The Case for (Some) Tribalism — My Latest for Arc Digital


I have been thinking about tribalism a lot lately—and I know I’m not alone. Just last week, Arc Digital’s Berny Belvedere wrote a piece on it.

Considering differing viewpoints is an intellectual virtue — yet one we tend to emphatically reject. And that’s why it’s accurate to say we live in echo chambers. … Tribalism exists, and it is exacerbated by the echo chambers we willingly retreat into. This just follows from our human nature. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the one hand I agree about the dangers of extreme tribalism. I’m a literal card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but I still read op-eds by Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, and Arc’s Cathy Young to see what they have to say. I disagree with 95 percent of their ideas — often vehemently — but by reading their arguments, I can give them full consideration, even if I go on to reject them in the end.

I can also gain a clearer picture of why I disagree with them, and at precisely which points. If I don’t read opposing viewpoints, I run the risk of misunderstanding those positions. When I do read them, it crystallizes just where the disagreement lies, which then helps me better express how our views differ.

Despite the benefits of familiarizing myself with opposing viewpoints, I sometimes wonder whether tribalism is really as bad as advertised. I sometimes wonder if all tribalisms are equally bad. What if some tribalism is actually conducive to self-preservation?

Read the rest here.

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