Political Tribes-Group Instinct And The Fate Of The Nation by Amy Chua. The bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Yale Law School Professor, Amy Chua offers a bold new prescription for reversing our foreign policy failures and overcoming our destructive political tribalism at home.
Humans: Are We Tribal?
The author Amy Chua says: Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most-the ones that people will kill and die for-are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles-Capitalism vs Communism, Democracy vs Authoritarianism, the “Free World” vs the “Axis of Evil”-we are often spectacularly blind to the power to tribal politics. Time and again this blindness has undermined American foreign policy.
In the Vietnam War, viewing the conflict through Cold War blinders we never saw that most of Vietnam’s “capitalists” were members of the hated Chinese minority. Every pro-free-market move we made helped turn the Vietnamese people against us. In Iraq, we were stunningly dismissive of the hatred between that country’s Sunnis and Shias. If we want to get our foreign policy right-so as to not be perpetually caught off guard and fighting unwinnable wars-the United States has to come to grips with political tribalism abroad.
Washington-Blind To Tribal Politics
Just as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been blind to the power of tribal politics outside the country, so to have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans-and that are tearing the United States apart. As the stunning rise of Donald Trump laid bare, identity politics have seized both the American left and right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. In America today, every group feels threatened: Whites and Blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives, and so on. There is a pervasive sense of collective persecution and discrimination. On the left, this has given rise to increasingly radical and exclusionary rhetoric of privilege and cultural appropriation. On the right, it has fueled a disturbing rise in xenophobia and white nationalism.
Kirkus Review On Political Tribes
Amy Chua argues that tribal affiliation exerts a crucial, powerful force on individuals’ behaviors and identities. Human’s need for “bonds and attachments,” she asserts, fulfills an instinct to belong but also to exclude. People “will sacrifice and even kill and die, for their groups.”
Assessing other countries, Americans have failed to recognize tribal affiliations and rivalries or the existence of a repressive “market-dominant minority” that controls major sectors of the economy. Instead, the U.S. has fixated on its mission to foil Communism and export democracy.
Instead, the U.S. has fixated on its mission to foil Communism and export democracy. Focused on the Cold War, “U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan never saw the potent anti-western group identify fueling the Islamic fundamentalist fighters.
The downfall of Saddam Hussein incited rivalries among tribal groups and the rise of ethnic conflict and fundamentalism. In Trump’s America, cohesion has splintered “into ever more specific subgroups created by over-lapping racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation categories” that feel threatened by one another. Inclusivity, hailed by the left, has developed into exclusivity as groups seek to exert” exclusive right to their own histories, symbols, and traditions. Chua is heartened by individuals’ efforts to bridge divides and to undermine “purveyors of political tribalism” on the left and right. A persuasive call to rethink foreign policy and heal domestic fissures.
I personally don’t agree with everything that the book Political Tribes by Amy Chua delivers, but it does make you take a look at the diversity in our country today. Chua states that America must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes. Enough false slogans of unity, which are just another form of divisiveness. It is time for a more difficult unity that acknowledges the reality or group differences and fights the deep inequities that divide us.
All The Best,