The New Tribalism

Separatist movements have broken out all over. We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states.

The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation-State



Technology has whittled away the underpinnings of the nation state. Separatist movements have broken out all over – Czechs separating from Slovaks; Kurds wanting to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; even the Scots seeking separation from England.


The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation


We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states. The the same pattern can be seen even in America – especially in American politics.

Before the rise of the nation-state, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the world was mostly tribal. Tribes were united by language, religion, blood, and belief. They feared other tribes and often warred against them. Kings and emperors imposed temporary truces, at most.

But in the past three hundred years, the idea of nationhood took root in most of the world. Members of tribes started to become citizens, viewing themselves as a single people with patriotic sentiments and duties toward their homeland. Although nationalism never fully supplanted tribalism in some former colonial territories, the transition from tribe to the nation was mostly completed by the mid-twentieth century.

Over the last several decades, though, technology has whittled away the underpinnings of the nation-state. National economies have become so intertwined that economic security depends less on national armies than on financial transactions around the world. Global corporations play nations off against each other to get the best deals on taxes and regulations.

News and images move so easily across borders that attitudes and aspirations are no longer especially national. Cyber-weapons, no longer the exclusive province of national governments, can originate in a hacker’s garage.

Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal. Religious beliefs and affiliations, the nuances of one’s own language and culture, the daily realities of class, and the extensions of one’s family and its values – all are providing people with ever greater senses of identity.

The nation-state, meanwhile, is coming apart. A single Europe – which seemed within reach a few years ago – is now succumbing to the centrifugal forces of its different languages and cultures. The Soviet Union is gone, replaced by nations split along tribal lines. Vladimir Putin can’t easily annex the whole of Ukraine, only the Russian-speaking part. The Balkans have been Balkanized.

Separatist movements have broken out all over – Czechs separating from Slovaks; Kurds wanting to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; even the Scots seeking separation from England.

The turmoil now consuming much of the Middle East stems less from democratic movements trying to topple dictatorships than from ancient tribal conflicts between the two major denominations of Isam – Sunni and Shia.

And what about America? The world’s “melting pot” is changing colour. Between the 2000 and 2010 census the share of the U.S. population calling itself white dropped from 69 to 64 percent, and more than half of the nation’s population growth came from Hispanics.

It’s also becoming more divided by economic class. Increasingly, the rich seem to inhabit a different country than the rest.

But America’s new tribalism can be seen most distinctly in its politics. Nowadays the members of one tribe (calling themselves liberals, progressives, and Democrats) hold sharply different views and values than the members of the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans).

Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property).

Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs.

The tribes even look different. One is becoming blacker, browner, and more feminine. The other, whiter and more male. (Only 2 percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were African-American, for example.)

Each tribe is headed by rival warlords whose fighting has almost brought the national government in Washington to a halt. Increasingly, the two tribes live separately in their own regions – blue or red state, coastal or mid-section, urban or rural – with state or local governments reflecting their contrasting values.

I’m not making a claim of moral equivalence. Personally, I think the Republican right has gone off the deep end, and if polls are to be believed a majority of Americans agree with me.

But the fact is, the two tribes are pulling America apart, often putting tribal goals over the national interest – which is not that different from what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Feeding 7 billion people

Feeding 7 billion

How food impacts communities around the world

by Matt Petronzio & Michael Hanson

Food connects us, and at the same time helps shape our identity.

That’s the narrative Seattle-based photographer Michael Hanson tries to show in his ongoing series, Feeding 7 Billion. He documents food’s scarcity and abundance, the communities and rituals that surround it, and how it affects our planet.

For two months in 2010, Hanson traveled around the United States with his brother and friend in a short school bus that ran on vegetable oil, collecting stories and photos of America’s urban farming and local food movement. He saw the foundations of communities built on local farms. He saw teenage mothers in Detroit spend part of the school day on a working farm. And he witnessed New Orleans’ resilient Versailles community create makeshift backyard farms in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Since then, Hanson’s photography has grown to include more international stories of food: tea field workers in Sumatra, Indonesia; salt ponds in Maras, Peru; daily rationing in certain parts of Cuba; and women selling their last chickens at a Chichicastenango, Guatemala market in order to support their families.

“Where our food comes from was an obvious mission,” Hanson tells Mashable. “Food hits on multiple fronts. It defines our community. Food signals changes in tradition, history, geography. You can find out a lot about a country or culture by eating its food.”

