"Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."
~ Rudyard Kipling ~
The need for brotherhood in human beings, especially men, is ancient; we are a social species, and have been for many millions of years. Even more importantly, our identities as individuals are largely developed according to our place in this or that group. In a sense, we need enemies; we even want enemies. Because enemies in part define who we are as individuals.
This kind of tribalistic mentality is rarely given respect in the social sciences, and even less so among political pundits. We attack tribalism as primitive; we think of it as short-sighted and narrow-minded. What we forget, however, is how important it is, and all the good things we gain from it. For whether we like it or not, our love of family, faith, and fatherland, are all bound up in a tribalistic mentality: Our Founding Fathers fought for freedom not for strangers but for their families and for their friends; our soldiers and our policemen risk their lives daily for their fellow citizens. After all, patriotism is tribal almost by definition.
Men need a tribe, and where they have none, they will find one. This is largely the reason why gangs have always existed, and will continue to exist: Historically, gangs provided brotherhood to outliers who did not fit their cultural mold; currently, they are a rare bastion of tribal masculinity in a world that has increasingly condemned both tribalism and masculinity. Gangs, though often destructive, are going nowhere anytime soon.
What is odd, though, is that although tribalism is looked down upon almost universally in the modern world, communism is somehow held up as an ideal. The strangeness of this phenomenon is rooted in the fact that communists see communism as a kind of universal brotherhood, and therefore, because it is universal, it is not tribalistic at all. However, they misunderstand the human condition: Communism is not about universal brotherhood; it is merely a failed attempt at universal brotherhood- because love, psychologically speaking, grows organically. We love those we can know and feel; we love what we can touch.
Now there are those who take a religious view, and argue that love is and ought to be universal. And yet although it is true that many religions advocate a kind of universal compassion, it would be difficult to prove by means of either their texts or their histories that this really meant a universality of love in the noblest sense of the word. The Old Testament, for instance, was almost entirely ethnic in orientation- it was, after all, specifically the story of the relationship between God and the people of Israel- and although there is much talk of the love of neighbors in the New Testament, every single disciple of Jesus was a Jew. Later, after the crucifixion of Jesus, Paul, a Roman Jew, spoke an awful lot about Gentiles, but even these were considered separate from the world specifically because they had converted to Christianity; they were members of the body of the church, and therefore brothers. So although Christianity may be the religion most contingent upon love as a principle, we still find in the Christian church a strong in-group/out-group mentality.
The distance between theoretical love and practical love may as well be infinite. We must have a personal relationship with the objects of our affection. Is that not, after all, the entire idea behind prayer? To have a personal relationship with God?
Without a personal relationship between individuals, there can be no brotherhood. And this is the great error of communism, the notion that the ties that bind men together can be multiplied infinitely. They cannot; love is exclusive by definition because love entails not only self-sacrifice but in a very real sense the sacrifice of others: When we love God, we love God above all other gods; when we fight for our country, we win the war by killing men who are also fighting for theirs; when we get married, we choose a husband or wife in exclusion of all other possible husbands and wives; and of course, when we bear children, we love them above all other children. To think that these or any other types of love could be applied by any individual to all human beings is insanity.
This is why although tribalism is so quintessential to our nature as human beings, communism always fails at any large scale. It succeeds at small scales; it succeeds in tiny, closed societies wherein all of its individuals know one another, and share common values with one another, as they do in monasteries. But the larger the society gets, the greater the failure of communism. The universality of love it proposes always breaks down into smaller and smaller tribes, so that in the end, each individual just takes whatever he can get for himself, but under the guise of loving all- and that deceitfulness in the name of love is somehow more abominable than outright war and outright theft.
As a result, in a tribalist society, the competition between individuals is open and understood; it promotes a healthy social system, and does not preclude respect among competing individuals. Moreover, honest competition entails rules, and includes punishment for rule-breakers. But in the case of a communist society wherein honest competition is outwardly condemned, those that follow the rules are at an obvious disadvantage to those that are willing to break them- and they will break them, because they cannot care about the wellbeing of others to the same extent to which they care about their own. So communism, in essence, corrupts tribalism.
We can love our own above all others while still showing respect for those that are not our own. This is an aspect of tribalism that is rarely discussed, but it must be discussed. Because although we live in a pluralistic society, we forget that multiculturalism carries with it a great deal of disagreement, and that there will always be tension, friction, between individuals and groups of individuals that do not share values. While it is true that race means very little in the grand scheme of human affairs, culture means everything. This is the entire meaning of the American Experiment, after all: to see whether or not an idea could take the place of other aspects of identity. To the degree to which this idea takes the place of other identities, the experiment will be a success- and only to that degree.
So in the modern world, a man's tribe is his culture; a man's culture is his tribe. And he will fight for it more than he will fight for that of another. Insofar as we share a culture, we can live in peace with one another, and where we do not share culture, there will always be conflict. But there will be no future at all for us if we do not admit that we must love our own above all others, and yet that we can still respect others for loving theirs above ours. To pretend otherwise is to begin the game not knowing the rules, and that is not a good way to win.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
21 May, 2018