Tribal power: The strange world of us and them.

All human beings belong to one tribe or another. We search for common goals that bring us together be it; a sports team, a political party, a religion, a type of music, our nation, a geographical area, the colour of our skin, sexuality or maybe just our age. We are all apart of some larger entity and often more than one. It’s also reasonable to acknowledge that some factors bind us together more than others. A tribe can unify people forming an in-group and by definition everybody outside of this are apart of the out-group. In a book by Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Minds: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, he suggests that “our minds were designed to unite us into teams, divide us against other teams, and blind us to the truth”. Weirdly, I started to ponder this idea shortly after New Zealand’s defeat to England in the Rugby World Cup semi final.

Alas, this is not a tale of another Kiwi crying into his beer after a comprehensive loss. It’s slightly more complicated than that. I was born in Manchester, England and lived there for 40 years. Notice how I stopped short of calling myself English. I started typing English, but I felt uneasy about using it as a descriptor. I’ll be honest, I was never someone who sang “here we go” at the top of my lungs in Ibiza, nor did I go searching for a “full English” the morning after a hangover. In contrast, I did commit to 8 years in the British Navy travelling to the far flung corners of the earth. I also suffered the collective deep pessimism each time England took penalties during a major football tournament. No, I don’t have 3 lions tattooed on my arm or any other part of my anatomy, but I have supported England in varying sports around the globe

So what happened? Put simply, I moved. I left England in 2011 and have now lived in Whangarei, a largely forgotten part of New Zealand for the last 8 and a half years. At first I continued to follow England in many sports, after all I still knew many of the players. But increasingly, I kept an eye on how New Zealand were doing, be it the Olympics, Rugby, League or Cricket. It must have crept over me like a shadow, but I suddenly realised during the one day cricket final against England (another heroic loss) that I was a fully fledged Black Caps supporter. There was no doubt in mind, second thoughts or even guilt. Was I traitor? Is this treason? Did I care? The answers in short are no, no and no. By the time this years rugby world cup rolled around, England seemed less like my home country and more like the enemy. What happened? What kind of animal had I become?

army buddies

It is well documented through many studies performed after the Second World War and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq that one of the main reasons soldiers keep going despite the stress and danger is for their buddies. It is certainly not for king and country as gets suggested in black and white war movies. From an evolutionary standpoint it makes intuitive sense, sticking together can help save lives, in particular your own. However, moving beyond major events we can be very easily divided in the most arbitrary of ways, quickly developing in-groups and out-groups.

In 1968 on the day of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination Jane Elliot, a teacher from Iowa conducted a little experiment and split her class based on eye colour. She showed that the “better” blue eyed children ridiculed brown eyed kids almost within minutes. While she observed the same treatment meted out when brown eyed kids were the “chosen ones”. This study has been subsequently repeated by psychologists thousands of times in a myriad of different ways. Further to this, a study by the University of Missouri highlighted that, in-group identification became even more intense if members were made to feel threatened. It is thought that during these times we rely on our group members even more, especially if we feel at risk of physical harm.

Although being a part of a group may keep us safer by gravitating towards people who might seem most like us, we inadvertently build metaphorical walls which prevent us from bonding with our fellow human beings. One result of this is groupthink, this can ultimately lead to the group being irrational and dysfunctional. In this state, critical thinking can be diminished as raising an opposing view, arguing or discussing controversial topics can be perceived as dangerous. With no opposing ideas, members are more likely to feel uniformed in their beliefs leading to black and white thinking, and the stereotyping of others. This behaviour can occur as much with the KKK as it can within ANTIFA, with Remainers as often as Brexiteers, this even occurs pretty equally between Manchester Utd and City fans (believe it or not).

Amy Chua in her book “Political Tribes” offers that allegiance to a nation is not as strong as for example, ethnic or religious factors. But at its core, belonging to a group or tribe is still linked around the concept of identification. Groups members congregate with one another, directing their love towards the same object, shared leader or a cherished cause. This creates a unified feeling of identification, reciprocated by other members of the group. Collective identity is thought to work in two ways; firstly all members relate to and are loyal towards their focus (goal, leader, ideology etc.), secondly there’s a recognition of this devotion among other members.

Vlad Lenin

Social psychologist Erich Fromm described these as primary ties, giving people security and a sense of belonging. Development of this solidarity prevents the individual from being morally alone, providing more confidence and increasing the certainty of their convictions in the larger social arena. With all this in mind and returning to the original question, am I a traitor for abandoning my nation of birth, in exchange for the country I’ve lived in for almost 9 years? I would suggest not, but I guess it should be down to someone else to decide this.

If as suggested, I was seeking an identity in a new country, choosing the All Blacks or New Zealand sport in general to support would make sense. Sport in New Zealand generally speaking is a uniting force. Citizens regularly follow the escapades of this small nation, the plucky underdog that always manages to punch well above its weight. It is also a relatively benign group to attach oneself to. Most of the time that is. Although, as a member of this group I can quite easily feel all the trappings of us versus them. Demonising the opposition, taking a bias view on refereeing decisions or even the irritation of watching joyous England fans celebrate victory.

This was palpable, especially when Owen Farrell crumpled to the ground clutching his face after being mildly pushed by Sam Whitelock (although for mere mortals that’s probably an oxymoron). My overriding response was to yell at him in my suddenly rejuvenated northern accent, “get up yer girl” or “I bet yer dad’s proud of yer, writhing around like a bloody football player” (his dad incidentally is Wigan rugby league legend Andy Farrell, who I’ve seen in action on numerous occasions). Oh how quickly we bond with the people we live and work with day to day for a common cause. On that day, however, we commiserated with one another as any slightly battered tribe would.

