A certain combination of events have given me the opportunity to rethink myself. Most of these ways are private, but some of them are things I expect to influence my writing and my personal associations. In particular I am considering at length a firming up of my tribal associations and I think it’s important enough to present it as something you might find interesting to try in your own life. But let’s first define tribes in the context of identity.
When I joined the Los Angeles IDW (Intellectual Dark Web), I was struck by the insight and prescience of a post by Peter Limberg and Conor Barnes that absolute pinned actors in the Culture Wars to the wall. At the time, I fell squarely into a mimetic tribe called The Sorters.
Sorters and Intellectual Dark Web
Jordan Peterson is the common denominator of these two tribes. One of the most important figures in Culture War 2.0, his central message emphasizes free speech and the importance of truth-speaking. His following of mostly young men, which we dub the Sorters, are attracted to Peterson’s style and message of personal responsibility. The “Intellectual Dark Web,” coined by Eric Weinstein, consists of thinkers who have experienced what they view as thought-policing by politically correct elements of the left. With the ever-increasing popularity of Peterson’s brand and related platforms such as Quillette, the Rubin Report, and the Joe Rogan Experience, watch for both of these tribes to gain members and make a strong push for a return to a classically liberal center in our culture.
Nailed me. But that was almost three years ago. Things have changed. I have changed. But I still retain a solid commitment to a defense of Enlightenment liberalism in our culture and society. At the time, I was still near the early middle of my Stoic journey and still more deeply considerate of my Martial Education. I didn’t have a lot of time for black flavor. These days with the callous dismissal of my generation’s hard won experience of racial integration and the success of many of my own lifelong black friends, I have a bug up my butt about various perversions of what has actually been accomplished in ‘The Struggle’. That’s one.
Additionally, I am quite frustrated with the failures of anti-trust in the US and the capitulation of various government entities to take seriously how the free market has been damaged. This is especially the case when it comes to what is casually known as ‘big tech’. I’m tired of living in the shadow of Google, Facebook and Twitter and those entities that dominate what should be a free and open market. The common man is getting crowded out, and I don’t like it. That’s two.
With these two piques in mind, I want to stand in common cause with many other millions of Americans who share similar values, and quite honestly I don’t see leadership coming from the top down. I say it has to come from the bottom up and that means we need to organize ourselves in new and energizing ways.
Tribes vs Parties
The primary difference between a tribe and a political party is that tribes are not mutually exclusive. A tribe acknowledges your values and personality, but it doesn’t try to press-gang you into ideological indenture. A tribal experience is like going to a Prince concert. Prince never told me that there was no other funk than his. That contract is not part of the price of the ticket. So if I went to see Fishbone or Mother’s Finest or Nona Hendrix the next week, Prince wasn’t going to hunt me down on social media and call me a FINO.
Tribes work in America even when the government does not. Even when institutions lose our trust, we can trust the tribe of Ford Mustang is not going to defect en-mass to the tribe of Mazda Miata. There will be a back and forth. Surely we Mustang fans were at a low in 1980, but the Mustang came back. There was a time, before the shock of 9/11 that American presidents tiptoed through foreign policy. I am reminded of this sneaky plausible deniability whenever I watch Harrison Ford and Willam Defoe in 1994’s Clear and Present Danger. Nowadays there’s hardly a film without SpecOps warriors front and center. My point is that there’s plenty to be proud about in your American tribe even when there is plenty wrong in America. In Hollywood. In Florida. In DC. In Minnesota. In Georgia. Wherever dude. Stop pretending that’s all on you, that it’s taking food off your table.
Don’t get it twisted. We must live under the rule of law, period. No tribe under any circumstances can arrogate itself to be above the law. That’s the difference between a tribe and a gang. We benefit from a variety of overlapping tribes - this is pluralism. But we cannot defy the greater social order which is our Constitutional heritage. If there is a third pique that gets me in a huff, it’s the attitude that you are entitled to rebel against social order in defiance of the civil peace we enjoy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people grit their teeth in hopes of escalating their culture war into real civil war over the past 2 years. Seriously? Don’t make me go there.
