Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rise of American Tribalism?

Wow! Glenn Reynolds's recent column for USA Today is tremendously thought-provoking. Reynolds suggests that the current rift in American society regarding the police brutality -- race baiting, anti-police "movements" can be thought of as expressions of tribalism.  Here's an excerpt:
This is a tragedy, but not a surprise. Tribalism is the default state of humanity: The tendency to defend our own tribe even when we think it's wrong, and to attack other tribes even when they're right, just because they're other. Societies that give in to the temptations of tribalism — which are always present — wind up spending a lot of their energy on internal strife, and are prone to disintegrate into spectacular factionalismand infighting, often to the point of self-destruction.
Societies that temper those tribal tendencies, replacing them with the mechanisms of civil society, do much better. But there is much opportunity for political empire-building in tribalism, and if the benefits of stoking tribal fires exceed the costs for political actors, then expect political actors to pour gasoline on even the smallest spark.
And there can be no question that Obama is aware of this phenomena.  This is a powerful article, one that I recommend strongly.