Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's book Mothers and Others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding opens by describing a commercial plane that's packed with humans.

Each year 1.6 billion passengers fly to destinations around the world. Patiently we line up to be checked and patted down by someone we've never seen before. We file on board an aluminum cylinder and cram our bodies into narrow seats, elbow to elbow, accommodating one another for as long as the flight takes. With nods and resigned smiles, passengers make eye contact and then yield to latecomers pushing past. When a young man wearing a backpack hits me with it as he reaches up to cram his excess paraphernalia into an overhead compartment, instead of grimacing or bearing my teeth, I smile weakly, disguising my irritation. Most people on board ignore the crying baby or pretend to.

What all of this makes apparent is the essence of humans: we are "hypersocial apes." We are able to easily tolerate and cooperate with strangers—indeed, this is our defining feature, this is what comes so naturally to us: we are not only great at cooperating but we also enjoy it.

A little later in the book, Hrdy imagines if the plane were filled with chimpanzees:

Given the oddity of my sociobiological musings, I cannot help but wonder what would happen if my fellow human passengers suddenly morphed into another species of ape. What if I were traveling with a planeload of chimpanzees? Any of one of us would be lucky to disembark with all 10 fingers and toes still attached, with the babies still breathing and unmaimed. Bloody earlobes and other appendages would litter the aisles. Compressing so many highly impulsive strangers into a tight space would be a recipe for mayhem.
My next discussion at Pop Life will contrast Hrdy's theories on human cooperation with the theories that are pushed and pushed (even if they are dead—which is the case today) by neoliberal economists: the ground of all economic activity being human individualism, self-interest, and competition of all humans against all humans. For this set of thinkers, whose influence on American politics has been nearly total, local action is far more rational, and therefore human, than group action.

Hrdy sees things differently. From her essay, "How Humans Became Such Other-Regarding Apes":

"Nature red in tooth and claw”, “selfish genes”, and “rational actors” notwithstanding, humans are a peculiarly other-regarding, “pro-social” species. We routinely share and behave in ways that benefit others and find it pleasurable to do so. Our closest relatives among the other apes, chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we last shared common ancestors some seven million years ago, and still share nearly 99% of DNA sequences, also descend from highly social, manipulative ancestors and possess similar cognitive capacities, yet they are far more single-mindedly self-serving. In this respect, other apes are far more nearly “rational actors” than humans are.

Why is individualism the dominant ideology of our day? Who maintains it? Who benefits the most from this way of thinking, which, if Hrdy's way of thinking is closer to the truth (and I certainly think it is), is for the most part an illusion of the human condition? As obvious as the answer seems, you only need to read (or even listen) about the very recent Greek crisis to plainly see it is not so obvious for many on the street, many policymakers, and far too many members of the press.

Along with Hrdy, I will also discuss the work and theories of the South Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang.