Individualism vs. Tribalism
An individualist is not a person who rejects people nor is it simply a person who bucks tradition. An individualist is the person who accepts the responsibility of thinking on one's own. As such, the individualist is reality-oriented. The individualist is solely concerned with identifying facts of reality. He is, in his own right, a scientist who has taken the oath of objectivity. His convictions of the world are only formed through his own honest observations.
Unfortunately, these people are a dying breed. Individualists, true individualists, are one in a million. Most people are still predominantly tribalists. Tribalism is defined as "A strong feeling of identity with and loyalty to one's tribe or group." Tribalism is when the collective replaces the objective. A tribalist is one who gives up their independent mind to the group one belongs. The tribalist is not reality-oriented; he is people oriented.
Tribalism takes shape in many different ways. Most movements popular today are tribalistic in nature. The two most popular are liberalism and conservatism. Both are tribalistic and negate the individual. Liberalism's tribalism is "mob-like" in nature; conservatism's tribalism is "army-like" in nature.
An individualist examines reality for what it is. In order to do this properly, it demands he comes in contact with several existents of any said concept he is studying. This same epistemological mechanism, which relies on several existents to form conceptual truths correctly, can be tricked. The same mechanism causes him to view things that are repeated several times by the tribe as obvious truths. This is the rape of man's mind; the exploitation of the epistemological process. As Hitler said, if you say a lie enough times people start believing you. This is the essence of tribalism.
Both liberals and conservatives have elements of tribalism in their philosophies. The tribalism that liberals subscribe to is far fouler than conservatism's. Liberal tribalism is tribalism without any rules. The difference between liberalism and conservatism is liberalism supports ethical subjectivism, i.e. the belief that morality is based on an individual's choice, while conservatism supports an absolute morality, i.e. the belief that there are certain external rules by which an individual is to be judged by.
As such, the tribalistic nature of liberalism, combined with their lack of any external rules, begets a tribe that behaves like a "mob." If you are familiar with liberals, you have seen this first hand. Liberals get things done, not through logic, evidence and fact, but by means of shouting down speakers, forming together in large congregations, and destroying literature of dissent.
Given liberals reject reality as the arbiter of truth, and have no other absolute moral code that they try to enforce, the arbiter of truth thus becomes their emotions. This is how liberalism works. Liberal professors know this. For instance, I just watched a slide show put together which shows 34 different pictures of dead Palestinian boys. This is how liberal professors convince students to be pro-Palestine. After an influx of pictures showing the devastation of children; who wouldn't take up the cause? I also often read in the New York Times stories of poor people, of raped women in enemy territories, of atrocious genocides. This influx of presenting atrocities and things which evoke strong emotions are how liberals raise the mob that they do. They constantly keep the pressure on to show things which brew hatred and anger. This is the rape of man's mind in the worst sense.
Conservatives are also tribalistic, but theirs is tribalism with rules. Religion is generally the rule-book of conservatives. As such, conservatives constantly rally their people around this rule book. They trump of the love of "God and country," to seduce the masses to their beliefs.
As such, the conservative tribalism combined with external rules creates a tribe which behaves like an "army." Whereas liberals get things done by creating a massive mob and clawing their ways through things; conservatives can function much more efficiently. They operate like an army. One person sets the goals and the rest of them follow.
Indeed, God does not exist in reality. Like liberals, conservatives seduce people through repetition. It's the same idea: liberals show an influx of emotionally-provocative pictures, conservatives give an influx of Bible-thumping conservatism. In fact, conservatives get hold of a child and recognize the importance of brainwashing a child before he can think independently. Conservatives, however, “brainwash” the child with decent intentions. They have found—accurately—that a person who has a strong values base will be able to negotiate life better. Indeed, this is true. However, providing a strong ethical base for a child does not have to come at the price of negating his mind, which is exactly what tribalism does to an individual.
A good method to tell if someone is tribalistic is to listen to them speak. All of man's language comes from identifying some concept in reality and forming a word to describe it. "Apple," "boat," "cat," etc. all describe some specific thing in reality. If a person uses words that have no reference in reality, you know you are dealing with a tribalist. The most obvious example is "God." God does not exist, and yet almost all of the "values building" that goes on in conservative circles is done with consistent reference to God. Words without actual referents in reality are the hallmark of a tribalist. Liberals are masters at creating words which come in package deals, meant to thwart actual meanings. For instance, when they say that “Islam is peace.”
Any person who puts himself in a tribalist environment will experience the heavy weight of tribalism. An individualist, a person of intellectual independence, in particular, will feel the weight. An individualist will not be able to handle a tribalist atmosphere. His head will swell and feel like it is going to explode if he is surrounded by tribalists, i.e. people who believe things without having references in reality. Most of history had been the battle of the individual vs. the tribe, i.e. the person challenging some tenet that the tribe has erroneously accepted as true. Any other person than an individualist, however, will welcome the tribal atmosphere. It will give him a pre-packaged philosophy of the world, which allows him to judge and make decisions without the necessity of thought.
There is nothing like the wrath that a tribalist will give you when you question one of their unfounded conclusions. Indeed, he must necessarily become hysterical when you do. Little voices in the back of his head are telling him that he has no grounds upon which his belief is held—because he doesn't. When confronting liberals, they are indeed mob-like and are liable to lynch you—literally, physically lynch you. However, an army is not much more benevolent than a mob. Indeed, my own personal experience has been that liberals like to lynch people, however, when watching old TV shows I can see conservatives can and did get just as hysterical over anyone questioning God or The Bible (back when conservatism was popular). The only thing you can do with these people is preach objectivity. This is the root of the problem. Preach to them to listen to the voices in the back of their head. These voices have been called a person's “conscience.” Indeed, what they are is a person's inner conscious begging to come out, to be allowed to examine and see reality correctly, to have facts logic and proof on their side to justify what they believe. These are the voices that intuitively understand the supremacy of objectivity.
Many children rebel from being raised in a religious environment. Many point to that as a reason to not raise children with values for they will simply rebel. The reason why so many children rebel from religion is because religion indoctrinates them without really telling them why they are preaching the things they preach. A young child, who by nature is a conceptual being and is still hungry to learn about the world, like the individualist, will feel the pressure of being in a tribalist atmosphere. He rebels for all the right reasons—because he wants to be able to think independently. The creative genius rebels from Christianity and the tribalist stays. If, however, a child was under the influence of Objectivist speakers, who hold as supreme reality and using referents in reality to make their point, his head would not feel like it is going to explode. It is not objective rules that children run from; it is absolute rules, i.e. rules laid down dogmatically, without any obvious reason to follow them. The creative genius would not rebel from Objectivism, instead he would take flight in such an atmosphere. The creative genius would stay loyal to Objectivist principles: it is the tribalist that would flock.
Individualism is not about being “different” from other people. Individualism is not the rejection of people; it is the embracing of reality. The former is not individualism—it is freakism. Real individualism holds as an objective reality as supreme. (Incidentally, two individualists who gather together will necessarily agree on the facts of reality). The individualist's conclusions are not based on emotions, religion, or anything else the tribe preaches.
July 13, 2002