News & Reviews
Tribal Warfare Shapes our World and Very Intelligent People do Very Creative Things to Deny that is True
April 1, 2020
One of the more interesting realities of public policy discussion and debate today is how hard very intelligent people will work to deny that tribes and tribal conflict are shaping our world and our future.
Pundits and journalists will describe what are clearly tribal conflicts that have tribes killing people from other tribes and will manage to focus significant amounts of discussion and reporting on those events and settings without ever mentioning the names of the tribes or noting in any way that the tribes exist and that those tribes are directly and highly relevant to the process and setting.
The articles that do name tribes tend to demean and criticize both their existence and their role. They generally have the perspective in those articles that tribal issues lower the level of interactions in a nation to what they often label — in a tone of mild derision for the spoken reporting — “Sectarianism.”
With great consistency, they tend to say that the right direction and the right strategy for all of those settings should be to rise as quickly as possible above “Sectarianism” and above tribal thinking and they often say that the local people should return to thinking of nations and nation states as being our natural and most appropriate context for structuring, organizing and managing our future. They clearly say, with great regularity, that the people in each conflicted setting and situation should transfer their loyalty to their local nation instead of to their tribe.
The people who have that perspective completely and very intentionally both fight and ignore the extremely important role that tribes play in all of those settings — and they give us journalism and policy pronouncements about those settings that can be highly misleading and have very little relevance for what is actually happening to the people in those situations and settings.
This piece is attached to a particularly good example of that set of misleading and erroneous kind of thinking. The very extensive piece produced by The Middle East Institute (MEI) about “Sectarianism in the Middle East and Asia” that is attached to this media report manages to have several writers discussing a dozen countries that currently have tribes fighting tribes and directly killing people from other tribes in setting after setting because of their tribal identity and their tribal status, and they wrote the entire report without mentioning the existence or the names of tribes.
The New York Times and Washington Post and other major media outlets have also managed to do stories about each of those same deeply conflicted countries that also did not acknowledge the role or even existence of tribes for each setting.
That is a highly unfortunate and too often directly misleading and sadly inaccurate perspective to take about tribes.
We need to understand tribes and we need to see what their actual role is in the lives of people in a wide range of settings today.
We do that very badly today.
Tribes are both a primary personal identity factor for many people and a major component and driving factor in both inter group conflicts and positive group-based behavior and interactions and alignments across the planet at sometimes extremely obvious levels, and that role is far too often not even mentioned in the descriptions of the events.
Both media people and government officials have sometimes gone to almost amazing lengths to either ignore the existence of tribes or, if they are mentioned, make it a consistent practice to attack their impact and their influence as being only marginally relevant and very wrong and inappropriate for people at both ethical and functional levels in those various inter group settings.
That is a major mistake for media and policy people to make. It is puzzling — and it is also damaging and very misleading — because we really do not know what is happening in a large numbers of those settings if we don’t explain and understand the tribes and their role in those situations and settings.
Tribes are important.
Tribes play a major role for people across the planet. People like being in tribes, and many people take pride and comfort in their tribal identity as a key component of their lives.
It is insulting and even personally demeaning at some levels to say that the people who chose to be aligned with their tribe for major areas of their life should not have made that choice, and should each rise to higher values for their lives that aren’t tribal in key ways.
Saying that people should not choose to have their tribes as a major factor in their lives is highly disrespectful of people’s personal judgement and intellectual capacity.
If we valued and respected individual people’s personal thinking, judgement, and individually determined and discerned sets of identify choices and alignment values and preferences for their own lives, we should recognize the role, value and impact of tribes, and we should accept that alignment as a legitimate choice for people to make.
We should actually respect the beliefs and the personal commitment and judgment levels of the people who choose to have tribes be a major source of their own identity, value systems, and a preferred context for interactions and basic functionality for their own community identity and inter group settings and interactions at several levels.
It is functionally disrespectful of people at several levels to say that we choose not to allow or permit the people who really and strongly want to have a primary tribal affiliation for their own lives and for their own family and community, to make that choice and have that alignment.
Self-determination, individual self-respect, personal intellectual autonomy and fundamental self-governance decisions and chosen roles for people are significantly disregarded and very much directly disrespected and made directly undemocratic when that choice of being identified with their tribal group and of subsequently choosing to be loyal to one’s tribe is denied both to individual people and to groups of people.
We know why people who are in control of a number of settings hate tribes. People who rise to Alpha power in any community or nation and who become personally addicted at an instinctive level to their power tend to want their Alpha power to extend over everyone — and those people will often suppress any efforts by any subsets of their population who want autonomy or who seek any level of internal control over their own groups in those settings.
The core sets of instincts that cause people in power in various settings to prevent other people in their settings from some direct self-governance decisions is easy to understand when we know what those instincts are and when we know how they usually work.
People who run nations and who hold power in national settings have a very strong tendency to deny any sense of legitimate decision-making power for the people in their country who want to have their primary personal and group identity to be the tribe theand who want their own tribal group to have a governance role over their own historical territory, communities, and culture.
Nations tend to be artificial constructs and sometimes arbitrary definitions of authority that hold collective governance power over designated pieces of land as their national turf. Nations do not exist in nature. They are constructed by historical events and by legacy interactions of people and groups of people on each piece of land where they exist.
Some nations are clearly tribal at their core — like Denmark or Iceland or Mongolia — and those tribal nations have a complete overlap between their legacy tribe and their national boundaries.
Other nations were created by various combinations of historical accidents events and some actually have no natural group identity or collective culture as a nation — like Syria, The Congo, Nigeria, and Myanmar and all of the other multi group nations that were artificially created by the dissolution of the colonial empires, the end of the Soviet Union, and by various local political accidents and machinations over the centuries.
We use our natural sets of inter group and intra group instincts everywhere that people are forced into a setting. The patterns of instinctive behavior are extremely consistent and predictable.
History both repeats itself and rhymes when you know what those patterns are.
In every setting, we have governments and we have people in those governments who have achieved various levels of power in the hierarchythat is always created in each setting.
The people who run all of those nations at the alpha level have strong sets of instinctive behaviors driving their thought processes. The people who hold alpha positions in nations everywhere tend to believe that their national power and identity is more important than any other group identities that people who live in that territory might want to have for their own groups and for their own lives.
In most of those multi group national settings, we have local tribes inside the nations who are the actual natural functional and historical personal identify factor for the each of the people who live there.
Large numbers of people in all of those settings believe that they belong to their tribe — not to their nation — and they are very comfortable with that belief.
Tribal loyalty and identity is a very common situation in many settings. Across the planet, we have families, clans, and tribes that are the primary identity factor for individual people in each setting, and people often take great pride in their family, clan, and tribal identity and feel a primary loyalty and level of support for the other people in their group.
The patterns look the same everywhere. Groups of people in the tribes each tend to have their own languages, cultures, histories, hierarchies, values and turf. There are still hundreds of tribal languages — and that number was in the thousands until fairly recently because people in each setting invent languages for their groups and then use them to function with the other people in that setting. There are still more than a hundred functioning languages in the Russian Confederation today.
