The Evolution of Tribalism

 

Tribes, groups of people, used to be simple. You were born into a group — which may identify by culture or language, geographical origin or status of some kind. You belonged to that tribe by virtue of birth, and you never had to do much besides avoiding outright acts of betrayal. Tribes were comfortable: they were a guarantee of a place in the world, of a support network.

Then, over time, things changed. We did not get rid of tribes: instead, we gradually replaced ancestral tribal affiliations with ideological tribes, tribes that could be joined if you showed the proper zeal for the cause. Once upon a time, those tribes were connected to formal religious or national allegiances: rival Protestant movements in Reformation Europe, or Jacobite Scotsmen. These were able to organize bloody conflicts because they each believed that there could only be one set of Truths. And so they set out to Make Things Right, to prove that everyone else must be wrong.

Out of that contentious cauldron came the idea of freedom and tolerance. Your neighbor who worships another deity might be both stupid and evil, but it is no longer necessary – or even considered polite – to kill him for it. This idea – born in the Scottish Enlightenment – first was realized in places like Amsterdam, but its full flowering was in the United States. The Founders tried to do away with the deeply insecure intolerance which treats every “other” person with self-righteous hatred. Make no mistake: being religiously tolerant is in direct contrast with virtually all of human history, and could even be described as deeply unnatural. People fear insecurity, and they do not trust outsiders; they never have. We are told by G-d to “love the stranger,” but few of us ever truly manage it, and none of us manage it consistently.

The road to tolerant tribalism has not been an easy one. Think of classic Irish vs Italian gangs in New York, the distrust between Hispanics and Blacks, atheists and religionists. Witch trials in the 17th century translating into #metoo hatred of men or today’s woke mob unleashed on “white privilege.”  Rival tribes resist dissolving into the melting pot, rejecting the fundament of tolerance that built America into the least ancestrally tribal land in the history of the world. Though while ancestral tribes can cheerfully hate other groups (without trying to exterminate them), ideological tribes are far more vicious. Like Communists under Stalin or Mao, or those who check for purity of thought among the LGBTQ+, adherents always have to keep proving themselves, and no past performance, no matter how gallant or demonstrative, guarantees a safe position in the future of the movement.

Having lost the underlying core of the American ideology, that each person is endowed with their creator with a soul that is in the image of G-d and thus each person – even our enemy – always has some intrinsic value, we have simultaneously lost the ability to accept that the fact of the existence of other tribes does not threaten who we are, or what we believe. Few people who lack G-d in their lives try – or even feel any moral obligation – to love the stranger. Instead, “Smear the queer” is the order of the day, in every online forum ranging from breastfeeding mothers to climate science. The breakdown of our shared religious underpinnings has led to the breakdown of the tolerance that built America.

Indeed, we have even lost the ability to communicate with people with whom we disagree. Language, an incredible tool for connecting minds separated by culture, space, and time, has become so abused that most people do not even try to understand how other people think. It is so much easier to write off those who disagree with us as being stupid, wrong, or even plainly unacceptable. The last fortress, that of “free speech” is being overrun as I write this, with the term being overwritten to mean precisely the opposite of the sum of its words.

The problem with an ideological tribalism that is no longer moored to Judeo-Christian principles is that it is capable of going in just about any direction, with all aboard the train being carried along for the ride. Thus, we have heard in mainstream media the suggestion that the NRA convention should be bombed, that those who disagree with the climate ideology of the day should be put in concentration camps. And our public schools have become havens for narcissistic hedonists to groom small children by educating them to fixate on every manner of self-obsessive sexual variance. It is not enough that I believe something: I must convince or even coerce everyone else to reaffirm my decisions by joining my tribe and abusing all others.

Among the right, we have seen similar things happen. NeverTrumpers in the main probably never set out to betray the core principles of conservatism. But when they joined/formed the NeverTrump Tribe,  Jennifer Rubin, David French, and Jonah Goldberg simply lost the plot. Their desperation to be right at any cost has cost them whatever shreds of decency and respect they once possessed. Unmoored ideological tribalism does that to you: you abandon even foundational principles for the sake of remaining within your tribe.

