eli5: What is tribalism? How does it work in modern societies?

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eli5: What is tribalism? How does it work in modern societies?

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We identify with a group of familiar people for survival. This no longer serves its purpose as food is every where and we are safe in a climate controlled home. Our survival instincts now confuse us.

It basically boils down to behaviour that results from strong loyalty to a specific group. Essentially putting the good of your tribe ahead of others.

In a modern context, it’s often used to describe people who behave in a way that places the interests of one group ahead of all others, sometimes to the point where it raises ethical, moral or legal questions.

For example, right-wing politicians fostering white nationalism amongst their followers. It creates a societal sub-group, a tribe, that wants to put the interests of their tribe ahead of those of others or even actively work against others.

It’s normal to represent your own interest. Tribalism often goes beyond simply representing your own interests and attempts to draw lines and differences between their tribe and others. This creates a very antagonistic “us vs them” dynamic that defines their tribe.

The 5 year old version:

We’re the good guys. That lot over there are the bad guys. Everything bad or that you don’t like is their fault. Everything good is because of us good guys despite the bad guys trying to stop it.

How does it work in modern society? Just look at US politics: Everything good comes from my parties policies. Therefore all my parties policies are good. Anyone who disagrees with any of their policies must therefore either be bad, stupid, or both.

It’s popular because it means people don’t have to accept responsibility for anything or change their behaviour. Anything that goes wrong is the other tribes fault.