At first glance, a sense of “belonging” may appear to be a very positive thing, but the more strongly you feel the bond of belonging to your own group, the more hostile or even violent your feelings may become toward Outsiders.
A tribe is a larger group tied together by family bonds. Tradition provides the key guide to behavior for tribal peoples. Tribalism tries to keep individuals committed to the group, even when personal relations may fray. This keeps individuals from wandering off or joining other groups. It also leads to bullying when a tribal member is unwilling to conform to the politics of the collective.
For a tribal society to exist its members must possess a strong feeling of tribal identity. A strong cultural or ethnic identity separates one member of a group from the members of another group.
Many tribes refer to themselves as “the true people,” “the chosen people” or “the real people,” dehumanizing others or simply considering them inferior. Members view their own group as somehow special and superior to others, and discourage social intercourse with others outside the group. The Other (or Stranger) was recognized as dangerous and threatening, to be either avoided or destroyed.
In the early stages of human development, these essentially tribal drives served to sustain and protect the group. This is why, even today, tribal feelings make us feel good. But feeling good within one’s own group and demanding special privileges based on tribal membership while building walls to keep surrounding groups out is a revival of obsolete forms of tribalism that hinder human development in the 21st century.
Key features of tribalism:
•Tendency to recognize, judge and reward people according to their group identity, rather than their characteristics as individuals.
•A supposed common ancestry.
•Oral tradition or mythology based belief of group ownership of a particular land.
•Culturally reinforced memory of having been exploited throughout history by neighboring Others.
•A set of sacred beliefs identifying the groups members as uniquely gifted or chosen by history or the gods.
•A deeply ingrained sense of belonging to the group.
In many ways we are all prone to tribalism. People tend to automatically and subconsciously view tribalism as the correct, obvious normal way of doing things. By becoming conscious of our own ingrained tribal behavior and choosing to think and act independently instead, it will loose its power over us.
A regression to tribalism in an attempt to solve social problems or increase prosperity holds dire consequences.
The news is full of never-ending tribal wars in the Middle East, Africa, Iraq, Pakistan etc. and impending global economic collapse the result of financial tribalism that only enriches the network of those on the inside.
Our instinctive tribal urges to conform to the group and never trust the Other were important during the childhood of human development, but now suppress individuality and are dangerously counterproductive.
Tribal or Universal Society
The concept of an open society was first used by the French philosopher Henri Bergson. One source, according to Bergson, is tribal and leads to a closed society whose members feel affinity for each other but fear or are hostile toward others.
The other source is universal, leading to an open society guided by universal human rights that protects and promotes the freedom of the individual.
(Source: Rudolf Steiner & The Philosophy of Freedom website)
Craig Biddle: The American dream
Individualism vs. Collectivism
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state?
Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern.
This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.
Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the tribe, the group or societyof which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.”
According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group.
1. Individualism – humanism:
the gnostic or intellectual, anticlerical Jesus, the man of compassion.
2. Collectivism – tribalism:
the authoritarian, angry anti-intellctual God of the Old Testament, the God of revenge.