Toxic Tribalism: Herd Mentality in America- Part 1
The current political and social climate within the United States threatens the fabric of democracy that lies at the foundation of our collective identity as a sovereign nation. Our two political parties, and abundance of social classes, challenge opposition and create chaos as a means to distract from our own individual suffering, in favor of identifying with the suffering of our adopted social or political group. By creating only two political parties in a country of over 330 million, the United States government ensures that the wealthy class and corporations that allow America to dominate other countries always remain in power by creating the illusion of two opposing parties in a perpetual war against one another.
While the Republicans and Democrats are more divided on fundamental issues today than at any other time in our history, politicians from both parties continue to stand for special interests, multinational corporations, pharmaceutical companies, billion dollar banks and the prison and military industrial complex over the interests and welfare of the general public. Our illusion of choice and democracy cover up the subliminal reality at the root of our political system, which suppresses intellectual dissent, oppresses individuality and instills a groupthink tribe mentality that ostracizes and punishes those that do not identify with a higher political or social class with a culturally laid down set of ideas, and a rigid structure that keeps society and individuals in check, for fear being left out from the social game that we play.
The tribe mentality that every human being feels lies inherent in our biology from an evolutionary past, which required that we identify with our relatives and tribe in order to survive in a dangerous and volatile environment. These early humans evolved from primitive hunter-gatherer societies, which were egalitarian and utilitarian in nature with little room for the growth of hierarchies for members of the tribe to oppress, control and exploit one another. When these tribes began to settle with the advent of agriculture and the creation of money, certain individuals began to use money to control others and manipulate them into doing what they wanted so that they could earn money to buy things that were once available to all people without having to pay a fee. This allowed people with money and power to gather finite resources to sell back to the public, who are equals in every way except that they do not possess the power and control. Through this process, our modern society created the illusion of culture, which was built as a social construct for Americans to operate in so as to direct society into living in a specific manner and to project a particular method of education that is in accordance with the socially accepted norms of a fictitious culture.
Power and Control
The most effective way for the wealthy and ruling class to ensure that power remains in their control is to create two fundamentally different and opposing political parties based off of arbitrary ideological political and social tendencies, and commit these parties to a perpetual war against one another. This method of control ensures that the United States remains in a constant battle between two forces, the forces of light and dark, good and bad, Republican and Democrat. Objectively, these forces are the same. Once the individual takes a cultural, political, social or economic stance, the good side is selected and the bad side is projected onto the enemy; with the enemy being any and all that do not subscribe to your tribes, your teams, ridged set of beliefs.
The opposing team- the ‘other’- represents an equal and conflicting force, and becomes a threat to the subjective idea of what the United States stands for. Not only is the opposing party wrong, but they represent a threat to democracy and OUR way of life. This tribalism requires that you know only your group and follow signals from everyone around you. This reinforces your worldview, acts as a form of confirmation bias and leads to a fierce lack of accountability among members of the same tribe in issues related to morals, ethics and responsible behavior. Opposing viewpoints and opinions become literal threats to a tribe; your tribe must retaliate with verbal or physical force.
Tribe mentality allows you to criticize and condemn the behavior of others while allowing and ignoring that same behavior in yourself without understanding the nature of the contradiction. The problem is never our own ignorant, blatantly false statements and conspiracies, but rather, those that point out or criticize those viewpoints. The individual American sacrifices their unique self in favor of social acceptance and a place in the arbitrary and illusory social hierarchy that defines individuals not by their own ideas, but by the ideas, symbols, and concepts of their chosen tribe.
Tribalism is an outward expression of an internal conflict within ourselves; a persistent battle between the conscious and subconscious mind in which there can be no winner, only an understanding that the internal battle that is being projected onto conscious life is not to be won, but recognized and realized as a manifestation of powerful forces with arbitrary intentions that we ascribe meaning to; a conflict of self-suppression, self-discovery and self-deception. Recognizing our own contradictions, delusions and ignorance represents the surest way to understanding the nature of what the ‘other’ symbolizes in the social hierarchy.
Fact and truth are taken on a momentary basis, based off of present circumstances, the environment and our surrounding audience. Our subjective opinions and ideas about society may appear logical and rational from our point of view, while others from different political parties, from wealthier or poorer areas, from different generations, from different states may disagree and ascribe to opposing ideas. This opposition is necessary and expected in a democracy filled with radical ideas and the right to free speech. The dangerous position that the United States continues to take is that opposing ideas are a threat to what the country stands for, what our culture represents and what our roles as individuals represent in a society that encourages conformity and attempts to convince us of an underlying ridged and arbitrary social and cultural structure that rewards obedience and discourages intellectual individuality.
