How To Beat Tribalism? Be Even MORE “Tribal”

Humans are tribal by nature; it’s a survival instinct. Since reproduction is one of our key “primal directives”, our genome has built into it behaviors that give our personal DNA every chance to create a next version of “us”. After our own precious ass, our family’s ass comes next in the pecking order. Then our extended family. Or, for some people, their friend circle. The block they live on. Their neighborhood. The school district they live in. The PTAs at their kids’ schools. The social issues that matter to them. Their city. The football or basketball or soccer or baseball team they love — and every other fan of that team. If you think about it, we form tribes with anything and everything we can — because we’re social creatures and this is what social creatures do.

White supremacists are no more tribal than anyone else. They just seem that way because they put all their emphasis on being in a limited number of tribes rather than as many as possible. “Jews will not replace us” — the rallying cry and tribal grievance of the Charlottesville Fascists Club — represents a particularly odd bit of tribalism. The whole “replacement culture” thing is bizarre because it assumes that those with the grievance are “replaceable” to begin with. Replaceable how exactly? In their jobs? In their marriages? In their lives? Being replaceable by “others” to whom you are supposedly “superior” is a strange way to think of yourself and your tribe. If your tribe excelled at something then that fact would make your tribe irreplaceable. Why don’t these “white supremacists” excel at anything other than having grievances? Why do THEY think THEY are replaceable?

In a competitive job market — in a competitive, capitalistic system — one MUST compete in order to stay in the game. Every group arriving here (aside from white people) have accepted that fact and worked their asses off to achieve some degree of success (and they’ve had to do that in the face of relentless white resistance). In that sense, EVERYONE is “replaceable” if they don’t continue to contribute to the group’s effort or hold up their end of the social bargain. Ah, but that’s where white privilege asserts itself. White people have gotten it into their heads that, since white men got together and wrote the Constitution – and framed it entirely to their advantage (as the “men” who were created equal”) – that this is set in concrete. That’s the whole point of “originalism” — to falsely assert that the flawed thinking of a group of (French) enlightened racists and misogynists is America’s bottom line. The country can only be exactly how the framers framed it.

Bullshit. The men who imagined this democratic republic made it changeable. They understood that this bold idea would need plenty of room around it to expand. They seemed to grasp, on some level, the incompleteness of their ideation — that “all men” was a bigger tribe than just white men. Congress approved of “E pluribus unum” as America’s motto (they put it on our Great Seal) in 1782. Out of many, one.

Out of many tribes, ONE TRIBE.

White supremacists can’t abide that. They think their TRIBE is replaceable. That, right there, is the problem.

I’m not sure there is a solution to white supremacy. Centuries of thinking one way about themselves versus everyone else has convinced white Europeans that their whiteness makes them superior. No, white people, it does not. White people are a minority of people on earth. If not for the greater lethality of the pathogens that evolved inside white Europeans over a thousand or so years (versus the pathogens evolving inside other human groups scattered across the globe), perhaps even their guns and steel would have faltered when they went exploring. A big piece of white people even thinking they’re “superior” comes from the relative ease with which white Europeans seized the Americas. The European colonizers told themselves their Christian faith — their god Yahweh — made them superior. Again, NO! Smallpox, measles and influenza — introduced into the Americas by European explorers — wiped out 90% OF NATIVE AMERICANS. If not for fleas — which carried the bubonic plague from China to Europe, bubonic plague might not have wiped out half of Europe in the fourteenth century. If not for Europeans and THEIR bugs, Europeans would have faced far more resistance when they landed on these shores.

How do we defeat tribalism? We don’t deny it; we can’t. It’s just too hard-wired into us. Why do you think there are soccer riots? Instead, we go at it, full bore. We make everyone “hyper-tribal” but not in that they see their exclusivity as a tribe. Rather, like two people who love the same song, they forget all their other potential differences and begin with that thing they have in common. Building from there (something as simple as a song), I bet those two people will surprise themselves with all their commonalities. Yes — there are differences. But, now there’s context for the differences.

