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Tribalism

Term Paper Title: Tribalism
Word Count: 2554
Page Count: 10.22 (250 words per page double spaced)

Tribalism

Implicit in the founding of the United States is the principle of breaking the bonds of locality based tribalism, and forming a new tribe out of a heterogeneous population.  The advent of the Internet, which is, after all, an American invention, has broadened this new definition of tribalism past anything our Founding Fathers could possibly have imagined.

Tribalism is a natural tendency in humanity. The Internet has facilitated tribalism by allowing tribes to form based on other factors than common living space or blood and marital relationships.  The United States has traditionally been regarded as "the great melting pot of the world". In fact, it is a breeding ground for new types of tribal associations [in the primate anthropological sense].  Whereas in the past these tribes have generally been engendered by commonality of locality or country of origin, the maturation of the Internet as a household appliance in the United States has enabled the forming of tribal groups and loyalties based on non-traditional criteria.


     Recent definitions of tribalism call it the human tendency to group together, based on common interest [Franklin Electronic Dictionary, and tcc.iz.net/tcc/tribe.htm]. Contrast this with the definition of tribe from a 1944 dictionary's [Webster's Collegiate Dictionary] definition of tribe:

A social group comprising a series of families, clans, or generations, together with slaves, adopted strangers, etc.


You can see how in the course of fifty years the definition of tribalism has changed, and the Internet is changing it even more.  It is also changing the way that people in the United States relate to each other.  Throughout history, tribalism has been evident, but tribalism is evident in our behavior even before that.  Let us examine our knowledge of our primate ancestors.

Primates lived in tribes.  Some were based on harems, others on monogamous relationships, while others were based on a concept of free sexuality, [Why is Sex Fun?] but all the tribes had one thing in common: they all had their area.  It belonged to them, and all their dealings with other beings were based on this geographical location.  Tribalism is one of the oldest and most natural organizational strategies of behavior. [www2.cruzio.com/~boffo/Tribal~1.htm] Viewpoints based on tribal conditioning are inherent to the human condition.  People tend to automatically and subconsciously view them as the correct, obvious normal way of doing things. [www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/sci-docs/ctt89-tgogt.html]  One can observe tribalizing behavior all the way up through the present.

The United States was unique in that it resulted in new forms of tribalism from the outset of its development.  To start on the biggest level, you have the states themselves.  They are artificial tribalism in a big way.  All the people who live in those states are part of the US, yet they are also part of this artificial state tribe.  To demonstrate this, consider the battles at the Continental Congress.  A group of people with the common interest of creating a new government for themselves and their citizens still spent most of their time arguing and ranting over the privileges that were going to be given to each state (read here "tribe").

Political parties are obvious examples of artificial tribal groups, but one can also look at schools.  Universities are a good example.  People go to a university from all over the country [or in some cases the world], and are expected to root for the university, wear their colors, sometimes even things like special university ties.  So, they are a part of the university tribe when they go there, no matter where they came from.  Then, when they leave the university, the alumni are expected to carry the tribe with them wherever they go.  Look for instance at the little tiger droppings of Princeton University alumni clubs - exclusive organizations scattered all over the United States whose membership is based on former tribal association. [A Princeton alumna]  We can even look at high schools.  T...

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