But if, in despotic statecraft, the supreme and essential mystery be to hoodwink the subjects, and to mask the fear, which keeps them down, with the specious garb of religion, so that men may fight as bravely for slavery as for safety, and count it not shame but highest honour to risk their blood and their lives for the vainglory of a tyrant; (Spinoza, TTP, Preface)
In The Evolved Apprentice Kim Sterelny claims there has been an over-estimation of the difficulty of cheater detection in small groups. (Hence he is not a supporter of Machiavellian Intelligence theories alone; in fact, cheater detection is less demanding than coordinating cooperation [2012, 7-10].) The real issue for him is to explain how cooperation in complex tasks works. His answer, apprenticeship, is fascinating in its own right, but what I want to concentrate on here is the way in which at the end of his book Sterelny poses the question of functionalism, or if you prefer, the Spinoza question: why do people go along with hierarchies when they are at the bottom – or at least not at the top?
To grapple with the Spinoza question, Sterelny points to Richerson and Boyd, Not by Genes Alone, who propose ways in which small group cooperation and emotional commitment allow hierarchies to function. (There is a lot here about the proximal motivations of soldiers: the "band of brothers" phenomenon.) Richerson and Boyd distinguish what they call the family emotions (nepotism; evolved from kin selection and the like) from what they call the "tribal" emotions (prosocial emotions; evolved from group selection). So how do hierarchies work with people with group or "tribal" prosocial emotions?
Top-down control is generally exerted through a segmentary hierarchy that is adapted to preserve nearly egalitarian relationships at the face-to-face level…The trick is to contruct a formal nested hierarchy of offices, using various mixtures of ascription and achievement to staff the offices…. Selfishness and nepotism [family emotions] … degrade the effectiveness of social organizations. (Richerson and Boyd 2005, 232-33)
But as a Deleuze and Guattari fan, I don't think Richerson and Boyd give fascist / or even just plain old authoritarian emotional commitment enough credit here. People will also directly emotionally invest in hierarchies as such (vertically, if you will), not just horizontally to peer groups.
These investments of an unconscious nature can ensure the general submission to a dominant class by making cuts (coupures) and segregations pass over into a social field, insofar as it is effectively invested by desire and no longer by interests. A form of social production and reproduction, along with its economic and financial mechanisms, its political formations, and so on, can be desired as such, in whole or in part, independently of the interests of the desiring-subject. It was not by means of a metaphor, even a paternal metaphor, that Hitler was able to sexually arouse the fascists. It is not by means of a metaphor that a banking or stock-market transaction, a claim, a coupon, a credit, is able to arouse people who are not necessarily bankers. And what about the effects of money that grows, money that produces more money? There are socioeconomic "complexes" that are also veritable complexes of the unconscious, and that communicate a voluptuous wave from the top to the bottom of their hierarchy (the military-industrial complex). And ideology, Oedipus, and the phallus have nothing to do with this, because they depend on it rather than being its impetus. For it is a matter of flows, of stocks, of breaks in and fluctuations of flows; desire is present wherever something flows and runs, carrying along with it interested subjects—but also drunken or slumbering subjects—toward lethal destinations. (Anti-Oedipus, 103-104).