America is a place where different realities make attempts to coexist and coevolve. Freedom in the United States means the freedom to believe in any crazy idea you choose. But under this freedom of ideas, reality and fantasy become synonymous; my truth becomes your fiction, and personal subjective fantasy becomes collective objective reality. Individuals from opposite ends of the political and social spectrum must understand that the United States and the illusion of a rigid ideological social culture is a construct we create and a narrative that we convince ourselves is absolute and above any meaningful criticism. Rational debate and discussion of ideas dissolve with our culture of hatred. Ignorance of the position of those that exist within conflicting political parties- with their own dogmatic ideological agendas– leads us to neglect our own inconsistencies and illusions about our own beliefs.
The cult of ignorance in America has prompted the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.Isaac Asimov
There is always a superficial class of ignorant human beings who define others based on skin color or political ideology. This interpretation is easy and requires little critical thought or analysis. Arbitrary titles, categories, and political parties precede the quality of our character; people assume that they know someone else by knowing their political affiliation. At the moment of assumption, a persons individuality and uniqueness are lost and replaced with a subjective projection of someones else’s internal reality; a reality which chooses simplicity over complexity and prevents individuals on opposing tribes from understanding the nature of the other parties outlook on society; instead, electing to create a strategy and define individuals based off of subjective assumptions that interfere with rational debate and intellectual understanding.
We look upon each other’s faces and see a different color and subconsciously make a pre-defined decision that society and the media pounds into our heads on a daily basis. People of different backgrounds and religions, of different beliefs and cultures, are the easiest to blame for our suffering. The corporations, mainstream media, and political elites that are responsible for this social division appear in our minds as if they are some abstract entity that cannot be reached; a system that cannot be changed; a machine that cannot be destroyed.
The mark of a human being is not determined by the amount of pigmentation in the skin, but rather, as Martin Luther King once declared, ‘by the quality and content of their character.’ This character, though, must be embraced and welcomed by all members of the world, while we reject the monopolistic and capitalistic greed of corporations and political aristocrats that prey on the weak, exploit their labor and talents, craft laws that degrade the poor and increase the share of wealth and power that corporations and the government hold over the American population to a point where the poorest and the weakest amongst us cannot escape from the depths and darkness of fear, anxiety, poverty, and anger that builds up within our souls. A darkness like this eats away at the morale of the masses, ultimately suppressing the love and happiness that is present at the very center of every human soul, as Universal equals.
While whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, American Indians and all the races that make this Earth the most unique, creative and amazing place in the Universe, full of human potential to create our own world, we allow the media, politicians, and corporations to convince us to neglect our similarities in order to project our anger upon those who worship differently; who hold different beliefs; who make different mouth noises and read from different books. These are the very same people in this same struggle for survival; the same struggle for meaning and purpose; the same people asking the same questions and wondering what this thing we call life all means.
People are suffocated, often unwillingly, by the labels and categories society places upon them, while their sense of an individual self is lost through a lack of self-knowledge and understanding. The social mantra is the United States is conform, or be exiled; pick your side or be left to fend for yourself; join a culture with a pre-selected set of ideas and structure, or be left without a voice and sense of identity. Conformity equals freedom within the United States; freedom within the confines of your chosen party or social class. Radical free thinkers and rebels have no place in the social game. Pointing out the ignorance and contradictions of the opposing tribe leads to praise and respect, but pointing out the same ignorance and contradictions in your own tribe is immediately seen as an act of betrayal. Tribe loyalty is mandatory. If your tribe shuns you for something that they view as a betrayal against their pre-selected ideology, you lose your identity and the role that you play within society. The system depends on this form of public chastisement.
America’s rugged individualism always leads to conformism. Individuals feel isolated and scared and inevitably herd together in masses of sycophantic, mindless zealots that are inundated with the machinations of modern society and its superficial consumerist and materialist cultural ideologies that ground out opposing opinions and open-mindedness in favor of a more uniform dogmatism that threatens the foundations of democracy, liberty, and freedom. People navigate their way through society looking for an identity and a purpose that coincides with a culturally accepted ideology that favors conformity over individuality.
When the individual recognizes and feels comfortable in a particular ideology amongst a specific social group, they identify with that group’s hopes, dreams, and desires, while allowing their own identity to decay and their own sense of self to atrophy without completely understanding their selected tribe’s ideological drive and purpose in attacking, degrading and dehumanizing the opposing tribe. At times, within this illusory ideological identification, they know not what they do or what they say. Facts are distorted, fiction is elevated and the whole of society operates under an umbrella of disinformation and confusion.
In the United States, wealth and power are always concentrated in the hands of the white-elite, multinational corporations, corrupt bureaucrats, and politicians whose sole concern is their special interest donors who keep them in office with financial bribes and extortion. These are the same people who, when the economy collapses and inequality increases, twist the political, social and economic narrative into a race-based struggle as a means to distract the majority of poor whites and poor minorities into believing that their economic insecurity is directly caused by their neighbor with a different skin color, and not as a result of corrupt politicians that write policies and tax laws that favor business and the wealthiest Americans. This method of governing encourages tribe mentality and ideological extremes that contribute to the mass polarization of the countries most fundamental ideals.
