Posted on April 9, 2020

Tribalism and Racism

John H. Robertson, III, American Renaissance, April 9, 2020

High-minded people constantly remind us that no matter how little we have in common with other dissimilar tribes, we have a shared humanity. That’s true, and one of the features we all share as humans is “tribalism.”

This reflex recently asserted itself in a compelling way. I am a bagpiper, and I find myself very favorably disposed toward Attorney General William Barr, simply because he too is a piper. Even though I have never met him, I feel a sense of kinship with him. My heart tells me he must be an honest man, a good man. This is fatuous. His status as a piper has little or nothing to do with his moral character, but I cannot shake my tribalistic disposition to like a fellow piper.

It seems to me that my indulgent attitude towards the attorney general is a reflection of something that is inherent: We always incline to judge people at least partly on the basis of superficial factors that establish a perception of “kinship.” While the “superior person” may try to counter-balance his natural prejudice, tribalism is inevitable. It is an evolved trait. We reflexively act in ways that favor the survival of genotypes similar to our own. The drive to favor people like ourselves is just as basic as the drives to seek food, shelter, and a mate.

This means there will always be fault lines dividing people. There will always be “us” and “them.” Visible physical characteristics will always be the most basic markers of kinship.* “Racism” is therefore inherent.**

A second implication is that having a love of one’s own race is a healthy adaptation, and suppressing it creates an irreconcilable conflict of the kind that can create mental illness. Perhaps mental illness stemming from self-condemnation for “racism” causes “deaths of despair” and explains why centuries-old nations are committing suicide.

Although racial harmony may be a noble fantasy, the effort to create an artificial world without self-segregation will fail. Even if the “superior man” tries to set aside his own tendency to prejudice, the vast majority will not. Even if Europeans convince themselves that they are no different from all the other tribes, those other tribes will not. Competition and even conflict with those who are dissimilar will continue. There are groups, dissimilar to us, that will always see us as competitors or enemies, no matter how kind, compassionate, and color-blind we try to be.

But wouldn’t the world be a better place if we unilaterally decided to rise above our predisposition to racism?

The effort would fail for two reasons:

1) Our genetic programming in favor of our own kind will remain. Willpower cannot eliminate it. If our discipline falters for even an instant — as it inevitably will — racism and conflict will rebound.

2) Unilateral disarmament is suicide. When one side is hostile while the other adopts pacifism it emboldens the hostile side to exploit the pacifists. The “diversity” regime is unstable.***

How do we achieve “peace” within the tribes of man? Let them separate.

Historically, national borders have defined the lands of different races. Borders are good things. They reduce conflicts between peoples with different interests. While this can lead to war over resources, nations align with each other to protect their interests and to avoid the costs of war. Modern communication allows dialogue to prevent conflict, and more destructive weapons make armed conflict less palatable.

* * *

*In the absence of racial differences, language or culture lead to conflict. In the absence of language or cultural differences, we fight over religion (Sunni vs. Shiite, Catholic vs. Protestant) or class. If we share the same religion, we seek out other differences, to the point that we argue over favorite sports teams, or the high schools we attended (Freud’s “narcissism of small differences”). However, once we have established homogeneity and unity, differences become essentially differences among individuals instead of large groups of people, and group-based hatred and violence dissipate. Forced “diversity” create animosity; freedom of association creates peace.

**While this would still be true if the only differences between people were “skin deep,” it is even more true when there are differences in behavior. Darwinian theory predicts differences in characteristics between groups that have been genetically isolated from one another for many generations, living under different environmental pressures. Differences in race can be expected to correlate with differences in physical and psychological attributes. These differences reinforce our preference for people who resemble us.

***What of the alleged benefits of “diversity” in providing a greater scope of perspectives? We are able to learn from the experiences of others at a distance, from the safety of a non-diverse enclave. We can learn from the experiences of others without having those experiences ourselves. It is easier for a homogeneous group to find optimal solutions if it does not have to attend to the claims of diverse groups.

And are we not “enriched” by foreign restaurants? This argument is silly. What percentage of blacks in the US are serving us ethnically African? How many Japanese restaurants actually have Japanese employees? We can have a diverse diet and enjoy the best aspects of cultures we admire from afar. It doesn’t take a huge colony of Italians for an American city to have an opera company.