I have already mentioned my desire to rename what I have been calling the Arts & Humanities Tribe. While the name has the right feel to it, it does not enclose the group as neatly as I would like. It does not mention the social science folks who make up a large portion of the tribe, and it suggests a connection between the humanities and political liberalism that is permanent rather than temporary. There is some of the same problem with the phrases “classical liberal” and “liberal arts.” The meanings these phrases once had now fit political liberals inexactly.
Humanist tribe and Postmodernist tribe have both been suggested. Both terms capture something of both the connotation and the current population of the tribe – more exactly than my own title, in fact. Yet postmodernist completely misses the historical roots. Humanist does better on that score, because it historically comes in both Christian and secular flavors. The downside is that the word now carries an entirely secular intent, and is too often confused with “humanitarian” in popular use. Because the tribe has changed, it is difficult to find a descriptor that is both historically and currently accurate. What I am searching for might be described as “what used to be called the Humanist Tribe, but is now the Secular Humanist Tribe.” This seems rather unwieldy. NPR Listening Tribe would be fairly accurate, as it captures the truth that many conservatives and moderates still have some tribal loyalty to it. NPR Listening Tribe also works in the suggestion of folks who at least try to consider other points of view, even if they aren’t really able to understand them. But I don't want NPR to be taking the blame for this.
Some members are the artists, psychologists, and journalists; some are poseurs or dilettantes. As with all tribes, members have different areas of expertise, and rely on the others for opinions in other areas. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s why we have tribes to begin with. Efficiency. Division of labor and all that. We’re all dilettantes or poseurs sometime. Why this would be a particular problem with the A & H crowd, I’m not sure. Yes, it is true that many are mere receivers of A & H culture, or attach themselves as a sort of social climbing, but I don’t want that to be the focus.
Perhaps if I can name some of the other tribes, the best name will just jump out at me. The Science and Technology Tribe needs a name; I think I’m going to expand the African-American tribe into the DIversity tribe, in honor of the enormous similarity of liberal activists of all stripes - plus the few black conservatives don't fit there; Heartland, Southern Honor, Silent Majority, God and Country, and Religious Right tribes – there’s enormous overlap there, but enough differentiation to be worth separating out. Mexican tribe, Other Hispanic Tribe, Other Immigrant Tribe – hard to know where the lines are there. We all probably have more than one membership.
I think I’ve got a new project going. One that will require actual research rather than just talking off the top of my head. I’ll need help here. Spread the word. Too much information and random ideas are not a problem.