I cannot stand the idea of living in a place and time where everyone who belongs to a different tribe is discounted out of hand. In part this is for purely selfish reasons: I am not ideologically flexible enough to be welcome within any given tribe for very long. But there are more profound reasons: I deeply believe that each person should seek their own relationships and always try to grow. Tribes help inasmuch as they provide a support structure. But tribalism also gets in the way, because it leads people toward compromising what they believe in order to remain accepted within the group.

We have to also acknowledge that the breakdown or corruption of traditional tribes — churches and fraternal organizations, boy scouts, and chambers of commerce — has created a vacuum wherein people are truly adrift, desperate to cling to anything that might float past. This is where the transgender trend has been born: unhappy anti-religious narcissists who are desperate to find a sense of belonging that still reaffirms some kind of unique individual value without going so far as to suggest — gasp — that each person has a soul which entails finding value in people whom you know to be bad. The need to belong to a tribe remains, but since all the traditional options have been corrupted or otherwise shown to be morally unacceptable because of “privilege,” the options available are odd indeed — from “cake gender” to tribes based purely on skin color. Sports teams may be the only form of tribal identity that is still considered broadly acceptable, though affiliation with a sports team has no overarching moral benefit.

The dynamic tension between individual, tribe, and nation is itself not a bad thing. But as we have seen, tribes are now defined by peculiarly self-centered forms of shared libertinism. The nation and its founding principles are rapidly being discarded. And woe betides any person who seeks a meaningful existence driven by classic notions of good and evil.

[an @iwe and @susanquinn work]

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    iWe: Then, over time, things changed. We did not get rid of tribes: instead, we gradually replaced ancestral tribal affiliations with ideological tribes, tribes that could be joined if you showed the proper zeal for the cause.

    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    iWe: Then, over time, things changed. We did not get rid of tribes: instead, we gradually replaced ancestral tribal affiliations with ideological tribes, tribes that could be joined if you showed the proper zeal for the cause.

    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    I hear you. For my part, I consider how people affiliate themselves to be their tribe.

     

    • #2
  3. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term.     Can’t say I like “tribes” either,  but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m puzzled about the resistance to using the word “tribal” or “tribalism.” Several years ago a man named Clare Graves developed an integrated model of human development that I found fascinating. We all go through these stages and rather than outgrow them, we integrate them; when we do that successfully, we learn to use each stage in either productive or destructive ways. Graves’ work was promoted by a man named Don Beck, for whom I have great respect, too. He decided to use color coding to label the stages. Two of the earlier stages were briefly described in this way:

    1. Purple – tribalistic and animistic and cause / effect. Sharing, superstition, coordination for safety and security
    2. Red – I/me/mine and a self of sense, ego centric, want it all and want it now, want to be free, rebel

    Sometimes people are in between stages as they decide on life values, beliefs and decisions. I highly recommend Don Beck’s work. (I’ll add his most recent book here.) There is no end to these stages of development, since we don’t know the limits of human potential.

     

     

     

    • #4
  5. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    A brief comprehensive history of war and peace in terms of the struggle between tribalism and American ideology.

    Ambitious, but I think you pulled it off.  Very well done.

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term?  There are different terms for different types of groupings.   The dynamics are different for each.  

    • #6
  7. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    This is an excellent analysis. It dovetails nicely with Michael Lind’s recent essay at Tablet Magazine. I found that through Brian Cabana’s American Thinker  piece, The Mafia Tactic That Brought Down CNN

    Cabana summed up Lind’s thinking:

    Michael Lind, in a recent essay, chronicles in glorious detail how the State, through leveraged buyout campaigns coordinated primarily (though not exclusively) through an interlocked network of NGOs, acquires institutions that hold widespread brand recognition — CNN, National Review, the ACLU, the CDC and WHO, and so on — and repurposes their respective brands in the interests of the State.  He writes, “[The] centralized and authoritarian control of American progressivism by major foundations and the nonprofits that they fund [i.e., the State]  … has made it impossible for there to be public intellectuals on the American center-left” (emphasis added).  In the same essay, Lind refers to a similar “extinction level event,” where “foundation-imposed groupthink triumphed on the right, consolidating Conservatism, Inc. and driving away those of us who sought to put the life of the mind above the life of the party.”

    The State, and wealthy philanthropists with ideas on how to leverage the State to get even richer. (Lind mentions the Silicon Valley progressive donors on the Left, and Olin and Koch on the right as funding this extinction. See also Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s magisterial work on Fauci, which also covers the Big Money/Big Public Health nexus.)

