:40been a tremendous optimists or most of my early economics career Now it's a combination of life Age twenty eighteen I don't know reading too many of the wrong books but anyway here's what you say There's no use Arguing The modern society isn't a kind of paradise The vast
00:48:57majority of us don't personally have to grow our killer on food build our own dwellings or defend ourselves from wild animals and enemies In one day we could travel a thousand miles by pushing her foot down on the gas pedal or around the world by booking a seat
00:49:10on an airplane When we're in pain we have narcotics that dull it out of existence were depressed We have pills to change the chemistry of our brains We understand that enormous amount about the universe from subatomic particles to our own bodies to galaxy clusters that we use that
00:49:25knowledge to make life even better and easier for ourselves the poorest people in modern society and your level of physical comfort That was unimaginable a thousand years ago and the wealthiest people literally lived the way gods were mentioned tohave and yet and a quote and that and yet
00:49:44really just blew me away because that's the way I've started thinking about things that we've got I think is listers Now I think it's totally misunderstood what's happened in the standard of living the average person in America over the last fifty years I think it's gotten a lot
00:49:57better recently had essay on that on medium It's not just a piddling too It's not just the rich It's the average person and the poor people I think life is just better for almost everybody not everybody but almost everybody And yet and I I think what your book
00:50:12reminds us is that meaning doesn't come from stuff which we all know I mean that's it's a cliche of cliches We know that And yet we strive for stuff and we overstress I've for stuff We spent too much time on stuff and you don't talk about this But
00:50:29I think one way to think about book is we want to be in a tribe Wei need to be in a tribe and I think there's a temptation and modern political discourse to decry tribalism I have But it's naive to think we'll just need to get people to
00:50:45stop feeling that way because it's unhealthy It's who we are and it's where we get to a large extent our sense of meaning And it's certainly where we get our Sometimes we get a sense of meaning from hating people who aren't no tribe and that's just extremely unhealthy
00:50:59to pretend that that's just some We're going toe I don't know change face We just need to get regulate Facebook So this tribal is something we got We have some serious issues I think I don't know if thinking about it talk about it helps But we have some
00:51:12serious issues Yeah I think technology and mass communication have made connection and division easier I mean you just you know you could post something on Facebook and you're reaching thousands of people instantaneously That's new in human history I mean I mean until recently the number of people you
00:51:31could persuade to your viewpoint was limited to the number of people who could hear you when you were shouting right And those will be the people within your immediate community that you grew up with some of whom you're related to who you share and in here in interest
00:51:47with of survival and you identify with and there's them And then there's outsiders and it's all very very simple But with a modern connected world living in a nation of three hundred forty million isn't something like that You know that's an experiment that's never been tried before And
00:52:04so when you say that there's the tribalism is hurting America and I agree the problem I mean yes and no The problem is how you define the tribe if we're going to bother living in a nation of two hundred three hundred forty million We have to just defined
00:52:21our tribe as that nation because we're not going to get rid of the tribal impulse It's served us well It's allowed us to survive It's not going anywhere It has arguably distasteful or even toxic outcomes It also has incredibly admirable and moving and generous outcomes in equal measure
00:52:42It's not going anywhere So if we're going to be tribal we need to think of this nation as our tribe or we should just stop this crazy experiment It's been great but we should get out and divide up into two groups that we consider our our tribe whatever
00:52:57that may be I think it's a horrible sad idea and I think we can do it But one of the things that has to happen is that we have an expectation I mean there's free speech in this country It's one of our most precious liberties You cannot take
00:53:11that away But that doesn't mean that speech can't be censured that it can't be criticized and condemned And when you when we we have people who are incredibly powerful people people who we have given control of our very lives of society to have said Take care of this
00:53:32This problem we'd society needs to be run by somebody You're you've been chosen to do it Take care of us When you give people that kind of power it should not come with license to say whatever you want about other people in the truck And when politicians and
00:53:48media leaders talk about other Americans that demographic groups political rivals whatever it may be not with credit criticisms Great Right dislike no problem You don't have to like anybody I don't care But when you talk about those people with disgust and contempt what you're really doing is you're