Those two people might come to blows all the same; they just don’t like each other. But once you start talking together about how and why a song touches you, you will unlock pieces of your soul (such as it is) to that other person.

It’s a lot harder to feel tribally defensive toward someone whose soul you understand.

As Big Business Is Learning — When Your “Customer Base” Is The American Voter, YOU Are The Marketplace’s Bitch

It’s a brave new world for Delta Airlines. And Coca Cola. And Home Depot. And anyone doing business with the state of Georgia while Georgia is being run by democracy-hating traitors. Their problem: the marketplace is the ultimate democracy where people vote with the dollars in their pockets. Popular goods and services get more “votes” than unpopular ones (just like in high school). Even good ideas can die, unloved, if they can’t find (or maintain) their marketplace. Ask Sony about its Betamax video recorder which was technically superior to JVC’s VHS format yet ultimately lost out to in the marketplace. In the marketplace of ideas, JVC won big while Sony lost even bigger. The marketplace made Sony its bitch.

The assumption is, in a crony capitalist system like ours, the money always wins and We The People are only ever its pawn at best. While that is the goal of crony capitalism — to turn the whole country into a kind of glorified “company town” (itself a kind of glorified feudalism) — ironically, the “capitalism” part of the equation is what exposes crony capitalism’s Achilles heel. The whole point of capitalism is to make money dynamic because money didn’t always used to be dynamic like it is today. We take for granted that one can use money to make money but prior to capitialism’s invention, money sat in the same places with the same families forever and ever. Those families — Europe’s royal houses — did not think to “do” anything with their money. Money was land or livestock — or literal gold or silver — with no way to “bank” it. The only way to “grow” money was through direct lending — and lending money was considered unChristian. That’s why Jews got to do it (and be hated for it). Capitalism expanded the “acceptable ways” to both borrow money and profit from borrowing it.

Capitalism also made ideas valuable in a bankable sense. Thomas Edison’s inventions made him rich because he was able to patent them — an idea that recognized the inherent monetary value of good ideas. American democracy — as a salable idea — also has done very, very well. Despite four long years of Trumpism, people still flock to America — or want to because regardless of whatever squalor or hopelessness they live, their one shot out of that lies somewhere within America’s borders (regardless of who’s president). The core concept of America. “All men being equal” was compromised by what the founders meant by “All men”. That was always a terrible mistake, a product of European, male chauvinism.

Fortunately, time and history have begun to save America from itself. The E Pluribus Unum “Good Angel” of our nature has begun to assert itself over the “America Is The White Homeland” bad angel. That bad angel never knew what he was talking about. He still thinks he’s “American Exceptionalism” — well, the money in his pocket that’s always been there. Some of the founders understood that what would ultimately make America exceptional was the fact of its already burgeoning diversity. Nowhere before in the world had a nation formed itself with the promise of self-government. That idea coupled with the willingness of those arriving to work hard as hell to achieve their dreams made America exceptional by filling it with exceptional people from all over the world. That is American Exceptionalism.

For too, too long, all those exceptional people have been muzzled by the white, Christian males who somehow got it into their heads that they were the drivers of the American experiment. Yeah, it’s money that does the talking all right, but it’s not the big money that makes things happen. It’s the little money in every American’s pocket times the number of Americans there are. In American households, how one “votes” that money has been controlled by the household’s women for a while now. The proof? Remember Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly used to be Fox News’ cash cow. O’Reilly even survived some serious sexual intimidation allegations to stay at Fox (“Remember the loofah!”). But, at some point, O’Reilly’s sexist behavior achieved a kind of critical mass. The companies that advertised on his show were the canary in that coal mine. The advertisers informed Fox News that their clients — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — would no longer advertise on O’Reilly’s show because their customers — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — already recognized how much their customers hated O’Reilly and would soon enough stop buying products associated with him out of sheer disgust. Co-branding with Bill O’Reilly became toxic. The house of cards came down in a heartbeat — the 21st Century Fox Board informed O’Reilly he was now an ex-employee.

