The Many Faces of Tribalism
That there are more varieties of tribal identities than there are countries in the world goes without saying. Yet within those tribal identities there exist countless little sub-identities, many vastly different from one another, yet all nevertheless have one thing in common: they rarely change. A tribal identity does not change, even when certain players within a tribe may temporarily switch loyalties for personal gain as is so often the case. Perversely, a tribal individual is both loyal to his tribe, and disloyal to all bar himself. But by and large, tribes insist on their identity, their customs, ideology and so on at whatever cost. They have not quite graduated to a civilised status, on the contrary, they shun civilisation and all that goes with it including social, religious and ethnic unity, kindness to “others”, tolerance, universalism- everything Christianity and Islam stand for. Often they go further and outright punish those who abandon the tribe in the spirit of universalism and humanism. To understand this concept, one ought look no further than the Bible and specifically The Last Supper, where Jesus Christ himself predicted an imminent tribal betrayal. It has been thus since.
However, today we have something far worse in an age of increasing world wide nationalism and by extrapolation tribalism. Although European Nationalism began circa 1848 ( with the exception of Greek and Serbian nationalist revolutions which began in 1821 and 1804 respectively), today we have another brand of tribalism never seen before: Corporate Tribalism. Corporate Tribalism has far more in common with traditional tribalism than one might think, and both exist to serve one another. Perhaps the most striking similarity which we will explore further in due course, is that they are both equally disloyal to the nation. Corporate Tribalism is essentially commercialised tribalism on a grand scale, fully supported by governments who are beholden to corporations. If traditional Tribalism has hijacked the nation-state, Corporate Tribalism has hijacked both the nation state and traditional tribalism and is therefore the most insidious and dangerous of all Hybrid warfare tactics.
Tribes are irrelevant on their own, as was the case with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, previously nothing more than a set of tribes concentrated in and around Riyadh. It was only when the British switched allegiance from the House of Hashemites, the rightful owners of Mecca and Medina to the tribes in Riyadh, specifically the minor House of Saud that Saudi Arabia became a thing, bestowing the two Holiest sites in Islam to a minor peoples with no connection to them but with a strong connection to Wahhabism. While the British succeeded in empowering certain tribes and assisting in the establishment of new states that did not correspond to the historical and regional realities on the ground, as was the case with Saudi Arabia and “Israel”, the pretty much identical strategy that the US has employed since the 1960’s, and especially since the post-9/11 “War on Terror” Campaign has yielded little other than losses for all involved.
The problem with exercising unilateral power in the 21st century, is that the age of empires is over. After WWI and the Great Patriotic War, different standard were set, every empire had collapsed, the United Nations was established – a new era emerged, that of the sovereign nation state and the measures to protect it were set out in the Geneva Conventions. Yet, the United States continues to adopt the British Imperial strategies with even less restraint or concern for international law. If the US military is the armed wing of the “Freedom & Democracy” stratagem designed to invade and destroy sovereign nations that don’t bow to the US Hegemonic dictatorship, Corporatism is the political wing of this stratagem; the author of it. No entity is less loyal to the nation and its peoples than a corporation. And while the “Freedom and Democracy” slogan was indeed a mid 19th Century British Liberal Imperial invention – a stark contrast to the erstwhile Melian dialogue ‘Might makes Right’ traditional Imperialist attitude that drove and sustained the British Empire, the Americans have taken the “Freedom and Democracy” doctrine several steps further. If it were not for the catastrophic consequences, it would be comical.
Let’s take Libya as an example. When Brother Leader Mummer Gaddafi gave up on the seemingly impossible task of uniting the Arab World, he turned his attention to Africa, and introduced, amongst other revolutionary plans, a new gold-backed African dinar so his countrymen, and those of other African nations could be unchained from the cage of the US Dollar. Alas, such plans never materialised as not long after, fellow Arab mercenaries with the help of NATO airstrikes, equipment and financial backing, captured the Colonel and beat him to oblivion before mercilessly shooting him, undeterred and unmoved by Gaddafi’s last words as he lay dying, “What did I do to you?”
What did he do to them indeed. Or rather, what didn’t he do to them; he built them skyscrapers from sand, free schools, free universities and free hospitals. He loaned his people money interest-free; housed them, fed them. Libya, once the richest country in the history of Africa where literacy was near 100% and where homelessness went against the constitution, is now a failed state, not too different from Somalia, rife with terrorists and destitution, and a number of competing ruling factions and no stability in sight. Hilary Clinton’s sinister words ” We came, we saw, he died” will likely haunt even the most strident of Gaddafi’s critics for years to come.
But who were those who betrayed the Revolutionary Founder of modern Libya? None other than his own Arab brothers. Most who fought against Gaddafi’s rule were either non-Libyan Arabs, Libyan exiles who lived in Europe and their children, or Qatari and UAE affiliates, all of whom were set to materially profit from the overthrow of the legitimate and democratically elected Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi warned that the West was poisoning Libya’s children with drugs. But in an age where travel is easily accessible along with drugs and money transfer available instantly at the push of a button, Western-led corporate tribalism has had an opportunity to aggrandise and become a monolith in as far as undermining the vast majority of the world through various means of Hybrid War, including and especially that of exploiting latent tribal conflicts to maintain US-led unipolar hegemony. The more tribal a peoples, the less loyal to the nation they are, and the more hungry they are for money and status. A tribe cannot think long term, because by definition a tribe does not evolve, it does not seek to do so, on the contrary. Yet at the same time, it seeks to enrich itself while absolving itself from bigger responsibilities that come with money and power. It does not want to share that power, or space with anybody else. A tribe does not wish to be responsible for anybody or anything else but its own tribe. And therein lies the problem: their mindset does not correspond to realities on the ground and consequently they are disappointed more often than not.
