The True Meaning of Tribalism


Tribalism is usually only seen in one light these days, and is by default associated with notions of racial supremacy or even with a more “mystical” or cult-like philosophy built around the alleged superiority of one’s group. It is largely used as a derogatory term, predominately by the left and by liberals taking a stance against far right “nationalist” groups of the West and the Israeli government, for example.

Yet in an age when many nationalists are too cowardly, or just inconsistent with their worldview, or both, preferring to embrace terms like “alt-right” and “reactionary” instead, the idea of grass-roots “tribalism” should be providing us with a more optimistic yet cynical perspective, and when approached and promoted in the right way may even convince (some) people on the left that people who just want to protect their heritage really are not all that bad.  What does tribalism mean? What does nationalism mean? Are they the same thing? The word “nation” once just meant a people or folk, but it has for centuries, since antiquity even, in practice amounted to an expansionist, urbanised form of Statism. Despite the civic pride, continuation of pagan symbols and tradition, and the rhetoric being laden with apparent patriotism, this early model of nationalism served to strengthen the power of the state, further centralise it while devouring foreign “lebensraum”, under the false pretence of protecting the people and their city. This is the case with both Ancient Rome and 20th century fascism. Despite the appealing romanticism of the Third Reich and the preceeding völkisch movement, the Reich was primarily concerned with expansionism, industry and increasing the power of a heavily centralised and supremacist government, at the expense of both the native and neighbouring common populations.

In an age – this “Kali Yuga” – when both left and right want to keep feeding the system that keeps us in debt, keeps us dependent, keeps us domesticated and keeps us enslaved and sedated, we need to understand the nature of a “tribalist mentality” or a tribalist psyche, in both individuals and groups, and recognise these patterns among other tribes that are scarce seen in the modern West. With an increasingly fragile and uncertain economy, endless conflict in the middle east, endless guilt-tripping in the west, mounting tensions in the far east, what makes this or that nation more successful in the 21st century? Perhaps we can look to China for an example, and ask ourselves how they have overtaken us with such ease, despite experiencing mass starvation under communism just decades earlier. Much of this boils down to common interest, common values, shared cultural norms and a tribalist outlook.

Tribalism’s core component is paganism. Any kind of “traditional” Christianity is completely incompatible with tribalism, because without ancestor worship paganism is worthless, without this authentic paganism with ancestor worship as a core component, tribalism is also worthless. Pagan traditions have many meanings, multiple symbols and patterns observed throughout nature, human and non-human, but most if not all of them ultimately relate to both childbirth and the rebirth of the ancestor as a part of this, and we could theoretically explain the nature of consciousness and the belief in reincarnation in all pagan cultures as something that gradually crystallises and reassembles itself further down the generations. Realistically speaking, we are less likely to be the reincarnations of our grandparents or great-grandparents, but of these more distant ancestors, and when we embrace this primal ancestor worship, of distant ancestors we know nothing about, or have just completely forgotten about, we are talking  also about a shared tribal ancestry the further back we go in time. This at least in part explains the sanctity of marriage within the tribe, as both spouses should share the same ancestors further back in their family tree, and it also explains why Germanic tribes for instance all named Woden/Óðinn as the father of their tribe, because far back in time they all shared the same ancestors, or some of the same ancestors at least.

Another crucial aspect of tribalism we must grasp to understand both the practical purpose it serves and how it differs from any modern “nationalism” is that real tribalism should seek to preserve both ancient, pagan traditions and the sacred natural environment of our ancestral homeland(s), and to embrace our animal nature and recognise ourselves as part of nature, not above it. Civilisation is on its way out, the economy is ultimately doomed, fuel is running out, rare earth minerals are running out, some form of extreme climate change – be it another “mini-ice age” or global warming – seems to be approaching and will force us to adapt one way or the other. Now more than ever, now that urban expansion, industry and the monster that is capitalism have spiralled out of control, we must strive to remember, to learn and become self-sufficient as our ancestors did when oral tradition was the norm and essential life skills and folk traditions were passed down the generations.

