Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Other Tribes - First Draft

A word of caution for those who are jumping all over the Arts & Humanities Tribe: much of what you write is true, but for good counterexamples, look over at my blogroll. Neo-neocon, Onecosmos, and Tigerhawk would all be firmly in the A&H Tribe. The center-right blogosphere is full of 'em.

Hmm. My blogroll is out of date. I have a few to add.

Please feel free to reconfigure, rename, or flatly contradict this. If you enclose links, I’ll dutifully follow them.

Science and Technology Tribe – Call it the Geek Tribe if you want, but they are gradually taking over social sciences, and making inroads into arts and entertainment, so I wouldn’t insult them too much. They bring their own ideas about art & social values, including some that all the other tribes find unnerving. It is this group that includes people who have radical, and sometimes completely out of the western tradition, ideas about “What is a human being?” or “What are happiness and freedom?” In this group you have some libertarians, evangelical Christians, Buddhists and other eastern-derived religions, Ayn Randians, and a dozen other things. Many of them could hardly care less about any of it. Because most of their schoolteachers were from the A&H Tribe, this group does have some familiarity with both the historical and modern versions of Western Civ, but their attachment to it is more idiosyncratic. Their arts are as eclectic as their social views, but much more tech-heavy, gravitating to film over theater, assisted versus standard performance. The smarter ones were part of the “brains” group at school, and were socially intimidated by the A & H tribe growing up. Their current relationship with A & H includes some slavish obedience and some outright rejection. See Your New Masters Will Have Aspergers. Both my wife’s family and mine have some members of this tribe. All the AVI clan has enough of this in our heads to have S&T visiting privileges, though not membership there. I suspect about a third of the readership of this blog has either membership or visiting privileges to this tribe.

The God and Country Tribe. This name has way too much irony in it, making it open to A & H sneers. Anything named after a Boy Scout award for Protestants will send the A & H Tribe looking for hazmat protection. G& C never has good PR with the other tribes, but is pretty good at communicating with each other. They don’t find the idea of being in the God and Country Tribe ironic at all. They would be suspicious of someone who sniggered at the name.

In this group you will find both the people who sorta mix up the whole God and Country thing together and those who have the clearest definitions of what, exactly, goes in each pile. This happens because they care about both, and perceive their opponents to be people who care about neither. There’s good reason for that, but it is still a sloppy overgeneralization on their part. This group has been feeling defensive for several decades now, and are prone to believing rumors and jumping to conclusions. Their view is that if you get the big things right, the little things won’t matter so much, and that’s pretty much my view as well. They believe the good guys are basically the good guys and the bad guys are basically the bad guys. They acknowledge that there are exceptions in both directions, but that people who dwell on those exceptions are just trying to confuse the issue. They are right about this often enough to get by, but their reasoning about these things can be as bad as any other tribe’s.

G&C believes that they should be everyone’s main tribe, but encourage you to have affiliations with other tribes, or with clans within the tribe. This is a Big Tent group. If you are a “Country – Yes/God – Not-so-much” member, or the other way around, they’re okay with that to a point. If you make a complete break either way, you get reduced to auxiliary member, not apostate. Secondary loyalties to region, profession, or ethnic group are entirely acceptable. The clergy of the mainstream Christian denominations are increasingly trying to distance themselves from this tribe and move to the A&H tribe. Their membership, fairly grudgingly. The bulk of Republican votes come from here, but there are plenty of Democrats, Libertarians, and apoliticals as well.

DIversity Tribe. Emphasis on the long i in the first syllable. Not all African-Americans consider this to be their main tribe, but many do, and most others consider themselves to have some sort of affiliation. Hispanics have comparatively less identification with the D tribe. There are plenty of activists who have as intense an identification as any black people, and many Hispanics have a youthful phase of strong association with it. Over time it becomes secondary or even tertiary to their self-perception. Other groups that consider themselves to be disadvantaged or discriminated against – women, Muslims, gays – regard the Diversity Tribe as a coalition partner more than a home group, but a few move into full membership. The A&H tribe likes to keep the Diversity tribe stoked by reporting everything insensitive the G&C tribe does. Much of this is just bad public relations by the G&C tribe, but there’s truth in it as well. Sensitivity isn’t much of a concern to the G&C. If you can’t lump it under general Fairness, they’re not that interested. This completely torques off the Diversity Tribe. This tribe votes even more solidly Democratic than A&H.

You don't just leave this tribe without somewhere else to go. Blacks and the more radical Hispanics might make this original tribe a secondary definer or leave it altogether, but they do so only by leaving for another primary identification: business, military, or S&T, usually. Historically, they left for A&H reasons as well, but I don't think that's so true anymore.

Government and Union Tribe – this group has had serious fractures over the years, because the industry/manufacturing unions and the government unions are not drawn from the same pool of candidates, and their goals are not in complete overlap. The manufacturing and industry unions, being drawn from the God & Country Tribe, value loyalty and are more supportive of the government unions that the other way around. Government unions are sociopathic (though they tend to be nice enough folks individually). This may be the white-hot center of victim mentality in America. They believe they are being screwed, their constituents are being screwed, and everyone’s lying to them. As a consequence, they are great allies to have if you really are being screwed.