Big Business has always known who the “boss” is. That’s why they advertise, right? In the “who needs who more?” competition, in time, we can learn to love a competing brand. They can love “other customers” all they like. If those customers don’t buy, so what? Do boycotts work? Hell, yes. So does the threat of a boycott. That’s why the CEO’s of Coca Cola and Delta changed their tune so quickly. While both Coke and Delta have plenty of competition, they both have their market share — the customer base they think of as “theirs”. Take the brand loyalty out of a Coke drinker and you have a Pepsi drinker. Or a Royal Crown fan.

Is Coca Cola: The “Official Soft Drink” of Democracy or of Sedition?

As anyone who’s ever achieved success can tell you — yeah, getting to the mountain top is a job-and-a-half. But, it’s nothing compared to the relentless, quotidian grind of maintaining that success. Big Business craves monopoly because having a monopoly means you don’t have to spend much on marketing or product improvement while maximizing profits. They’d all love to turn America into a giant, feudal “company town”. Good thing some other Americans have a better idea.

Coke and Delta quickly changed their public stance regarding the Republican Party’s blatant attempt to make election theft legal. They felt Bill O’Reilly’s fetid breath on the back of their neck and they didn’t like it one bit.

We The People have considerable power in our hands but only if we use it. Unused power is power that doesn’t exist. It’s the ultimate “put up or shut up”. America’s right wing was so terrified of losing power that they were willing to co-conspire with Russia in order to keep that power. They had long ago given up on keeping power through the strength of their ideas. Aside from them, no one else wants to live in America circa 1850. The majority of Americans keep voting America toward progressivism while its political structures (the Electoral College and the Senate) keep America rooted in the past.

As more voters step from the sidelines and into the electoral game, America (once thought of as “center-right”) becomes increasingly center-left. We’re not actually “becoming” center-left, we’re being REVEALED as center-left. Not the same thing. The big difference between the left and the right has to do with emphasis. Are you “profits over people” or “people over profits”? Conservatives, for the most part, are profit-driven while progressives are people-driven. At the end of the day however, it’s people who drive profits. Take away the people, there’d be no profits.

As we all know, every time we walk into a crowded room (remember those), a game of “Who’s The Bitch” is up and running. Someone in that room is the room’s “bitch” — the one person there who literally everyone else looks down on. We all search that room, hoping like hell we don’t find ourselves staring back as the bitch. But, the painful truth is, it could be us.

Coke and Delta and Home Depot and all those other companies have finally realized that in the current environment, they’re not driving this bus. They’ve made the same old moves — talking “freedom” and “democracy” while paying for politicians bent on destroying them — only to discover too late that those moves don’t fool anyone anymore. Actions, not words, are the receipts. And We The People demand receipts!

Don’t have any receipts? You know how THAT game goes, Big Business, when you don’t have your damned receipt

“E Pluribus Unum” Is What America Was Always Meant To Be — “From Many, One”

“Out of many, one”. That’s what “E pluribus unum” means. It was approved as America’s motto in 1782 as part of the act that created Americia’s Great Seal. “E pluribus unum” and “Novus ordo securum” (new order of the ages) were afixed to it. Together, “out of many, one” and “new order of the ages” was meant to speak toward our ideals.

The problem is we were oppressing some of the “many” we were counting as the “one”. Slavery still haunts America. Maybe the peaceful protests filling America’s streets every day now represents America’s conscience finally (FINALLY!) waking the hell up. We ended the commercial institution of slavery. We never ended the racism that permitted it to even be a consideration as part of a free, democratic country where “All Men Are Created Equal”.

Perhaps the idea this nation’s founders imagined was too big for them to fully grasp. They Euro-centered it in their heads. They didn’t even mean all men when they wrote “all men”. They meant all white men. Some wanted only all property-owning white men. And they certainly didn’t mean any women.

Yeah — great idea, guys — good thing you made the Constitution upgradeable and capable of evolving. Good thing you didn’t put, at the end, “And there will be no changes made to this document, we intended that the law will be how we wrote it in our world with our knowledge base and our technology”. That would have meant we’d still be stuck living in the 18th century.

