Both major American parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – have for many years dedicated themselves to the total eradication of U.S. tribalism in all its forms. The new moral orthodoxy demands it. Yet the continued existence of both parties as such lays bare their utter failure. Such is axiomatic. In fact, outside of race and religion, political persuasion is one of the most salient tribal lines in the entire country.
Distinctions between democrat and republican reign nearly as powerful as those drawn in the 1930’s between fascism and communism. It is precisely because of this social divide that one so often hears the outcry, “But [X] isn’t Right-wing!” or, “[Y] isn’t a left-wing position!” These are not usually even meant as proper arguments (and they certainly are not) but rather as social signalling. It signals:
1. That the crier is a member of a particular tribe and is proud of it, or at least wishes to appear as such.
2. That the decried is stepping out of line and that this is a malfeasance which best be corrected and hastily so, both for the integrity of the tribe and for the well-being of the individual.
Of course, the social value of signalling to one’s group in such a on-the-nose fashion aside, this tendency of extreme ideological tribalism has a profoundly negative impact upon the rational faculties. After all, a right-leaning individual saying, “Socialism is bad because socialism is a left wing position,” has completely failed to describe with any aplomb as to why that is a bad thing. That is to say, such a argument becomes operational only when certain complex ideological systems have been internalized and accepted by those to whom the argument is put. Failing this, one is left with a rather petty argument from authority.
This is not to say that arguments from authority are always wrong, indeed, even in the previously mentioned scenario, such a argument might be well worth making. Rather, one must take into serious consideration the nature of the authority to which one is citing as well as its potential acceptability, its appeal, in the minds of those who one wishes to convince.
In the previously mentioned example the authority is the collective precepts that fall under the purview of the Left/Right political paradigm: socialism/capitalism, libertarianism/authoritarianism, democracy/monarchy, ect – yet a problem might arise, namely, the yet-to-be-convinced listener to whom you are speaking may not accept the authority of your cited source. A simple example of this would be two men who are arguing about what is good; let us say that one is a Christian and the other, a irreligious man. If the Christian asserted that, “Goodness is that which best encapsulates and spreads God’s love,” it would matter not, as regards the act of convincing, whether this was true or false, plausible or ridiculous, only whether or not the irreligious man accepted the authority of God (which he obviously would not do) – failing this, the conversation can, in no rationally constructive way, continue (and in a civilized society the goal of conversations with ideologically opposed individuals should be to convince, as the only three other options are to fight, flee or submit).
For a more humanistic example, cast your mind back to some point at which someone you’ve spoken with has cited a author or academic of whom you were ignorant – “Well Noam Chomsky says [Z],” or, “Well, Don DeLillo says [Y],” or, “R.B. Bernstein says [X].” If you are unfamiliar with any of these people, or, if you are familiar with them but ardently disagree, then it matters not (for the point of argumentation) what they say. Such is true in every sphere of contest.
Thus, one should fixate not upon whether or not something is Left-wing, or Right-wing (such definition are not static or sufficiently objective to be foundationally a priori) but rather whether the principal of the given topic is commensurate with one’s internal landscape of value and one’s circle, that is to say, commensurate not just with one’s individual person but also with one’s primary tribe. In the American context, one’s primary tribe is never America in any total fashion (few enough can give a sanguine definition of American identity itself) but rather some politically relevant enclave. This is important to note due to the problems that it causes for politically demagogic Americans (the media establishment comes to mind) – for instance, one must chose between being American and being Liberal if one is right leaning or, one must chose between being American and Conservative if one is a left leaning individual. One cannot be both for the Establishment Left-wing vision of American identity is diametrically opposed to the Establishment Right-wing vision of American identity and vice-versa.
Those who screech from the rafters that, “America is divided!” are quite correct, however, they also too often also include the addendum, “And that is why we must come together regardless of color or creed!” Yet, there is here no incentive for two warring tribes to unite under a single banner save when faced with an even more imposing tribe. One might here invoke Islam as the encroaching third tribe but this too is a vexed objection to disunity, for Liberal Progressives view Islam as a extension of their tribe (as they do all “minority/oppressed” groups). One cannot discard one’s creed for the sake of unity, for such an action would be ideological suicide, and given that most ideologues believe that their particular philosophy is, not just true (generally, the only truth, or, a higher kind of truth, whether implicitly, in the case of Progressivism, or explicitly, in the case of Seventh Day Adventists), the death entailed is of a near-literal magnitude as it would be the death, not of the individual adherent, but of the collective’s only salvation (Utopia).
Understanding this, one must recoil at the notion that we must “all come together” under the banner of Amerca. There are some commonalities of Americanism, certainly, but they are wholly insufficient to unite the country in any momentous and lasting way.
The situation then is a charnel house of ideological combat – the ensuing political fatigue invariably leading to mass public apathy. The American situation is considered by most commentators across the political spectrum as a rather unfortunate one. My opinion is quite different – for it is hardly unfortunate to know where one stands as regards one’s own tribe and in what relation to those who oppose it. Ignorance may well be bliss but only as long as it is able to persist, yet reality can hide its malevolent manifestations only for just so long before reintroducing itself in the most monstrous of fashions and intruding upon the unsuspecting like some fell kheft of yore.
Let us consider also that discussions of political unity are seldom ever specific – who is being unified with whom? And why? To what end is this unification taking place? Here one may recall the true-blue, red-blooded American’s position on liberty: “Freedom or death!” Yet they grapple not with the obvious questions; freedom for who, from whatand to what degree? Questions surrounding political unification are similarly bedeviled. Until such questions are thoroughly sorted there is absolutely no point talking about broad political unification within America at all, rather, tribal consolidation and group bulkanization will continue until a maximal threshold is reached whereupon the current social orders shall be deposed and a new series of ideological guilds founded. To ease the inevitable social fragmentation American identity needs to be reforged, clarified and duly championed – a process which seems to have been already set in motion by the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and the rise of Trumpian Nationalism – even still the country is far from congealing into a unified whole and will likely remain within its simmering cold civil war for many decades to come, barring some unreckonable calamity.