Tribalism vs. Nationalism

Essay by T. NimritaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 1996

download word file, 3 pages 4.3

Tribalism may replace nationalism

Picture a world in the next century organized not around nation-states but

around a new form of tribes sharing the same culture and values. It's a

world where you pledge allegiance not to a republic, but to a clan.

That possibility isn't too far-fetched when you take the current state of

our fracturing world and overlay new information technologies and the new

telecommunications infrastructure. Here's how it conceivably could play


This melting-pot business is not working out. America no longer seems able

to meld all the various peoples within its borders into one harmonious

whole. As the years go by, Americans seem to identify less with their nation

and more with their various subgroups based on ethnicity, religion or race.

The rest of the world, now that the Cold War is over, is resuming its

long-simmering ethnic rivalries. Nations from the former Soviet Union to

Yugoslavia have broken apart into smaller nations based primarily on

ethnicity or religion.

Separatist factions are mounting serious challenges to

nations from Canada to Spain to India.

The idea of the large nation-state, grouping people together within

geographic boundaries, does not seem to work anymore. We have

organized that way for several centuries, but it's usefulness may be running

out. People seem to identify more with those sharing a common culture or

holding similar values.

People may rely on 'tribes' for education, security

Digital technologies can enhance -- or, depending on your perspective,

exacerbate -- such tendencies. They could allow people to connect with

people more like themselves regardless of where they live in the world. And,

ultimately, they could allow people to formally organize themselves that way.

Consider a world of the next century along the lines sketched out by Neal

Stephenson in his new science-fiction book, '...