The New Barbarians

I read a book a while back that claimed tribalism was the new way to go. Collecting people that were like you and sticking together. Not necessarily targeting others, just minding your own business and doing your own thing, as a group. I don’t really have an issue with the idea. I believe it has merit. The downside is that it can go in either direction. It can be a healthy outlet allowing people to do their thing among those that accept and enjoy similar things.

The other side of that coin is the very thing that makes it good can also make it bad. Being among a group of like-minded people can cause one to alienate those outside your group. An echo chamber forms and the separation becomes even more pronounced. Individuals become polarized as they adopt the group identity and the divide between “us” and “them” increases. Even to the point of supporting ideas that they themselves don’t agree with. Their reasoning is that while they, personally, don’t agree it’s not their place to make a decision on behalf of others.

While a noble thought, the eventual end is an “anything goes” system of moral decay. A society needs standards of behavior and a shared moral compass to help the individual weather the constant storm of needs, wants, and wishes we all have as human beings. In order to survive, a society needs to agree on what is encouraged, what is tolerated, and what is not allowed.

Much of Western society’s social mores and standards of behavior are based on Judao-Christian morality. If you’ve ever traveled outside of the West you’ll quickly notice significant societal differences. It’s not just in behavior, it’s in nearly everything they do and how they do it. Sometimes it’s cultural hand-me-downs, sometimes it’s religious based. Either way, things that are accepted and not even noticed in the U.S. can be interpreted entirely different elsewhere.

The United States is hopefully coming to the end of a culture war. In the last decade, self-declared agents of change have decided it’s time to dismantle our country’s social standards. The end goal isn’t really clear, but I can’t think of a positive outcome from the direction things are headed.