World Dilemmas

Globalism, Tribalism and Civilisation

Many of the things humans do are stupid, but it is hard to know what else to do, sometimes. Often the stupidities are only in good things taken to excess, or taken up the wrong way. For example:


The ideal of Globalism is that all the people in the world can benefit and share in the goods in the world, and work together to have a beautiful world. There need be no more wars. People in country A who can produce what others need can trade their produce with other countries that produce what country A does not, and so there is great economy in mass production and in meeting needs.

The stupid thing is that the way globalisation is working just now, is to extend the freedom of the powerful to be powerful everywhere, not just in their own little spot. They can exploit anywhere, and play one region against another, one government against another.


The ideal of tribalism is that people who are close together in locality/blood can help each other and share together and work together and develop a distinctive culture together which contributes to the socio-diversity and pleasures of the whole world. You cannot love the people you do not know, unless you can experience loving the people that you do. Everyone can feel they 'belong' to their local tribe, with the security of help close at hand in time of trouble.

"Breathes there the man with soul so dead

Who never to himself has said

This is my own, my native land?"

The stupid thing is when people do not also feel they belong to the whole world. The stupid thing is the way that tribalism has generally worked - working up internal solidarity by the strategy of combing in enmity against Them, who are the outsiders, or the 'different people' who are within their borders. Us and Them. So there is extermination and cleansing to be done to get rid of them, and to Advance the Tribe. Nations are like large tribes, and some people think that nationalism is the most dangerous element in the modern world, that can bring peoples to Mutually Assured Destruction - truly, MAD.

"My tribe is better than yours Yah! Yah! Yah!"

Social class is another form of tribalism. Football tribes are possibly one of the least dangerous ways to siphon off our instinctive tribalism into merely barracking and shouting and wearing fancy gear.

Civilisation is a marvellous ideal - that we should all progress to make the world and ourselves always more bountiful, beautiful, gracious, cultured and courteous, treasuring our heritage from the past, enjoying the present, and ever seeking the best for the future.

The stupid thing is that while 'civilisation as we know it' - is a nice phrase to fight for, it includes some horrible dilemmas as well as the comforts of modern life.

One great dilemma about Western civilisation is its spread across the world, turning everything into a monoculture and not a very kind or beautiful one at that. Its media culture has spread ideas of violence, rather than ideas of peace.

Yet without unifying civil organisation of some sort, there is anarchy, there is chaos, there is famine, there are the unfolding tragedies in East Africa.