00:54:09communicating You know what Not only do I disagree with this person they shouldn't even be in the grope like they shouldn't They shouldn't even be in the country And when you're doing that I mean for example when um candidate Trump talked about Barack Obama is having is not
00:54:25being a U S citizen No I just think about that We're a country of war We have hundreds of thousands of soldiers overseas or tens of thousands of soldiers overseas And someone is telling these guys and young women that their commander in chief actually is a foreign agent
00:54:43who's not an American citizen I mean what the hell right He's free to do that because we have this wonderful wonderful thing called free speech But the Republican Party is not free to stay silent The Republican Party if you if you if you sort of think in terms
00:54:59of national security really must step forward and say We do not espouse that notion President Obama is AR is an American citizen and we respect etcetera etcetera and likewise with the Democrat You know the Democrats have their own sense too And so my problem isn't so much with
00:55:13that kind of speech It's that the political institutions remained silent while things like that are set and that is a threat to our national security And you said it really well in the book you said basically and I certainly see it on both sides President Trump's a playboy
00:55:29and figure but of course Hillary called of course Republicans too horrible It's just not a word you should use Fear political There's there's the contempt Yes that contest to contempt right right And it's a it's a high standard in everyday life for life was judgmental creatures and but
00:55:47we should demand a better standard of our elected officials and our journalists Well and one of the things that disturbs me about journalism today is that journalists have just given up any pretense of objectivity and indulge in that precise emotion Contempt Ah and that's just its M is
00:56:10it's not healthy But you point out in the book it's like what you're really accusing people of frequently in those in those settings is treason not unlike your public policy on the for America But you're bad for the country Not only bad for the country you actually are
00:56:28are intending to harm the contract That's that That's your point That's a point I found that it just I never thought of it that way and it's exactly what's bad I think one of the things that's really unhealthy about a lot of things unhealthy better political discourse But
00:56:40the idea that you're trying to harm that you're deliberately not your policy wouldn't work out I don't think but rather oh you are deliberately trying to harm the country Yeah I mean every every society and we are no exception Every society has to first and foremost take care
00:56:58of to two things It has to physically to defend itself from enemies If there already and it has to keep itself together it has to remain cohesive If it doesn't remain cohesive there's nothing to defend And if there's no defense no amount of cohesion in the world will
00:57:17save you from an enemy So you have to do both things And if you don't nothing else was really worth doing And the United States is militarily so powerful that I would argue the only threat to what we sometimes call our freedom right I mean in fact I
00:57:35don't think American soldiers are defending our freedom They're defending some other very important things Freedom is something that we gave ourselves That's not something you can be taken away It's a political freedom is a political contract okay They cannot destroy our freedom because it's self given on ly
00:57:52We can do that And the only way we can do that is through words No one's going to come shooting their way into American Take our freedom away take our political process away Our liberty our democracy away No one's going to do that It's not possible to do
00:58:05it with bullets but it's very easy to do with words And in that sense I feel that that kind of awful rhetoric which as you say both sides and indulgent is actually um far greater security threat to this country Then Al Qaeda and Isis and all those other
00:58:20people so related issue which doesn't seem related But I think it is and it's strange that I think right before I read your book I wrote an essay about rampage killing and and shooting sprees that seem to be on the rise in America And he wrote It may
00:58:44be worth considering whether middle class American life for all its material good fortunes lost something Some essential sense of unity the moon otherwise discourage alienated men from turning apocalyptically violent Close quote at my essay was called The Lonely Man With a Gun It's a man it's almost always
00:59:01a man and it's a lonely man After after the you know they go to interview the neighbors okay kept to himself And so it's a person's been disconnected So even people been disconnected There has been people with guns the idea of training a gun on a bunch of
00:59:14strangers and killing them for I think for notoriety for a feeling that you matter listers Now I love this quote from Adam Smith Man naturally desires only to be loved but to be lovely We wantto by that he meant we need to matter to other people If we