Tribals are as quick to trust as they are to betray. But while the betrayal of a tribe toward its patrons i.e corporations and corporate-owned Western governments can be a minor headache in the wider scheme, the betrayal by a master can devastate a tribe and end their ambitions for power. Such was the case recently when the US-allied separatist Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who had illegally occupied the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk since 2014 were neutralised by the Iraqi Army, effectively ending the occupation. The Americans, on cost benefit analysis, decided not to intervene to save their useful Kurdish proxies, despite having spent countless resources in aiding and abetting the separatist Kurdish militias as part of the divide and conquer strategy not just in Iraq, but throughout the region.
Perhaps the most striking betrayal by a Western government/corporation ( those two terms are interchangeable in the Western political system) toward their beloved tribal entities, was when America began its campaign of betrayal toward the Mujahideen/Taliban, who the US had heavily and consistently supported since 1979. While the Americans continued to fund the Taliban even up to the 1990s, they did so less overtly because they were keen to make sure that Pakistan had a bigger influence in Afghanistan than Russia, Iran or China. It is well known that Pakistan was sympathetic to the Taliban because they believed that the Taliban would finally put an end to secular Pashtun Nationalism in Afghanistan whose objective was to annex Pashtunistan on the Pakistani side of the border as part of a Greater Afghanistan. Therefore, a Pashtun-led Islamism by the Taliban was less of a threat to the ethnic and religious make up of Pakistan. In 2001, America finally went to war with the Taliban under the pretext of the Taliban housing Osama Bin Laden who had been renting space in Afghanistan so to speak in the same way the Iranian Marxist terrorist group MEK is currently renting space in Albania initially at Barack Obama’s behest. The US was aware that even before 2001, the Taliban had no real alliance with al-Qaeda, indeed the US was aware that the Taliban had begun to feel encroached by al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban even condemned 9/11, and offered to hand Bin Laden over to Pakistan and then Pakistan could extradite him to America, but the US did not listen and instead went to war with the Taliban.
It rarely occurs to avaricious tribes that Superpowers are merely using them as pawns in a bigger Hybrid War against the Eurasian Heartland, because tribes are both disloyal and detached to the concept of the nation and unity. But just as traditional and regressive tribalettes are both disloyal to, and removed from their own nation, Corporate Tribalism is much the same and worse.
It is one thing to exploit indigenous tribal conflicts ( latent or otherwise) in historically pluralistic regions for material profit, it is quite another to exploit artificial sectarianism and resulting conflicts in European countries which up until the 20th century were largely homogenous. Furthermore, it is one thing to invite a foreign peoples into a developed country for pragmatic reasons due to a demand for a labour force as Germany did when it welcomed Turkish immigrants in the 1960s and as Britain did with Asian and African migrants, it is a different thing entirely to blindly allow for an influx of mass migration of peoples from different continents and of different colours for ideological and material ambitions. In this event, acculturation is the best case future scenario, while violence is the worst, yet the most prevalent. While a British person may find it mildly bothersome but tolerable to live next door to a Pole, living next door to an African or Asian may prove more challenging largely due to an even bigger disparity in ethnicities and cultures. A Pole, after all, is European. A Pole, but European nonetheless.
History has proved time and again that humans find it challenging enough to get along with their own kind, much less with foreigners. I reiterate that all peoples have tribal instincts which are expressed in a myriad of ways depending on regional characteristics, which begs the question, say, if two tribes in Afghanistan who have been living side by side for centuries are at constant war with one another, how then could two or more different peoples from different regions, continents and colours possibly get along with one another? It is easy to shame multiethnic and multi-religious countries with pejorative terms such as ‘Barbaric”, “Dictatorships” or “In need of education”, etc when one is born and bred in a homogenous society, by definition a more stable society. But what the West fails to understand or accept is that the East is far more diverse and by extrapolation more difficult to manage than the West ever has been. The last thing Middle East and Asia need is for clueless Europeans to rule over them, or modern European style Imperialists in the shape of the United States. To this day, European supremacists continue to undermine and patronise Asian powers due to regional realities that cannot be helped. By the same token, they frequently ignore great economic and geo-political strides made by Asian powers such as China’s revolutionary One Belt and Road transnational trade and infrastructure project that is set to transform the global economy forever.
But Europe is now getting a dose of its own medicine, as Enoch Powell, a man much maligned for speaking the truth eerily predicted would happen in his Rivers of Blood speech exactly 50 years ago. And what’s worse, is that Europe has brought it upon itself. Europe’s artificial sectarian make-up is further compounded by the invention of another form of commercialised tribalism on top of the existing one: Identity Politics, a thing so surreal that even Enoch Powell whose prognosis was ahead of its time, would have found it difficult to conceive of.
(To be continued…)