Black, Antony: Insiders and Outsiders in the global history of political thought.

From a study of the global history of political thought, it becomes clear that the ideas of social and political inclusion and exclusion have appeared in most cultures most of the time. The tendency of humans to form groups and classify those around them as either Us or Them goes back to pre-history and is found in early civilizations. It is especially associated with cultic or quasi-relig communities sharing the same stories and mythology. These existed before states or ’nations’. The tendency to include people on the basis of membership of the same cultic community, or the same state, or the same ‘nation’, flows throughout human history all over the world. A deliberate policy of toleration seems first to have been undertaken by Cyrus the Great in ancient Iran. The alternative to ‘us and them’ was of course ‘cosmopolis’, first proposed by philosophers in ancient Greece and Rome. The theology of Christianity and Islam, on the other hand, reinforced the notion of inclusion and exclusion by the doctrine that unbelievers had made a bad choice and were therefore destined for hell-- non-persons in modern language. The ancient Roman empire, and the Chinese empire down to modern times, practised toleration of different religions. In the latter this had a philosophical basis: the Confucian notion of ren (humaneness or humanity).