Tit-for-tat fails when the community hires enforcers for the tats. Either vuvuzelas in fancy dresses in over decorated balconies who administer divine grace or community enforcers who inevitably fall victim to the Stanford Prison Experiment guard syndrome. One would hope that the vuvuzelas would be immune to the guard syndrome, but the evidence is not hopeful.So let’s talk about how beneficial game-theoretic equilibria can come to exist even in the absence of centralized enforcers. I know of two main ways: reciprocal communitarianism, and divine grace.Reciprocal communitarianism is probably how altruism evolved. Some mammal started running TIT-FOR-TAT, the program where you cooperate with anyone whom you expect to cooperate with you. Gradually you form a successful community of cooperators. The defectors either join your community and agree to play by your rules or get outcompeted.
The most useful strategy for a community seems to be a variety of tit-for-two-tats. Some forgiveness for transgressions but recognition of the fact that consecutive transgressions are socially dysfunctional. This is particularly useful in social situations where communication is possible between the “players” and the first transgression can be identified as such and some sort of counselling available as to community standards.
Tit-for-two-tats is inherent in the UU First Principle of Radical respect. The first transgression is attributed to ignorance of social standards and not malice. The second transgression especially after the reciprocal “tit” even without counseling can be attributed to malice and appropriate action taken.