00:59:31don't we're going to find a way to achieve it And the you know I'd love it if we didn't cover these tragedies on didn't name the names of the people who did these things That's not gonna happen in free society So I think we've got to think about
00:59:44why these happen and what needs toe change it or just accept it because it's I think it's it's part and parcel of our freedom that we allow people tio by themselves We let people live on the street We don't We don't put our noses in other people's lives
01:00:01That's a great thing It's also very not so good thing that we let people be on their own and miserable lonely And we say You're up to your problem One of the interesting things about the mass shooting phenomenon I did a sort of limited analysis of it and
01:00:17there's never been a mass shooting There's gang shootings all kind of ghastly stuff There's never been a mass shooting and I kind of intentionally nihilist act where you kill this many people It's possible for you Kill yourself or get arrested has ever been a mass shooting in a
01:00:29high crime urban neighborhood They almost always happen in otherwise safe low crime Christian neighborhoods I mean sort of like traditional American Christian white Christian middle class towns that have very little crime And it's possible I mean again You know correlation isn't causation but it's possible if you look
01:00:54at the breakdown Ah a sudden escalation in mass shootings in the late eighties and then all of a sudden they tripled in two thousand six right around when Facebook head on Social media sort of took over and social media it connects People are also disconnects people and I
01:01:13think ultimately what you know then that the net result is we should be calling it anti social media I think it's actually terrible for human relations but regardless the timing is interesting But the rate of mass killings has just kept doubling in the last twenty years and I
01:01:28would say the rate of alienation and loss of community has also done so um but it seems to be a phenomenon of comfort affluence and on DH served otherwise safe little towns I want to challenge the economists out there listening students and faculty to think about what economics
01:01:48has to say about this and I think the answer right now in this discipline is precisely nothing We have these strange models where people get utility which is they turned to me and satisfaction or pleasure or delight We're meaning out of stuff and I think if you're not
01:02:06careful you might study that and think it's right It is what people It's true that people strive for things they do like they do Take generally take jobs that pay more than jobs that pay less but human connection idea And they need TIO have social connection I think
01:02:22is is the weak spot of economics Adam Spence was really interested in it on DH around seventeen fifty nine It was a big part of our field but it seems to have seems to have gone away So that's what I'd like to help Some people will think about
01:02:42that in terms of what people care about I think it belongs in our utility function but I don't think that's so that's the right way to deal with it If I could jump in on that I think it's something that might be interesting to people So an environment
01:02:53of scarcity which is of course is the environment that human race spent most of its history and that sort of compulsively acquiring hoarding behavior of resource is makes perfect sense Likewise a taste for sugar eating as much sweet stuff as much a fat All those things make perfect
01:03:12sense in an environment where there's not often a lot of food Not often a lot of resource is It makes perfect sense like while it's their consumers much as you can because you don't know when you're going Tio He did get right It's adaptive The problem with modern
01:03:26society I think in that sense is that we have these adaptive behaviors They're tuned to a low resource high high activity high intensity environment We're attuned to that Our metabolisms as it were attuned to that and Now we have a surplus of everything So we are wiring will
01:03:50have us continue to acquire and consume and acquire and consume But what we're not adapted to is a situation with his infinite resource is and we don't know how to stop And so I just want to say that that's sort of like utilitarian principle of get as much
01:04:07stuff as you can It has great evolutionary roots like it got us here but well but we're not a slave to our to our tour are wiring right I mean we have to understand that's a that's a trait that had there was adaptive and useful and we have
01:04:24to know when it must be wait overridden or it's actually going to start damaging us And that's true for material goods for sort of commercial culture sort of material world is also true for food and the end of the day If that's where your energy's going it's probably
01:04:42not going towards other people And we know psychologists will tell you is our connection to others that makes that that makes people live longer have more meaningful happier lives like that That is what a happy meaningful life is his connection to others The listeners know that I keep
01:05:00the Jewish Sabbath which is one way to insulate yourself from over gadget ing in connecting via very sterile I think somewhat sterile modes of connection social media So I take a twenty five hour break once a week Maybe it should be longer But uh you know we live
