Do the fractious groups of Arabs and Israelis actually need each other? Can the Pentagon find new enemies to replace the USSR? Are married couples held together by a shared sense of enmity toward outside parties and even each other? Who is more likely to cultivate enemies - men or women? Is the "devil" a created enemy? Is the need for enemies psychological, sociological, or biological? These and other fascinating questions are explored by David P. Barash as he skillfully combines findings from biology, psychology, sociology, politics, history, and even literature to shed new and unexpected light on the human condition.
Barash also offers startling and controversial observations about who we are as human beings and why we seem to thrive on adversarial relationships. He argues that we create and perpetuate our "enemy system" by "passing the pain along" - from child abuse to ethnic antagonism. We may well harbor a vestigial "Neanderthal mentality," which induces us to behave in ways that were adaptive in our evolutionary past but which have broad and even global implications today. Beloved Enemies concludes with a hopeful message: We can overcome, not simply our enemies, but our need to have enemies, and our penchant for creating them. To those who seek a better understanding of the nature of conflict and to those who remain confident that we can find answers to seemingly endless and complex antagonisms, Beloved Enemies offers much food for thought.
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David P. Barash is professor of psychology and the director of the Peace and Strategic Studies Program at the University of Washington.
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