Review This Product. Welcome to Loot. Checkout Your Cart Price. Special order. This item is a special order that could take a long time to obtain. Description Details Customer Reviews Poor education, bad parenting, a sense of entitlements, the "wasteland" of TV, and more. These are the symptoms of a culture in decline. While it's easy to recite a litany of problems, identifying their root causes requires more than the facile commentary offered by most media pundits. This in-depth analysis of cultural trends in America traces the problems of the country's current malaise back to two profoundly misguided view of human nature prevalent in the 20th century - hereditarianism and humanistic psychology.
A writer is entitled to shift perspective. He once had a small but devoted and querulous readership for his often surprising blog. Today, his works are huge best sellers, and it is deemed near blasphemous among liberals to criticize them. H ow to unwind this increasingly dangerous dysfunction? But we should not delude ourselves that this is all a Trump problem. What Obama could not overcome would have buried Hillary Clinton, who, almost uniquely in public life, carries the scars of our tribal era.
In fact, the person best positioned to get us out of this tribal trap would be … well … bear with me … Trump. The model would be Bill Clinton, the first president to meet our newly configured divide. Clinton leveraged the loyalty of Democrats thrilled to regain the White House in order to triangulate toward centrist compromises with the GOP.
You can argue about the merits of the results, but he was able to govern, to move legislation forward, to reform welfare, reduce crime, turn the deficit into a surplus, survive impeachment, and end his term a popular president. Trump is as much an opportunist as a tribalist; he won the presidency by having an intuitive, instinctive grasp of how to inflame and exploit our tribal divide.
His recent dealings with the Democratic congressional leadership have flummoxed party leaders and disrupted our political storytelling. His new openness to trade legislating DACA in return for stronger immigration enforcement is especially good news. Two new polls back this up. The Democrats are now, surprisingly, confronting a choice many thought they would only face in a best-case-scenario midterm election, and their political calculus is suddenly much more complicated than pure resistance.
Might the best interest of the country be served by working with Trump? Or could they try to moderate the tribal divide? But if Democratic leaders choose to de-escalate our tribal war rather than to destroy their political nemesis, would their base revolt? White Christians are panicked and paranoid about religious freedom now. How will they feel when vastly more secular and multiracial generations come to power? And if the Democrats try to impeach a president who has no interest in the stability or integrity of our liberal democracy, and if his base sees it, as they will, as an Establishment attempt at nullifying their vote, are we really prepared to handle the civil unrest and constitutional crisis that would almost certainly follow?
Tribalism is not a static force. It feeds on itself. It appeals on a gut level and evokes emotions that are not easily controlled and usually spiral toward real conflict. And there is no sign that the deeper forces that have accelerated this — globalization, social atomization, secularization, media polarization, ever more multiculturalism — will weaken. The rhetorical extremes have already been pushed further than most of us thought possible only a couple of years ago, and the rival camps are even more hermetically sealed.
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In , did any of us anticipate that neo-Nazis would be openly parading with torches on a college campus or that antifa activists would be proudly extolling violence as the only serious response to the Trump era? As utopian as it sounds, I truly believe all of us have to at least try to change the culture from the ground up. There are two ideas that might be of help, it seems to me. The first is individuality. Nothing is more conducive to tribalism than a sea of disconnected, atomized individuals searching for some broader tribe to belong to. I mean valuing the unique human being — distinct from any group identity, quirky, full of character and contradictions, skeptical, rebellious, immune to being labeled or bludgeoned into a broader tribal grouping.
This cultural antidote to tribalism, left and right, is still here in America and ready to be rediscovered. That we expanded the space for this to flourish is one of the greatest achievements of the West. What tribe would ever have me? I may be an extreme case, but we all are nonconformist to some degree. Nurturing your difference or dissent from your own group is difficult; appreciating the individuality of those in other tribes is even harder.
It takes effort and imagination, openness to dissent, even an occasional embrace of blasphemy. And, at some point, we also need mutual forgiveness. No tribal conflict has ever been unwound without magnanimity. Yitzhak Rabin had it, but it was not enough. Nelson Mandela had it, and it was. And here is where the greatness of the country lies, in that there is room for all and all are important.
