Excerpted from my forthcoming:
Tribalism is a form of collectivism, which is a philosophy that denies the primacy of the individual, subordinating her to a so-named collective. Tribalism is the logical result and the logical elaboration of postmodernist irrational philosophy. (Irrationalism is a school of philosophical thought, with a long and varied history.)
Tribalism is the consequence of rejecting the specific methodology of the human mind – its mode of operation — and that mode-and-method is reason.
Specifically, tribalism is an attempt to subordinate the reasoning mind to the racial group or collective, and thus we see, for example — in response to a totally fatuous culture war which sprung up just over two months ago (early July of 2020), in which racial theorists and ethnic studies teachers, along with any number of other self-described social justice warriors, called into question the mathematical truth that 2 + 2 = 4 — one Shraddha Shirude, a Seattle-based “Ethnic Studies math teacher” and “racial equity coach” (her description) called the equation 2 + 2 = 4 an “attack phrase” (her description), and this after her “team” (her term) asked the question: “Who gets to determine what is right in math class?” And then added “in our ethnic studies math framework.”
Reader, please never forget the following: the asinine theories of today become the seriously accepted shibboleths of tomorrow, and those who can make you believe absurdities can also make you commit atrocities.
There was, for the record, no question at all here about whether the truth or falsehood of mathematical propositions are determined by objectivity, which is the interaction of the human brain with reality. Also for the record, the question of what numbers are and whether math is an invention or a discovery and how to validate that two plus two does indeed equal four (even in the face of the endless equivocations and concrete-bound circumlocutions which sprung up in the attempt to disprove that it does, none of which were at all convincing) is not my point here.
My point here is Ethnic Studies teacher Shraddha Shirude’s “essential questions documents,” as she describes it, which also says the following — and I’m quoting it and punctuating it verbatim:
Who gets to determine what is right in math class?
Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences?
Who holds power in a mathematical classroom?
Who gets to say if an answer is right?
How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?
Where is there an opportunity to examine systemic oppression?
Can you suggest resolutions to oppressive mathematical practices?
How can we change mathematics from individualistic to collectivist thinking?
This, let me remind you, is a public-school teacher, taxpayer funded. Your hard-earned money is paying the salary of her and many others like her.
If you doubt that racial theory and the postmodern irrationalist philosophy which underpins it are any kind of real threat to scientific progress, peaceful societies, and human cooperation, I ask you to please, after reading that, reconsider your position.
If human beings accept the idea that the individual doesn’t possess an identity apart from the collective – if, in other words, humans accept the ideology that there can be no individuality and, as a result of this, no individual rights – then individual human beings are as, a logical consequence and elaboration of this ideology, herded perforce into the group.
But which group?
The answer is, the group into which you’re born.
If you accept the ideology that you have no individuality and therefore no individual reason (since reason requires an act of individual will to activate and sustain) and if you accept, as a result, the belief that there is no individual self with the power to think and act, then you cannot, by extension of this ideology, exercise any real power of choice, since this would represents an individual act and action. You are therefore, by process of elimination, funneled into an unchosen group, which is by necessity the group into which you were born: predetermined, as it were, by your racial makeup and biology.
This is also called racism.
And please make no mistake or have any illusions: Racism, a form of tribalist-collectivism, is a fully deterministic philosophy — humans predetermined by their biological pedigree.
This type of collectivism – which is to say, racism – is particularly boorish and primitive. It is the doctrine that preaches ethnic background and biochemical makeup as the defining characteristic of all human essences and thus the primary determinant of human capacities and behaviors, which includes virtue.
Virtue, in turn, according to this ideology, is not something chosen but inborn and innate, which is another perspective by which we can clearly see the precise way in which racism is a form of biochemical predestination.
If there is no choice, there is no justice or virtue.
In the real world, of course, choice does exist, and individual acts and accomplishments are indeed the result of voluntary human action, under the division of labor, which entails individual choice and valuation, as well as the freedom to act and interact with one’s fellows – whether the accomplishments are artistic, technological, agricultural, industrial, scientific, intellectual, or anything else. This process, please note, has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone’s heritage and racial pedigree but is rather the result of individual human beings thinking and deciding and voluntarily acting and cooperating under the division of labor.
From the perspective of the ethnic-group collectivist, however, a civilization’s culture is not the sum total of individual acts and accomplishments, but “of a mode of living transmitted from one generation to another,” as it’s been described to me – which means, in part, a mode of living static and changeless from one generation to another. No advance, no human progress, no breakthroughs, no new inventions, innovations, or anything remotely like this. Human ambition, freedom of thought, freedom of association, new ideas, voluntary action, individual choice, breaking away from the pack – these are not permissible.
It follows, then, that in order to keep the individual suppressed, force must be deployed and continually maintained.
Yet what I wish for you to know even more urgently than that abhorrence is this:
Under no circumstance or scenario imaginable does conformity to an ethnic tradition or biochemical heritage shape a human identity — not in real life, not in any actual metaphysical terms conceivable. Instead, it turns humans into passive automatons. Also, far from uniting human beings, it necessarily pits humans against one another and nullifies the natural goodwill and harmony that exists among all human beings, mo matter their race or gender or heritage. And it does so precisely by attempting to make an unchosen attribute (or attributes) the fundamental and defining characteristic of humans, which in placing that much stress and importance upon these unchosen attributes, erects by elaboration unchosen barriers between people, sowing (totally unnecessary) strife thereby.
As an explicitly anti-individual, anti-reason ideology, racial theory and ethnic-group collectivism is also, therefore, by its very definition, anti-intellectual: because activating the intellect is, also by its very nature, an individual act – and a profoundly personal one at that. It is sparked and sustained by the continual choice we each face, all day every day, and that choice is the choice to focus the attention, or not.
In context of politico-economic and moral questions, the growing rise of ethnic-group collectivism is the demonstrable consequence of state controls — including laws of progressive taxation — in large measure because these controls create an institutional type of civil warfare, where lobbyists and lobby groups and pressure groups fight tooth and nail, continuously, to receive special legislative privileges and money. Indeed, government controls and regulations manufacture lobbyists and lobby groups – particularly of the ethnic-collectivist variety: since the beneficiaries are the leaders of these groups, who know full well that they can organize their “people” to then present demands to the government, in exchange for votes. This results in subsidies, favors, government jobs, greater influence and more.
It is, in short, the old ideology that wealth produced by someone else does not actually belong to that same someone else but rather to everyone else, and the state is the (re)distributor of this wealth which it did not and cannot produce. (The state, which is by definition an apparatus of force, enforcement, and expropriation, cannot spend a single penny unless it first either borrows, taxes, prints, or all three.) In this way, individual producers and creators are unprotected prey for every sort of organized pressure-group predator.
All of which is by way of saying that ethnic-group collectivism – i.e. racism – is yet another mutated version of collectivism proper. As such, it takes you right back to where it all began: the caste system and the class system, where there are inferiors and superiors, determined by birth and biochemistry, not ability or achievement, and all of which is enforced and protected by law, complete with plebeians, peasants, aristocrats, and elite untouchables.
As an American sociologist named Nathan Glazer (who was a tribal-collectivist himself unable, like countless others before and after him, to solve the insoluble) once wrote:
“The overwhelming majority of people are born into a religion, rather than adopt it, just as they are born into an ethic group. In this respect both are similar. They are both groups of ‘ascription’ rather than ‘achievement.’ They are groups in which one’s status is immediately given by birth rather than gained by some activities in one’s life.”
This is not nor ever was what America represented.
This is not nor was ever how individual humans beings were meant to live.