Tribalism: The Father of All Prejudice

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AlphaLogica157's picture
Tribalism: The Father of All Prejudice

Tribalism is dangerous. In a literal sense it is defined as:

"the state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes."

In the more common sense in our modern times it is defined as:

" a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group"
- Oxford dictionary

In this, I am speaking of the latter definition, another way to express this is in the "us vs them" mentality. By "tribe" in this context, I am referring to anything that is used as a means of identity for an individual such as, religious affiliation, political affiliation, race, ethnicity (a shared cultural or national tradition), nationality, etc. I will demonstrate that it is this form of tribalism that has produced the myriad expressions of prejudice that permeates throughout human society, from racism to jingoism. But first I must point out a few things so bear with me.

Prejudice is defined as: a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Initially tribalism was mildly beneficial to human society, as it was a means of establishing social cohesion within groups from antiquity by creating a sense of a shared existence in such forms as, laws, traditions, common practices and culture. In the context of evolution, it is believed to have been hard wired into our brains, since humans are a social species, anything that keeps groups together is conducive to the continuation of our species.

Now that I have given credit where it is due, I will demonstrate how tribalism is dangerous and how it has lead to the many forms of prejudice we see today. I will start with religious affiliation, and use the Abrahamic religions as an example, this is only because I am the most familiar with the 'big 3' but as I have already shown in the context of evolution, tribalism is much older than 4000 years old.

In this case the 'tribe' is religious identity. Within the Abrahamic religions an expression of tribalism was the emphasis on orthodoxy vs heterodoxy (correct teaching vs incorrect teaching) whereby religious leaders would rally their followers by glorifying their own interpretation and demonizing all others. This was a tool to keep unity among followers by closing the ranks and preventing any such possibility of an exchange of ideas that would weaken the hold the clergy had on the masses. This practice in large part was what lead to the continuation of the crusades, and was justification for the violence between Catholics and Protestants, or between Shia and Sunni Muslims, the issue of succession for Muhammad was the initial cause, but to this day it is the practice of tribalism that continues the violence between denominations. In Judaism a more direct example was the call for the Jews to kill the Canaanites.

In this case the 'tribe' is racial identity. A more specific expression of tribalism is in the ideology of racial division, this lead to a form of prejudice known as racism. Again we see a link to religious affiliation, as in the concept of the great chain of being, where it was believed that God created every human each according to their own kind and forbade the practice of inter-racial marriage. To this day it is this belief that is used as justification by groups such as the KKK for holding to their ideology. Another example of this can be found in the beliefs of The Nation of Islam whereby Wallace Fard Muhammad taught that the original peoples of the world were black and that white people were a race of "devils" created by a scientist named Yakub (the Biblical and Qur'anic Jacob) on the Greek island of Patmos.

For the sake of brevity I will give one more example of how tribalism produced another form of prejudice,known as jingoism by this i am referring to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others, an extreme type of nationalism. So it follows that In this case the 'tribe' is national identity. In going back to the context of tribalism that I am referring to, a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group. An example of this is in the United States' ongoing conflicts with Native peoples throughout the 19th century, formally known as the Indian Wars. In order to justify territorial expansion by military force, the federal government took the position that Indians were a threat to American greatness, and their resistance should be met with swift force in order to deal with the problem.

I will have to end it there but I believe that I have sufficiently demonstrated that tribalism is the father of all prejudice.

Thank you for your time.

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Nyarlathotep's picture
I thought you might enjoy

I thought you might e̶n̶j̶o̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ find this interesting:
George Orwell - Notes on "Nationalism"

AlphaLogica157's picture
You are correct, I enjoyed

You are correct, I enjoyed that very much, and I see a few similarities between my OP and his essay. I have not read anything by Orwell until now, I know of his book 1984 and his advice on writing simply but that was it. I am going to read it again as there is A LOT in there to think about, and much of what he wrote applies to today which is incredible. Thank you very much for sharing that with me.

mykcob4's picture
Nationalism, popularism,

Nationalism, popularism, tribalism, they are all detrimental to society. NAZI Germany was a product of populist nationalism.

algebe's picture
Tribalism is universal. It

Tribalism is universal. It seems to meet a basic human need. There is a kind of security in belonging. I suppose early humans who didn't belong to a group were soon devoured by wolves, etc. I hope one day we'll grow beyond this primitive urge, but until then we'll continue to divide ourselves into Anglicans, Catholics, Mormons, Shiites, Sunnis, Buddhists, Hindus, French, Russians, Republicans, Democrats... And we'll continue to squabble over these petty and imaginary divisions.