 

 

RIP James Bond: 007 assassinated by political correctness.

After over 50 years of cunningly dodging villains such as Blofeld, Scaramanga and Goldfinger, Bond has finally met his match, succumbing to the all powerful force of identity politics. This slippery foe has a chameleon type appearance and tentacles in every facet of society. In all honesty, it was only a matter of time before James Bond would get the snip. After all, he epitomises everything that is despised by identarians. Primarily, he’s a white male, therefore, encapsulating unadulterated toxic masculinity, misogyny and colonialism all while masquerading as a functioning alcoholic.

Over the years the Bond franchise has developed a politically correct sheen to deter PC complainants, but clearly this ultimately wasn’t considered enough. Certainly not in western society, which readily promotes positive discrimination in an attempt to create a ‘diverse and fair’ society based on identity markers in which we have very little control over. Incidentally, I haven’t witnessed too much from identarians protesting for equal representation on oil rigs or for front line soldiers, miners and garbage collectors.

Around the world we have perpetual wars, chiefly ignited by countries in the west (the US, UK), massive overall poverty, climate change inaction and general economic inequality. However, judging by the focus from the identarian left, it appears that ensuring that more middle/upper class women become CEO’s or politicians and sorting out bathroom usage for transgender people, are much more pressing issues than poverty, wars and climate change. Meanwhile in Hollywood ‘affirmative action’ is a top priority in a quest to concoct utopian levels of diversity. At the same time, out of touch millionaires like Meryl Streep who basically pretends for a living tell the minions how they should live their lives.

These identarian crusades are generally devised by middle class, bourgeois, allegedly educated people to benefit, guess who? Of course, the middle class, bourgeois, supposedly educated. I think we can safely file these grievances under “S” for self serving. It goes without saying that we need to be respectful to one another and look after each other. But looking at the amount of child poverty, homeless people or senseless killings around the globe we are failing miserably on all fronts. In contrast, many people with relatively comfortable existences partake in rampaging offensives, heroically ridding the planet of “wrong think”, all so they can be less offended when traversing that tricky thing we like to call life.

This brings me back to Bond. This is a fictional character, initially created in a time where we had quite a different set of social norms. Although 007 has morphed into an increasingly 21st century friendly character over time, viewers do not watch Bond films to obtain an accurate depiction of history or society. Most people are quite capable of watching Dr No for example, in the context of the 1960’s without requiring a “trigger warning” prior to the movie. Likewise, if I watch for example Superman, I know deep down human’s can’t fly, even with a red cape. Therefore, I don’t require some form of an alarm to remind me not to throw myself out of the bedroom window while wearing a bedsheet. It’s fiction people, if you can’t put it into perspective, maybe you’re not fit to function in the world.

Chris Reeve

It’s not as if identarians support a realistic representation of life through movies, otherwise James would probably keep his job. The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in 2013 published a document regarding diversity, in particular about attracting more women into the service. Call me Mr Picky, but when it comes to state security, I want the best people for the job. Personally I don’t give a rats arse what they identify as. Although, at the time of the report out of the 12,000 employed by the SIS 37% were women.

I would hazard a guess, however, that in the field where Bond is supposed to operate, that number would be substantially lower due to particular attributes required for the job. I would also surmise that as 87.2% of people in the UK are white (2018), the chances of an operative in the field being a white fella is fairly high. Therefore, James Bond I would offer is a pretty good representation of a UK SIS field operative, but this is clearly not good enough for Hollywood.

So what is this identarian offensive about? Well within the liberal Hollywood bubble, re-hashing films or in this case a franchise, in the name of ‘diversity’ is currently “en vogue”. It requires no creativity and the hope is, it will attract a different type of audience, raking in more money for essentially the same film (although often not as good, think Ghostbusters). I propose that we can classify this practice as spectacularly lazy film making. Surely, if women in Hollywood are asking for stronger acting parts wouldn’t they prefer challenging female driven storylines and characters, rather than an old recycled male role?

This recent trend in movie making during the #MeToo era appears set on rewriting film history and the placement of female actors in formerly male roles. These movies present themselves as some weird cathartic experience for identarians. Any trace of masculinity and whiteness must be eradicated at all costs, regardless of when a film was made, the societal norms during that time or any context within the film itself. It must be stressed that the new 007 character, who is indeed a black woman is obviously not playing James Bond. Although in a non-binary world maybe I shouldn’t be so presumptuous. Rather she is taking over the mantle of 007, which I would guess is a prelude to the eventual demise of James Bond, with the future of the film franchise being simply known as 007.

lashana lynch

Diversity it would seem is code for the revision of history, which was undoubtedly dominated by men, and in the west white men. Because of this, men are often portrayed as the ultimate privileged group, the last demographic that is fair game for ridicule and sometimes hate. The reality for many is much different from the social justice narrative. Men make up 70% of homeless people, over 90% of workplace deaths (UK 2018/19 95%), while the vast majority of people killed in combat are men (Iraq 97.5%), women are 35% more likely to go to university than men and men complete suicide at an approximate ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 in the anglosphere compared to women (dependent on the country examined).

So forgive us, if many men don’t buy the privilege theory fantasy. Undoubtedly, there are a tiny minority of very rich and powerful men who pull multiple strings, but these are not representative of all men. Most men have much more in common with their dog than the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Hollywood’s Ryan Gosling . However, the white male privilege fable keeps us all at each others throats, while a tiny cabal stay in control of the important stuff, laughing all the way to their yachts on route to their private islands.