Originalism is to sound legal reasoning what snot is to caviar. What horse shit is to Truth.

It epitomizes conservative “thinking”. It wants to freeze a moment in time and force us to live in it — because that’s when conservative white power was fully in charge.

Some little boys never learn how to share.

White conservatives would have us all believe that “American Exceptionalism” is rich white guys and their money. E Pluribus Unum says otherwise.

Right now, America doesn’t look terribly exceptional. I take that back. Before America suddenly got woke — at the tragic expense of George Floyd and far too many black Americans to be even remotely acceptable. The protest marches are filled with everything that makes America exceptional. They are American Exceptionalism on the hoof.

Black Lives Matter is a pure expression of American Exceptionalism.

Those protest marches are E Pluribus Unum.

WE Alone Can Fix It

The Big Lie that helped bring us the Age Of Trump flows from that wellspring of bullshit — Libertarianism. “I alone can fix it” is laughably absurd.

But, as much as some of us roared the first time Donald Trump spewed those words, some in the crowd — their ears perked up. They, too, think they alone can fix it, having convinced themselves that Ayn Rand was a genius who saw the rugged individual inside of them that ached to be a Master of His Own Fate.

Ayn Rand died in poverty on the public dole. So much for rugged individualism and “I alone can fix it”. Those are literary conceits — and, in the hands of Ayn Rand, horribly written literary conceits on top of it. I bet she even sucked as a typist.

As we all know about Trump, he couldn’t even “fix” his own election alone. Russia did that for him.

If the Democrats really want to draw a clear distinction between their message and the GOP’s (not that there’s any similarity between the two), they could focus in on the nonsensical Republican belief that “I alone can fix it”. What pretty much every single Democrat is already touting, the Democratic message is “WE alone can fix it”.

If I were running for office — that’s how I’d explain what needs to happen. For starters, we need to stop seeing a president as a fix-all. Great leaders — not fixing anything alone — know how to get the best from everyone around them. Great leaders don’t pilfer from the people supporting them (claiming credit for their ideas), they embrace the ideas — not just giving credit but demonstrating how the more ideas we get from more places, the better and more inclusive our problem-solving will be.

This is a rare moment in modern American history. For all the pride Americans take in the benefits of citizenship, too few accept the responsibilities that also come with being an American especially the responsibility to vote. Suddenly Americans want to vote. Suddenly Americans feel the tug of responsibility.

If the trend lines started in 2018 continue, the American electorate is pretty much woke. We’re paying attention as never before.

Americans, being Americans (with a very short attention span), this won’t last. We’re racing toward a resolution of Trumpism. Too many people who know the Truth are stepping forward now. 2020 will absolutely be a referendum on Trumpism — and it will be turned out utterly and completely. But, in the moments just before Americans revert back to deep-seated apathy, we can change how they think about being an American.

I would tell my fellow Americans that their being “woke” is essential to our health as a republic. Before they revert though, they need to pay attention for a little while longer. How we resolve Trumpism — how we go forward — how we think of “us” — how we think of The Rule Of Law — how we think of the taxes we pay and what we expect that money to do FOR US (not in spite of us) — all of these things need to be on the table.

Especially the last thing — how we pay for fixing us.

Americans view paying taxes the way they view death. A terrible, terrible inevitability. We believe our tax dollars buy us nothing except an army and a lot of useless bureaucrats.

I would attack that idea first. I would remind every American that we are the greatest experiment ever in human SELF-GOVERNMENT. We do this. WE.

If every tax-paying American were given a statement that showed where every penny of their tax dollars went — including things useless and things useful — they might not be happy (not at first), but they’d start to feel a little more in control. At least they’d understand their relationship to the government in practical, day-to-day terms they could actually relate to.

It’s a thought anyway.

America’s motto is not “I alone can fix it”. It’s E Pluribus Unum. From many, one.

That’s our strength. It’s our saving grace, too.