We always revert to tribalism (jiujitsuvortex.files.wordpress.com).
by Jeff Wilfahrt
Nov 8, 2013, 8:29 AM

Differentiate, it’s what we do

New Ulm, MN likes to tout its German Heritage. Having grown up there something needs to be pointed out.

Founded by Bavarian Protestant Germans it was Bohemian Catholic Germans that showed up to work the mills, farms and cigar industry.

Now in a community where everyone had the same skin color, spoke a common German language and came from common central European region you’d think they would get along well with one another.

It wasn’t to be. Nope, they divided themselves in a tribal way. The Protestants shopped at one store, the Catholics shopped at another. Same hardware, clothing, dry goods or whatever but you bought from your own tribe.

This all started to break down when corporations like Kraft and 3M moved in to take advantage of a strong work ethic. The available jobs drew area Scandinavians, Irish and others to the community. Today the German nature of the community is more a lore than a fact. And what they generally won’t tell you is how divided the community was by religion. It was indeed very tribal.

The point to be made here is that even in a society where skin color is common, language is common, ethic is common people will seek a differentiation.

A contemporary example is the Republican party. The commonality was the notion of being conservative. But today they have succumbed to their tribalism. Plurality within their community was their undoing. They cannot abide by plurality.

The progressive political thinking embraces this tribalism. It is sometimes called the big tent. Regardless of the moniker it is and remains a place with room at the table for all. This single distinction makes all the difference in how politics are perceived.

Identify with ideology, be it religious, political or economic and you have tribalism; it’s what we do.


Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.