When Steven Pinker named predation, dominance, revenge, sadism and ideology as the five roots of violence (in his book on the decline of human violence) – I immediately became interested. Especially as he wrote that the cause of ideological violence is not any particular part of the human brain – but is distributed across many people.
“The fifth and most consequential cause of violence is ideology, in which true believers weave a collection of motives into a creed and recruit other people to carry out its destructive goals. An ideology cannot be identified with a part of the brain or even with a whole brain, because it is distributed across the brains of many people.
…the really big body counts in history pile up when a large number of people carry out a motive that transcends any one of them: an ideology. Like predatory or instrumental violence, ideological violence is a means to an end. But with an ideology, the end is idealistic: a conception of the greater good.”