Tribalism and Truth

Of course these two things are opposed. But what leads to tribalism and the consequent divorce from truth? Tribalism is a substitute for truth–it’s what you cleave to when truth isn’t going your way. It takes up the slack between wish and fact. If your beliefs can’t be true, they can at least agree with the beliefs of others. The more your beliefs fail to correspond to the facts the more you substitute tribalism for truth. So the degree of tribalism in America today is a function of the distance that believers stand in to reality: the more false your beliefs are the more tribal you become. And of course there is a tacit awareness of falsity. A society brimming with delusion is a society of tribes, generally hostile to each other. This principle applies both to the political right and the political left.

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3 responses to “Tribalism and Truth”

  1. Henry Cohen says:

    Your final sentence does not state or imply that the level of delusion is equivalent on the political right and the political left, but, by referring to “a society” (as a whole) brimming with delusion (though admittedly not specifying our society), it seems to suggest it. Was that your intent?

    • No, but I think America as a whole is prone to delusion, more so than other societies. There is a pronounced tendency to think in cliches and stereotypes, on the left as well as the right. I don’t approve of what was done to Al Franken, for example.

      • People in the US are very prone to psychobabble and oversimplification. There is also moralism instead of morality. Of course I am generalizing–there are plenty of exceptions (though the traits in question are surprisingly prevalent).

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