My definition of tribalism: Part of the nature of humanity that leads us to support those from the group we identify with, over those from other groups.
Most people watching an event at the Olympic games will support the contestant from their own country over those from other countries, even when they had not previously heard of any contestants in the event.
This I consider an a simple and benign example of tribalism.
In the case of the Olympics it may be a very tenuous reason to support one competitor, but it can generally be argued that many positives arise from this form of ‘tribalism’. An even more passionate case can be mounted for the positive aspect of tribalism referred to as patriotism, that can motivate some of the greatest war heroes. But I suggest there is also a negative side to this same ‘tribalism’ instinct that can drive discrimination, racism, terrorism and even be responsible for war.
Can we restrict tribalism to the benign? Aspects of tribalism will be discussed for consideration in a series of pages :
- Tribalism and sport
- tribalism and racism
- tribalism and terrorism
- the engine of war