Monday, April 30, 2007

Modern Tribalism

As the rats, in increasing numbers, scamper off the floundering good ship Neo-con, their defensive claims that "their hands were tied" or similar arguments remind me that tribalism, loyalty to a group, is alive and well in these supposedly modern times. In the main, these rats would have us now believe that they were all victims- deserving of our pity, not our scorn.

George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, in his new book, would have us believe that his words were taken out of context- a claim I find plausible, but also laughable. Why, I ask, as do Michael Scheuer, Larry Johnson, and Pat Lang, to name a few, did he wait so long to tell us? If the invasion of Iraq had produced more positive outcomes would he have expressed such consternation at being misconstrued? or would he have continued to bask in the glow of praise as he did upon receipt of the Medal of Freedom.

In similar fashion, Richard Durbin would like us to know that the "intelligence" on Iraq, both before and after the invasion, presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which group he was a member, contradicted the tall tales being constructed for public consumption. Alas, he avers, he was sworn to secrecy- an oath which has conveniently expired now that the tide has turned.

Many on the supposedly anti-war left, some of whom are running for President, would have us believe that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have voted for the invasion. I wonder what the missing bit of knowledge was which would have changed their minds- that there were no WMDs, or that the effects of the invasion would be as they have been?

Bookies and stock brokerages (perhaps I repeat myself) are rarely sympathetic to similar, informed by hindsight claims. How many people would have purchased shares of, for example, EXDS, if they had known the corporation would declare bankruptcy? How sad that the tribe of technology worshippers could not see how things would unfold.

Men, it has been well said, (by Charles Mackay among others) think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one. I would rephrase the wisdom of Mackay thusly; individuals think, the crowd prefers the fleeting safety of numbers.

As Rudyard Kipling put it in his poem If:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!


Ruby said...

Wow Dude, you are so lofty. I'm totally digging the plethora of sources collage style to make a heavy point.

I learned alot about tribalism vs. individualism from Marshall McLuhan. There are specific characteristics for each. I would go into it now, except I'm moving and really tired now! But you are highlighting some of those characteristics in your analysis.
Check out Media: Extensions of Man and Gutenberg Galaxy.

Nice post for late night reading, though. Good Night!

Dude said...

I'm either lofty or a pedant, depending on perspective.

I'm familiar with McLuhan's work, which I found most enlightening, even though I don't share his optimistic view on man's use of his new tools of communication. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight to guide me.