We live in a society with a culture of oppressive leaders whose goal is to suppress consciousness and original thought in order to prevent an uprising of free-thinkers. Those in power wish to do harm to the culture by forcing the mass of individuals into a state of dependence and misery on the broader scope of existence in order to feed the machine of government, of materialist and consumerist society. With the reliance on harmful sedative drugs like alcohol and prescription opioids, individuals sacrifice their minds and subject themselves to a lower, more primitive, level of thought that relies on external forces and preconceived ideas to push forward, rather than challenge societies and their own subjective ideas.
By building fictional barriers to form a social construct for society to operate under, politicians, mainstream media, powerful bureaucrats and corporations are able to create a subtle mechanism of control, which is marketed as freedom but neglects to address the full spectrum of freedom that prevents society from threatening the puppeteers moving the pieces behind the scenes. If the people do not recognize their mental imprisonment and believe themselves to be free, in their minds, imprisonment equals freedom and their individual autonomy is sacrificed without understanding the nature of their struggle for meaning, purpose, and their own uniqueness in a culture that convinces us of our ordinariness.
Fantasy vs. Reality
Republican and Democratic politicians are increasingly ideological, regressive and void of any meaningful political substance. Their intolerance, hypocrisy, dogmatism, divisiveness and authoritarian tendencies are emboldened by a fierce and gross misuse of power and exploitation of America’s social institutions and world resources. Politicians love hyperbole, false narratives and the complete distortion of reality. This consciousness distorting trifecta exploits the minds of the uninformed and twists fantasy and reality into a mix of delusion, illusion, confusion, myopia and self-destruction. Individuals open themselves up to charlatans and tyrants that claim to possess the answers to all of their problems. Under these methods, objective reality becomes irrelevant and the subjective opinions of sycophantic, dogmatic, ideological and crazed individuals seeps into the fabric of the nation and corrupts the minds of the uninformed.
During times of wealth and prosperity, tribe mentality and ideological extremes are limited; individuals are less aware of their social standing and the standing of their neighbor when their basic needs are met. However, when the economy collapses, like the housing market crash and subsequent recession in 2008, individuals become more conscious of their place in the social hierarchy. This lays the foundation and opens the door for demagogues and xenophobes to exploit the political system by professing a racist agenda that directs blame away from the banks, politicians, and corporations that caused the recession, and towards immigrants and minorities. This is a common strategy among despotic leaders and governments who wish to direct attention away from their own lack of integrity and accountability, and towards an unassuming group so that they can continue plundering society, exploiting social programs and controlling the political narrative.
Politicians exploit the publics’ credulity and propensity for a fantasy-based subjective reality that is void of reason and rationality: Keep the people poor, afraid, and angry so that they are easier to divide and conquer. Demagogues thrive off of fear, ignorance, emotion, prejudice, and disinformation. By distorting reality and twisting the cultural and social narrative with confusion and myopia, objective and fact-based reality inevitably finds itself competing with a fantasy-based subjective illusion projected from delusional individuals wishing to capitalize off of the public’s lack of insight and understanding. This distortion of truth means the abandonment of objective reality.
Disinformation is used to disrupt, mislead, and corrupt the minds of credulous individuals that lack the intellectual understanding to make rational, fact-based, and objective decisions. Elevating conspiracy theories and distorting facts creates a society in limbo, where heads spin and reality becomes whatever someone says it is. Rational and logical discussion of ideas carries little meaning when fact and fiction simultaneously represent the same thing depending on an individual’s subjective interpretation.
This distortion of reality leads to irrational skepticism of education and knowledge acquisition, which is seen by some as a sign of moral and intellectual superiority. Deep intellectual thinking and questioning cease once identity is defined by the tribe’s group-think mentality. This leaves us in a post-truth society with individuals unwilling to accept facts for their potential to threaten an individual’s subjective beliefs.
Support for Trump is more emotional than educational or economic; human beings like simple answers. For poor and uneducated whites, blaming the minorities for all of their problems is easier to understand than addressing political and corporate corruption and the plundering of America’s social programs. A large portion of Americans still live in fear that minorities are treated as their equal in a country that they feel is theirs alone. To acknowledge the centrality of racial inequality to American Democracy is to question its legitimacy, so it must be denied.
Modern politics in America define society in religious, racial and arbitrary cultural terms in order to to draw attention away from poverty and economic insecurity. Under this premise, what should be an economic backlash against a corrupt system that benefits the wealthy, turns into a battle between two equally poor groups of people; poor whites, Christians, Republicans and Southerners vs. poor minorities, immigrants, secularists and Democrats. By remarketing American economic insecurity as racial hatred, politicians, bureaucrats, special interests and large corporations retain their power without suffering consequences for their corrupt actions. With Trump as the perfect distraction, the puppet, the sideshow, the train wreck, the dumpster-fire that we are unable to look away from, those in power sit behind the scenes and continue to rip apart social and economic programs that benefit the poor and middle classes of America. Part 2