People in all of those settings are born into their tribes and they tend to have a strong sense of alignment at basic levels with their tribes and with the territory they believe is the rightful home of their tribe.
That sense of alignment as a tribe is not a bad thing for people. We need to understand that people receive both emotional and functional benefits because tribes exist.
Tribes exist in all of those settings for a reason.
Tribes can be a good and functional way for people to align and interact in many of the key behaviors and actions that we all need to have to function in our lives.
Tribes have cultures that include courtship behaviors, family hierarchy determinations, inter gender relationships, property and ownership values and rules, and all of the other sets of guidelines that each culture uses to steer people into the behaviors that are needed for people to function in relation to other people in each setting.
A number of our universal inter group and personal instincts combine and blend to cause tribes to exist and to give them relevance in our lives.
The reality that we all live in every day of our lives is that we are all creatures of instincts, and that has a major impact on our lives.
The basic operating premise of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding is that we are all creatures of instincts, and that we all can each have better control over our own lives and that we can all be more enlightened, ethical, and moral people at several levels if we each understand how our instincts guide our lives and if we each make informed intellectual choices about that entire process and reality for both ourselves and for the other people in our relevant communities.
Instincts shape major portions of our lives. We can have better control over both our societies and our lives if we understand what those instincts are and if we decide to use them in enlightened ways to do enlightened things.
We instinctively build cultures, hierarchies, territorial definitions and group identities in every setting — and we have extremely powerful Us/Them instincts that cause us in each setting to think differently about people who are Us or who are Them in ways that shape major portions of our history and our current communities and lives.
We protect, support, align with, and defend our Us groups in our various settings — and we tend to be negative, antagonistic and highly distrustful of whoever we perceive to be Them.
Those patterns are universal and they have more of an impact on our behavior than almost anything else in our lives.
We too often lie to Them without remorse, deceive them intentionally at both tactical and strategic levels, suspend conscience in dealing with them — and in far too many settings we actually persecute Them, enslave Them, fire bomb Them, ethnically cleanse Them, and we often celebrate when a relevant Them is damaged or diminished in some way.
We really do all need to understand how powerfully those instincts affect our behavior. Ethics are very different for our Us and Them interactions, and we usually do not even know that those differences are happening because they feel entirely right to us.
We generally feel an ethical and moral obligation to tell the truth to our Us — and we can very easily actually feel a strategic obligation to deceive and mislead Them with no feelings of remorse or guilt for that behavior.
Sun Tzu — in the highly directive book, Art of War — called for constant and deliberate deception in our interactions with Them. People who read his book tend to believe that he is giving legitimate advice at an ethical level on that issue because when our Them instincts are activated, we see Them as the enemy of our group and we want to protect our group in every possible way against whoever we perceive to be the enemy of our group.
We all want to keep our enemies from damaging whoever we perceive to be Us.
In that very powerful set of inter group instinctive reactions and behaviors, it is clear from both history and current behavior in over a hundred countries that one of the most powerful categories of Us that we can and do develop is our Tribe, and we all have deep seated beliefs that we should help our tribe survive and even thrive.
In Syria, no one is Syrian in their heart and mind and group identity when they wake up in the morning. They are Alawite or Kurdish or they are Arabs from either Sunni or Shia tribes, but they are not Syrian.
Syria, the nation, is an extremely artificial constructthat is an obvious accident of history that exists as a nation today only because other powers who were setting up boundaries in that part of the world at a particular point in history found it convenient to force that set of very different tribes into that particular shared boundary and then give everything inside those boundaries a national name that links them at a legal but extremely artificial and arbitrary level.
The tribes who live there in each of those Syrian settings have long histories as their own tribes. They have turf, infrastructure, leaders, history, cultures, group identities, group apparel, music, and art, and they have both languages and dialects that identify the people in the group to each other as tribes and as Us with the other people in their tribe.
Their loyalty is very clearly and directly at a personal level to their tribe. Their trust level is also with their tribe. Their personal and group identity is tribal, not national.
Being Syrian is accidental— and the few people who live there and who do feel a sense of national identity in Syria sometimes want to feel it as members of minority tribes in order to offset the disproportionate power of the other local tribes against their own tribe.
When Us/Them instincts are activated in the worst and most dangerous ways, people hate people from other tribes as enemies to their tribe — and do negative things to the people they hate.
Religion often enters the picture in tribal settings. Part of the definition and a key part of the core value set of many tribes is their religion. That is often very much a tribal identity feature.
Religion becomes a group identity for many people.
Religion is not usually a personal choice made by individuals who look at the universe of possible faith alignments and then make personal decisions about their beliefs. Each person is aligned with the religion assigned to each person at birth by the tribe that the person is born into.
We sometimes think of those religious conflicts that exist in various settings as involving religious choices of some kind that were made at an individual level by the conflicted people. That is extremely wrong in almost every setting.
Some kinds of possible individual decision making about personal religious choices do actually sometimes happen for some people in America and also in some parts of Europe, but in the more diversely multi group worlds in just about all other settings, religion is not an individual option or choice. Religion is part of the tribal identity and people are expected to be loyal to both their religion and to the tribe they were born into who holds that set of religious beliefs for all tribal members.
Tribes tend to pick a religion for one reason or another at some point in their history and then they align and identify with that choice at a very fundamental level. The history of those choices can be interesting to know. People in tribes generally include religion as part of the definition of their tribe and that is part of the tribal package for most people.
Those particular patterns are all very clear and very obvious.
Kurds are entirely Kurds in their sense of who they are.
Being a Kurd is both their religion and their group identity.
When the Kurds do battle with the Sunni’s or the Shia’s or the Alawites or the Turks, they are a tribe fighting the people from another tribe who holds their own religious belief. So fighting for the Kurds includes fighting against the religious labels, practices, and beliefs, of the other tribe as part of the full package of inter group conflict, and it is not an option for members of the Kurdish tribe.
Kurds are an interesting tribe. They have survived for a very long time as a tribe in some very hostile environments. Anyone who doubts the deep power of tribal alignments can look at the Kurds and know how powerful the tribal identity can be.
The Kurds tend not to force other people to convert to their religion. They also tend to be somewhat flexible in allowing people from other tribes to practice their religion on Kurdish land — and that has allowed for some cultural diversity in some of those Kurdish run areas, that we don’t see in some of the Sunni and Shia tribal settings.
Tribal people from those other groups often kill Kurds just for being Kurds.
It continues to be extremely difficult to be Kurdish in a couple of countries. The Turkish tribe regards the Kurdish tribe inside Turkey to be terrorists and they get that label because the Kurds want to practice their own religion and want to maintain their tribal identity on what is basically legally Turkish land.
In purely tribal behaviors, the Turkish tribe who controls Turkey sometimes does not even allow the Kurdish tribes to speak their own language.