They are loyal to the Democrats in the same way that the dog is loyal to sitting next to the baby’s highchair in hopes of food. Republicans and Democrats who work in government tend to become indistinguishable, becoming neither, but more like Democrats.

The Industry/Manufacturing Union rank-and-file are torn over this. They have historical loyalties to both what unions used to be and to the G&C tribe, and they are loyal people. Their ethnic, regional, and religious connections pull them in various directions as well. Current politics is tough for them.

Military Tribe – the military is the group that is most consciously tribal, and actively encourages tribalism. They want you to have other tribal memberships, but when they have you, they expect complete loyalty. This is not just for fun, but to keep people alive.

Criminal Underclass. All the other tribes tithe 10% of their membership to this tribe, though most deny it, of course. Criminals from other tribes are always more odious.

Business Tribe - I'm not sure where to go with this. While there is certainly a big business/small business difference, those lines are too fluid to make much of. There is considerable overlap with both the S&T and the G&C tribes, and those loyalties may meld. I am sure that my stepfamily and many people I met through them are firmly in this tribe. Some have legitimate memberships in the S&T and G&C tribes as well, but others don't. They are Business Tribe, start to finish. Reason would suggest that this must actually be a large tribe in America, but I am not yet sure how to define its boundaries. Perhaps the whole mess may need to be reconfigured to accommodate it.


terri said...

uh...I don't see MY tribe!(although I am not sure what it would be. :-) )

I don't need no stinking tribe! I am an individual!

Maybe I'll start my own tribe of individuals. I think that's usually called a cult.

Anonymous said...

On a different note,

Freakonomics was great, I loved it.
Watching people manipulate data creatively as Levitt did was wonderful.

Thnaks, I hope you liked your book as much as I liked mine.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Doug, I reviewed Freakonomics here:

terri - describe your tribe.

terri said... I am going to have to be all serious in my reply.

I really don't see myself as being a firm member in any tribe.

I have a liberal arts education from a southern baptist school.

I read science fiction and know way too much about Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate. I love science but by no means believe everything I read in Discover, Scientific American..etc.

I am , at times, a dicontented evangelical christian that gets irritated with many of the trends that evolve within that circle.

I am a stay-at-home mom that also has a small business.

I vote Republican, except for when I vote Democrat.

Serious now...First and formost I am a follower of Christ. As such, I can't afford to have dual citizenship in this world's tribes and in the Kingdom in which I really belong. My opinions, actions, and path in life must always go through His hands before I truly embrace them. That requires flexibilty and an openess to go where He says go and stop when He says stop. There are all kinds of thoughts and opinions I have, but, the Christ within me keeps me from letting the flesh within me rule my life and opinions of others...except of course when I fail! :-)

GraniteDad said...

"I read science fiction and know way too much about Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate."

Well, you can't be a geek then. No geek would say that they knew "too much" about ST, SW, and SG. The maximum you can know is "just enough."

Jerub-Baal said...

Riffing off of Terri and Woody, there are also Ronin, those who choose not to affiliate with a Thought-Tribe.

Many in the A&H Tribe (which I am affiliated with), the God & Country Tribe, the Science and Technology Tribe, and the Diversity Tribe think that they qualify as Ronin, because each of those tribes has as part of its folklore the ideal of Independant Thought.

Independant Thought has (in my observation) declined greatly in the Science and Technology Tribe (I have had affiliations on the science side), is rare in the G&C Tribe, and is now widely viewed as heresy by the A&H and Diversity Tribes.

Ronin engage in asking questions in order to get real answers, not simply to affirm their existing beliefs. They put truth over and above any other consideration, and do not consider that they yet understand truth, and so are always seeking it.

Ronin are not to be confused with contrarians, who question anything and everything just to create an argument within their Tribe.

I'd like to say that I'm a Ronin, but independant thought is truly hard. I try.

Ironically, the place where I see the most Ronin is within the Military Tribe, as they value indepenent thought and true intelligence, and also know when it is appropriate and when it is harmful.

Others may disagree with that last. It is my opinion, but I have no real connection with that tribe except to read what they have written. My opinion could be off-base.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you all, and keep it up. I agree that both ronin and multiple identifications are useful concepts for this, and may be where the society is headed. As our ethnic groups have melded, perhaps our tribes are as well.

There is more to come, based on some interesting research I've run across. I hope to soon give you all a post somewhere nearer the top of the blog to comment on.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, many people will identify as Ronin who are not. A certain number of tribalists always refuse to recognize themselves as members of a tribe, preferring to believe that their attitudes are the results of careful, independent study and reflection.

I would suggest that if you are, in fact, four-foot-two and carry a blowgun, you're probably a Pigmy no matter how much cooler it is to be a Bedouin.