GDI Event: The Return of Tribes

Technology, Nationalism and the Social Divide

Nation states are divided, the EU is under fire and ideological fringe groups are gaining in influence across the world. Instead of dialogue, opposing parties’ wars of belief now dominate politics. What matters is belonging, rather than facts. We are experiencing the return of premodern tribal thinking.

At the heart of this tribal attitude lie struggle and survival in a hostile environment. Forty years ago, the visionary media theorist Marshall McLuhan said, ‘The tribal world is not friendly. One of tribal people’s main kinds of sport is butchering each other.’

The new tribes of like-minded individuals offer a sense of belonging. Identity arises through exclusion: us against them. The goal is interruption and destruction – without future perspectives and without history. Today is what counts. And the social media that should be bringing us together is in fact intensifying the formation of tribes.

The peaceful world has passed its peak.

  • What are the new major tribes and who are their chiefs?
  • Uprooted global elites versus local populations: who’s winning?
  • Are we returning to an archaic premodern state?
  • Is moderate nationalism the only alternative to tribal Darwinism?
  • Will the things that divide us soon become more significant than the things that unite us?

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