Build your Tribe

Photo by Kimson Doan

David Bardsleye

The globalized, disenfranchised, sterilized, secularized, urbanized, and the personalized world which our children are being born into idolizes the deracinated individual above all else. The deracinated individual is rootless, isolated, and bereft of both heritage and meaningful ties to the culture of their ancestors. The deracinated individual is therefore easily manipulated and exploited. Indeed, the very reason this idol was erected was to control the masses for the benefit of morally bankrupt elites.

The conservative movement of the late 20th century (begun by William F. Buckley and other like-minded intellectuals) has failed to conserve anything precisely because it also pays obeisance to this idol. To be sure, conservatism is a more staid and slow-moving sect of this idol’s cult, but it worships the deracinated individual nonetheless. For this reason, conservatism and all its arguments, values, and presuppositions must be closely questioned and re-examined.

A typical value of conservatism is rugged individualism. Rugged individualism is the concept that each individual should aspire to an ethic of austere self-reliance dependent on hard work and perseverance. The rugged individual rejects out of hand the idea of seeking help from government agencies. However–and this is key–the ultimate logic of the rugged individual also rejects the idea of being bound by any input, help, direction, guidance, or restriction whatsoever from the community, culture, or heritage from which they were born. Perhaps the quintessential anthem of rugged individualism is the ballad My Way. It is striking that this song was a hit for artists as disparate as Frank Sinatra and The Sex Pistols. Rugged individualism is not a hard-left approach to life, but it is still an approach that idolizes the deracinated individual.

The authentic right-wing approach to life is not rugged individualism, it is tribalism.

It may be that as soon as you read the word “tribalism” your mind reacted negatively. Many people associate the idea of tribalism with close-mindedness, hostility, and aggressive factionalism. Isn’t that curious? Why should those associations exist? Historically speaking, we know that some tribes behaved in those ways. We also know that other tribes were open to learning, friendly to outsiders, and happy to interact with others. Particular tribes may behave in certain ways, some of which may be harmful to others or harmful to the tribe itself, but tribalism is not an inherently negative concept. People have been conditioned to believe this by the cult of the deracinated individual.

As an example, we might take a look at the Amish in America. The Amish are, essentially, a network of tribes with shared beliefs and values. They separate themselves from the world around them in order to greatly limit their exposure to beliefs and values that would destroy their tribe. They help each other and rely on each other within their tribe (i.e., their community). They strictly pass their beliefs and values on to the next generation. They believe in non-resistance (perhaps to a fault). They do work hard and are very perseverant. They even let their youth test their Amish beliefs and values against the beliefs and values presented by the wider American culture (Rumspringa–a tradition that has been badly misrepresented by “reality” TV and other sources). The Amish have large families and are currently thriving overall. In fact, they do so well on their own, and they guard their tribe so closely, that when outsiders express a wish to join them, they politely encourage you to go live Amish values in your own life. In other words, no, you cannot join their tribe… but you can start your own. While most of us would feel a little sting at the Amish rejection of contemporary technology, it would be difficult to have an otherwise negative view of these tribes. I do not advocate for all Amish beliefs and values, but clearly, tribalism is not inherently negative.

Putting aside the example of the Amish, what are the core requirements of tribalism?

In the first place, tribalism is a philosophy of non-dispersion. This means that related family units believe that geographical proximity to one another is of prime importance. Families and individuals within the tribe are highly discouraged from moving hundreds (or even dozens) of miles away for almost any reason. If the entire tribe is literally starving to death, they may all choose to move someplace together. They do not disperse one by one. There are many reasons for this approach. Because families and individuals within the tribe are closely related to each other (either literally by blood or by deeply shared beliefs and values), they have a natural inclination and motivation to care for each other and help each other out in hard times. They are able to gather together to reinforce and encourage one another in their shared beliefs and values and to share both joy and sorrow with one another. Oftentimes this includes regular worship services, but just as important are the day-to-day interactions that occur outside those worship services. For example, the interactions that happen when an adult or teen within the tribe babysits your children can be a powerful reinforcement for your children. They learn that they are part of a community that believes, values, and does the same things. A tight-knit tribe also provides a natural place for young men and women to find marriage partners who share their beliefs and values and who will help propagate the tribe to the next generation. Tribalism requires that our families stop sending their children far and wide and apart from the network of people who love and care for them. In the vast majority of cases, the reason for moving away is either the banal desire for money (e.g., “Gotta get into a great university so you can get a great job at Megacorp X a few hundred miles away!”) or a naked worship of the deracinated individual (e.g., “You gotta get out into the world and experience life for yourself!”). These reasons must be utterly rejected. No amount of money can replace the joy of seeing your children interacting with their grandparents week in and week out. There is no reason to “find yourself” out there in the world when what the world has to offer is disconnection, manipulation, and exploitation. The tribe must stick together.

Another requirement of prime importance for tribalism is having a strong system of beliefs and values that all members of the tribe share. These must be inviolable and unmoved by forces from outside the tribe. The strongest beliefs and values are based on principles of truth that do not change with the winds of the Zeitgeist. The beliefs and values of the tribe must also be constantly reinforced throughout daily life. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says it well: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (ESV). Blood is not enough to bind a tribe together if the people within the tribe cannot even agree with each other about what is actually true in life. As a practical reality, the tribe also needs to be larger than one directly-related extended family (your want your children to marry within the tribe but obviously not to someone too closely related). A tribe must have shared beliefs and values which are deeply held, unmovable, and strictly passed down to the next generation.

Corollary to this strong shared belief system is another prime principle for tribalism: deep scepticism of people from outside the tribe. Scepticism does not require hostility, aggression, or even rudeness. This deep scepticism simply means that people from outside the tribe are understood as being foreign and that their ideas and behaviours pose a potential risk to the tribe. If it is determined that the outsider’s beliefs, values, and behaviours are subversive to the tribe’s beliefs and values, the outsider and his ideas must be gatekept out of the tribe, even by force (if that is absolutely necessary and possible). For example, contemporary tribalism probably requires you to very tightly monitor and limit your children’s media consumption and access to media. Television, movies, music, and internet media is rife with the teachings of the deracinated individual. These must be gatekept out of your children’s experience when they are young. Once they are fully indoctrinated with your beliefs and values (yes, indoctrination is another word we think is negative but can actually be very good), then some careful exposure in order to critique such things may be permissible. In general, however, why swim in the dung pit? This means that even your own media consumption should change toward what is good and true rather than the filth which makes up the vast majority of contemporary media. The goal should be, once again, a deep scepticism from anything that comes from outside the tribe. Those from the outside have to prove their worth and value to the tribe. The tribe does not need to be open to any and every strange idea which may, in fact, be a poisonous danger to the tribe’s survival.

Our goal as an authentic right-wing should be to break and utterly destroy any power that the cult of the deracinated individual would have over our families. A determined commitment to tribalism is the path forward. These three elements are the core of tribalism: geographic proximity, strongly-held and shared beliefs and values, and a deep scepticism of anything from outside the tribe. Admittedly, this will not be easy to achieve. Tribalism runs counter to all the narratives of the deracinated individual so replete throughout our culture. It will be a constant battle and it will require a huge reorientation of what you yourself probably consider to be good, wise, and prudent in life. However, we have seen the alternative. We have seen how the cult of the deracinated individual destroys families, destroys individuals, and makes people slaves not only to our cultural overlords but also slaves to their basest and ugliest impulses. Do you want something better for the next generation and for your own children someday? Then build your tribe.

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