Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Political Family

Arthur Silber is discussing tribalism again, and all of his posts on the subject are essential reading, for political behaviors are actually tribal behaviors. (And tribal behaviors are familial behaviors.) His dynamics of tribalism:

ONE: To the degree that membership in a particular tribe or tribes is important to a person's sense of identity, that person believes that his own tribe(s) is inherently and uniquely good. To the degree that tribal membership is a critical element of personal identity, all members of all tribes are convinced this is true of those tribes to which they belong.

TWO: Insofar as the tribe's centrally defining characteristic(s) (race, religion, political beliefs, etc.) are concerned, all other tribes that differ with regard to these characteristics are necessarily inferior and wrong. This has an especially critical implication: at first with regard to these centrally defining characteristics, and inevitably in a more general sense, the individual members of all other tribes are necessarily inferior to and less worthy than the members of one's own tribe(s).

THREE: The basic dynamics of all tribes are the same. This applies to all tribes in two different critical respects. It is true of dynamics within the tribe -- that is, of those particular mechanisms which create and maintain tribal identity and cohesiveness -- and it is also true of how one tribe views itself and behaves in relation to other tribes.

FOUR: The major mechanism by which any tribe creates and maintains tribal identity and cohesiveness is obedience: the requirement that each member of the tribe conform his thinking and behavior in accordance with the major elements of the tribe's belief system.

As for the actual characteristics of the tribe, we like to think they are the ideal, the positive qualities of the people, but invariably they are the qualities the powerful want the powerless to have. The elite certainly do not hold themselves to the same standards of patriotism, duty and bravery, or kindness, charity and morality. The heroic ideals are the qualities the abuser wants in his victim; unquestioning acceptance and obedience, an absence of critical thought, violent, cruel and avaricious, sexualized and obedient.

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