This is for our benefit, for the environment’s benefit, and for the benefit of other tribes, and it’s important to care about what’s in the interest of other tribes, to apply a common standard and recognise what’s in the best interest of every group in order to secure their survival and protect their heritage. Because we all share the same enemy, and we need to not unite necessarily but see and accept this common ground and common interest, and fight and resist our mutual enemies among the elites of government, banking, the media and academics. The elites of the west want us to forgot our heritage and identity, and want to westernise (or globalise) everyone else, because it’s profitable to do so, or at least it appears to be. Despite the race-baiting and fear mongering in the media about Islam and the deeply repulsive and destructive nature of the likes of (western armed and funded) groups like ISIS, most Muslims are indeed just peaceful and normal people, not people we should be expected to welcome here en masse by any means, being at odds with our culture in so many ways, but in migrant communities we see enclosed, peaceful self-serving communities for the most part. The alt-right/modern nationalists are indeed reactionary in falling for this distraction, and show a glaring double-standard in their acceptance and support of western imperialism and its “benefits”, and the alleged superiority of western nations. I am not one to downplay the malevolent nature of any of the Abrahamic religions, and there are no doubt plenty of so-called refugees that are somewhat unsavoury characters not to mention cowards for abandoning their homeland in times of need, but these people are being used, lied to. If and when they cause problems over here and Europe it is likely upon realising Europe is far from the haven it was made out to be. We present ourselves in a better way if we find common ground with immigrants who are ultimately also being manipulated for political and financial gain into abandoning their heritage, as we are into abandoning ours.

Real tribalism is the opposite of imperialism, real tribalism recognises what is in a tribe’s best interest and that a tribe lives most happily and closer to their heritage when living the simple life, embracing primitivism and rejecting modern civilisations and its many luxuries and temptations. Jordan Petersen has been in the news a fair bit lately, he makes me more optimistic about modern (Jungian) psychology, and provides a good cynical, genuinely liberal perspective without being “libertarian”. However one issue he keeps returning to is that of the alt-right and as much of a joke this phenomenon is, he is rather preaching against “tribalism” and calling for its eradication. Peterson is right about ideologues, the cult-like tendencies, their tendency to dehumanise others, but he makes a sweeping generalisation about tribalism as if it will always lead toward some degree of Nazism/fascism. For him also it seems to be an issue of collectivism versus individualism, which is something I can relate to a lot more. Jordan Peterson and those like him who are against the left but also stress individualism will argue we aren’t successful or worthy because of our tribal background, and that our race means nothing essentially. But the point of tribalism isn’t that you worship your ancestors because you love your tribe, it is that you love your tribe because of its connections to your ancestry.

Individualism has been rather tarnished by its association with excessively egocentric libertarians or just selfish, apolitical and apathetic “centrists”. But tribalism places a lot of value on individual worth, high standards. A real European, and a real pagan, demands a lot from himself and others, and this applies to other traditional cultures worldwide as well. When likeminded individuals focus on individual worth, achievements and on following their own path to greatness and enlightenment, they are effectively working toward the same goal as a collective. We shouldn’t let geographic isolation bother us or distract us, and we shouldn’t be tempted to waste time with the collectivist, herdlike mentality of the alt-right instead. Tribalism doesn’t need to be a dogmatic cult of drones who can’t think for themselves, fend for themselves or survive by themselves. There is good individualism that can benefit the tribe as a whole by having high standards. It’s about self-improvement rather than self-indulgence, which is how many interpret individualism these days.

So what should we be doing in order to become worthy Europeans, to be able to call ourselves tribalists? To be able to call ourselves pagan, and to not even need to justify our worldviews? The alt-right reactionaries and nationalists make themselves easy targets, not having the honesty to just label themselves as nationalists, flirting with national socialist and fascist imagery, slogans, memes etc., and doing a lot of talking, ranting and protesting, but actually doing very little if anything at all to benefit their tribe, their local community, their family, their children (if they have any, which they rarely do). Our focus in the current climate should be on two things: Worthwhile, productive pursuits and making good use of our time, and working on becoming more self-sufficient. We need arts and crafts in our lives, we need beauty, we need spirituality, and we need knowledge and skills. Feed your mind, body and soul, aim to to a good job of balancing all three, gradually build on your understanding of the true nature of European religion, work on useful hobbies, join a martial arts or shooting club, or both. By all means pursue social circles, but try to make sure that at least some of those social circles relate to areas of interest. Become the hero you were in a past life, and you will attract a worthy spouse sooner or later. Don’t waste time on ideologues and cults that are just as bad as malevolent far-left movements.