Our news media generally gets that story about the Turkish government wrong and writes about it as being a political activity of some kind by the Turkish Government or the Kurds. The news media sometimes calls the Kurds who are fighting for their autonomy “terrorists” in the context of those stories, because the Turkish government gives them that label.
The mixture of tribe and religion is often volatile in far too many settings, and people observing the behavior often see the religious differences and completely miss the fact that the people in conflict have different tribes and use the religions of their group as labels rather than as motivation factors for conflict.
Conversion to a religion tends to be a group behavior that is either forced on a group by a defeat in a war or in a conflict or a process led by an alpha instinct activated group leader who personally converts to the religion then forces the entire tribe to follow suit.
Almost no one in any setting ever makes voluntary choices to join their core tribe and almost all people everywhere are also born into their religion. Choices don’t exist for most people for either alignment.
In fact, choices are not allowed in many settings.
People sometimes execute people from their own group as traitors if they try to change religions or try to change tribes.
People doing the killing tend to feel entirely legitimate and justified and even noble when the perceived traitors to their group are executed.
So we have high levels of mandatory tribal identity in multiple settings — often strongly enforced by tribes on members of their tribe — and we have people in both our news media and academic settings and even in our governmental agencies who explain the conflicts happening between tribes in all of those settings who manage to report on each conflict without explaining who is fighting whom in most settings.
The media tends to not mention or describe or acknowledge or even understand the purely tribal nature of all of those conflicts— even though the evidence is overwhelming and the evidence is everywhere.
We need to look directly at the evidence. That consistency of behavior in the context of tribes is actually extremely obvious if people simply look to see what is actually happening to real people in all of those settings.
Check out Israel.
That is an extremely tribal situation.
The number of Palestinians or Egyptians who fly airplanes for the Israeli air force as tribal converts for Israel is nonexistent. Zero. Those lines are tribal and they are very tight.
Those tribes and tribal alignments for the people in that setting are not personal choices and personal and individual options in that conflict for that set of people. Tribes define that setting fairly clearly, and using other labels to explain that conflict is just confusing.
We don’t have people making voluntary choices of sides in Israel — or in any of those other settings in that part of the world. Tribes are definitive, and that need to be understood to have any chance of ending up with Peaceful outcomes over time.
People identify with their tribe, stay entirely with their tribe and they fight and damage people who are from the other tribes in Israel, Gaza and Palestine and that area.
Likewise — the Shia tribes’ people who are fighting the Turks in various settings never consider becoming Turks. Or Persians. Or Alawites.
That pattern is everywhere. People are in tribes and people fight with people in tribes and people are completely identified with their own tribe in each of those conflicted settings and do not have any thoughts of having any other alignment.
The Bamar people of Myanmar never consider becoming Rohingya. Those battles and that ugly local genocide is happening in that country because that majority local tribe clearly has their Us/Them instincts fully activated at the most ugly levels. The Rohingya people in that country are being murdered, ethnically cleansed, brutalized, raped, and both demonized and dehumanized by the local majority tribe and the issues and actions could not be more clearly and more directly tribal.
A couple of local Buddhist monks in Myanmar have called for the Rohingya to be killed and expelled for what they labeled as their religious beliefs — and those people have said that the Muslim beliefs of the Rohingya are sufficient to make that tribe deserving of local extinction.
That’s actually very tribal in their thinking, because the people making those statements are fully aligned as tribes in their behaviors and control over those areas of that country. That kind of extremely negative inter group thinking and belief that happens even for religious leaders when those instincts channel the way people think, and when people from the tribes in question have religious beliefs as part of their tribal identity.
Religion can, very sadly, actually unintentionally add a level of demonization for the tribal thought processes in those settings. The temptation in any inter group conflict who perceives the enemy as evil at a foundational level is to dehumanize their people as part of the process.
We can easily both demonize and dehumanize the other group when our Us/Them inter group instincts are fully activated. Demonization of an entire group can feel to be a very legitimate way of perceiving those people when those instincts are activated.
A Myanmar leader who personally received the Nobel Peace Prize for actions in the context of her own tribal Us has said that the genocidal behaviors against the Rohingya were misunderstood and that there were two sides to that story.
The Chinese who are doing very similar and purely tribal things in their country to a significant number of people today also tell us that there are two sides to their story.
In China, the Uighur people are facing similar genocidal actions by the Chinese government. It is very tribal. The majority Han Chinese tribe is having a classic
Us/Them instinctive reaction to the Uyghur tribe, and all of the behaviors, thought processes, emotions and actions that happen when we suspend ethics because those Us/Them instincts have been activated are highly visible and painfully real at this point in history in that section of China.
The majority Han tribe that runs China has also done some highly damaging things to the Tibetan tribe and to the Mongolian tribe in the past that were a clear foreshadowing of the Uyghur related issues and behaviors we see today.
Our media also generally refers to the differences in China very incorrectly as being political at some level. Not tribal.
The Chinese government uses non-tribal language to explain their behavior and calls the Uyghur tribe terrorists and separationists. That Han tribe based Chinese national government now forces people from the other tribe into political re-education camps that basically attack the ethnicity of their prisoners rather than dealing with any political differences between the groups. Tribes define that setting and those conflicts with extreme clarity, and calling it anything else in our news media distorts and hides what is actually happening to those sets of people.
Those same inter tribal patterns are in play in multiple other highly visible multi ethnic settings. We need to understand clearly what is happening in each setting to have any chance of bringing the conflict to a Peaceful outcome.
Syria is an extremely powerful example of that behavior.
The other tribes in Syria are currently in major inter ethnic conflicts with the Alawite tribe — who currently holds power over the entire nation through holding the presidency of that country through some interesting accidents of history.
Other pure Alawites are loyal to the president and they have their Us/Them instincts in full gear and strongly support the cruel and damaging purely tribal behavior.
People from the other tribes in Syria tend to hate both Assad and the people from his tribe who are committing those genocidal behaviors with zero guilt, and the other tribes would probably do serious damage to the Alawites as a tribe if they ever have the opportunity to do that damage. That future threat of major tribal revenge from the damaged tribes keeps that Alawite army extremely loyal to its tribal chief, even if he is clearly dictatorial at many problematic levels.
That setting could not be more tribal. The dominant Alawite tribe people currently run the army. They have firebombed, massacred and even poisoned people from other tribes to both kill them and get them to flee the country. Ethnic cleansing is their obvious goal, and they have done it very well.
Tribes in sufficient power in a number of deeply conflicted settings sometimes use ethnic cleansing to guarantee tribal control of an area when simple genocide isn’t possible for that area. We have actually seen that happen recently and clearly in a number of small countries who have achieved independence, and who then seek revenge against whatever tribe kept them from being independent.
A number of the newly independent former captive nations from the old Soviet Union who have been given control over their own people have done extremely direct tribal cleansing and purification of their new nations — often purging local ethnic Russians with the force of genocide for the local ethnic Russians who resist simple tribal cleansing and mandated exile.
