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I've seen that same article floating around for the past several weeks (in some part because I had the originating professor in college). The trouble with the experiment as it relates to early human societies is that most of them were kinship based, and for basic functionality, they all were forced to intercommunicate and typically put family first in a sense. In this exercise, there is no communication, nor any real speakable "community"- everyone is truly out for themselves.

I've recently been reading Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) [] and in it he provides some references to various cultures which to a great extent refutes the broader general existence for the tragedy of the commons. Naturally it does exist in some cultures, but only those with some specific forms of values, beliefs, and property ownership rules. In particular, since many early human political structures are kinship based, their societies simply didn't face such tragedies. It primarily seems to be a more modern problem, based on western rules of ownership.

In short, the interesting exercise here to me seems to be what constructs in society lead to creating the tragedy of the commons and which don't? Figuring this problem out will help to maintain stability in our current culture for generations to come.

I'd mentioned his books previously as very Big History focused here: