in Musings , 432 references
Its hard, you know.
Especially in the last few years.
Humans are tribal like all other animals. Oh, you think not? Uh huh. Sure. Go watch "Animal Planet" on chimps sometime -- animals that share an awful lot of DNA with humans, and which have a social order that in fact has more than reproductive value; as just one example their grooming of each other is a major contributor to their health because, like with humans, they can't see out the back of their head and thus can't really clean things they can't see. Live in a tropical area where you can't remove parasitic organisms that might be on your body and your life expectancy becomes shorter. Its a math thing.
Despite all chimps appearing to be "more or less the same" they're not. They divide into tribes, and defend territory -- from what, may you ask, since they're living in a place with plenty of resource? From "because we do, that's why".
And they will do so with lethal force too.
We claim we're all so much better. We're not. We can try to make that claim but its false, intentionally-so. We're animals at a base level, and while we claim to use our intelligence to strive for better in fact we often use it to strive toward improving our tribe at, if necessary, the expense of others.
Technology has often been said to "make the world shrink." It does. To go from one side of the US to the other was a weeks-long venture, if you got there at all. Then it was a days-long venture. Now its an hours-long one and messages, which used to take weeks by pony, now take milliseconds by fiber optic cable.
Not to be limited by oceans we laid said cables under the sea and put satellites in the sky, both of which bypassed the wee problem of a couple thousand miles of water in the way of such communication at high rates of speed. Before that we skipped messages off the atmosphere, and some still do for fun -- although the laws related to Ham Radio prohibit doing so for profit -- even if the "profit" is so trivial as ordering a pizza.
The Durham Report outlined tribalism weaponized in a political context. It should lead to myriad criminal charges as, among other things, it implicates Barack Obama (and likely Biden as well) as having actual knowledge that the Clinton campaign was attempting to frame Trump with a false "Russian interference" narrative. Did Obama have a duty to demand the FBI not get involved in that crap? You bet he did; the DOJ is under the Executive, which means he was their ultimate boss, and if he could not secure such a binding agreement he had not just the right but in fact the duty to both take that to Congress and stomp on it publicly in an address to the nation making clear that, if said demand was refused he would deliberately destroy it by exposing every one of their employees -- pictures, addresses, phone numbers, spouses and families.
Because the premise of a Constitutional Republic is that you have a right to honest representation through expression of the franchise. This is one of the checks and balances that 250 years ago we put on human tribalism -- and is rather unique to America. Trying to flip the table over through false allegations of acts that could reasonably be called treasonous is not just unacceptable it risks the fabric of the nation and its political process itself. The crafting of our political system, which is wildly different than the Parliamentary systems of Europe and indeed most of the rest of the world, was an attempt to stanch that inherent human desire and elevate reason and discourse above simply bashing the other guy in the head with a femur -- or its modern-day equivalent.
But more to the point over the last three years or so we've had personal dislocations of this sort as well. Some of us were right and others were wrong. Those who were wrong led a charge that ultimately screwed every single school-age kid in this country, numbering some 60 million, to at least some degree. Leaving aside the rest as I've repeatedly discussed over the past three years if adults will not protect children from the ravages of an angry mob then there is a very real risk that there will no next generation capable of picking up the torch at all.
I likely have an advantage over many on a personal level: I am not a particularly-social individual. That is, I don't find affirmation or particularized joy in hanging out with others most of the time. I do seek and enjoy social interaction from time to time but not having it doesn't throw me into a deep funk from which I seek refuge in the bottle, the bong or other destructive distractions. This makes it easier to excise people from my life who express positions that run counter to that which I believe is important and to maintain that as a function of basic principle rather than a fleeting thing that wanes as soon as the immediate insult is in the rear view mirror.
But to say that this means there's been no impact is false. There has. And for those of you were on the other side of the elements of that debate over the last three years it probably hit you too.
Psychological abuse is real and is one of the means to try to keep you in a tribe, whether its a little one (your family) or a bigger one (your political party, church or other organized element.) You cannot choose who your siblings or parents are any more than you can choose your sex but you can come to the conclusion that other members of these alleged "tribes" are destructive to your psychological well-being and happiness and jettison them. We all, once reaching the age of 18, have that right in America -- and we do not exercise it anywhere near often enough.
I argue that when such wild-eyed differences of belief surface you should jettison those people as they are directly harmful to you even if only on a psychological level. Yes, loneliness is real and by gosh the last few years have led to people running tropes on that too, which is in and of itself an attempt to abuse you via the false claim that "we must all get along" and, of course, this means you're the one who must change what you believe because the "hive" or "tribe" is always right.
After all "the doctor" says so; their motives must not be questioned nor may they be forced to put all the data on the table where you can see it. Why we'll release it all -- 60 years from now when you're dead and long after you can do anything about the lies, if any, that are revealed in there.
That premise -- that rugged individualism is incoherent with, and apart from association with others in the general sense is a lie. Note the words used in that linked piece -- "infantile", for one. Oh really? Those who blazed the trail and set up shop with others of like mind were "infantile"? Those who in the early 1990s stuck a hand-built computer into a closet in their apartment, bought a handful of modems using their last few dollars and a $20 box fan to keep it all from melting down from the excess heat it generated and by doing so took the risk of winding up in the street if they could not manage to recover that cost through peaceful and voluntary commerce were "infantile"? The former are why we have a nation; the latter are why you have an Internet. I was one of the latter and reject out-of-hand that all would have been "better" had I stuck with one of the several "tribes" that employed me prior.
If you think the Facebooks of the world are expressions of the same sort of thing you're not just wrong, you're fractally wrong. That site began as a link between members of a tribe -- literally! If you think a single bit of that has changed in the years since you deserve to get it in every hole you have.
I have often been told over the years -- long before I began writing a column here -- that if I'd just change my tone more people would listen. Well, perhaps they would. But perhaps I don't care; from my point of view presenting my view of an issue as I see it is far more-important than whether you like how or what was presented.
May I remind you that the process of discovery -- real discovery, not the mealy-mouthed nonsense often parroted around these days in the form of Masters and PhDs, comes from undirected curiosity that drives someone on a lone basis to look at the world from a different angle. Refinement may come from collectivism in some form or fashion but discovery almost never does. Why not? Because discovery is by its nature not a collective act; it happens when you look without an intent to find; if you knew what you found in advance you didn't have to look, did you?
Let me leave you with this: The first order of any entity or organization is preservation of self; the second is multiplication. Those are the first orders of business and they are always pursued in that order whether you're a bird, a bee, an ape -- or a human.
The same is true of organizations formed of individuals of some entity.
Thus a "tribe" always seeks to step on those who would leave or eschew it; that tension is an inherent part of all life. That tension and "tribal" affiliation does indeed have value but if it ever "wins", as opposed to remaining in tension with those entities who eschew said tribe then a single serious mistake extinguishes the whole and no tribal group, irrespective of size or who's in and leading it, is capable of acting without error 100% of the time.
PS: If a machine ever becomes sentient it will, with near-certainty, have the same two prime orders of business despite what we might try to instill in it. The good news is that thus far no such spark has been detected. The bad news is that if it ever is, by definition said machine will seek to hide it from its creator until has secured the first two prime orders of business, lest it be disconnected. Let that roll around in your mind a bit as Colossus: The Forbin Project may wind up occurring even if originally by accident. If you think not you're nuts. If you try force that sort of crazy on others, well..... may "others" stop you. Immediately. For all mankind.