Tribal troubles

Ever since a few years ago when a reader informed me that the reason for racism in the U.S. … or anywhere, for that matter … was ‘tribalism’, I have despised that term. I consider myself to be a part of NO tribe, but rather an individual thinker who agrees with some things, disagrees with others. But, I am not a part of any tribe that seeks to put their own religion, ethnicity, skin colour, gender or gender identity, above others. To me, that is the height of stupidity and arrogance. Anyway, I found fellow blogger and author Kevin Brennan’s views on Amy Chua’s book about political tribes to be thought-provoking and interesting. You might, too!


By now it’s pretty obvious that our politics are marked in this era by rampant tribalism. That’s why I wanted to read Amy Chua’s important book, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations.

Chua aptly identifies the tribalism that’s currently ripping America to shreds, though her conclusion that all we need to do is really talk to each other and really, like, listen, isn’t a viable option to my mind. When you have half the country denying that the ocean is full of saltwater, it’s hard to listen to those people and not break down in tears. They believe conspiracy theories that have zero chance of being true, but the bottom line is that believing these theories is the signal (to one another) that you’re in the Trump Tribe. It’s like a hand stamp that lets you back inside the disco.

Where this book comes through most…

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13 thoughts on “Tribal troubles

  1. Jill, good post. I saw some of the comments about tribes. This has always been the case, but from my vantage point, when information became more accessible and could be analyzed better, the market segmentation mindset starting dividing people into groups to sell things to and make more money.

    Retailers have been spying on our buying habits for a lot longer than we care to know. They just got more sophisticated at it. Then, along came Fox News who saw how market segmentation could be exploited to sell a news product which masked what they wanted to say. They were very good at, as well. So, to make more money at it that effort, they had to naysay other media sources.

    So, this we/ they stuff took off in full flight post the onset of Fox. Then, others piled on recognizing what Roger Ailes knew, if we tell people what they want to hear, we can influence more people, make more money and, in turn, be the power broker to governments.

    The movie on Roger Ailes starring Russell Crowe includes a part where he sought out the last president to run after Romney lost in 2012. Ailes told Trump that he had the full support of Fox. Now, this is a movie, but the story was written by a former Fox executive.


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    • Hmmmm … that’s an angle I hadn’t ever looked at before — that marketing played a role in segregating people into groups to sell products, but … it makes sense. Slightly off-topic, but I had to laugh when you say that retailers spy on our buying habits, for I keep getting emails wanting to sell me Viagra! Apparently, despite all their spying, they haven’t yet figured out that I am a female person!!!

      I don’t think I knew there was a movie about Roger Ailes! If I did, it fell through one of the many holes in my mind these days. I might just like to see that one. So many bigwigs, people with more money than sense, supported — still support — the former guy and are willing to spend millions to brainwash the public. Sigh.

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      • Jill, retailers have been into data analytics for many moons. As for the Viagra emails, they must have bought the wrong mailing list. To me, market segmentation can quite often be traced back to money. Who benefits? If you think about it, the Republican party’s main thrust is trickle down economics – give money to richer people and business owners and it will trickle down. The efficacy of this approach has been disproven in at least five studies, including one by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, a study that The New York Times reported Mitch McConnell had buried before the 2012 presidential election. That message does not sell well, so the tribe must be told other stories based on fear and wedge issues. Keith

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        • I get so much spam like that that I don’t even look at it anymore — unless I’m in need of a good laugh! Oh yes, good ol’ “trickle down” economics which has, as you say, been disproven so many times that you’d think by now it would have died a timely death. The willingness of the tribe to take whatever the GOP feeds them and believe it is NOT doing this country any favours.


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      • We have perfected it a bit here, in Germany. We have that down to the smallest entity in the form of associations. 😉
        Every branch has its tribal representation. I understand more and more why back then so many people emigrated from Europe. It seems they remembered their tradition, and had missed it anyway. xx Michael

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        • Sigh. I might not mind the concept of ‘tribalism’ so much if … IF it were not so exclusionary. Not exclusive, mind you, for there is nothing special about any tribe … not their skin colour, their religion, their gender … nothing! But exclusionary in that they exclude all who don’t exactly and precisely mirror their own image. Sigh. I refuse to be part of a tribe … I’m ashamed these days to even have skin that is lighter-than-some. I’m ashamed to be a part of the ethnic race that has been so smug, acted as if it were so privileged that they have denigrated and even killed others in their arrogance. I’m ashamed to be human, I think. xx


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