01:05:19in a time and religion historically is has played some role in tamp tamping down and tempering both the self interested urge and the material the pursuit of material things And yet we live in a time when religion is I think very much on the wane waning and getting
01:05:39less persuasive to most people And I think about David Foster Wallace is fabulous Quote that everyone worships and he says You make There's no atheism says David Foster Wallace This is a offence Atheists of course But I think what he's saying is is correct We all worship something
01:05:57may not be God It maybe beauty it maybe art it Maybe your looks it maybe money it maybe various forms of addiction that that we find ourselves in And you know we're sitting here complaining to some extent about the flaws of modern Western society No one's in charge
01:06:16of it of Western society It has emerged through the enlightenment through our creativity through free market capitalism most of which has been I think phenomenal and religion ating poverty And at the same time we've had trouble maintaining our connection to something larger than ourselves traditionally which was religion
01:06:36And we've looked for other things Sports is one of them You mentioned earlier People are into sports in a way that fifty years ago people said Well that that's not healthy What is That's weird I mean sportswear and I'm a thing really a nineteen fan in sports So
01:06:51it raise the question What's What's next for us Ah is it no other than than observing this which is fascinating to May is everything we could do about it Anything positive We could say I mean I think to return a wholesale modern society to a more communal small
01:07:12scale connected society You have to turn off the Internet and banned the car Basically and essentially It said it would be a natural disaster that wiped out the grid And just in the grid state wiped out Eventually we'd plunder our way back to a more human and connected
01:07:29and much poorer way of living And so no one murder lifespans lots of negatives Too big for that challenge Hurts is the other side of And yet you know Wade feel have a lot of meaning in her life But we have a lot of suffering right Exactly I
01:07:46mean like I said you don't you don't get to have it all No one no one gets to have it all But I think what we can do is a modern well wealthy society is understand the dangers of modernity and wealth and work very hard to counter act
01:07:58them So for example I think is I read a story in Japan that older older women that Japan's pretty hard on the elderly I think an older women were shoplifting so they could be put in prison and have the company of other older women right That's that That's
01:08:13awful solution to a problem right But also in Japan what they started I think it's Japan Where they started doing is putting middle school's a nursery schools next to old old folks homes and that the that the people know Folkshomes would go visit to schools and vice versa
01:08:31and that the cross pollination of course you know young children they don't make any distinctions of race or age or anything just like how you treat them And and that's wonderful And and so that this sort of cross pollination of enter youthful and older energy was great for
01:08:46both groups right So I think society is starting to come up with solutions small scale solutions that actually work for people There are now I think in San Francisco and in New York there are buildings you khun buy into You get a bedroom in a building that's basically
01:09:03a huge collective space with a collective kitchen and living area is in your own bedroom And it's basically you're basically buying into a concrete village you know is basically a village of thirty or forty people which is a typical human group in our evolutionary past the village of
01:09:15thirty forty people with common areas by your own privacy And so people are starting to developers are actually starting to develop buildings of all projects that attend to that basic human need of a bouncing privacy and commune ality You do do You do have to be balance them
01:09:32No one wants to speak to sleep in the barracks for the rest of their lives with a bunch of people right But but having those common spaces where you can interact with people not just people you know really well those air friends people that you just kind of
01:09:44recognize like Hey how you doing What's your name You know Yeah I mean that kind of connection but a connection with someone that you know is part of your group You don't know them really well like that People love that That's why people go to coffee shops and
01:09:56everyone could make coffee at home But they don't They pay five dollars for a coffee And Starbuck it's partly so They confer being in the small brief small community that's uh and once we haven't talked about except very much a passing is I's marriage Ah it's hard to
01:10:14believe it's tempting to disbelieve this but I think it's a true fact supposed to a fake fact In twenty fourteen there are fewer households with two earners than in nineteen eighty and that's shocking because women's labor force participation has increased dramatically So you think there'll be a lot
01:10:36more households with two people working on the big difference It's down from thirty three percent to thirty one that it's down It all shocking there is It's down is because it's true that married women are much more likely to work than they did before But they're much fewer
