Sean McBride
Biologist E.O. Wilson on Why Humans, Like Ants, Need a Tribe - The Daily Beast -
"Have you ever wondered why, in the ongoing presidential campaign, we so strongly hear the pipes calling us to arms? Why the religious among us bristle at any challenge to the creation story they believe? Or even why team sports evoke such intense loyalty, joy, and despair? The answer is that everyone, no exception, must have a tribe, an alliance with which to jockey for power and territory, to demonize the enemy, to organize rallies and raise flags." - Sean McBride from Bookmarklet
"And so it has ever been. In ancient history and prehistory, tribes gave visceral comfort and pride from familiar fellowship, and a way to defend the group enthusiastically against rival groups. It gave people a name in addition to their own and social meaning in a chaotic world. It made the environment less disorienting and dangerous. Human nature has not changed. Modern groups are psychologically equivalent to the tribes of ancient history. As such, these groups are directly descended from the bands of primitive humans and prehumans." - Sean McBride
Well I must be odd, I 'm not very tribal. I suppose I could become very tribal if something fundemental I identified with was under some ovewhelming assault. I think people who are tribal in quest for power or some kind of victory, absent any dire threat, are looking for some kind of self esteem or control that they are lacking in their individual lives. Also the fact that most people are "joiners', not leaders may explain the tribal factor. - American
I have come to the conclusion that human civilization is largely a tale of "gang" warfare. Some key "gangs": academic disciplines, academic schools, alliances, associations, bureaucracies, cities, clubs, corporations, cults, drug cartels, ethnic groups, family dynasties, fraternities, government agencies, ideologies, industries, lobbies, nations, neighborhoods, political parties, professions, provinces, races, regimes, regions, religions, schools, secret societies, social classes, special interest groups, species, sports teams, states, etc. - Sean McBride
"The elementary drive to form and take deep pleasure from in-group membership easily translates at a higher level into tribalism. People are prone to ethnocentrism. It is an uncomfortable fact that even when given a guilt-free choice, individuals prefer the company of others of the same race, nation, clan, and religion. They trust them more, relax with them better in business and social events, and prefer them more often than not as marriage partners. They are quicker to anger at evidence that an out-group is behaving unfairly or receiving undeserved rewards. And they grow hostile to any out-group encroaching upon the territory or resources of their in-group." - Sean McBride
"When in experiments black and white Americans were flashed pictures of the other race, their amygdalas, the brain’s center of fear and anger, were activated so quickly and subtly that the centers of the brain were unaware of the response. The subject, in effect, could not help himself. When, on the other hand, appropriate contexts were added—say, the approaching African-American was a doctor and the white his patient—two other sites of the brain integrated with the higher learning centers, the cingulate cortex and the dorsolateral preferential cortex, lit up, silencing input through the amygdala. Thus different parts of the brain have evolved by group selection to create groupishness, as well as to mediate this hardwired propensity." - Sean McBride
"Literature and history are strewn with accounts of what happens at the extreme, as in the following from Judges 12: 5–6 in the Old Testament: the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’?” If he said “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time." - Sean McBride
"Our bloody nature, it can now be argued in the context of modern biology, is ingrained because group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are. In prehistory, group selection lifted the hominids to heights of solidarity, to genius, to enterprise. And to fear. Each tribe knew with justification that if it was not armed and ready, its very existence was imperiled. Throughout history, the escalation of a large part of technology has had combat as its central purpose. Today, public support is best fired up by appeal to the emotions of deadly combat, over which the amygdala is grandmaster. We find ourselves in the battle to stem an oil spill, the fight to tame inflation, the war against cancer. Wherever there is an enemy, animate or inanimate, there must be a victory." - Sean McBride
"Any excuse for a real war will do, so long as it is seen as necessary to protect the tribe. The remembrance of past horrors has no effect. It should not be thought that war, often accompanied by genocide, is a cultural artifact of a few societies. Nor has it been an aberration of history, a result of the growing pains of our species’ maturation. Wars and genocide have been universal and eternal, respecting no particular time or culture. Overall, big wars have been replaced around the world by small wars of the kind and magnitude more typical of hunter-gatherer and primitively agricultural societies. Civilized societies have tried to eliminate torture, execution, and the murder of civilians, but those fighting little wars do not comply." - Sean McBride
"Civilization appears to be the ultimate redeeming product of competition between groups. Because of it, we struggle on behalf of good and against evil, and reward generosity, compassion, and altruism while punishing or downplaying selfishness. But if group conflict created the best in us, it also created the deadliest. As humans, this is our greatest, and worst, genetic inheritance." - Sean McBride
All life lives on killing. Joseph Campbell's study of Indian myths taught him that Indians honored the 'willingness' of ie. buffaloes to give their lives so that Indians might live. I had dinner with a friend who is a hunter, and our conversation taught me something about how someone who can, or has, taken life, respects life. My friend is also a lawyer. As a lawyer, he fights to the last ounce of energy for his clients. His fellows say he doesn't know when to quit, he should compromise, but M. is passionate about defending 'the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' As an accomplished marksman, he respects his prey as well as his skill; he does not kill frivolously, or cruelly, or needlessly. I don't think the Hebrew scriptures have hunting tales/myths, nor am I aware of festivals of thanksgiving in the Hebrew mythologies. There are several tales -- still celebrated today -- in which Hebrews kill those who had formerly supported them, ie. Hebrews kill Egyptians (Passover), Hebrews kill Persians (Esther/Purim). Think about how dramatically opposite to respect for life those two major myths/celebrations are from, for example, American Indian myths that thank the buffalo for giving his life so that Indians may live. - Solon
imo there are profound misapprehensions in the last two quotes you posted, Sean. I'm not sure "civilization" has really brought that many advancements to the tribal instinct; Americans and Israelis claim for themselves the sobriquet of "most intelligent," "most civilized," but Americans & zionists have been the biggest killers of the past 3/4 century. Their common bond has been the myths of the Old Testament. Iranians tell themselves and teach their children different myths; myths that are not sugar coated but that are life-affirming and redemptive, not exterminationist -- I consider several key OT myths to be 'exterminationist' as well as self-deluding: ie Esther's belief that Persians sought to kill Jews was not substantiated, it was a fantasy; in pursuit of that fantasy, Esther had 75,000 innocent Persians killed. That's a harmful myth to perpetuate. Ben Stein's column on CBS (?) repeated the harmful quality of that mindset. iirc he started his essay with reflection on passover -- "Egyptians wanted to exterminate us . . ." Well, actually, no, Egyptians did not seek to "exterminate" anybody, but Hebrews did call down plagues on Egyptians, and did kill their first born. Take it to the current situation -- "Iranians want to annihilate Jews, so we Jews must impose "biting" sanctions; strangling sanctions; cause them to starve; In fact, no, Iranians do NOT seek to harm Jews, but as Israel's acts demonstrate, Israel seeks to harm Iran. These are dangerous myths that vaunted 'western' culture has inculcated unquestioningly for far too many centuries and at far too great a cost in human suffering. We need to reassess the mythological framework we have built our 'civilization' upon. - Solon