But this requires, of course, first recognizing our own tribal thinking. In our tribal certainties, we often distort what we actually believe in the quiet of our hearts, and fail to see what aspects of truth the other tribe may grasp. Not all resistance to mass immigration or multiculturalism is mere racism or bigotry; and not every complaint about racism and sexism is baseless. Many older white Americans are not so much full of hate as full of fear. Equally, many minorities and women face genuine blocks to their advancement because of subtle and unsubtle bias, and it is not mere victim-mongering.
We need to recall that most immigrants are simply seeking a better life, but also that a country that cannot control its borders is not a country at all. Reentering it with empiricism and moderation to find different compromises for different issues is the only way out of our increasingly dangerous impasse. All of this runs deeply against the grain. It fights against our very DNA.
But no one ever claimed that living in a republic was going to be easy — if we really want to keep it. The scorching temperature surpassed the previous record of No offense to year-olds.
How much do you think tonight damaged him as a frontrunner? Until we get numbers, of course, this is all just pundit talk.
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But what the exchange clearly did was establish that his model is likely not the only electable one. It definitely was a script, and it did feel a little uncomfortably opportunistic to me. On the other hand, Harris has been underperforming expectations so far, and this is a moment people will remember. She was excellent beyond that exchange, too.
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What she definitely did tonight was establish herself as a top-tier candidate. But what does that really mean, in practice? The difference: before there was a tippy-top-tier of Biden alone. Beyond Biden and Harris, did you think anyone boosted or damaged their candidacy in any serious way? Going into this debate, Pete Buttigieg had hit a rough patch in his charmed rise, after his shaky handling of a police shooting in South Bend.
In one of the more striking moments tonight, he fielded a question about it by admitting that he had failed to adequately reform his police department. What did you make of his response? One thing that stuck out to me was that many expected someone to attack him for the response. No one expected that to come from Hickenlooper, and then Swalwell. That limited discussion of the actual substance. I thought they asked pretty good questions and for the most part imposed order, though there were some stretches of lawlessness.
It was slightly strange that these candidates got to respond to what happened on the previous night, but clearly the moderators wanted to put on a show and maximize meaningful conflict. Rules shmules. One thing that will definitely change about the questions in future debates: Harris and Warren will both have to defend their records now. The combined speaking-time tally via the Boston Globe. Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription.
Account Profile. Sign Out. The Psychology of Tribalism. Tags: top story tribalism democracy politics donald trump new york magazine More. Most Viewed Stories. Over the years, Joe Biden has benefited from black candidates feeling compelled to take a conciliatory pose when confronted by racism. No more. More evidence that people are intensely interested in the election. Buttigieg had a good debate performance, and was properly contrite in addressing a recent police shooting in his city.
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But he has more work to do. Most Popular. The punishment for an infamous moment in recent American history. Beyond her dismantling of Joe Biden on Thursday night, she showed off her formidable skill as a prosecutor. A friend of mine told me that his recipe for a happy marriage is this: "I do as I am told and I like it.
As Dr. Bledsoe, the president of an African-American college in Ellison's Invisible Man , somewhat cynically remarked: "Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it. The only ones I even pretend to please are big white folks, and even those I control more than they control me. Neither is there any reason to deem conflict inherently opposed to human sociability.
Politics, however, means conflict-solving with methods other than violence. The idea of politics as a public affair, in turn, rests on the view that the public leaves us to solve the conflicts of our private lives in the private sphere.
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Everything is not politics. Yet we constantly encounter situations in which authorities need to cross the line between the public and the private, as when it is deemed necessary to take children into foster care to protect them from their own parents. Or think of the heated s busing debate about whether the authorities could demand that parents send their children to a far-away school in order to desegregate all schools in the area.
In sum, everything is not political, but anything can be politicized. This is not to say that norms are nothing but power claims. But it does suggest that refusing to view them as power claims leads us to embrace easy conformism rather than critical thinking. By and large, the most well-established norms and patterns of behavior may begin to change only when they are politicized.
Rioting often appears to bring such topics as racism and the excesses of global capitalism to the fore, but most often it conveys a lack of imagination of how to politicize an issue in a constructive way.
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In free democracy, one may always join a party, organize an ad-hoc group or sit-ins, found a journal, and so on. Homosexuality was politicized several times in the United States until the highest political leadership of the country recently decided to back the equal civil rights of homosexuals and lesbians.
Homosexuals themselves first brought the topic to the public eye in the famous Stonewall Inn riots in New York City. They resisted their treatment as second-class citizens when it came simply to their right of assembly.
