Tribalism

2co dismount crew 2 edited

Photo above is me in the field with NATO allies, a currently unfashionable concept. BLUF: We abandon such friends and comrades at our hazard.

There are a lot of things going right with the world. An example would be the recent test flight of the Starhopper, a platform for experimentation on the Starship, Space X’s roll of the dice for Mars colonization. Other things are the increasing scale and marketability of green technologies, see my previous post about Harley-Davidson and their awesome electric bike. In human history there has never been such a prolonged period of rising standards and life expectancies; this is a golden age.

History teaches us that golden ages eventually get trashed.

Read an interesting article today on the Wall Street Journal, it’s an excerpt from an upcoming book by General Jim Mattis, USMC, (Ret). It’s behind a paywall, so unless you’re a subscriber, you’re out of luck. But the name of the article says a lot. It’s called “Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism.”

This, readers, is how our golden age ends. We break apart into warring factions centered around rigid tribal allegiances, ethnicity and religion. General Mattis is sounding the alarm bell, the man knows what the hell he is talking about.

We need allies. Period. When the US ducked back into its protective shell in the 1920’s, we all know what happened. Bad stuff. Why should people be so naive as to think that the same won’t happen now, with a deeply interconnected world? With enemies that can easily reach us, with threats that appear as whispers on a column of ones and zeroes? It is madness to assume a state of perpetual peace, or to wish blooming threats away.

It’s far better to have a string of friends across the globe who can give us early warning about things that go bump in the night in their neighborhoods. Things that can metastasize and blow up in our faces. Forward defense is a hell of a lot better than having to deal with a catastrophe on your own soil, I would have thought that September  11, 2001 would have taught us that.

But no. Many are reverting back to the old, hoary isolationist standpoint, that we can hold off threats at our borders. That bad guys can’t possibly cross the sea and threaten us. Come on. Seriously?

Yeah, seriously.

At the same time, factions here in the ‘States are busy demonizing each other and accusing the other side of treason on a routine basis. This is hyperbole and misuse of a serious charge. If there is real treason, let it be sniffed out by the appropriate intelligence agencies and dealt with by either military law or civilian law enforcement, whichever is appropriate. And let the guilty be hung as opposed to misusing and overusing the term.

What’s really funny is when people blame immigrants, legal or illegal, for all of our ills. Curiously, I hear people carping whose direct ancestors came over on the boat within living memory. When asked about this, people say “well it was different for my (father, mother, aunt, etc.). How come? The United States was founded on legal immigration. How much poorer would we as a nation be without immigrants? Think Albert Einstein, among others. Along with your favorite aunt, or the barely remembered grandfather who gave you a dollar bill on your birthday.

Some of the trends mentioned above, and warned about by people such as General Mattis, are building into threatening clouds on the horizon.

Golden ages do not last because we wish them to last. They must be sustained, maintained and defended. Like roses or friendships. If not tended to, they die.

If a society can no longer justify its reason for being, if no one will step forward to defend it, it will perish. Either externally by aggression, or internally by strife.

The old tribes haven’t died, nor the poisonous and virulent ideologies that feed their rage.

I look forward to reading Mattis’s book.

 

 

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