Ayaan is quite right in identifying these divisions as quasi-tribal and the consequences can be brutally lethal in even the most apparently civilised countries. In the UK we have looked on in horror and astonishment for years at the quasi-tribal conflict between Protestants and Catholics supposedly worshiping the same God who promotes charity and love for your neighbour in Northern Ireland and the fissures have not yet healed.
Germany under successively Kaiser Wilhelm and then Adolf Hitler descended into an aggressive tribalism despite its deep cultural traditions. Some of my ancestors were killed or escaped from the quasi-tribal conflict between republicans and clerical royalists in the Vendee rebellions in France in the early 1800s, described by one French historian as a genocide. This is to select but a few of the instances of such collective madness in supposedly civilised Europe.
Adding quasi-religious conflicts based on strong beliefs that are not susceptible to rational resolution is a lethal combination. Woke beliefs are often held with religious tenacity and are not susceptible to rational discussion.
Many of the problems in Africa involve tribalism and religion. In the recent Unherd article talking about the migrants trying to cross to the UK from the author talked in passing of the fights between the various migrant groups. We must preserve ourselves from imported tribalisms, whether religious or purely tribal and against the US import of racial tribalism.
Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain are further fanatical tribes who believe their causes transcend the Rule of Law. It is essential that the law is applied impartially if we are to avoid descending into tribal suspicions and mutual loathing.
It was further disturbing to read over Christmas of the angry fanatics disturbing the Christmas gatherings described in comments on Giles Fraser’s recent article. Heaven help us from tribal fanatics of all stripes.
Ayaan did not refer to ‘quasi’ tribalism at all in the article, but to the ‘almost entirely tribal’ attitude of her friend.
Indeed, but a tribe is something you are born into, it is not really an attitude you adopt even if it is that of the group you decide to identify with. So being a progressive is, in my view, something more quasi-tribal rather than tribal in it’s true sense. I have however used tribal more loosely in my post as well.
You are right, “sectarian” is a much better term. In fact I am not convinced that there is a clear direction presently in the US and the present piece, though suggestive and beautifully written does not add anything much.
But first we have to understand tribalism, and Nazi Carl Schmitt has taught us how: politics is the friend-enemy distinction. Or, as Curtis Yarvin puts it: “there is no politics without an enemy.”
If you believe, as our lefty friends do, that politics is the royal road to justice, then anyone opposed to your Sacred Struggle for Justice is an enemy. And the thing about enemies is that it is OK to kill them.
Interestingly I’m left wing and I don’t believe that politics is a “sacred struggle” nor do I believe people that disagree with me are enemies. The fact that you think we do is an example of the tribalism being described in the article. Easier to see it other people rather than yourself isn’t it?
But is it such a new phenomenon in USA?before any of the current extremes wasn’t there an Irish tribe, originally treated a vermin; an Italian tribe; a Sicilian mafia tribe? Then there was the white tribe/black tribe division. All of these distinctions can be found in UK too but to a far less marked degree (except in Ireland!). It is the importance given to these distinctions in USA that mark them as tribal.
We tend to import American attitudes.
Last year, when it was revealed that she had expressed mild support for President Trump, she was pushed down the stairs by a fellow pupil.
It was a horrifying and, one hopes, rare incident.
Of course this is a rare incident, because people are afraid of expressing even “mild support” for President Trump.
I’m a fan of tribalism in these times, and for the record, I hate the Ds and I also hate the Rs–I just hate the Rs slightly less because they don’t hate straight white men and their policies are slightly better than than the Ds, though far from ideal. I also recognize the two things that stand out to Ayaan: blind hatred, and deeply personal attacks. I don’t have a blind hatred of the enemy–I hate them because I can see clearly who they are, what they represent, and how they want to take my freedom. That’s why I hate them–not blindly, but clearly. And surely it follows on the “clear hatred” that deeply personal attacks are welcome, even required. Yes, I attack the policies, but it is also fair play to attack the vile, evil, stupid, fasc#@t people attempting to, and, in many cases, succeeding in implementing these policies.
Ayaan doesn’t quite predict a civil war, but I see it coming, though I’ve been chastised for signing off on some posts “Lock and load!” A shame that she didn’t reference Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia, which are/were extremely tribal and are recent models of what is likely to happen in the US. But I actually think that this is a good outcome–of course I am in favor of a peaceful dissolution of the US–I don’t want to be a citizen of a country where half the country blindly hates me and shares none of my values–and I hate (though not blindly) the other half and share none of their values. Let’s call it a day, and peacefully divide the country in a way that makes sense, a sort of Brexit for the US.
But I don’t see that happening. The time for “talking and listening” is over–hasn’t worked, has it? Civil War much more likely–and cue the downvotes–Lock and load!
Superb… and so true
Diverse life experience gives one a unique perspective, which is liekly why Ayaan is one of the most insightful and penetrating commentary writers today.
“These tribal quirks run deep on both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans continue to dispute the legitimacy of the result of the last presidential election; while on the Left, the woke are eroding the Democratic Party from the inside, as identity politics displace universalist aspirations.”
This is completely true, yet the moment it is articulated, many on both sides reflexively defend their own tribe: Republicans launching into a litany of voter irregularities, Democrats screaming about Trump’s racism. This behavior makes it impossible for either to hear much needed call for calm. How do we fix that instinct?
Why did Ayaan support the American coalition invasion of Iraq?
Today, ten years later, those neocons are part of the Democrat party. I suspect, her friend ignores this inconvenient truth.