Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Is Tribalism Really on the Rise? Meh.

The rise of the Meh Tribe?

By Heather Wilhelm

National Review

Fury and finger-pointing are all the rage on social media. Plenty of Americans just shrug.

‘By now we all understand that America is in the grip of political tribalism,” Yale professor Amy Chua wrote in the February 22 New York Times. “We lament and condemn this phenomenon even as we voraciously engage in it.”

It’s a familiar refrain, is it not? Chua’s widely discussed new book on the topic, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, has been praised as “timely,” “spot-on,” “brilliant,” and “insightful.” (The author’s earlier launch to fame was a bit more divisive: In 2011’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, she detailed her unorthodox method of perfectionist parenting, including the crazed and principled rejection of a crookedly folded, happy-face-strewn birthday card made by her four-year-old daughter.)


5 replies »

  1. Fairly accurate but rather missing the point. Multicultural societies have racial, ethnic, and religious tribes. Political policy is generally set by the ruling class that dominates these warring factions.

    • The way it seems to be playing out in the US is that we have the neoliberal ruling class that presides over the various tribes that form the ideological partisans on the ground level, and in a way that involves playing off different tribes against each other to ensure lack of unified resistance to the ruling class. Meanwhile, the Meh Tribe remains the largest tribe (as it is in most societies).

      • Ideological partisanship is an artifact of majorities with a history of individualism. It handicaps them greatly in the face of more tribal competition for neoliberal patronage. As such it will be selected against as social evolution into the new paradigm accelerates.

  2. Worse still, not only multicultural societies, but also mono (or very few) cultural societies are suffering from splintering across tribal lines. The current climate where the Alphabet Gender, Religious fraction, Political and Ecological tribes causes society to fracture and social cohesion gets lost with the inevitable consequence: strife

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