01:10:50marriages so very few a lot more Single people people a lot more divorce A lot of people not getting married to start with a lot of people not remarrying So those village structures and urban life for young people is very different today than it was thirty and forty
01:11:05years ago when people married at a younger age started And you know marriage is kind of dying is an institution and some not dead But it's definitely also waning as religion is which is just another way that we would get human contact You're coming home to a spouse
01:11:23is another way to feel connected to humanity sometimes not a good marriage So you know I'm so happy to see this house maybe but but there's someone there in your life and I really your point about people who were acquaintances again Adam Smith talks a lot about the
01:11:40different ways we interact with intimate friends somewhat friends people We recognize strangers and and that's all part of a rich social life right And understand that community also includes people who might not even like But you understand that because you need the community you need that person And
01:12:01that's just a fact of life that you may not like the blacksmith but every village needs a blacksmith and what's now Y You could have to go to him to get your acts fixed right And so that experience of community is there's overlap but is different from the
01:12:15sort of gradations of friendship and well so what Humans What humans are adapted to is to be part of a community that also includes people they don't particularly like But we all understand Without this community I'm screwed and on DH So it keeps people invest invested in good
01:12:33basically in good pro social behavior One of my hopes one of my source of optimism is the way that culture and free markets they give us what we want and if we want to live with other people and interact with other people will find ways of doing that
01:12:52Whether it's that developer develops a building this a little bit different where we choose to live And do you see any examples of that in terms of um of cultural norms emerging that recognized the importance of our tribal past that help us connect other people that they're things
01:13:10changing That might be a little source of optimism I see it all over the place you know I mean I think the whole mirage of social media is that if we follow it it'll lead to us a sort of blissful community we can all be part of I
01:13:23think it's a mirage and ally but we clearly are at least thought we were pursuing something healthy You see an effort in advertising you know I mean I don't have a TV but what I see advertising and TV like it always groups of people having a good time
01:13:39and being like Nice with each other and like drinking a beer and over around a barbecue I mean it's just this constant re enacting of like ancient ancient human behaviors of communal life And it is clearly that's you know you show that and whatever this is people are
01:13:54drinking or eating while they're having a good communal time you people will go buy it because they want they want to be part of that experience So I way see it all the time and I think we see it because it's so lacking in substance in a substantive
01:14:06form in our society So all that it takes you just have to go the next step and say Oh this is actually something I don't need Coca Cola to give me this right I don't need Facebook to give me this I can get this right But I just
01:14:21have to know it's something that I want and I have to deliberately set out Teo to try to create it to try to make it habit We're not going to completely restructure modern society back to some sort of small scale tribal norm It's not happening You would have
01:14:40to give up too much stuff too much good stuff But I think within our society if we're at least aware of what what painting us of what we're missing what we're lacking what we're longing for at least understand it Bring it to our conscious mind We can seize
01:14:57on these opportunities where the chance presents itself to act like that to experience that and hold onto it and developed that I think if we if we do that I think it will lead like these developers with these buildings like the genius in Japan is putting the nursery
01:15:12school next to the old folks I mean these things will happen and as they become norms and our our society our society will change incrementally I really think that not only can it happen I think it must happen because clearly our society is an enormous amount of pain
01:15:28If you look the addiction rates and murder rates and suicide rates and mental health I mean everything You just look at that list We are in agony as a society and we need to save ourselves I'm rolling in to do that by connecting to each other My guest
01:15:44today has been Sebastian younger His book is Tribe special Thanks for being part of the con talk by pleasure This is e con talk part of the library economics and liberty for Mari Contact ot con talk dot org's where you can also comment on today's podcast and find
01:16:06links and readings related to today's conversation The sound Engineer free contact is Rich Boy yet I'm your host Russ Roberts Thanks for listening Talk to you on Monday

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