In modern parlance the term, “Tribal,” [originally, an adjective signifying kinship in an extended, residential familial group], has taken on a new sociological, and psychological context. Today, it is commonly employed to signify the insecure and dysfunctional inclination, to subjugate one’s personal views, to that of the group of which he is, a member; whether the uniform view be, a consensus opinion, or conceivably, the opinion of a dominant member. The status is publicly manifested by him, as a dynamic (or demonstration) of obeisance to the “group- think,” in lieu, of his independent (and conceivably, more sound), thought.
In earlier writings, we observed that that our Nation’s founders had entertained certain expectations, regarding their newly created, radical experiment in political science. Several of these foresights, however, were commendable in theoretical prospect, but, proved unattainable, by virtue of man’s natural persona. For example, the saintly, Founding Fathers, believed that freedom of speech, would encourage amicable and useful debates, between citizens of disparate opinion, on the contested issues of the day; the outcome of which, would serve as a useful reference, for the responsive new government, thus resulting in the idealized, “government, by and for, the people.”
We have quite often referred to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, who, clairvoyantly, instructed, that for a democracy to be successful, it is necessary to have an informed and literate society. Unfortunately, this salubrious prescription was never sufficiently, filled. To the contrary, we have experienced great numbers of citizens, who are insufficiently educated, reductively ignorant, and too selfish and unwilling, to play their constructive part in the Nation, as anticipated for them, by the optimistic Founders. Rather than useful, constructive, and good natured debates between informed citizens, what, unfortunately evolved, was a sharply divided, polarized society, with the resultant demise of civic amity. Insular “tribes” of disparate, opinion, respectively, composed of loyal adherents and subscribers, to its respective, “groupthink,” engaged in a virtual, cold war, with similar groups (tribes) of disparate opinion.
In past writings on this tribal nature of our society, we have ventured the opinion, that such groups are generally, composed of people for whom, the (neurotic) need for acceptance, and identification with a group, outweighs their valuation of their own independent thought and individual self -esteem. Such people find needed comfort and support, in feeling part of, and identification with, a group and, importantly, recognized by other members as part of the uniformly-minded group.
We have observed that loyalty to the tribe, in addition to adherence to its accepted platform of collective thought, is inclusive of opposition to points of view, entirely irrespective of its intrinsic merits, by virtue of the group’s uniform disparagement of its source. If the group is of the conservative persuasion, they may well avoid Jane Fonda or Robert Redford movies, said celebrities being known to, personally, support liberal causes. In view of the fact that the (mendacious) President, savagely, disparages the New York Times and The Washington post, (two, of the finest examples of modern journalism), as “fake news,” [because they often refer to him in critical terms] conservative tribal members will, as well, reflexively, disparage such excellent newspapers without their examination. Liberals watch MSNBC, and CNN for television news reports. Conservatives, only Fox News. Liberals favor abortion rights and complete separation of Church and State, thus, right- wing conservatives and their followers, are, for such reason, vehemently in opposition, (the U.S. Constitution, notwithstanding), liberals support health and labor safety regulations, tribal members from the right, call it un-American and despicable socialism, the accredited scientists, uniformly warn of the existential danger of man-made global warning, right wing, loyal, adherents, who, in sync with president Trump, denigrate education and scientific research, claim it is a left-wing hoax, liberal Americans (in a Nation, totally populated with immigrants, and their progeny) favor liberal immigration laws, thus, right wing tribal members, oppose it, irrespective of their own family’s immigration history, liberals are for economic equity and fairer wages, so, against their own interests, tribal conservatives will therefore, oppose it, most liberal minded voters favor universal, health insurance, and so, conservatives, thoughtlessly, oppose it, liberals believe in birth control and abortion rights, accordingly, the right is, vehemently, opposed to both. And so it goes, ad infinitum, ad nauseum; if the “coastal liberals” are in favor, the right wing, is ipso facto in opposition, usually, without the bother of looking into the issue’s relative merits. As a practical matter, for those folks who eschew reading and the tiresome labor of formulating an opinion, it must be a great convenience to vote, reflexively, based on the advised, acceptability of the source, rather than the substance, of an issue; especially, knowing that you have lots of concurrent company. It is a thought-free, doubt- free, action,easy and convenient dynamic, viz., the source of the information, determines its acceptability; that is, until the happening of recent events.
The advent of the Corona virus outbreak, was a confounding complication for every tribal member. The existence and danger, of the outbreak of the pathogen, was first announced by the scientific community (the perceived, false and rejected, source of warnings about climate change), the well -educated, medical community and the liberal media. At first, there were publically expressed, denials and paranoiac accusations, of a “liberal hoax” and active, downplaying of this epidemic threat, by our “erudite” President, and his lemming-like sycophants. Yet, Americans started to fall ill in great numbers and experience many, virus associated deaths. Trump and his base, had uniformly, and in true tribal fashion, initially disparaged their historically denigrated sources of information, and therefore, the validity of its messages. Thereafter, at first, grudgingly conceding, that there was “some kind of flu,” Trump was later obliged, by the stark, publically apparent facts, to confess that that there was, indeed, the reported, unprecedented, deadly and horrific outbreak of CVID-19 Any further disbelief of the existence of the dangerous outbreak, by reason of its eternally disparaged sources, would certainly be, extinguished, by the horrific events of the undeniably, presenting, and exponentially, spreading health catastrophe.
The frighteningly, enormous toll of the virus- infected deaths and the full extent of the illness has yet to be determined, regarding this presently ongoing health holocaust. The Nation’s business and activities have been shut down, its citizenry have been quarantined, face masks are recommended for those who must (prudently) venture outside, daily repeated handwashing is publically mandated, health care providers are endangered, hospitals overcrowded, physical contact with others is prohibited, people are completely grounded, in quarantine, and society is at a complete halt, worldwide. Meanwhile, the experts and scientists (people usually disparaged by the right wing tribal sycophants) are working, around the clock, seeking life -saving information, regarding this novel virus, and,hopefully, a vaccine.
A somewhat less existential aspect of this terrible event, is its unknown impact upon the flat-earth, insufficiently educated, supporters of Trump, (his “base”) who, like him, is given to the deprecation of science and learning; the deniers of evolution, despite the geological evidence in the rocks, serological tests, fossils (sea and land) anatomical proofs; the are the staunch deniers of the phenomenon of global warming, despite the testimony of virtually every creditable scientist, in the world, every meteorologist, and oceanographic scientist, and despite the visible changes in shorelines and the melting of the polar ice caps, the unusual weather patterns, the unnatural, flooding rainfalls.
Their uniformly responsive denials, have never been based on contrary evidence, nor on nuanced empirical experience; they have been loyally and uniformly, irrational. Their subjective ignorance, coupled with their shameful disrespect for expertise and knowledge, may be of assistance in their denial of evolution and global warming, the effects of which, are not, they imagine, presently felt by them. Evolution, they feel, even, “assuming it happened, was so long ago”. And it is known that, there are no events of displacement of polar bears in Appalachia. It is all, they believe, some kind of false conspiracy by the “tree-hugging, “coastal liberals.”
What is left, now, for them to say, concerning the (previously, denigrated) experts and scientists, now, accurately, reporting on, and dealing with, COVID-19, the grim manifestations of which are contemporary, and are taking their toll of tribal members, as well as others? Worse, is the bizarre thought, that if the “liberal experts” are indisputably correct, regarding the facts of the present disease, could they possibly also be legitimate sources of information, on climate change and evolution? Life, it would appear, as perceived by the tribal ignorant, is now, significantly more complicated, less tenable and even, possibly, philosophically threatened.