The local ethnic Russians in those countries often had disproportionate local power when ethnic Russians from Moscow ran the entire Soviet Union. The residual local Russian ethnic minority in those newly independent countries now often face anger for that prior behavior from the local tribal group in each setting who now gets to define Us and Them for their turf and perceives the Russians to be Them.
Our news media has not written about any of those tribal purges in those multiple and very real settings — even though the negative and damaging tribal behaviors and the extremely intentional purging strategies have been relatively obvious, painfully explicit, and extremely successful for the local majority tribe in most of those very small new countries.
We either ignore those settings or give other labels to those conflicts and ethnic expulsions or pretend that they are not happening.
We cannot ignore Syria.
Syria is damaging several countries with their tribal behaviors.
Syria has been particularly successful in their own tribal conflict, and our media who report about Syria has not understood that strategy or described that setting or behaviors very well as well.
The Alawites who run Syria have achieved major, extremely intentional, and very successful ethnic cleansing in a number of areas in that country. Tribal behavior deeply and directly anchors that process and creates that reality.
An unfortunate number of journalists and media people in our country still tend to describe what is happening in Syria as being a political process of some kind with political goals and political groups and political or even ideological components.
The media should stop referring to the situation in Syria as being a political process of any kind and should call it pure tribal warfare and clear tribal purging with one tribe very directly damaging the other tribes and expelling millions of people from that country for purely tribal purposes and clearly tribal reasons.
We should not ignore Syria, because a high percentage of those tribal refugees from Syria are now in exile in Europe, and that is changing the places where they are trying to live.
The refugees from Syria are gathered now in a number of other countries that already have their own strong and clear tribal history and identity and that have very little interest in sharing their own ancestral turf with a new tribe.
The Tribal Nations of Europe are Facing New Tribal Conflicts and Challenges
Europe is actually a continent of tribal nations. That has always been true.
Tribes have languages, cultures and a collective group history that ties the tribal members together. Europe has been extremely tribal, with nations that have met that criteria for centuries.
The French tribe has long owned, ruled, and dominated France. The French tribe has had significant wars with the German tribe, the English tribe and even the Danish tribe in earlier times, and the people in each of those wars were clearly functioning and fighting as tribes for those conflicts.
In any setting where people are pointing guns at other people and where the people on both ends of that weapons and armament continuum speak different languages than their targets, the usual pattern is that a tribal conflict is happening, and it is a conflict that can only be addressed and understood and ultimately resolved at the tribal level.
In those settings, tribes fight tribes and people in tribes feel entirely justified in their tribal behaviors.
It is very primal.
We may have changed some of the weapons we are using in various settings today — and we do have new levels of technology and new tools to do damage to other people that did not exist when spears and axes were the primary armament of the original warriors from the tribes — but we have clearly not evolved at all as people beyond the basic packages of instinctive behaviors that have caused those axes to be swung for all of those years in those settings.
We know we have not evolved as people in any way because those same exact sets of conflicts are happening in nearly 200 settings today and because real people today are being directed, steered, and too often damaged by those primal and foundational inter group and deeply instinctive behaviors.
We use tribes to channel those primal behaviors and emotions into the world with great consistency today, and we need to recognize that reality in order to deal with it.
That level of inter group conflict feels very right to many people today.
Those very primal inter group instincts feel very right to the people who have them activated in their minds and in their thought processes in all of those tribal settings. The people in the tribes who are doing damage to other tribes feel that they are doing the right thing for their tribal group today because that is how their basic instincts cause those sets of basic behaviors to feel.
We need to understand those processes and impacts clearly, so we can know what is actually happening in those settings and possibly steer at least some of them to better outcomes by recognizing that we need to use our package of basic tribal instincts for Peace rather than have them take us down the slippery slope to conflict and war.
If we want to live in and maintain a world that is increasingly at Peace, then we need to understand tribes — and we need to learn how to have our tribes support Peace instead of having our core tribes in far too many of those settings creating conflict and war.
Understanding tribes is the right place to start for that part of the process, because our tribes are not going away and it is functionally possible to use them to create inter group Peace if we know what we are doing.
Tribes Can Help Create and Structure Peace
How can we use tribes for Peace?
Self-interest can work.
We need Peace to be in the best interest of each tribe.
Tribes have their own identity, turf, history, and clear sense of internal alignment with their tribe, and tribes each want their own tribe to succeed.
We need to set up tribal interactions that have people do better because their tribes are at Peace and not at war.
We need people to have a sense that they are being loyal to their tribe when they help their tribe achieve Peace.
We cannot achieve Peace if people believe Peace is bad for their tribe.
In each tribal setting on the planet, people feel a sense of identity with their tribal group. They tend to feel strong instinctive loyalty to their group, and that strong sense of instinctively loyalty to our groups is extremely important to understand and channel in enlightened ways, because we need people to believe that creating Peace is a loyal thing to do.
We cannot underestimate the power of that set of instincts. Loyalty is a very powerful instinct. It shapes our behavior at multiple and powerful levels.
Traitors to our group are instinctively hated. People both hate anyone who is a traitor to their group and personally hate any sense that they are somehow, themselves, a traitor to their own group.
That can create a real barrier to Peace, because it makes some kinds of interactions more difficult to set up and do.
No one wants to be a traitor. No one wants anyone in their family or in their group to be a traitor or to be perceived to be a traitor.
So we sometimes avoid inter group activities and inter group and inter personal relationships and behaviors that could possibly cause people to be perceived as being a traitor.
That set of behaviors can create obvious difficulties in creating inter group Peace in a setting because it can be very hard to make Peace with someone you do not have an interaction with at any level.
We need to achieve a level of intellectual evolution on that issue.
We need to use those instinctive reactions to not being a traitor to promote Peace rather than prevent it.
To do that, we have to teach people in each setting that interacting with the other group actually enhances the future security of their group.
We need to teach people that interacting with the other group actually increases the likelihood of future success and future security for your own group rather than being a betrayal in some way of your group or a risk to your group.
We need to activate enlightened self-interest on those issues. And we need to carefully steer our enlightened self-interest to supporting Peace.
Win-Win strategies, goals, approaches, and commitments are all part of that agenda.
Win-Win Requires Intentional Interactions
That is an extremely important strategy for inter group Peace. We need to convince people that making friends with the other group and creating win-win outcomes for all groups is the only sure way we have of actually creating a win for our group.
Any time we have a win lose outcome for our group and we win and they lose — that actually can put our group at future risk because whoever loses will not disappear and they will be highly motivated to have us lose the next time, and will often continue to work at various levels to make that happen.
But if we do a win/win outcome for both groups with both groups winning, then the other group that wins is our friend and our ally and the other group is motivated to have us continue to win so that they can also continue to win.
It is a wonderful thing for our group to win. We really want our group to Win. The only safe way of doing that forever in any setting is to have both groups win.
We need to make that strategy of achieving Wins for both groups something we do well and protect when it happens.
We also need to create heroes for Peace.
