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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off the beaten track, December 12, 2004
Hiram Caton (Griffith University, Australia) - See all my reviews
I reviewed this book for a science journal not long after its publication. Rated it four out of five. Why come back eighteen years later? Charting the paths followed over the past three decades toward the goal of a `biosocial science' brought me back. The author is the collaborator with Robin Fox on the best-seller, The Imperial Animal, which explores the evolutionary roots of male behaviour. Among anthropologists of those days, talk about biological roots of cultural behaviour was against the grain. Add the additional negative that the authors seemed to be saying that patriarchal attitudes and behaviour are evolutionary destiny, and you've got serious heresy.

This book is more of the same. The theme is the fit and misfit between our industrial mode of social organization and the natural sociability that evolved for hunter-gatherer existence. The title derives from the circumstance that Tiger's assessment turns up more misfits than fits, which is to say that we're not well adapted to the urban habitat that we've created over the past couple of centuries. These misfits are what he styles `evil'. `My concern', he says, `is principally with behavioural pollution, with the ways in which the natural behaviour of our species is restricted, thwarted, distorted, stretched, disallowed, or otherwise harshly or uncongenially molded by a way of living and earning'. But like other aspects of human behaviour, evil is denatured in the industrial system. The natural way of moral thinking personifies evil and attributes it to a malignant will. The industrial system, by contrast, is beyond the control of individuals and groups who operate the system and routinely generates `vast outcomes that no one wanted'. These outcomes-the `pathologies of our way of life'-are the `characteristic modern form of evil'.

The metaphor of injury and healing is also expressed in Tiger's conception of his task as a behavioural scientist. He would generate a `science of skilful husbandry' to maximize adaptation to the urban zoo `just as veterinarians and biologists do for animals in captivity'. If that sounds to you like Max Weber's `iron cage' analogy, you've got it right.

Although Tiger conjures a science of behaviour as his resource base, he doesn't write science here. Instead he presents a vision of the human condition by launching an abundance of speculations, observations, and anecdotes. Conversational prose displaces the tedium of complex argument, and striking metaphors displace conceptual analysis.

One wall of the cage is constructed by supplanting the kin association of bans and villages by the formal structures of law and class differentiation. Behavior becomes organized, bureaucratized, regular, predictable. But for the human animal such behaviour is `extraordinarily exotic' because spontaneous and emotionally satisfying conduct toward kin is replaced by rule-governed behaviour whose rationale is its function. The penalty? Work paced by productive function displaces natural rhythms. The village commune is jerry-rigged as a contractual association that draws us into functional relation with anonymous millions, thanks to carrot and stick discipline. The spontaneity of village sociability is replaced by opaque bureaucracies.

The main thrust of Tiger's book is a discussion of the impacts of the industrial system on sexuality. The contraceptive pill is taken-for-granted, but the familiarity masks the fact that it is a profound intervention. We know that, but the author's forte is drawing out its consequences for the relation between the sexes, child-parent relations, social and employment expectations and, not least of all, women's self-relations. He also underscores the long-term consequence of anti-natalism-lower birth rates relative to pro-natalist populations resulting, eventually, in displacement. Twenty years ago this trend was well marked in Europe and the United States, if generally ignored. Today the rate of change projects displacement of Caucasians as the majority population in the US, Britain, and some European countries by 2070. Already influx plus the growth of Muslim populations exerts constant pressure on our multi-cultural tolerance, institutionally and individually. Undisguised `Islamophobia' is rampant among some politics elites. The answer is `anti-Americanism' among other political elites. Question: will `melting pot' assimilation happen at a rate quick enough to diffuse the simmering ethnic antagonisms?

Tiger proposes no convincing solutions to these and other challenges, but were he writing today, I suspect he would say that the `war on terrorism' is more a symptom than a remedy. And I for my part bid adieu by strongly recommending this book as a quality tutorial in understanding our complex society.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps Understand the Lack of Ethics Behind Blackout, August 16, 2003
This review is from: The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System (Hardcover)
Edit of 22 Dec 07 to add links.

The recent black-out that plunged Canadian provinces and many US states, notably New York, into darkness, while producing disturbing pictures of millions exiting New York on foot across its automotive bridges, can be understood by reading several books, among them this book. Others include Charle's Perrow's "Normal Accidents: Dealing with High Risk Technologies", Norman Cousins, "The Pathology of Power", and the variety of books that focus specifically on corruption and deception by electrical utility companies around the world, but generally in the US, UK, and Australia.

Summing the book up in one sentence: the industrial system disconnected the ethics of kinship and community from the production process. It allowed "objective" industrial management to devise complex processes in which each individual plays a functionalist role with minimalist information, and no one person can see the relationship between their "objective" task, and the massively dysfunctional, pathological, and corrupt outcomes of the total industrial system.

This is an erudite, well-documented, well-reasoned book. It carefully addresses the manner in which sociopathological organizations--including militaries and the corporations that create them in their image--undermine national security and the national commonwealth. It concludes on a positive note: restoring group governance, and restoring the connection between kinship, community, ethics, and the manner in which national security and national economic decisions are made, can reverse this destructive evil trend, and restore mankind to a state of grace among men and between men and nature. This is an inspiring important work.

More recent books bearing out this author's original message:
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillions - and What to Do About It
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas
War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War onthe American Dream and How to Fight Back
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rational starting point for understanding our human turmoil, March 26, 1998
By A Customer
Equal to the analysis of human behavior and ethics as presented in "An Historian's Approach to Religion" by Arnold Toynbee. Grabs the rational mind and feeds it with information about why our current society causes so much internal stress in our daily life.
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The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System
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