Father Luke Nguyen visits the thriving garden of one of his parishioners in 2010. The Versailles Community of East New Orleans is predominately immigrants from Vietnam. Using their agrarian roots, they transformed front yards and backyards into full scale gardens. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, this community was one of the first to recover due mainly to their ability to have a secure food system.

A hot dog stand in Montgomery, Alabama has served lunch for decades to passing businessmen.

A young boy prepares to slaughter his family cow at a community slaughterhouse in Nahuala, Guatemala. The majority of the meat will be sold at the market and a small portion will feed his family.

Documenting where food comes from helps shine a light on world hunger and climate change — the haves vs. the have-nots, thriving landscapes vs. withering resources.

Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. The latest statistics show that approximately 805 million people do not have access to enough food to lead healthy, active lives. In the developing world, one in six children is underweight and 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry. And if female farmers had the same access to resources as male farmers, it could eliminate hunger for up to 150 million people.

A comprehensive 2014 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that climate change is beginning to drag down crop yields and poses a large threat to food security in the coming decades. Hunger and malnutrition could increase by up to 20% by 2050 as a result of climate change, according to the World Food Programme, as the world population skyrockets to an estimated 9.6 billion, driven largely by rapid rates of population growth in areas where food security is already a challenge, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Zeb Engstrom holds a newborn calf on the family ranch while the mother watches from behind. It’s feast or famine every season in northern Montana for many families. The freezing temperatures often kill many newborns. The first night is the hardest according to Zeb. If the calf can survive the night, odds are it will grow into an adult and be sold to a slaughterhouse while the Engstroms will make enough to cover the costs of the farm.

A man sells pastries near the Malecon at sunset in Havana, Cuba. Many locals sell homemade food as means to supplement their low, fixed income from the Cuban government.

Lau Group, Fiji. Holding a sea urchin gently, Chancela Ni Tu Lau, 11, stands on an empty inner reef. Almost every afternoon, she and others patrol this rich habitat and discover new organisms with every change in the tide. Distinctly unique habitats are created within each of the three tidal patterns: low tide, high tide, and mid tide.

The original coffee plant can be traced back to Ethiopia. Farmers in Yirgacheffe sort beans at a drying facility.

Food hits on multiple fronts. It defines our community. Food signals changes in tradition, history, geography. You can find out a lot about a country or culture by eating its food.

A boat speeds through the waters off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia, Canada near a salmon open net-cage. Raising salmon in this fashion degrades the marine ecosystem thrugh disease, and algae blooms while threatening the sustainability of wild salmon populations.

Students milk a goat at the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, Michigan. Teacher Paul Weertz began a one-of-a-kind curriculum that combines hands-on farm experience with classroom science for teenage mothers and mothers-to-be.

Coffee buyers and sellers negotiate the price in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When a sale price is agreed upon, the buyer and seller high five as a formal agreement. Here, a man attempts to bully his way into their hands slapping.

A CAFO (consolidated animal feeding operation) packs thousands of chickens under its roof in northern Alabama. Often times, the owners of these farms are perpetually in debt to the large chicken buyers who continue to enforce new regulations and demand new equipment.

A man pours a woman her daily ration, or Libreta de Abastecimiento, in Cuba. This form of food distribution was installed in 1962 and still exists in many parts of Cuba today. For children under seven years old, the allowable amount of milk to be provided is one liter per day.

But people around the world are working to reshape our food system, whether it’s on farms, in backyards and public spaces, or in their very homes. That’s what Hanson hopes to do with his work: capture the people who see the connection between a healthy planet and sustainable food, and inspire those who see his photographs to do the same.

“Food has a story,” Hanson says. “Maybe it’s of landscape or people, environmentally positive or detrimental, but all our food has a story, and each one is unique.”

A young Amish family harvests the last tomatoes of the season from the backyard garden. Eighty percent of their diet comes from the community in which they live. Amish communities are often reluctant of outsiders and work hard to keep their food system local.

At Olson’s Meats and Smokehouse in Enumclaw, Washington, a man prepares a fresh deer carcass for the butcher shop.

Food has a story. Maybe it’s of landscape or people, environmentally positive or detrimental, but all our food has a story, and each one is unique.

The Gustafsons are in the middle of the most stressful time of the year: calving season. They alternate shifts in the pens and sleep only a few hours per day. However, they manage to meet at the dinner table nightly to enjoy a meal. The steak is local; it comes from the front yard.

The Average Black Girl

Ernestine Johnson Performs ‘The Average Black Girl’ on Arsenio Hall Show – ##.

Ernestine Johnson kicks off the show with an amazing and moving performance of “The Average Black Girl.”

You will get chills from this performance.