People also, very instinctively, want to be a hero and people want to have heroes.
People tend to celebrate the heroes who protect and who embody the personae of their group in some way and people like to personally be heroes and be celebrated as heroes.
Being a hero is a good thing in most settings. People love heroes for their group. It feels good at a deep instinctive level to be a protective hero for your group.
We like athletic heroes, military heroes and other kinds of behavioral and competitive event winners and heroes.
We need to build on that set of instincts by creating heroes for Peace in various ways that feel right for our settings.
Creating heroes for Peace can be difficult to do in some settings because it feels terrible at a deep instinctive level to be a traitor to your group and doing Peaceful things with other people that create positive results can sometimes still feel like treachery to your own group.
That’s why we need to do what we need to do not to make it hard for people in too many of our inter group settings to make friends with people from another group. People from your own group can tend to perceive you to be a traitor when you make those friends — and we hate to feel like we might be a traitor to our group in any setting.
It can even be difficult for students in some settings to take classes or participate in various kinds of musical and artistic group events with people from another group in their schools or communities without being perceived and condemned as being a traitor with those actions.
We generally need someone who is accepted as an alpha leader for each group to bless those kinds of interactions in order to make them happen.
We Need Our Alpha Leaders to Join the Strategy for Peace
We need our Alpha leaders to be part of our strategy for Peace. That includes the people who run our tribes and the people who run our communities and our other relevant organizations.
Alphas are important everywhere people function as groups. They are particularly important with tribes because we instinctively expect people to be loyal to their tribe and we particularly expect people to be loyal to the leader of their tribe.
People get a sense of values, standards, and expected behaviors from the person who is Alpha in each setting, so we need the people in Alpha roles to favor achieving Peace in each setting.
Leader loyalty is a very powerful instinct. Gangs and groups of all kinds have leaders who expect to be obeyed and followed, and who can be angry when that does not happen.
Leader behavior follows very similar patterns in multiple settings — and those patterns are particularly relevant in tribes because leaders very often personally determine what the values and expected behaviors are for members of their tribe.
We need to understand Alpha instincts — and we need to know how to use them to create inter group Peace instead of having them triggering and exacerbating inter group conflict.
Alpha instincts are very powerful on their own as packages of instincts. People who are alpha in any setting tend to get significant neurochemical rewards from their alpha status. It feels good at multiple levels to have Alpha status — and people who achieve it in what they perceive to be relevant settings almost always find it difficult to ever give up.
We are not alone in that behavior.
Alpha wolves and alpha lions and alpha hyenas are often willing to fight, kill and to die, if need be, to maintain their alpha status.
It clearly feels right for alphas for all of those settings to fight to retain that status, and our pattern is that people who achieve the role of being head of their religion or their group or their organization or their country or their city or even their business organization often have a difficult time of giving up that status to another alpha.
We have very strong sets of Alpha instincts. They are relevant in the entire 200 inter group conflicts that we have going on in the world today.
There are clear neurochemical rewards that can be created by alpha status that make that status almost addictive to some people.
So people who achieve alpha status for their group, tribe, or even family, tend to want to maintain that status — and that can trigger and exacerbate conflict because Alpha leaders in inter group settings often find that their power and their support from their group increases in times of conflict.
War chiefs tend to get high levels of support in times of war from their groups, and that support can feel very good to the Alpha who receives it.
That dynamic and process sometimes makes our group Alpha’s trigger points and catalysts for both conflict and inter group anger in some settings.
It can make inter tribal interactions very difficult because the tribal leaders for each tribe tend to have those sets and packages of instincts fully in gear, and that has both turf instincts and group protective instincts very consistently in activation mode.
When those instincts are all activated for both individuals and groups, we can fall easily into the slippery slope of inter group conflict and we can each far too easily feel that we are very appropriately and legitimately conflicted when that conflict happens.
There are actually more than 200 inter group conflicts happening in the world today — and those sets of instincts are relevant in every setting.
Those basic sets of instincts tend to steer us in very predictable directions in all inter group settings — and they play out easily and with great power in the context of our tribes.
Every setting has a leader, and our leaders tend to have very common patterns of behavior and emotional responses when our Alpha instincts are activated. Leaders in many settings find that their power increases if their group has an enemy to be resisted and if their group has territory to be gained by taking it from other groups.
Market share and territory conquest can both trigger those sets of behaviors and emotions.
History is easy to see as a series of proof points for the existence of those sets of instincts for both leaders and the people they lead.
The Germans of World War Two had their leader’s Alpha instincts fully activated, and they did horrible things in very intentional ways to people from other groups to support what he taught them and incented them to want and believe about the German status of being a master race.
Genocide was an easy fit as a tool for that set of instincts when it was in full operation
Likewise, the Japanese from World War Two also did stunningly destructive and racist things to other people. There were leaders in Japan with very similar instincts activated who incited and steered the Japanese people very intentionally into those emotions, values, beliefs and behaviors.
The Japanese and Germans could not have been more tribal in their behavior during that war. They both did extremely tribal racial superiority behaviors against the people they conquered and dominated in the predecessor years for that conflict that were often breathtakingly cruel, evil, and intentionally dehumanizing.
We all have the programming to be saints — and we all have the programing to be sinners. Our instincts can steer us in either direction. We can see from the paths both those countries took in that war that it can be a very slippery slope into major sin.
Our ethics tend to follow our perception of whether we perceive other people to be Us or Them. We could not be more different in our values when we make those determinations.
Japan and Germany both had extreme definitions of Us and Them activated for that war, and they did some incredibly evil things to people with no sense of remorse because sinning was their intention relative to the people they were damaging.
Post war behavior for both countries has been interesting.
Japan has very intentionally channeled its tribal instincts since the war into being one of the most tribally pure countries on the planet. They have zero interest in immigrants or inter group inclusion of any kind. The Japanese tribe today insists on both racial and cultural purity at fairly rigid and very intentional and clearly purely tribal levels. Japan has maintained almost absolute tribal purity in those interactions with the world.
Germany, today, however, has found itself going in the exact opposite situation from Japan — with many immigrants now entering the country from multiple directions. Racial and tribal purity for the German tribe for their historic geographic space in Germany is now gone.
They have admitted many people from Turkey and from other Middle East countries — and each set of immigrants into German cities is setting up its own group identity and each new set of people is creating its own set of group and tribal emotions and expectationsand even very definitive group turf.
Germany is now facing some significant internal problems that have deep instinctive implications and consequences as the result of a huge influx of refugees who are not from the German tribe and who not only do not want to share or join a German religion or a German culture, but who feel opposed in some ways to those old approaches, identities and alignments.
Those immigrants into the German cities also increasingly tend to feel they are being discriminated against because of their own group and culture. Because every group in every setting has a natural tendency to both protect their own new turf and to resent any behaviors from other groups that they do not feel are positive for their own people, there are neighborhoods in Germany that have purely other identities and local control and are unsafe today at some key levels for people from other groups.
