Thursday, July 22, 2010

Comment Elsewhere: Political tribalism

Kevin Drum was expressing his difficulty with getting into the conservative mindset, and I responded:
But on an emotional level, it just seems nuts. So I wish that I could figure out a way to feel it. To understand it.

It reminds me of the constant sense of embattlement the Jewish community in the US has been dealing with for.... well, most of the 20th century, I suppose. A hostile educational culture, institutional barriers to success, a presumption of cultural wrongness, the assumption that assimilation to the wide culture equates with a loss of principles, the sense of constant existential threat punctuated by episodes of actual existential threat, and the weekly drumbeat of concern/panic/self-criticism in religious life. A response which includes cultural combativeness, mutual aid within the community, attempts to present a unified front to the rest of the world, hypersensitivity to slights and slippery-slope dangers, creation of separate institutions of education, finance, culture, philanthropy. Celebration of infiltration into mainstream culture and institutions, combined with maintenance of parallel separate institutions.

The list goes on and on. What's surprising is the translation of an authentically tribal response to modernity into a political movement which has now transcended politics to be come a culture.

I've been concerned for a long time that the homeschool movement would be the foundation on which a true epistemic split would be created in American life, but perhaps it's Fox News and Liberty University, instead. Or perhaps it's all of a piece, but it isn't going away anytime soon.

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