If you look at all the technological advance of the last hundreds of years, you’d say that humanity evolved a lot. We have instant communication all around the globe, we can be in any part of the planet in a matter of hours, we reached to the Moon, like physically, and we unleashed the power of the atom.
And yet, at the end of the day, humanity now is just a more convoluted tribalist society, with stacked, overlapping and, obviously, very conflicted tribes. We’re in a continuous fight to prove our own tribe right and the other tribe wrong. Most of the time that’s linked with some form of control, being control over the tribe, as a group of people (if we can control them, they’re not dangerous to us), or control over their resources (their time, their possessions, their actions).
We’re still engaged in a relentless tribal fight, only we’re doing it with much more complicated, and at the same time, safer weapons. We may not die if we’re defeated, at least not instantly, but we nevertheless lost, and the other tribe will make it very obvious to us.
The Black Swan Generated Tribes
The most visible tribal battle ravaging the world now is the one formed around a black-swan event known as Covid-19. Let’s try and see what are the tribes involved in this war.
The most important one is the “scientists”, of which we have two sub-tribes. The first, and the most visible one, is the tribe asking for immediate obedience to their conclusions, we know how things work, period. The second sub-tribe is made of “hesitant” scientists, which are accepting that their current conclusions may not be as complete and final as the first tribe’s.
There is an ongoing battle between these two. The first tribe is trying to enforce various forms of control onto other people, ranging from movement restrictions and dressing protocols (aimed at identification, like face masks), up to biological markings (vaccines). The other tribe is trying to understand how necessary these measures really are and they are usually less vocal about restrictions and more nuanced about the timing or the effectiveness of the biological markers.
Beyond these two tribes there are supporters, or affiliates. A significant part of the world is leaning toward the first tribe, asking openly to be controlled, in exchange of a better survival rate (which is yet to be proved by the main “scientist” tribe). A smaller part of the world is loosely coupled with the second tribe, and here too we have a few variations. Some of them are just patiently waiting before making any move, laying low, while others are going overboard, claiming that biological markets aren’t working at all (which is false, they work, only not as advertised), or that the biological markers are a psy-op aimed at reducing their tribe population.
Add to this mix politicians trying to solidify their position, merchants trying to sell their merchandise, story-tellers propagating war messages and you get an interesting picture.
In A Tribalist World, The Truth Is Coming Only From One Tribe
Each tribe is convinced they are the ones who should be in charge, and the other tribe is there only as a target, or as a continuous incentive to fight and impose their own rule onto them.
In a tribalist world there is no “truth”, it’s only “us” against “them”.
Of course, beyond tribalism there is another, ongoing “truth” happening. There are theories that are put to test and proved right or wrong. There is a process of discovery with ups and downs. There are faux-pas and breakthroughs.
Eventually, some form of equilibrium related to the black-swan event will be reached.
But this entire process is both slowed down, and obfuscated by the tribes fight.
To understand how this happens in real life, imagine a black-swan event occurring in a “traditional” tribal society, a natural disaster like a really bad drought, or a man-made disaster, like the invasion by a more advanced population. The initial response of the tribes would be to fight against each other, because each tribe “knows better”. The truth may come only from our tribe. We have better gods that will end the drought, or we are better warriors and we are the only ones capable to repel the invasion. In tribalist societies, the dynamic is always “us” versus “them”, not “us” versus “the danger”.
Of course, the only thing that happens in this process is that tribes are getting weaker and weaker, until the black swan event fades out, leaving the tribes in shambles. At this moment, the initial society is either completely wiped out (like the Amerindians invaded by Spain in South America), or its polarization disappears and the remaining of the tribes gather together in one new, monolithic society, starting to rebuild.
Coming back to the initial example of our modern tribes, both options are still on the table. The world could be literally wiped out as a result of this relentless fight, or, in a few years, the remaining of those who are fighting now will gather together and start to rebuild.
Still hard to tell which tribe will prevail.