Paris also has some neighborhoods now where the police fear to go under some circumstances. So do some Belgium cities.
Some of the new people in Germany and other European countries have assimilated in various ways with the general original population and culture, but significant numbers of people from those new sets of Germans and Austrians and Swiss immigrants tend to feel growing levels of inter group anger and even conflict on several points of interaction with the original European tribe in each setting.
That discrimination that the refugees in each of those settings in Europe seem to feel might or might not be real, but many people from each of the refugee groups perceive it to be real and that makes it functionally real and important to Germany and France and Austria and Belgium and all of the refugees and new immigrants in those settings.
Europe is facing instinctive inter group pressure from the new people who are now living in groups and neighborhoods in every country. Our news media also tends to miss the point of those stories and trends.
All of the countries of Europe now have growing numbers of refugees from other cultures, and groups and all of those growingly diverse nations are facing similar levels of highly predictable and significant negative and problematic inter group instinctive emotions and behaviors that often have tribal identities involved at core levels in the process.
That reality of tribal forced interactions and group identity challenges now creates major challenges at extremely predictable levels for all of those countries. It is triggering significant inter group anger inside Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Austria and in each of the Scandinavian countries.
There is some irony in the fact that the Ethnic Cleansing that has been very intentionally done by the Alawite Tribe of Syria is a functional factor that is creating major inter tribal anger in France, Germany, England, and in all of the countries where those refugees have fled and are now trying to maintain a tribal and ethnic identity and build a future for their children.
The countries of Europe did not have any awareness of instinctive inter group behavior when all of those refugees began coming to each setting, and the leaders in each of those countries decided to deal with all of those issues ideologically and politically and not with any sense of the inevitable inter group issues they would inevitably create when they became multi ethnic cities and countries and would have to deal with the entire package of inter group instincts in all of those settings.
The leaders of those original countries did not deliberately decided to refuse to see what was happening and they did not respond strategically to both shut off the disruptive ethnic cleansing in North Africa where it was being done or to do anything in an effective way to better assimilate their new immigrants who all had their own inter group instincts deeply activated by the situation in extremely predictable ways.
Ethnic cleansing in Syria is, all by itself, triggering extremely predictable and negative ethnic conflict in all of the places where the people from the exiled Syrian tribes are trying to live. Those old European countries and their leaders have been too focused in very innocent but dangerously dysfunctional ways on ideological political correctness to recognize the reality of tribal identities, and to develop approaches that can create inter group Peace in those settings.
We need to recognize and understand the reality of that new world for all of those nations. The people who govern every one of those settings all need to recognize the power of Us/Them instincts to deeply damage their countries, and should react accordingly to their new reality rather than pretending that it does not exist.
The people who lead those countries also need to move past both magical thinking and purely ideological thinking into reality based sociological thinking to figure out what to do now to restore inter group peace to their settings.
This Institute for this website piece is called The Institute for InterGroup Understanding because it is trying to build tools to help the people who steer those settings to understand what is happening and to deal in strategic and effective ways with that set of issues, processes, and activated packages of instinctive behaviors.
And, at the same time, in our own country, we need to clearly understand the tribal division that we are beginning to trigger for ourselves as a country.
We need to understand which packages of instinctive behavior are steering and influencing us in potentially dangerous settings, and we need to steer in safer directions in our own country.
As we look at the rest of the world, we definitely need to stop pretending that tribes are not hugely important to that process in all of those other conflicted settings and we need to recognize what is happening in each setting so we have some chance of steering many of them to much better outcomes.
We need our news media to know what is happening in those settings to help us anchor our thinking.
Those battles in over a hundred settings have people from tribes killing people from other tribes.
The Houthiare not a political movement or an ideology. They are a tribe who is being killed in multiple and ugly ways on land they have occupied for many generations by people who hate them from another tribe who wants to achieve their own tribal ownership over that land.
The Sunni Arabs from Saudi Arabia are firebombing and starving children from the Houthi tribe and the people committing those sins against that piece of humanity feel no guilt because their Us/Them instincts have actually made damaging the Houthi ethically legitimate to the leaders of that country.
That conflict could not be more tribal. We need an answer that gives the Houthi tribe legitimate control over Houthi territory and self-governance as a Houthi people. We need to allow the Houthis to make Peace with the other local tribes in that country who don’t want to be killing each other. The killing would stop.
The Houthi do not want to kill any Arabs or Iranians or even Kurds. They just want to end the genocide against their tribe and maybe lead a tribal coalition of some kind over that country.
Our news media needs to know and understand that almost always have their own tribal territory, and tribes tend to feel a deep and almost mystical loyalty and attachment to what they often perceive to be their sacred tribal turf.
The Black Hills of South Dakota feel like the sacred tribal turf for the Sioux tribes of North America. The people from that tribe have a deep attachment to that specific segment of our planet and they believe that is part of their personal and group identity.
Tribes often activate that set of both emotional and functional linkages to the land they believe is their tribal turf.
The challenge and problem that sometimes happens and creates major difficulties in a setting is when two or more tribes feel that same level of attachment to the same piece of turf. Each group can feel at their core that they are the rightful and even sacred owners of that land, and that creates obvious problems about many aspects of that piece of property.
The most obvious place where that set of conflicts exists and where we need to understand what it is doing to both sets of people is in Israel and Palestine — where two sets of people have historic claims to the same piece of land and the claims from each group goes back for multiple centuries.
The Canaanites actually originally had direct ownership as a tribe over that piece of turf for centuries, but we only have artifacts remaining from that first set of people who had the earliest known tribal possession of that turf.
Interestingly, many of those artifacts we still have from the Canaanite tribe are weapons. Spears and daggers. The photo at the top of this article is a picture of a Canaanite spear point from 1550 BC. It was purchased at a Palestinian antique store in Jerusalem.
That’s a very long time ago. People have been fighting there for a very long time. We need to figure out how to end it now.
Tribes fight. So we need tribes be make Peace.
We Need to Use Tribes Safely in the Peace Process
Today, we need to figure out a future that protects all of the relevant people who need to live into the future in that part of the world. We won’t figure that situation out until we recognize the tribal nature at deep foundational levels of that conflict and deal with it in a way that feels right to each of the tribes.
We also need to recognize the tribal nature of all of the 200 current inter group conflicts. We need to deal with each of them in a way that either gives the tribe that claims the land ownership and control over the land or creates safe ownership models that allow people to live in safety on their ancestral land.
The sites under contention by more than one tribe are significant and growing.
The Scots have people who want tribal autonomy.
Ireland is dealing with tribal conflict issues again as well.
The Barcelonans have people who deeply want tribal autonomy. The leaders of Spain have their own Alpha and turf protection instincts fully activated, and some Spanish leaders want the Catalan freedom movement leaders to be in jail.
One of the most famous works of art in the world is the Picasso painting called Guernica. That massive painting is a perfect example of the kind of extremely ugly behavior that can happen when tribal battles happen.
