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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Politics vs Politics (Tribalism vs Political Thought)

The ideas in the following only crystallised in my mind this evening. Perhaps I am egregiously stupid. Of course, I have been aware, as you are, that people adopt political stances for more than one reason. Ali is a Sunni and he supports the Sunni leadership, not because he thinks Sunnis have the best economic policies but simply because he is a Sunni. Chris is black and he supports Obama, not because he is supportive of Obamas political theories but simply because he thinks blacks in America have had a raw deal and the first black president should therefore have his support. Mike identifies himself as working class, so he votes Labour. This is understandable. But it sucks.

There are people (perhaps Sunni, perhaps black) who have politico-economic views different from the Sunni leadership or different from Obama and who don’t make their decisions on tribal grounds. Black Thomas Sowell declared that he would vote for McCain rather than Obama because he preferred disaster to catastrophe.

I am pretty sure that the few dozen people who read this blog are not tribalists. Nevertheless, electorates and activists around the world are.

How are you going to start forming views about politics, economics or society? You are not going to be intellectually nuanced, or even coherent, if you start with your own social class or your own ethnicity.

It is perfectly possible that most Catholics in the world have a collectivist point of view. I’m a Catholic and I don’t. My political and economic conclusions are derived from non-theological premises. When I examine them (my conclusions), I am, to say the least, relieved to find that they are congruent with Catholicism. Were this not the case, I’d be in trouble.

You are not (I suppose) a tribalist. My objective, then, is not to convert you from tribalism but to alert you to it. So, be careful. You may own your own home; you may vote Republican. You may observe that most Republicans own their own homes (or aspire to do so). Don’t vote Republican because you own your home. Vote Republican because the Republican Party is committed to the idea that a property owning democracy is a good idea.

Tribalism is bad because it suppresses political thought. America is not tribalist and political thought thrives in America. Imagine being a member of the Islamic State and trying to engage your comrades in a conversation about free market economics.

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