In This Review

One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict

One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict
By Russell Hardin
270 pp, Princeton University Press, 1995

If the logic of collective action seeks to answer how groups of self-interested individuals can cooperate for benign purposes like moneymaking, where group and individual rewards do not correspond, the logic of group conflict asks why they can cohere for evil purposes like ethnic cleansing. The author, using examples of conflict like Bosnia and Rwanda, argues that group interests coincide with individual ones properly understood. But, rather than stretching the concept of individual self-interest in this fashion, one can move beyond the model of behavior implicit in rational choice theory to a more complex understanding of human motivations--something that can be done without resorting to primordialist arguments that everything arises out of deep-seated drives. The author also attacks recent communitarian theorists in favor of strict liberal universalism without taking seriously the importance of nonexclusive, voluntary community as a counterweight to liberal individualism.