    Lind sheds a lot of light on how the ideological tribalism @iWe is looking at came to be. He mentions National Review; Jan Jekielik recently spoke with Yoram Hazony about the failure of classical liberalism (and its “conservative” heirs to conserve and transmit their values. In passing, Hazony noted that William F. Buckley, Jr. wasn’t a conservative, but “a kind of liberal.” Indeed, the Russell Kirk brand of culture con was always a bit out of place at NR and WFB purged Catholic paleocons like Joseph Sobran and Pat Buchanan from NR.

    • #7
  8. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Tribe isn’t the issue.  We were tribes  at the beginning as extended families and that continued even as the families got more complex.   They didn’t plant, they hunted and gathered.  Once we learned to plant we found that other tribes could take it and to do so they’d kill us, so we had to have organized defense and from that evolved power which took over.  The Greeks kept it bottom up because the farmers themselves continued to provide the defense so developed a deeply complex civilization where the top couldn’t just take the wealth.   If one didn’t plant and harvest  one had to learn, teach, buy,  sell and extend contacts to do so; they created complex wealthy civilizaiton.  Those in the center didn’t have the power to dominate at first but gradually wealth gave them the means to take over and ended them as it has every civilization that has ever existed.  Our founders figured it out and organized us ground up, and it worked for two hundred years.  We had to organize defense at the center and foreign policy and international trade but did it skillfully and  purposely kept political power ground up.  We discovered that if we remained ground up even groups we could call  tribes could deal with each other.  To reduce corruption which we’d seen dominate state government we created a civil bureaucracy  which we insulated from ground up control. Now huge chunks of everybody big have discovered that  centralization makes them powerful and even chunks of Congress and big business have discovered it.  The center is the problem, always has been but in a massive  place like the US it will rot quickly  because it can’t do anything other than pursue its own narrow interests, like all of us, but gets to take wealth away from everyone else to do so until it gets so much it kills the rest.   The thing is the rest of the world had to compete with us, so without us they’ll rot as well.  

    • #8
  9. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Tribe isn’t the issue. We were tribes at the beginning as extended families and that continued even as the families got more complex. They didn’t plant, they hunted and gathered. Once we learned to plant we found that other tribes could take it and to do so they’d kill us, so we had to have organized defense and from that evolved power which took over. The Greeks kept it bottom up because the farmers themselves continued to provide the defense so developed a deeply complex civilization where the top couldn’t just take the wealth. If one didn’t plant and harvest one had to learn, teach, buy, sell and extend contacts to do so; they created complex wealthy civilizaiton. Those in the center didn’t have the power to dominate at first but gradually wealth gave them the means to take over and ended them as it has every civilization that has ever existed. Our founders figured it out and organized us ground up, and it worked for two hundred years. We had to organize defense at the center and foreign policy and international trade but did it skillfully and purposely kept political power ground up. We discovered that if we remained ground up even groups we could call tribes could deal with each other. To reduce corruption which we’d seen dominate state government we created a civil bureaucracy which we insulated from ground up control. Now huge chunks of everybody big have discovered that centralization makes them powerful and even chunks of Congress and big business have discovered it. The center is the problem, always has been but in a massive place like the US it will rot quickly because it can’t do anything other than pursue its own narrow interests, like all of us, but gets to take wealth away from everyone else to do so until it gets so much it kills the rest. The thing is the rest of the world had to compete with us, so without us they’ll rot as well.

    The tribal impulse is quite strong in human beings. It is now being commodified and Big Data is being used by wealthy elites to nurture artificial tribes and pit them in opposition to one another in an imperial divide and conquer strategy.

    • #9
  10. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Tribe isn’t the issue. 

     Please clarify this sentence?

     

     

    • #10
  11. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them.  Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    • #11
  12. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    Well said.

    If someone is able to apprehend Real Meaning (who is still at large in Ricocheterre, committing serious crimes against rational dialog every day) and is looking for volunteers for the firing squad, count me in.  I guarantee I won’t miss. 

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.  

    • #13
  14. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    There is much that is not known to each of us.  That’s not a basis for word-policing others’ posts.

