Everybody knows that tribalism is primitive, a vestige of olden times. But everyone in wrong. We modern humans are as tribal as ever. Only now we belong to tribes that reflect our class rather than our kindred.
The tribe of the modern upper class is the tribe of educated people all over the world. The tribe of the middle class is the nation. The tribe of the urban lower class is the ethnic community.
Humans, writes Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, are "groupish." We love to belong to "teams," from families to tribes to religions, and we do our best work as part of a team. Also, we love to belong to armies, sports teams, nations, corporations, political parties, mutual-aid societies, kaffee klatsches.
Now, we like to think of primitive humans as "tribal" whereas we moderns are, well, post-tribal.
But according to anthropologist C.R. Hallpike, humans didn't become "tribal" until they started to live in villages with a population of 2,500 people or more. Back in the hunter-gatherer days humans weren't too tribal at all. They lived in "bands" and if, say, a young man got fed up with the other men in the band he could go join another band.
So I say that all human groups are "fake tribes." What I mean by that is that all human groups are based upon a faked-up narrative of something in common. It could be the ties of blood. It could be the ties of religion. It could be the charmingly fake "brotherhood" of the fraternal associations: that the members were all Masons. Or Odd Fellows. Or Elks. It could be what we now call "race."
Now I say that the most significant and dangerous "fake tribes" -- other than religions like Christianity, Islam, Socialism, Fascism -- are the political tribes: baronies, princedoms, kingdoms, nations. And do you know what they all have in common? They are all based on the sense of belonging created among the men that fought to create them. In war. Here's a "tell." After the Revolutionary War, the veterans were customarily addressed by their final rank in the war: thus Colo. Hamilton. After the Civil War, the veterans were customarily addressed by their final rank: thus Major McKinley.
I say that the twenty years of virtual unity in the US after World War II were caused by the sense of camaraderie among the veterans of that war, that the squabbling white ethnics of the previous half-century all came to see themselves as Americans first, and Jews, Italians, Irish, British second. (German-Americans had been forbidden to identify as such in World War I).
In the US we haven't been united in a war for eighty years. And it shows. We have a veritable zoo of "fake tribes" that cultural and political activists have invented in order to divide Americans off into "silos" that don't talk to each other and that can be deployed in a Cold Civil War. That's what Critical Race Theory is about.
Donald Trump with his America First movement is attempting to create another "fake tribe." This tribe proposes to enroll all middle-class citizens of the United States of America into a national MAGA "fake tribe" opposed to the educated globalist elite "fake tribe" and their underlings, the "fake tribe" of the "oppressed peoples."
Do you see what this means? It means that if you want to understand the world around you, especially the political world, you need to know that it's all about the tribes.
The tribe of the middle class is the nation. The tribe of the lower class is the ethnic group. The tribe of the upper, educated class is the class of educated people all across the world.
So, the politics of the middle class is to celebrate the nation against the globalist fantasies of the educated class and the irresponsible victims of the lower class.
The politics of the upper, educated class is to vilify the middle class as white oppressors lording it over the innocent oppressed peoples.
The politics of the lower class is to attach itself to any generous patron that celebrates its ethnic tribalisms.