That particular city had its own tribal group who wanted to secede as a tribal city from Spain. Instead of giving them local autonomy, the alpha-level tribal leaders of Spain asked Hitler to have the German air force bomb the city to keep that from happening. Hitler wanted to test his new war machine and he agreed to do exactly that.
Those people in that region of Spain still aspire to self-governance. The Spanish Government, today, is putting Catalan leaders from Barcelona in jail to prevent that same kind of tribal separation from happening now.
In all of those separatist settings, the usual pattern is that the tribes who want to succeed and who become independent and self-governing tribes consider themselves to be group patriots and tribal heroes. The people in power over them in those settings who do not want them to succeed or secede very often very clearly label them as terrorists who want to damage their own tribal identity, and both kill them and put them in jail for their aspirations.
The United Nations generally comes down against the secessionist tribes in each setting and opposes their aspirations and their attempts to separate from the parent nation.
The international parent organization is called the UNITED NATIONS for a reason. Actual nations set the UN up, and those nations set it up to protect their interests and to continue their own full control over themselves as nations.
Alpha leaders in Spain and Myanmar and Sudan do not want any of their separatist groups to separate. They work hard to keep that from happening, and
Alpha leaders in those settings tend to feel a strong emotional and even moral obligation to protect every inch of their national borders and boundaries.
The world is often much better off in many of those settings when the separation of the people who want to self-govern actually happens, because Peace generally happens as a result of the new tribal nations able to govern their own people.
Yugoslavia was at war with itself at multiple levels, and it is now much more peaceful as two friendly neighboring nations.
Interestingly, there are some additional tribal groups there in the new nations who would like to take their functional self-governance in that setting to an even more local level — but the larger historic battles between the major tribes will not happen again because they each control their own turf and they will not go to war with themselves.
Similarly, Czechoslovakia makes much more sense as two friendly neighbor tribally pure nations rather than continuing to be an internally conflicted single nation at war with itself.
Switzerland decided centuries ago to become a peaceful multi ethnic nation, and they wisely recognized the power of instinctive inter group behavior and created local Peace by giving each of the three main ethnic groups in that country huge power over their own turf and their own culture.
They have French Speaking Cantons, German Speaking Cantons, and Italian speaking cantons in Switzerland — and they function together as a confederation rather than a hierarchy.
They still maintain separate identities at several important levels, but the overall model works because they have needed levels of autonomy on the key issues for their cantons — and they carefully protect and honor and celebrate the primary tribal language and tribal culture for the people in each Swiss territory.
Cantons can be a very good model for a nation to use if full division into completely separate countries does not make sense in a given area. The cantons in that country reflect the functional power and role of each of the original Swiss tribes, and they avoid inter tribal warfare by being an alliance instead of being ruled by the other tribe in those settings.
That is a very good model.
We need to look at all of the inter tribal conflicts that are happening in all of those settings, with the goal of creating solutions in each setting that meet the perceived needs of each group for some level of group identity and even autonomy, and cantons might work in a number of those currently bloody settings to achieve that goal.
The basic level of tribal issues needs to be understood for all of those settings in order for us to achieve inter group Peace in more settings. We need multi ethnic nations who are now at war with themselves to have the ability to split either into separate tribal nations or into tribal Cantons, where needed.
We need people in each setting who will keep major local ethnic and tribal discrimination from damaging individual people who find themselves to be in minority status in those new canton or tribal autonomy situations.
We will see some additional tribal activity in some of the larger nations, as well.
Russia is a very good example of an area where the tribal process is going to steer major portions of the future, and where they have been wrestling with their own version of the Swiss cantons. We can only understand Russia today by understanding exactly what tribal behaviors are extremely relevant there.
The old country of Russia is now the anchor nation for a new confederation of nations. They are smaller than the old Soviet Union, but they are still massive. The new Russian confederation actually has over a hundred local ethnic languages — with over 80 percent of the people speaking Russian but with large local majorities speaking other languages in various settings.
Chechnya, for example, is a full member of the Russian Confederation but the people there speak Chechen and tend to be Muslim in their religious alignment. Speaking another language and having a different religion obviously triggers some instinct relevant senses of being different as a tribe whenever that happens, and it is clearly creating issues in that setting.
That particular set of people in Chechnya have had a couple of unsuccessful armed rebellions against the Russian confederation, and they currently seem to be peaceful but somewhat unhappy as a minority nation for their overall alignment.
Tribal issues have also been extremely relevant for Russia at the other end of the language and tribal identity continuum in Crimea.
Russia annexed Crimea from the Ukraine in 2017. It was very and explicitly tribal. They claimed that 80 percent of the people were tribally Russian, speaking Russian and having deep and direct historical connections to Russia that go back centuries.
That was actually fairly accurate as a description of the functional history of that area.
The annexation of Crimea was opposed by almost all other countries in the world, but Russia claimed that their historical tribal alignments actually made that process a return to an old status quo rather than a pure power grab into new territory by Russia.
That annexation of Crimea was followed by a very similar move by Russia into some Russian speaking sections of the Ukraine.
The Russians point out that Russia used to consider that territory as part of its Russian turf, and pointed out that significant number of ethnic and tribal Russians still live there. A number of those people have taken up arms in a war of independence against Ukraine. Those ethnic Russian rebels have taken control over some of that turf and they seem to have reached a functional agreement of some kind to align directly with Russia and become part of Russia that every other nation in Europe seems to oppose.
That whole process could not have been more tribal. Russia did not attempt to take over land in eastern Europe in any setting where the people spoke Polish or Hungarian or German or any other language. They focused their expansion exclusively on land where the people spoke Russian and where the local people were likely to welcome alignment with the larger Russian tribe and they knew that to be true because the people had already entered into a civil war with the rest of Ukraine to achieve some autonomy as aa tribe.
Some reports are that move was relatively popular with Russian speaking people from other parts of the Russian confederation because it was taken as evidence that their tribal leader had done some tribally aligned things in a fairly dramatic way to protect members of their tribe and their own historic tribal turf.
People who worry about the domino effect of that annexation behavior by Russia might want to consider that there are almost no other similar sets of tribal alignments in other local countries with Russian speaking local people as local majority that would invite or support an echo of that performance.
Russia probably does not want to celebrate in very public ways how tribal that move was because they have people like the Chechens and the other hundred groups inside the Russian Confederation who each have their own language and their own tribal identities who do not feel that their own tribal autonomy needs are being legitimized now by Russia and who would each like their own higher levels of autonomy for the local territory where they are the majority language.
Russia clearly has its own tribal instincts in gear for that territory and for the other captive nations as well. When we understand both sets of instincts, it isn’t hard to figure out what Russia is doing in each of those settings, and why the local people in that portion of the Ukraine were somewhat supportive of those efforts.
Russia will need to work out some kind of future ownership for that turf — and it will need to meet the tribal needs of both the Ukrainian tribe and the Russian tribe to be sustained over time.
Tribes follow patterns.