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    There is much that is not known to each of us. That’s not a basis for word-policing others’ posts.

    Good. I hope nobody starts word-policing others’ posts.

    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.  

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.  

    I’m curious about your objection. Did you state your reasons for objecting? You don’t need to, but I’m curious.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.

    I’m curious about your objection. Did you state your reasons for objecting? You don’t need to, but I’m curious.

    I didn’t state them in enough detail to be very useful.  I’m still working on how to explain it, but would rather not derail iWe’s post any more than to register my objection at this point.

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I think I just realized a major flaw in the Spiral Dynamics model I praised in Comment #4. To my knowledge, their is no objective criteria to identify the person’s progress on the human development scale. In one way, it would seem natural for most human beings to “progress” or advance in their own growth. Unfortunately, the flaw in the model is in that word “progress”; it depends on the criteria for assessing and who is doing that analysis. I suspect that an elite would see their advancement through the lens of their own arrogance and biases and show how they are so much more advanced than the rest of us. Essentially they would squeeze their work and experience into the Beck model of development. What a terrible outcome.

    That’s one thing that will be very good for me to “unlearn”!

    • #18
  19. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    That is logically undeniable:  What is the same between A and B obviously can’t explain differences between A and B.

    But a careful reading of the article reveals clearly what iWe’s actual point was:

    iWe: The road to tolerant tribalism has not been an easy one.

    In the West, tolerant tribalism arose, and is now disappearing.

    iWe: The dynamic tension between individual, tribe, and nation is itself not a bad thing. But as we have seen, tribes are now defined by peculiarly self-centered forms of shared libertinism. The nation and its founding principles are rapidly being discarded. And woe betides any person who seeks a meaningful existence driven by classic notions of good and evil.

    iWe: The problem with an ideological tribalism that is no longer moored to Judeo-Christian principles is that it is capable of going in just about any direction, with all aboard the train being carried along for the ride.

    • #19
  20. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    There is much that is not known to each of us. That’s not a basis for word-policing others’ posts.

    Good. I hope nobody starts word-policing others’ posts.

    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.

    Any affiliation-based grouping which comprises clans may fairly be called tribal. Without rancor, without condescension, without the beloved baggage of the outrage community.  It’s simply factual.  There is a word for this level of grouping, independent of the nature of the affiliation, and that word is tribe.  
    May I ask what basis you claim for this errant word-policing?

    • #20
  21. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I think I just realized a major flaw in the Spiral Dynamics model I praised in Comment #4. To my knowledge, their is no objective criteria to identify the person’s progress on the human development scale. In one way, it would seem natural for most human beings to “progress” or advance in their own growth. Unfortunately, the flaw in the model is in that word “progress”; it depends on the criteria for assessing and who is doing that analysis. I suspect that an elite would see their advancement through the lens of their own arrogance and biases and show how they are so much more advanced than the rest of us. Essentially they would squeeze their work and experience into the Beck model of development. What a terrible outcome.

    That’s one thing that will be very good for me to “unlearn”!

    Teleology infects any hotly-contested ontology. It is good that you are wise to it.  :-)

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    There is much that is not known to each of us. That’s not a basis for word-policing others’ posts.

    Good. I hope nobody starts word-policing others’ posts.

    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.

    Any affiliation-based grouping which comprises clans may fairly be called tribal. Without rancor, without condescension, without the beloved baggage of the outrage community. It’s simply factual. There is a word for this level of grouping, independent of the nature of the affiliation, and that word is tribe.
    May I ask what basis you claim for this errant word-policing?

    You can apologize for calling it word-policing.  Do you call every disagreement an attempt at policing? 

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I continue to object to calling these other groupings “tribes,” but it seems to be a losing battle.

    Feel free to come up with a better term. Can’t say I like “tribes” either, but until a better substitute comes along it is useful.

    Why does it have to be one term? There are different terms for different types of groupings. The dynamics are different for each.

    Fair enough, yet at a lower level of analysis, there are common factors about how groups operate, and what constitutes them. Some sniff at particular connotations, insisting that their pet objection is The Real Meaning, but the word “tribe” is well-enough understood to be a *type* of unit larger than a clan.

    I don’t know that any of the factors that are common to all types of group have any explanatory power for our political issues.

    There is much that is not known to each of us. That’s not a basis for word-policing others’ posts.

