| Society

Tribalism is a luxury

Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize this very week, Lisa Ansell brings a very personal set of convictions to her writing. More than simple commentary, Ansell's own circumstances imbue her politics with the authority of one who knows, rather than one who theorizes.

In order to be a true tribalist, you need to be able to surround yourself with people who also define themselves solely by your niche view.

That is easy in some circumstances. For instance, if you are working in an industry which is white, upper class, and your professional network is spawned from a university where tribes are established, it’s easy. It’s quite easy when you are at uni. Or when you live in an area which is closed to people who are different from you. Tribalism is not that easy when you have to mix with the rest of the world.

On the internet people with niche views seek each other out, which is a good use of the internet. But your niche view, and choice to identify yourself with an ideology, is unlikely to be shared by everyone. Or many people at all. When you choose your street because of the house price, chances are it is economic ties that bind you to those around you, not assumed identity. When you work in a job for the money, and so does everyone else, you can’t really wander round saying absurd offensive shit without thinking of the consequences for others. There are universal levellers, motherhood, debt, illness, a shit boss….

Simplistic ideological conviction is for those for whom real life has not got in the way

Most of us exist in environments where we accept and understand the ties that bind us, and rub along with respect for the differences between us. Or we wouldn’t rub along at all. And we have lives to live. Simplistic ideological conviction is for those for whom real life has not got in the way, or those surrounded ONLY by people like them. The principle of treating people with respect one that is essential to function. And that means respect for those who are different, even if they are wildly offensive and different to you.

Understanding one perspective cannot see everything in the round. Plans that work in a complex world cannot be decided by combat of ideologies adopted so those within a homogenous group can differentiate themselves from each other. If you have to seek out those who think like you, your views are probably not shared by everyone. You cannot actually make reality go away by getting your friends to shout at people and manufacture the impression that everyone thinks like you.

Our press project an image of dysfunction on to us. Our white, tribalist, upper class political media, and the wheels that exist within the social network that underpins it, are the only path to equality and respect for difference.  The only route to change. Our only protectors from the rampantly racist and sexist population. This is a peculiar brand of political tribalism coming from a very homogenous group. While they perpetuate political debate that exploits inequality without discussion.

The ONLY vehicle for change is to get the awareness of people whose own livelihoods depend on their circle remaining homogenous enough that tribalism can take hold? Daft.

I am getting tired of different ideological factions telling me who to hate and why their ideology trumps my reality, and that the dysfunction they project is our only hope for change. If your ideology demands haranguing and hating people before you get any power, the consequences are probably not going to be pretty when you get it. This is just not how people behave, and it does seem it is projected onto us rather a lot when people are covering up not knowing much outside their niche ideology or want to prevent challenges to their nonsense.

More of Lisa Ansell's writing can be found at her blog here

Parliament image by vegadsl


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