Tribes tend to act in instinctive and predictable ways.
We can predict the future in many parts of the world if we look at what those clear and basic patterns are and then simply look at how they will play out in each inter group setting.
History Both Repeats Itself and Rhymes
When we see the patterns for what they are and when we look at what inter group situations we face in each of those settings, then we can both predict what will happen and we can explain why it happened in each setting.
There are good instinctive and tribal reasons why we have about 200 inter group conflicts happening today.
Most of Africa has nations with massive internal inter tribal conflict. Those multi group countries are almost all at war with themselves — and that will continue until the local tribes achieve some level of identity and security that they feel meets their needs as tribes.
Likewise, the middle east has a dozen multi tribal countries at war with themselves. Iraq clearly is mess of tribes who have fought each other for years, and who will not give up fighting because they will never cease to be tribes.
We need to either divide the country into separate self-governing countries for each group, or set up a Switzerland like set of cantons that can give each tribe the governance role it wants over its ancestral turf without having to make the country disappear entirely.
The tribes there in each country will never go away.
Likewise, the other extremely artificial multi group nation states will never make sense as nations with group identities, loyalty and patriotic national feelings on the part of their people. We need to recognize that reality and deal with it.
Syria has a logical set of new countries that should be created — with the Kurds being separate and with the various other non-Alawite tribes either aligning with Iran or Saudi Arabia or Jorden based on their religious affiliation.
Russia might help broker that arrangement and help each part of the country into a safe tribal haven because the Russians want a safe Mediterranean port for their ships and a permanent Middle East presence for their air force and their current strategic and functional tribal alignment with Assad and the Alawites gives them both of those goals along with major steerage over the next part of that process.
Pakistan is also extremely tribal — and has major internal tribes who now control major portions of that country. Those tribes are trying to work out their own echoes of what Switzerland managed to do. Some level of tribal autonomy at a more formal level would reflect what is actually happening there anyway and could make the tribes happy and create some functionality at a national level.
Pakistan has had a long-standing conflict with India, but that seems to be more historical than motivational for either country at this point in their history.
Pakistan needs to be a confederation and not a nation.
It functions as one now — with major portions of the country now run by the historic tribes — so changing to a different power structure isn’t likely to happen.
Likewise, Afghanistan is not a true nation in the sense of having anyone waking up in the morning and believing that their key identity and primary role in life is to be an Afghan.
A confederation of some kind could probably work there as well.
Nigeria makes no sense as a single nation. Major components of their population hate each other as groups, and have no sense of shared culture, strategy or national identity. They should evolve into self-governing areas that reflect the legacy groupings of each people.
They will need to figure out some way of sharing disproportionate distributions of oil deposits and other mineral wealth — but they should be able to do that if they begin with the end in mind and also agree that only win-win solutions can survive over time.
A United Nations role that could add value to the world at this point in history might be for the UN to set up standard rules and templates for setting up new Canton like nations for logical tribal settings, with adequate protection created by the United Nations and by the template for the minority people who will be at risk of being persecuted by the new majority group in each setting.
There have been some horror stories in that regard about extreme damage done to unprotected minority groups and people in some settings — and it might make sense to have a UN blessed template to use to protect those sets of people in those settings, and then to have a blue helmeted component to help create transitions and processes to protect minorities in those settings where that is needed.
That approach could work in multiple settings.
Iran has a couple of major internal tribal groups, and they will need to figure out their own internal cohesion if they have any hope of creating internal Peace. They have done that in the past, so it is not impossible to do.
Lebanon is a multi tribal nation that took great pride for a very long time in having achieved very real inter group Peace.
That level of inter group cooperation and alignment in Lebanon has deteriorated somewhat, but it is entirely possible that having the countries around it not at war and spilling bloodshed into Lebanon would allow a return to more Peaceful behaviors for that country.
In any case, the people of that country also now wake up in the morning as Druze or Christian or Sunni or Shia and that tribal identity determines both their loyalty levels and inter group behaviors. We need our media and government officials who help other countries to recognize the extremely tribal nature of their current existence and to support any approaches that could restore an inter group Truce to that country.
Truce can be a very good tool.
Truce and various kinds of confederations are in the middle of the sets of options as explained by the book, The Art of InterGroup Peace. We need the people in each conflicted setting to look at the full set of options that might be useful for their setting and then deliberately bring people together in that direction.
The book, The Art of InterGroup Peaceexplains those eight alignment options — and six triggers that can incent people to align.
We would be very well served for each new crisis that happens at the tribal level if our news media would go into each new conflict or a new crisis to drill down skillfully to see exactly what ethnic group is in the picture and what their role is in the situation.
The Houthi should be understood as a group and a set of cultures, and their role should be crystal clear because that is who is being killed and because their tribe is exactly the reason they are being damaged and destroyed.
Seeing the role of tribes and groups is not hard to do once you start doing it. They are everywhere, and they both give people identity and structure various levels of interactions.
In some countries — including our own — the group divisions that trigger our most problematic instincts to divide the world into Us and Them are not tribal but racial or ethnic. Racism and racial discrimination and prejudice can each do their own levels of damage.
Those Us/Them instincts can do real damage whenever they define interactions between any groups of people.
Some countries face more racism than tribalism. Cuba is only one tribe — but has some clear ethnic and racial group behaviors that create very predictable sets of emotions and interactions and triggers some ugly and discriminatory behaviors against part of that population.
In our country, we have a long history of dividing the world into Us and Them by race.
We had slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, and multiple levels of damaging inter group behaviors. The dominant Us group for America for three centuries has been white Americans. We have been growing increasingly enlightened at multiple levels — and we need to continue on that path as a nation — and the white majority has been generically supportive of that process.
We also are at some risk today of tribalizing politically. Our politics have not been as divisive in prior decades and centuries as they are now — and we need to work on ways of not going down the ugly path to tribal behaviorthat has 200 other settings doing damage to themselves for tribal reasons today.
We can do that.
We can rise above the tribal behavior that threatens us today by recommitting ourselves to the ideals that made America great and build on them by helping our children from every group get the right start and by creating a sense of understandingabout how much we want our grandchildren to live in Peace and not in fear.
The inter group books are focused on those issues. We have paths to go down, and we should use them.
At the same time that we do that, we need to take a clear look at the rest of the world and we need to understand how big a role tribes are playing in all of those settings — and figure out and support solutions that will allow tribes to meet their needs in order to stop damaging people from other tribes.
India is tribalizing in dangerous ways — with the majority tribe gaining support by creating anger against the minority tribes.
Myanmar could not be more blatantly and brutally tribal in some of its behaviors.
We need to have our news media at least describing those situations for what they are so that we can understand them and deal with them in various ways — including economic responses to unacceptable behaviors. That won’t happen until we see them for what they are.
We need Peace in America. We need to avoid tribalization here.
We can make the decision to not tribalize as a country, and to make Peace with ourselves based on our shared values, our commitment to win-win for all of our people, and based on helping every child from every group get the right start.