Changing How the World Thinks

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Issue 55: A Tribal World

Is the tribe to be feared or embraced?

a tribal world editorial

Is science nothing more than a creed? Are tribes the building blocks of civilisation? Does progressive politics need to embrace nationalism?

We see community and society as the bedrock of civilisation. But communities are also fortresses of privilege and conformity, as migrants know only too well. With Trump aiming to reinstate the Muslim ban and preparation for Brexit underway, it seems the spirit of internationalism is well and truly under siege.

While in Europe Marine Le Pen hopes her France first focus will win the hearts of the people, those who fear the spirit of nationalism grow increasingly intolerant and shut down debate. And all the while the echo chambers of the internet continue to alienate and entrench both sides of the political spectrum. Is the tribe, from the Facebook group to the nation, to be feared and contained? Or is finding our place in a larger group at the core of what it is to be human?

In this issue of IAI News, we tackle the dangers of community. Examining the nature of tribalism, each of our contributors will be asking whether or not we should fear groups and what alternative ways of living there might be.

The Tribe of Science
Rupert Sheldrake – Parapsychologist and author of The Science Delusion
Is science nothing more than a creed? Could freeing ourselves of its dogmas lead to radical new discoveries? Leading the issue, Sheldrake takes the tribalism of the scientific community to task.

Total Isolation
Ed Stafford – Guinness World Record-holding explorer and survivalist
Naked and alone, Ed Stafford found himself marooned on a tropical island with no water and no tools. In this piece, he reveals what 60 days of total isolation taught him about the need for community.

How to Create a Cult
Eileen Barker – Sociologist at LSE and author of The Making of a Moonie
From Scientology to the Westboro Baptist Church, how do cults survive in the 21st Century? As one extreme form of tribalism, Barker examines just what it takes for cults to thrive in the modern world.

A New Nationalism
Jon Cruddas – Labour Party MP
Is it time the left embraced nationalism? Tackling the future of identity, Cruddas makes the case for a progressive and popular national sentiment without which, he argues, society is doomed.

Community, Tribalism and Facebook
Daniel Miller – UCL anthropologist and author of Tales from Facebook
Are we really more tribal online? Miller investigates how Facebook has transformed one community in rural Trinidad.

The Art of Community
Colin Tudge – Founder of the College for Enlightened Agriculture
Are tribes a vital part of a functioning society? Tudge rounds up the issue by dismantling our fear of groups, arguing that tribes are the fundamental building blocks of civilisation.

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