Homo sapiens are a funny old mammal: as a result of an evolutionary twist that is completely understandable, I think we have what I would constitute as a glitch.
Our brains are adapted to view risk in pretty stark terms. Either the predator is there or it isn’t. It’s a binary equation to us poor, mostly hairless primates. If we judge that the threat is indeed there, we panic and run our arses off; or we get aggressive and stand our ground, with a view to protecting our loved ones. The alternate setting to either of those is this: the predator is a paper tiger; instead of taking it seriously, we relax and don’t worry particularly about where any of it is going for the time being.
How this plays out in modern life – complex, full of tiny intricacies modern life, in which any misreading of social mores, if on a large enough scale, can screw with one’s life big time – is that we tend to massively over or under react to events as a society.
The all time greatest example from the last twenty years in regards to this is almost certainly 9/11. What happened on September 11, 2001 in lower Manhattan is certainly an understandable candidate for over-reaction. But wow. During a time in which America, if it had just taken a very deep and of course, very difficult under the circumstances, breath, could have secured hegemony over the first half of the 21st century as it had done over the latter half of the 20th, it decided instead to have the mother of all national nervous breakdowns. It expended time, money and lives invading Afghanistan, described as the graveyard of Empires for very, very good reasons; then onto Iraq, a country that while it was run by a horrid dictatorship, was in no way connected to the attack on lower Manhattan in 2001 with the best will in the world. What you then have is the equivalent of a very rich and powerful man having an extended fit of rage that sees all of his friends and a large portion of his wealth and influence disappear needlessly.
We see it now with the Labour Party: the rational, detached argument is that they should, in the wake of the Ed Miliband era, neither seek to revert to Tony Blair nor attempt to revive the Foot era only this time instead of having an intellectual giant at the front of it, have a nice, elderly chap who likes tending to his allotment leading the charge. They should have clearly had the genuine discussion they said they would have.
Other political parties are no better in this respect: it’s just that the Labour example is there in front of us, right here and now (which is the only reason I cite them, promise). I am just interested in the way humanity is so black and white most of the time, even when the ability to see grey is needed. If we could just see things in their actual complexity, I think it’s kind of obvious we’d be better off as a species. But, like I say, it seemed to be the way we’re hard-wired. We are programmed to look at everything through very specific prisms. A good example is how Jeremy Corbyn can’t see Putin as being all that bad a guy because he dislikes America as much as Jeremy does (or how Tony Blair just can’t seem to understand that the vast majority of the Labour membership hates his guts). Our brains play tricks on us – tricks that often require us stepping outside of everything we believe in just to see anything about the other available options.