An Historical Perspective on Trust

A very interesting perspective on this topic was written by the London Professor Geoffrey Hosking. It's called: Why We Need a History of Trust. In it he speaks to trust in the context of “joint responsibility” going back to traditional Russian society. Households would collectively share the responsibility of taxes and providing recruits for the army. If one household was unable to carry their weight, another one would step up. As Professor Hosking explains “all members of a village community had an interest in ensuring every household enjoyed a basic level of subsistence, enough to pay its dues and bring up healthy young men”. This approach both served the rulers of the time and laid the groundwork for the concept of mutual aid in times of adversity.

Why care about this? Simple. Shared responsibility is how we take care of each other. No one group (family, community, society) forever enjoys continuous fortune without periodic adversity. It’s the act of providing help to others in those times of need that allow for mutual trust to develop. This applies to the world scale as well as how we approach getting work done from 9-5. We can learn a lot from bringing “collective responsibility” to the workplace.