Tomorrow I’m going to write a longer post on the idea of “Red Tribe” and “Blue Tribe” as discussed in an article recommended by one of our commenters here. Before I do, however, I want to pre-discuss an idea that figures very large in the essay: the idea that very few of us have any regular and significant acquaintance with people who possess a genuinely different set of beliefs from ours. Never before has our society been quite so completely segmented — not by race, color, or religious creed, but by adherence to common fundamental assumptions. If you believe that “no human is illegal” and that there should be no barriers whatsoever to immigration, chances are that you don’t have regular interactions with people who want to Build! That! Wall! and so on. If you think that owning a personal firearm is an essential part of being an American citizen, then chances are that you don’t hang out on the weekends with people who donate to anti-gun causes.
The reasons for this are many, but I’d suggest that the primary and most substantial force behind this voluntary segregation is our move from physical communities to virtual ones. And before you tell me that your life isn’t like that at all, I’ll explain further.
Take my life as an example. I’m not much of a Redditor (thank God) and I am not part of any traditional “virtual” or computer-based communities. Yet I can state with assurance that one hundred percent of my social life is based around communities of choice. I go to a skatepark and hang out with BMX riders. I go to races and hang out with racers. I play music in the company of other musicians. These are communities of choice because they are defined by the choice that creates them. I don’t see anybody at the skatepark who is there to talk politics or feed the hungry or play chess.
There are a few non-choice communities available to me. Last weekend my son and I went to a BMX race and afterwards I took him to a two-hour birthday party for one of his friends at an indoor soccer place. When I walked in, all the kids were playing in one corner and all the parents were standing there talking in another corner. I decided to drop John off and leave for the duration because the parents generally looked like low-achieving hicks who refer to the Ohio State football team as “we” (in the context of “We need to get our running game together”) and who pronounce the word “wash” as “worsh”.
I’m not proud of myself for avoiding those people, and if I hadn’t been in a reasonable amount of pain from two hours’ worth of BMX racing in a thirty-degree warehouse I might have stuck around. Had I done so, I would have had a chance to speak to people who don’t hold all of the same beliefs that I do. I’d have heard about the concerns and issues that they face, which are different from mine. I would have learned a bit about what it’s like to start a family sooner; most of my son’s classmates have parents who are a solid decade younger than I am, if not more. It would have been unpleasant and annoying, but it would have been instructive. And who knows? I might have said something to someone that changed their outlook on a particular issue, or heard something that changed my outlook.
Alas, ’twas not to be. That grouping, however, is an example of a non-choice community. It’s based around the people who happen to live in my ex-wife’s neighborhood. Once upon a time, the vast majority of everybody’s human interactions took place based on proximity, whether it was the PTA or the Lions Club or your National Guard weekend unit. It promoted a sense of real community. Now we have “communities” that are imaginary. The community of TTAC readers, the community of “Oppo” incels, the community of furries who like to put things in their asses, the community of wingless yellow-scale dragonkin. These are not real communities in the sense that you can rely on them for a helping hand.
Last year, after the South Carolina hurricane, my father put together a group of former servicemen who drove around his plantation (meaning gated subdivision) and helped people out. They spent fourteen hours a day fixing things and cleaning things and getting food for widows and whatnot. That’s a community, and it’s no coincidence that the idea was dreamed up by a pair of seventy-something Vietnam veterans. When the same thing happens to the Millennials in South Carolina forty years from now, they’ll probably all put up GoFundMe pages.
Human beings are not really satisfied by online communities and communities of choice. So they are reverting to what we had before we had communities — namely, tribes. If you listen to the Project Veritas video, you will hear people who think of themselves, consciously or otherwise, as part of a tribe. You can call it the “Blue Tribe”, the people in America who define themselves in opposition to “rednecks”. Or you can put a racial/ethnic slant on it, as some of the viewers have done. There is something hugely ironic about having a bunch of H1-Bs coming to America and setting the standards for public discourse in this country. Call it the Raj in reverse. In general, however, I think the idea of Blue Tribe and Red Tribe is more relevant than race or ethnicity. I know a couple of African-American BMX riders who are small-government conservatives and dedicated parents; I have more in common with them ideologically than I do with a German-American woman who wears a “pussyhat” and believes in 37 genders.
Another thing you will learn from the Project Veritas video: the game in Silicon Valley is rigged, permanently and implacably, against anybody to the right of Mrs. Clinton. Period, point blank. That’s not a good thing. It also should make us think long and hard about “freedom of speech” in this country. People who oppose general freedom of speech like to point out that Twitter is a private enterprise, as is Google, and that therefore traditional freedom of speech does not apply. The question becomes: When does something like Twitter cross the border into common-carrier status? When ten percent of Americans have joined? Twenty? Fifty? Ninety?
Alternately, consider this question: What happens if you shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater and nobody hears it, because the people who run the theater have five thousand keywords for redneck? What happens on the day that the theater actually starts burning?