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In the early s the San Francisco city fathers politicized the issue even further. In about a decade the time-honored medical definition of homosexuality as a mental disorder was done away with. It was the traditional understanding of normal sexual behavior, not the voting rights of homosexuals. By and large, homosexuals were not customarily hunted down in the "olden times" either.
There had been ways of dealing with the issue so as to keep it out of the public eye. Most people were happy to live in ignorance in order to tolerate, a norm embodied in the now so suddenly bygone "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the U. Entering the public sphere as homosexuals, these people questioned the erstwhile norm that such issues as sexuality and raising children belong to the private sphere only when the household includes a man and a woman. A lot of people became nervous, because their traditional understanding of normal intimate life appeared to be questioned, occasionally ridiculed.
Women's right to vote was once another highly controversial subject. It took a lot of conscious lobbying and politicking until women's suffrage finally in began to manifest that silent force of progress in American history that President Obama speaks about. Or consider on what basis historian William Chafe can characterize the civil rights struggle of the s as "a social movement" that "compelled a political response" from "presidents in Washington D.
If the s Civil Rights Movement does not count as political, what does? More recent efforts to posit identity formation, globalization, or some other grand idea as a new standard for good American history writing incur the same methodological problem. Any such standard is apt to turn history into a Manichean endeavor of detaching the good, so-called usable past from the apparently less important past characterized by easy conformism to the standards of the time.
Hence, progressive history tends to omit rather than to recognize the significance of such facts as, say, that Jefferson remained a slaveholder for the whole of his life; that Lincoln swore to save the Union whether it demanded freeing all the slaves or freeing none; or that Wilson only reluctantly conceded to women's suffrage as a constitutional right.
That depends solely on what one thinks the American idea is. One may promote equal access to education and health care with or without invoking the somewhat indeterminate founding-era ideals. Political action is always pursued from a forward-looking position in the present tense. That was also the position of Hamilton and Jefferson, who fought bitterly over the American future because they both knew that the past cannot be changed.
By contrast, history is about explaining the human past as correctly as possible. Let it remain so.
Bush, Second Inaugural Speech, Jan 20, , in ibid. Peterson, ed. Segal "Commentary" in Maddox ed. Let me add that I cannot quite understand Segal's accusation, for Marx explicitly refers to various modes of pastoralism of his own day at the very beginning of his book. Neither can I agree with Segal's insinuations that, contrary to the representatives of the symbolic school, such exemplary anthropologists as Victor Turner or Clifford Geertz "have surely done extensive fieldwork before reaching their conclusions.
For the quotation, see ibid. Onuf ed. By clinging to this extra-historical image of the human being Zuckert refutes both the republican thesis that we need a distinctly political notion of man and the communitarian thesis that we need a more socially oriented view of man Ibid. In fact, President Bush looked back further than to Locke when stating in his Inaugural Address that "When our founders declared a new order of the ages Plato and Aristotle criticized democracy for its very tendency to treat all men as equal, although anyone could see that some men were more virtuous and wiser than others.
Zuckert is absolutely right that one needs a Locke for this ideology to make it look a historical view in the first place. Knopf, , None of this is to claim that history writing could avoid being to some extent political. An illuminating example of fully politicized history writing is Jerome Huyler's Locke in America with no less a subtitle than The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era. For Huyler, who has "gotten the whole Locke" and "gotten him right" ibid.
But in striking contrast to this, the rest of American history amounts to a sad departure from its original moral philosophy. Huyler concludes his book with an obscure s pamphlet, Jefferson: the Forgotten Man, to argue that in the American mixed political economy true " Lockean liberalism As I have attempted to show here, Zuckert's own explication of what truly counts as a political context may seem problematic as well.
See Michael P. See also ibid, Hoboken, N. J: Wiley-Blackwell, , brackets and exclamation marks added. To be sure, our constantly growing impact on the rest of nature cannot grant threatened species any judicial, reciprocal powers as arising from some inborn natural rights. This is why power is a moral issue just as much as merely a judicial one. Boyer et al. See William H. This text is under a Creative Commons license : Attribution-Noncommercial 2. European journal of American studies. Contents - Previous document - Next document.
Abstract This article suggests that, contrary to a widely shared view among American scholars, a progressive view of history is neither essential nor helpful to historical research in American studies—or in any other academic field.