One Planet One People by Carl Coon
In this succinct, highly readable overview of the evolution of human society, the author argues that the 21st century will witness a crucially important and difficult transition for the human race. Blending the disciplines of anthropology and evolutionary psychology with over thirty years of experience in the diplomatic corps, Coon traces the evolution of the human tendency to divide others into two groups, “us versus them.” People tend instinctively to behave altruistically toward members of their own in-group, and to react with suspicion, or even hostility, toward outsiders. He points out that complex human societies became possible only when cultural attitudes and mechanisms became accepted that encouraged individuals to define their in-groups in more expansive ways. Thus small kin-based bands grew into villages, kingdoms, and, eventually, the modern nation-state. Today, he argues, we have reached a stage where the whole world must be viewed as “us,” for only a united world community can cope with today’s global challenges.
Coon concludes by discussing the difficulties of making this final transition to a world community and the role the United States should take in leading the way. He deplores the recent unilateral trend of U.S. foreign policy, and advocates strengthening the United Nations.
Coon’s broad international experience combined with an admirable ability to synthesize the latest research from anthropology and evolutionary psychology results in many original insights and fresh ways of evaluating today’s global challenges. This is an extraordinary book that offers a new context to a crucially important message.
Carl Coon (Washington, DC) served in the US Foreign Service for more than thirty-five years, during which time he lived and worked in many lands and cultures. He was ambassador to Nepal from 1981 to 1984. His other works include Culture Wars and the Global Village.
Hardcover, 149 pages.