Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Readings about tribes, tribalism, tribalization — #6: Robert Reich, "The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State” (2014)

Since I just offered two readings from the right, here's one from the left. And whereas the earlier two were written in the heat of the 2016 campaign, this one is interesting partly because it offers one of the more sustained discussions of tribalism from a few years ago — sustained in that the writer is not just using the word as a synonym, but is deploying a systematic viewpoint.
It's Robert Reich's "The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State” (2014). In it he argues that we are "witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world". Nations become less relevant as everything becomes more interconnected; and many nation-states are now starting to come apart. People are turning to multiple other identities in all sorts of areas.
Of most interest here is his observation that America itself is in the throes of tribalization — a splitting into two tribes — for reasons that cut across politics, economics, and culture. This has gone on to such a degree that "the two tribes are pulling America apart, often putting tribal goals over the national interest". 
He wrote that in 2014. Matters are worse and his observations more applicable now. Also, note the similarities to what Daniel Shapiro said (post #3 in this series) about tribalism becoming a worldwide force that is now increasing in America, and what Sabrina Tavernise said (#1) about America fissuring into two tribes.
Here is an excerpt: 
“We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states. The same pattern can be seen even in America — especially in American politics. …
"But America’s new tribalism can be seen most distinctly in its politics. Nowadays the members of one tribe (calling themselves liberals, progressives, and Democrats) hold sharply different views and values than the members of the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans).
“Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property).
“Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs. …
“Each tribe is headed by rival warlords whose fighting has almost brought the national government in Washington to a halt. Increasingly, the two tribes live separately in their own regions — blue or red state, coastal or mid-section, urban or rural — with state or local governments reflecting their contrasting values. …
“But the fact is, the two tribes are pulling America apart, often putting tribal goals over the national interest — which is not that different from what’s happening in the rest of the world.”
To read for yourself, go here:
[I posted an earlier write-up of this reading on my Facebook page, on April 33.]

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