Published:  12:55 AM, 09 November 2018

Tribalism of Trumps

Tribalism of Trumps

Trump phobia, or we may call it Trumphobia as a single word, is a disease which is affecting politics across the world today. Trump is not alone in America; there are many Trumps now all over the world. Trumps have come to power in some countries and many more are at the door to power in others. All of them are the same with one common characteristic-each and every one of them is a global tribalist or a tribal globalist. 

They call themselves nationalists, however. In today's world nationalists mean negligibly a little more than tribalists. They are unhappy with the present structure of the world political system. They want to exclude the minorities from governance of the state, to deprive people of their basic rights, to discard multilateral attitude, to keep foreigners out, to focus on tribal interests, etc. 

The candidates in the US midterm elections fought over this central issue of new political orientation of America. It was a fight between tribal America and global America. Tribal nationalists were using the evil tool of identity politics. The reason behind this is: 'For the first time in US history, white Americans are faced with the prospect of becoming a minority in their "own country."

While many in our multicultural cities may well celebrate the "browning of America" as a welcome step away from "white supremacy", it's safe to say that large numbers of American whites are more anxious about this phenomenon, whether they admit it or not.' (An extract from 'Political Tribes', a book by Amy Chua, The Guardian, 1 March 2018)

For tribal politics to survive, it has to undermine democracy making full use of the advantages of the democratic process. About the American situation, Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote, "Two of the three presidents elected in this century assumed office despite having lost the popular vote. Were it not for the Electoral College, included in the Constitution at the insistence of the less populous slave states, Al Gore would have become president in 2000, and Hillary Clinton in 2016." (Can American Democracy Come Back?, Project Syndicate, Nov 6, 2018)

This undermining democracy by evoking tribal identity and trying to establish tribal nationalism "is not just an American problem," said Stiglitz in that article. He wrote, "All over the world, strongmen with little commitment to democracy have taken power: Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski in Poland, and now Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil."

Tribalism is widespread in Europe as well when it's on the point of a break-up. Ana Palacio wrote, "An increasingly organized coalition of nationalist forces that are hostile to European integration - and, indeed, to European values - has been gaining traction and cohesion. These forces include Fidesz in Hungary, the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland, Germany's Alternative für Deutschland, the Swedish Democrats, the League in Italy, Marine Le Pen's National Rally (formerly the National Front) in France, and Geert Wilders' Dutch Freedom Party." (Europe's Critical Election, Project Syndicate, Sep 25, 2018)

Tribal nationalism has become strong in our neighbouring areas, too. It is in India with anti-Muslim hatred blowing up time and again. A party which capitalizes on religious fanaticism is in power there. They have been using identity politics since long before Donald Trump made use of it for riding to power in America. In Myanmar, Rohingyas are being murdered, tortured and driven away from their land of birth with the world watching it helplessly. A 'textbook ethnic cleansing' of Rohingyas is near completion there with impunity before the eyes of all in the world.

Tribalism is being considered inherent in human nature. Recent studies back this idea. Daniel Yudkin writes, "The notion that people are inherently tribal should come as no surprise to those familiar with human evolution. Homo sapiens spent much of its evolutionary history in small bands on the African savannah competing with other bands for scarce resources. As a result, tribal competition is written into our DNA." (How political tribalism can be explained using social science, The Guardian, 27 Mar 2018)

Yet, the human progress has been possible by overcoming narrow tribal instincts and embracing some bigger identity. The dangers of tribal politics are many. The concept of a modern state is completely contradictory to tribalism or narrow nationalism based on a single identity. Universal human rights and hundreds of global commitments of today break down tribal boundaries and put man on a higher pedestal of humanity. Identity politics or tribalism in the garb of nationalism, if remains unchecked, cannot but lead the world into more chaos, conflicts and wars. The civilization cannot survive without defeating the tribal ideologies and embracing an identity that makes every man and woman as members of diverse characteristics and beauties in a single family on this earth.    
The writer is Executive Editor of SHIKKHALOK, a CDIP 
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