He believes that there is, and his conclusions align themselves closely with Lawrence and Nohria’s. Holloway can see with piercing vision that the mythical and narrative power of Christianity has become smothered by orthodoxy and dogma. What is needed, he contends, is a breaking apart of the original myth to discover anew its transcendent, life-giving intensity. “If religious narratives are to retain their power,” he writes, “they must be capable of constant reinterpretation.” We must, in the parlance of Driven, rediscover our third drive and relearn Christianity, imbuing it with the kind of metaphorical power it had in the years following Jesus’ death, when orthopraxis (imitation of Jesus through action) had not yet been overtaken by orthodoxy (simple belief in things about Jesus). At this point in its history Christianity was about “disturbing the world,” not making it more comfortable or more secure. As the modern church crumbles, Holloway sees hope. He sees the risen Christ standing, revealed, amongst the rubble.
When old mental frameworks begin to break apart, unable to respond to rapid social change there is great opportunity. The ground is cleared, and new systems can be built, more flexible and more responsive to the demands put upon them by the world in which they exist. Yet there is also great danger. Lawrence and Nohria have already cautioned us about the strength of our desire to learn, urging us to guard against our tendency to embrace false yet persuasive ideologies. Just because we have disposed of one does not preclude another from being assembled in its place.
As the old and venerable walls of two centuries of Christianity collapse, a brave new church rises in its place. Unfettered and increasingly evident on a global scale, capitalism, with its birth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, appears to have reached its apogee in the twenty first. Its basic premise, the drive to acquire, Driven claims, is the “oldest and most basic human drive.” In our earliest incarnations we have been impelled to gather to ourselves material resources such as food, clothing and habitation, as well as cultural resources such as prestige and influence. Acquisition has been an important part of our psychological makeup for millennia and continues to be so. Lawrence and Nohria illustrate the strong causal connection between a low position in any given cultural hierarchy and high instances of mortality and morbidity; levels of seretonin in the brain, a hormone known to induce feelings of happiness and pleasure, have been observed at higher levels in men and women of success than in the brains of those lower down on the hierarchical ladder. The evidence is overwhelming: an ability to acquire more than your neighbour almost certainly leads to better survival prospects.
It is upon the rock of acquisition that the church of capitalism has been founded. But is it a rock, or something less substantial? Although Lawrence and Nohria utter a truism when they observe that “the drive to acquire is rarely satisfied,” it is nonetheless a truism that is rarely taken into account in the market-driven societies of the western world. More important, however, is the observation that neither of the four drives postulated by Lawrence and Nohria can exist independent of the other three. They are what make us human and we ignore any one of them at our peril. But ignore them we do, with, it seems, greater and greater urgency as the drive to acquire reaches unparalleled proportions.
“Survival of the fittest,” Lawrence and Nohria observe, was not a phrase that Darwin ever used. A more accurate summation of his theory would be “survival of those who fit in best.” This clarification leads us on to the second drive, the drive to bond. “The desire for personal attachment,” Lawrence and Nohria point out, “may well be one of the most far-reaching and integrative constructs currently available to understand human nature.” One of the earliest modifications to the way the brain made sense of the world, was the symbolising of collectives, an ability for the individual to see themselves as part of a group, a tribe to which certain priorities and interests accrued. A sense of identity, a sense of “fitting in.”
Unfortunately, and with serious ramifications, our misinterpretation of Darwin’s theory has contributed greatly to the predominance of unfettered capitalism. By defining “fittest” as those who can amass the greatest wealth, power and prestige, we have successfully forgotten that survival actually belongs to those who “fit in best.” In giving such high priority to the acquisition drive, we have neglected the other three and find ourselves strangely alienated from our communities, our families and, increasingly, our very selves. Although an over-emphasis on the drive to acquisition need not totally neglect the drive to learn or the drive to defend – indeed acquisition often involves learning (new ways to acquire) and defence (of your methods, your acquisitions) – it does frequently neglect the drive to bond. It is not that acquisition need necessarily entail separation from others (indeed Lawrence and Nohria cite Adam Smith as one who recognised that cooperation can be an integral part of acquisition), but rather that our preferred brand of acquisition does. Wealth and power, we are taught, is finite. If you don’t take it, someone else will, and, in all likelihood, use it against you.
As we exert our energies to the limit in the pursuit of material possessions we isolate ourselves, not only from our fellow man but from the kinds of inclusive narratives that are so vital to our development as individuals and our continual development as a species. With societies becoming increasingly heterogeneous, competing narratives jostle each other for space. With such a wide variety of different mental frameworks on offer in the global marketplace it seems a daunting task to try and develop some kind of explanation that will be congruent to all races and cultures. Yet with their four-drive theory, Lawrence and Nohria appear to have come incredibly close. It is a theory that cannot be assailed with charges of racism, or national imperialism, or with any of the other accusations that continue to be hurled against great theories of unification. Lawrence and Nohria have no agenda to peddle and their theory stands up to the ultimate test, the test of applicability. The four drives are so evident in everyday life that to dismiss them out-of-hand is facile and ignorant. Although Lawrence and Nohria are the first to admit that their theory needs more testing, as a device for approaching a unified understanding of human nature it appears both rigorous and flexible. Furthermore it is breathtakingly simple, so often a prerequisite for breakthrough philosophies.