All of these barriers would melt away in the light of reason and knowledge, but for most people they result from accidents of birth and family ties, which puts them beyond reason. How many people actually decide their religion or vote on the basis of logic, and how many because of family tradition? Human beings need to start focusing more on their similarities rather than their differences.

Deforres's picture
I am loyal to one thing alone

I am loyal to one thing alone: Humanity. Though I still don't like this squishy form.....oh well.

CyberLN's picture
Well, perhaps I am the lone

Well, perhaps I am the lone dissenter. I adore and celebrate the differences. I am fascinated by them. I want to learn about and discover them. I think they are marvelous! I do not think that tribalism, as you call it, creates the problems. Were people to celebrate, be interested in, learn from all those wonderful differences, we would not have problems. It is, I think, not differences, but selfishness that causes strife.

Deforres's picture
I can't help but do this.....

I can't help but do this..........


Seriously though, CyberLN does make a fair point.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Excellent, now we have cause

Excellent, now we have cause for a discussion.

Seeking to engage with those who are different from you is a worthy endeavor to be sure. But I do not see how this excuses tribalism, my op was showing that it is the tribalist, one who advocates an us vs them mentality, and clings to identity over over unity, is dangerous and that tribalism itself has produced many forms of prejudice. If I understand you correctly, I think you are talking about multiculturalism, which is different. If you could elaborate on why exactly you disagree with my OP I would appreaciate it. To be honest I do not see how your response is related to my OP.

CyberLN's picture
"In this case the 'tribe' is

"In this case the 'tribe' is racial identity. A more specific expression of tribalism is in the ideology of racial division, this lead to a form of prejudice known as racism."

It doesn't necessarily. It certainly can, but doesn't always. That someone is a given color (or any other thing) and identifies as such does not mean they consider those different than that color (or anything) greater or lesser. Just different. IMO, different is not just okay, it is fabulous!

Teach me your art, your dances, your poetry, your everything...share it with me, please!

AlphaLogica157's picture
Ok, thank you for the

Ok, thank you for the clarification. Tribalism, in the form of racial identity, as in one who STRONGLY identifies with their race, and believes that this sets them apart from others, who are not of their own race, is what has produced the form of prejudice known as racism. What you are talking about is not race, but culture, or more specifically, ethnicity. What you are advocating for is multiculturalism, which is not a from of prejudice. If I am missing your point then I apologise and hope you will continue to explain.

CyberLN's picture
You can give it whatever name

You can give it whatever name you like, AL. What I offer is that some view differences as division and some as celebration. It is not the differences that create these things, it is an individual's attitude about the differences. In the end, it makes no substantive difference if it is called tribalism, culturalism, ethnicity....all that matters it how those differences are viewed/used.

Deforres's picture
I will now side myself with

I will now side myself with CyberLN on this matter.

AlphaLogica157's picture
care to give a reason why?

care to give a reason why? Because I cannot even see how Cyberlyn's response is in any way related to the topic at hand so maybe you could tell me what I am missing.

AlphaLogica157's picture
" In the end, it makes no

" In the end, it makes no substantive difference if it is called tribalism, culturalism, ethnicity"

No, as all of those words have different meanings, I am not calling them anything but what they are, and I believe you to be confused on what these words mean.

This is why I provided a definition for tribalism, ethnicity is not the same thing as race, tribalism is not the same thing as multiculturalism. What you choose to celebrate does not address the argument in my OP. I am explaining the cause for various forms of prejudice, and this cause is tribalism.

CyberLN's picture
Every one of us has

Every one of us has prejudices. Not everyone, however, thinks that someone's value or rights should be based on those prejudices.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Speak for yourself, I do not

Speak for yourself, I hold no preconceived opinions that are not based on reason or actual experience. I base my opinion on my experience, insofar as my reason dictates. Which is the opposite of prejudice.

But even if I did, the topic is on what initially caused these prejudices to manifest themselves, I gave specific arguments for specific examples. I am confused as to how you can say that because you choose to celebrate differences, tribalism had no role in producing different forms of prejudice. These are in no way related.

Deforres's picture
"Speak for yourself, I hold

"Speak for yourself, I hold no preconceived opinions that are not based on reason or actual experience"

This is the equivilant of saying you have no ass. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on this planet is ALWAYS susceptible to giving prejudice, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. It is an inherent part of the human psychology to attempt to place such prejudices.