    Good. I hope nobody starts word-policing others’ posts.

    I will continue to register my objection to calling non-tribal groupings, tribes.

    Any affiliation-based grouping which comprises clans may fairly be called tribal. Without rancor, without condescension, without the beloved baggage of the outrage community. It’s simply factual. There is a word for this level of grouping, independent of the nature of the affiliation, and that word is tribe.
    May I ask what basis you claim for this errant word-policing?

    You can apologize for calling it word-policing. Do you call every disagreement an attempt at policing?

    You didn’t get as far as disagreeing.  You never approached the topic of the post.  You took exception to the use of a widely-accepted anodyne term and have apparently chosen that as your sole contribution, to be generous.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):
    You didn’t get as far as disagreeing.  You never approached the topic of the post.  You took exception to the use of a widely-accepted anodyne term and have apparently chosen that as your sole contribution, to be generous.

    Yup, that’s all you get for now.  It’s a far cry from word-policing, isn’t it? 

    • #24
  25. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    You didn’t get as far as disagreeing. You never approached the topic of the post. You took exception to the use of a widely-accepted anodyne term and have apparently chosen that as your sole contribution, to be generous.

    Yup, that’s all you get for now. It’s a far cry from word-policing, isn’t it?

    I’ve stated the popular basis for use of the term “tribe/tribal”.  I haven’t seen you state your basis for objecting to it.  Perhaps you are correct and I am wrong.  Come, let us reason together, brother!  Share the basis for your objection.  For bonus points, explain how it’s not word-policing.

     

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    You didn’t get as far as disagreeing. You never approached the topic of the post. You took exception to the use of a widely-accepted anodyne term and have apparently chosen that as your sole contribution, to be generous.

    Yup, that’s all you get for now. It’s a far cry from word-policing, isn’t it?

    I’ve stated the popular basis for use of the term “tribe/tribal”. I haven’t seen you state your basis for objecting to it. Perhaps you are correct and I am wrong. Come, let us reason together, brother! Share the basis for your objection. For bonus points, explain how it’s not word-policing.

     

    No, you haven’t seen me state my basis for objecting to it, unless you read other threads over the past several years where I briefly touched on it.

     

    • #26
  27. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Assuming that we are all intelligent and honest people, couldn’t we on Ricochet all agree on a single standard definition of “tribalism” (or two or more definitions, with a unique identifier for each, such as “definition 1”, “definition 2”, etc.) for purposes of all future discussion.

    It would be very nice because without semantic conventions, we are repeatedly wasting time on an illusory debate, one that quickly becomes personal.  That means that it quickly becomes unintelligent, dishonest, and uncivil. “Stupid”, in other words.

    What is to be gained for us to spend much of time in stupid debates?

    If we were to agree to a conventional definition, then if Mary wrote an article in favor of a policy, and John replied, “that argument is a case of tribalism” (or, “tribalism according to definition 1”, if we’d agreed to more than one) then everyone including both Mary and John would know exactly what John meant, and we could successfully proceed with an intelligent, productive discussion of the issue at hand.

    Today, with no pre-agreed definitions, a stupid discussion always ensues.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    What is to be gained for us to spend much of time in stupid debates?

    I agree, Mark, to a point. But why can’t a person just say they disagree with what they think the term means (as Reticulator has indicated re tribal, without explanation) and we can say, okay, I hear you? Why do we have to agree with each other on its meaning? Why do we have to create a debate at all? I think I must be missing something . . . 

    • #28
  29. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

     But why can’t a person just say they disagree with what they think the term means…?

    Because what any term in any sentence by any writer means is determined exclusively by the writer of the sentence.

    Therefore, it is logically impossible for any reader to disagree with the absolute and final truth of any writer’s logically valid definition of his or her terms.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    But why can’t a person just say they disagree with what they think the term means…?

    Because what any term in any sentence by any writer means is determined exclusively by the writer of the sentence.

    Therefore, it is logically impossible for any reader to disagree with the absolute and final truth of any writer’s logically valid definition of his or her terms.

    But isn’t it also possible that the writer is not wedded to the absolute and final truth of his or her words? That there could be a number of understandings included, and the writer is fine with the reader finding a meaning that may be slightly different from the intended meaning, but is close enough?

    • #30
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