Tribes are receiving plenty of praise and admiration lately and although I respect Seth Godin immensely and read his blog daily, I can’t but think that his admonitions to find, create, lead or join a tribe is misguided at best and dangerous at worst.
Tribes are mean selfish inhumane social institutions. Tribes are only interested in the tribe and the survival of the tribe; the cause, if there is one, is always secondary. Tribes don’t like other tribes; they eliminate other tribes or capture and absorb other tribe members into their own tribe. Tribes have no respect for other tribes. Tribalism is thought to be one of the biggest impediments to democratic development in many countries and closer to home, there is no love lost between the Bloods and the Crips or other tribes. I also contend that the tribalization of politics in America has in great part lead to the increasing gap between the parties – gone is “country before party”. Geographical tribalization has led to increasingly homogenous red and blue states; ideological tribalization to increasingly intransigent thought silos; and tribal rhetoric has led to the constant negative-ad wrapped demonization of the opposing tribe.
My recommendations: if you’re in a tribe, get out (run don’t walk); if you’re leading a tribe, as my mother said to me when I worked for the government, “get a proper job.” Find a cause, create a movement, or participate in a community, (in this regard I am totally at one with Seth) but stay away from tribes.
Do others have a more benign view of tribes?