Only So Far
Since I’m breaking down things into what’s deep, let me remind you of the hard limits on tribal overproductions right now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again on the subject of multiculturalism, because there’s a limit to how serious people can be taken on their tribal affiliations, and that’s when they seek a national referendum on their tribal beliefs.
The problem with today's multiculturalism is that it is different than pluralism. Pluralism is the proper ethos for America, multiculturalism is not. The difference can be explained simply by assuming Americans can be divided into two tribes:
Ideological Tribe A
We believe that America is at its best when its mainstream is maintained without regard to race, creed, color, sexual preference, etc..
Ideological Tribe B
We believe that America is at its best when its mainstream is maintained with special regard to race, creed, color, sexual preference, etc.
Stating the obvious, a travesty has been made of the concept of equality as Tribe B has successfully manipulated major institutions across America into establishing double standards and special regard for intersectional combinations race, creed, color and sexual preference.
To stand in defense of Enlightenment liberalism carries some responsibilities to citizenship. We cannot wish ourselves into a post-national order. We can only bribe border guards if we have the gold or the firepower, and that is not a game for the common man. So we the common people have to accept some burdens along with our freedom to associate in the tribes of our choice. We cannot let the idea of civic responsibility die, because ‘civ’ as in civil rights. A list of civic responsibilities is a task for another day, my aim at the moment is to clarify my dedication to American pluralism and my special affinities. I seek to do so in such a way that there is no contradiction that makes me any less a patriot or one dedicated to the ideal of liberty and justice for all.
In the first case, I seek to honor the simplest wishes of my own ancestry, one I have assiduously tracked through my family tree going back eight generations on my mother’s side. Once upon a time, I tracked 600 folks in my tree, but since then my software has gone bad and I have to reconstruct all that from printouts. Still, I’m working to catalog the most important black history of all, the actual lives of the actual people whose hope and love and accidents brought me here with their DNA. Everything else is secondary. I can claim whatever tribe I choose, as deeply as I choose, for whatever length of time suits me. But I am, my family and I have no choice in that matter. Funny how some people say that about race. What kind of fool cops to a racial definition and forsakes his actual flesh and blood?
Similarly, I am interested in recognizing my hometown and all the neighborhoods I lived in and all of the friends I interacted with to shape my personality. That too was material to my existence, unlike the myths and social constructions of race. That counts for my philosophy, my profession, my politics and my prospects for the future. Yet each of those add a degree of separation from my self and my self-interest.
So let me give you an idea of the t-shirts I wear on occasion that indicate my tribes of the moment. I know some of you are in one or more of my tribes. If not, you have got to know somebody who is. Maybe one of you with some designing savvy might join me in a Red Bubble venture.
Wry Stoics of the First Order
EDC Sheepdog Tribe
Merry Band of Blue Star Dads
Apple Fanboy Collective
Heralds of the AWS Galactus
IDW Auxiliary - Los Angeles Charter Member
Association of Arrogant Audiophiles
XBox Gamers Limited - PHGX Dead End
Kingsley Amis Drinking Club
Porsche Snobs of California (Zero Equity Squad)
Practically Excluded Political Middle
Merovingian Cabalists (Alpha Phi Alpha)
Silent Reserve Army of Christ
Dilettantes of the High Arts
Guild of Grunting Grown Ass Black Men
Empty Nesters Indefinitely Occupied
These are pretty well sorted, but that’s what they are today. Ask me again in a couple of years. Aren’t they recognizable? Isn’t it abundantly clear that each of these groups are discriminatory? And yet you don’t see us standing on our hind legs dying on the hills of our identity and membership. Why? Because that’s no way to live. I have not, and you should not forget good sportsmanship. If every one of these interests got tangled up into the machinations of party politics, we’d be a pretty poor excuse for a democracy. We’re not supposed to be voting our personalities up or down. We’re supposed to put all that aside and deal with the needs of the common man.
Still, I am going to be writing about my perspective on The Struggle, and what we’re doing wrong in our ever increasing aggregation, consolidation and centralization. I’m going to keep pounding on the table to depoliticize our selves and drop all that special regard. Ain’t none of us that special. Self-determination. Individual liberty. Freedom of association. I pledge solemnly not to get in the way of your self-determination, individual liberty or freedom of association. Now you know where I’m coming from.