WSJ cooperative study
I saw this humorously described as the 'I'll see you in hell' syndrome.
Basically it goes like this: villain is foiled by hero in last scene, pushes button to kill hero and himself by blowing up secret evil base. It is a funny way to look at things. Generally my impression of say, Americans, has been that we do like being lazy, but we also don't like people being lazier than we are. In other words, we cherish that sweat or toil we do produce because we don't like doing it, so when it gets taken and given to people who didn't do anything we get angry and discourage such activities. Apparently this is a common tactic in developed economies (although China isn't quite as a whole, one would expect university students in China to be part of basically the global developed economy).
More "humorous" is the tactics of people in dictatorial or clannish states, where revenge is the name of the game. And it profits no one. More to do with this is a premise investigated in Jared Diamond's book on the differences of cultural development based on adaptation to geography. In a clannish state, his oft used example is Papua New Guinea while the Godfather saga uses Sicily, people (well the men anyway) live in constant cycle of vendettas. The various players are arranged about to exact penalties on each other's families for the actions of a single individual and thousands of lives are risked or ended over what we (Europeans) might resolve through a trial or contractual/legal dispute (sue!!!!). Diamond argues that this almost-Darwinian process equates to an overall smarter population. But as the WSJ study shows, such societies really end up checking each other out and not advancing, indicating intelligence isn't used abstractly enough. Hence we have a frame point to see why, for example, African governments routinely expel, or seize the property of, productive members of their society, and why subsequently there has been little economic growth on the continent. There's a totally different dynamic to a clannish or dictatorial culture that we haven't yet evolved a way to expound a net positive gain to the overall society from and we instead expect such people to 'act like Americans'. It may be silly therefore to expect Iraqis to behave. Self-contained groups like Kurds maybe, but not Iraq as a whole.
The only strange thing I saw was Seoul on the list of vengeful cities. ROK has a nicely growing economy, but apparently has some very angry kids living in it. I guess. That didn't add up until it was made clear they have really cool riots. Ie, outside of maybe the Seattle WTO riot a couple years ago and race riots, Americans have really civil protests and riot police are there to keep things at a civil tone. We generally have to call in the National Guard when things get out of hand. In ROK, riot police are there to do battle with the rioters and are dressed like something out of a medieval war movie. Since we have our inept media, this sort of thing doesn't make news even though it would certainly grab ratings watch cops beat up hostile civilians ('cops' is still on right?)
edit: further contemplation hasn't changed my outlook here. But something occurred to me reading the article again. They seem to imply that a lack of trust creates the problem. Where would this lack of trust come from? Probably from a sociological conclusion that government or other portions of society are not trustworthy (because of corruption, various-isms, etc). Ie: Stop Balkanizing countries because it amplifies these gaps and breaks down the overall social framework. Or conversely, allow countries to break apart into these smaller networks so that some forms of collective bargaining take place at higher levels instead of vicious activities on the lower end of the spectrum. China, despite it's experiments with Maoism, has a long cultural history of bureaucratic excellence to go against the relative lack of accountability with its current form of government. So the people will generally have some trust in the common good being their own good as well as opposed to 'get what i can or see you in hell'.
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