The Devoted Actor: Unconditional Commitment and Intractable Conflict across Cultures

Total Posts:  3495
Joined  20-08-2006
05 February 2017 19:07


Uncompromising wars, revolution, rights movements, and today’s global terrorism are in part driven by “devoted actors” who adhere to sacred, transcendent values that generate actions dissociated from rationally expected risks and rewards. Studies in real-world conflicts show ways that devoted actors, who are unconditionally committed to sacred causes and whose personal identities are fused within a unique collective identity, willingly make costly sacrifices. This enables low-power groups to endure and often prevail against materially stronger foes. Explaining how devoted actors come to sacrifice for cause and comrades not only is a scientific goal but a practical imperative to address intergroup disputes that can spiral out of control in a rapidly interconnecting world of collapsing and conflicting cultural traditions. From the recent massive media-driven global political awakening, horizontal peer-to-peer transcultural niches, geographically disconnected, are emerging to replace vertical generation-to-generation territorial traditions. Devoted actors of the global jihadi archipelago militate within such a novel transcultural niche, which is socially tight, ideationally narrow, and globe spanning. Nevertheless, its evolutionary maintenance depends on costly commitments to transcendental values, rituals and sacrifices, and parochial altruism, which may have deep roots even in the earliest and most traditional human societies. Fieldwork results from the Kurdish battlefront with the Islamic State are highlighted.

The Devoted Actor

brandon davis
brandon davis
Total Posts:  22
Joined  01-03-2017
02 March 2017 06:32

sounds good to me lol

but the Devoted Actor should read some Wilde, Twain, Nietschze, Wittgenstein, Lao-Tzu, etc
to sharpen (concision/precision)-fu
ie Einstein’s imagined 5-year-old might have trouble with that paragraph

webdesign chennai
webdesign chennai
Total Posts:  1
Joined  13-03-2018
13 March 2018 05:00

New Statesman called it “something of a unicorn” and credited the book for discussing “Islamism and jihadism from a historical as well as a philosophical angle, with no trace of sentiment or dogma.”[1] Brian Stewart in the National Review also rated it positively, declaring it “provocative and profane” and lauded the authors for “endeavoring to provide a spark”.[6]

Publishers Weekly also gave it a positive review noting that “Harris, maintaining his provocative persona, asks questions and tosses ultimatums in the direction of Nawaz, who deftly replies with well-reasoned and thoughtful responses that will inform and inspire.”[7] According to cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, “This honest and intelligent dialogue is a superb exploration of the intellectual and moral issues involved.”[1]

Total Posts:  6998
Joined  22-02-2014
19 October 2018 18:02

euc - what conclusion(s) are you drawing from this?

Total Posts:  413
Joined  28-04-2017
05 December 2018 11:34

Thanks OP - very interesting and I think anyone will enjoy the following chapter by Nassim Nicolas Taleb (who I can’t praise highly enough as a thinker)

The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority

Intolerance and commitment are very closely related as concepts.  Commitment is fundamentally the intolerance of resistance to one’s aims. 

OP’s topic is a critical concept to understand if one is to be discussing things like multiculturalism and immigration.  With some things, it’s all about managing proportions - with others it’s about managing real numbers.  If you ask an old man how many heart attacks they’ve had, they won’t answer in proportion to how long they’ve been alive - neither will someone who’s been robbed, raped, or run over by a Range Rover.

It’s not the proportion of the intolerant minority that presents the problem…’s in the name…..minority.  The problem is the stark difference between how they tolerate resistance to their aims and the rest of the individuals in the population tolerate resistance to their aims.

To anyone who doubts this concept, just off the top of my head…..would you have the balls to wear a Donald Trump hat in public?(irrespective of your views of him)?  After all, there are lots of people who don’t care about Trump, lots of people who hate Trump, and lots of people who accept, like,or love him.  Within the category that hate him, it’s only a small intolerant minority who would actually verbally accost you or assault you…...

Put another way, would you charge the same in health insurance to Average Joe if you found out they were wearing a Donald Trump hat in public every day?

Would you drive through a bad neighborhood for 3 hours for $10,000?  After all, it’s only a small intolerant minority who would actually cause you any harm!

[ Edited: 05 December 2018 11:42 by Quadrewple]