AlphaLogica157's picture
That may be true, it is

That may be true, it is certainly possible that I hold some prejudice and am simply unaware of what it is. That being said, I still fail to see how Cyberlyn's response is related to my OP. You seem to be convinced by it though, could you explain why it is you accept it? Because if you see something that I am clearly missing, i would very much appreciate you enlightening me as to what it is.

Deforres's picture
What I agreed with didn't

What I agreed with didn't have to do with the OP. I thought you would have realized that, AL.

I sincerely hope you didn't make a wild ass assumption, and think that I agreed with her entire post.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Obviously I did not realize

Obviously I did not realize that, which is why I asked you to clarify. And how could I not conclude that you agreed with Cyberlyn's response, when you said that you side with her. I was just hoping that you could explain to me how it was related to my OP because she disagreed with me and if her response was going over my head I want to know so i can respond to what she is actually saying, instead of something she has not said. Last thing I want to do is misrepresent her response. I hope you can appreaciate that.

nevermore's picture
This isn't exactly about

This isn't exactly about tribalism--which I won't comment on just now. But you might find it an interesting sidelight on the discussion.

"The less justified a person is in claiming excellence for their own self, the more ready they are to claim all excellence for their nation, their religion, their race or their holy cause."

from The True Believer
by Eric Hoffer

AlphaLogica157's picture
Thank you for sharing that, I

Thank you for sharing that, I do find it interesting and appreciate anything you have to offer . I will look into The True Believer for myself because the more insight I can gain, the better. =)

mykcob4's picture
About tribalism. Well, I may

About tribalism. Well, I may not be in tune with the current conversation of this thread, but I would like to post about the "Good Old Boy Syndrom". I live in a suburb of Dallas. It is filled with braggers, beer belly macho assholes, rednecks, and racists. The one thing they have in common is this unspoken understanding that can be and if often referred to as the "Good Old Boys."
Here's how it works.
Say you need an inspection sticker for your car but your car won't pass inspection. Your friend tells you that at station "X" there is "Carl", he's a "Good Old Boy", he'll fix you up.
It actually means that if you are a racist redneck protestant republican pro-NRA anti-abortion Texas bragging asshole, that you are in a not so secret organization that can do and does illegal things for each other. The society will act in concert to affect racism and prejudice as well. Like hire illegal aliens to get cheap labor and not pay taxes, then publicly be for Trump because he wants to build a wall.
These Good Old Boys are the most hypocritical fucked up individuals that you have ever seen. Most of them are in or have been in the KKK, belong to a fucked baptist church like WBC. Most of them drink their lunch are completely unfaithful to their wives and have nothing to do with raising their kids unless they go to watch them play football on Friday nights.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Dude we got plenty of Good ol

Dude we got plenty of Good ol' boys here in Montana, they act the exact same way here as well. Within their little tribe, they use big ass trucks, big ass belt buckles, and stupid cowboy hats as a means of identifying one another. And their rallying cry is typically calling Obama a Muslim.

Deforres's picture


W-What the hell is wrong with people?! Hell, at least in Russia even the worst fathers actually give a fucking crap about their childs raising! What the fuck had to be wrong with someone to make them not give two shits about how their child is raised?! Un-Fucking forgivible!

algebe's picture
Until I re-read your post and

Until I re-read your post and saw the references to Dallas and Texas, I thought you were talking about Australia and New Zealand. The same species is very common here, too. They're married with kids, but they run around impregnating other women and leaving them to raise their kids on welfare. This has been happening for three generations, so most of them don't even know who their own fathers are. Every weekend they get drunk and start fights, and somebody ends up in hospital or in the morgue. (When I get drunk I become highly intelligent, good-looking and brilliant at singing, but I never want to hit people.) These halfwits are killing the economy with all their welfare-funded extramarital families and drunken antics, but they consider themselves super-patriotic. They think they are protestants, but they never go to church, and if they tried to read the bible they'd get through "In the" and get stuck on "beginning" because it has more than three letters. Their religion consists of hating Jews and Muslims. You'll always see them on the front row of protests outside mosques, usually wrapped up in flags. They usually have tattoos, often with Chinese/Japanese characters back to front or upside down. They don't believe in evolution because "we ain't descended from monkeys," and I'd have to agree with them, because I have too much respect for monkeys. When they want to buy a TV or other appliance, they go to a friend who finds things that fall off trucks. Though they live in immigrant nations, these master race morons are violently anti-immigrant and will hurl abuse (and sometimes rocks and bottles) at anyone who looks different (and vulnerable).

And if they understood the word, they'd probably consider an atheist to be immoral and anti-[state your country here].

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