Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Andrew Sullivan's booklet on tribalism: "America Wasn't Built for Humans"


Andrew Sullivan offers a booklet-length article in New York Magazine Sept. 19, 2017, “America Wasn’t Built for Humans” with the byline “Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we would overcome; And so it has become out greatest vulnerability”.


The article roughly equates American tribalism with hyper partisanship, but it also promotes intellectual reduction, especially the over broad ideas of what comprises a “hate crime” or “white supremacy”.  It seems intellectually lazy but also reflects on what my own mother used to call “real life”.  He points out how Chadwick Moore was ostracized merely for giving Milo Yiannopoulos credibility in an otherwise reasonably funny and critical piece in “Out”.

I certainly experienced the same sort of tribalism in many episodes of my own life, as leftist leadership in much of the gay community demanded loyalty to its own imposition of identity politics
Sullivan sees our historical denial of our “tribal nature” as a flaw in the way the nation was set up after the Constitution was adopted. Then later, this little snarky, timocratic gem: “One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you actually don’t have to think very much.”  You can watch your whole life’s output grow less bad.

Sullivan refers to Sebastian Junger’s “Tribe” (WP review) and Wades’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” (review), where civilization tried to gnaw away at tribalism. 


Michael Gerson review’s Sullivan’s essay on p. A17, “A Triumph of Tribalism”, on p. A17 of the Washington Post today.  l

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