It's the Tribalism, Stupid!

The author Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire, Killing Rommel) noticed while researching a book about Alexander the Great, that the problems Alexander had in Afghanistan mirrored almost exactly the problems we are encountering there still. The common factor between then and now cannot be Islam, because Islam didn't exist in the time of Alexander. The common factor is tribalism. Pressfield has made a terrific set of little videos discussing the nature of tribalism.

Tribalism isn't just something of remote places (Afghanistan) and remote times (Cherokee Indians) but it is the essential character of modern day Jihadist groups (Hamas), urban bikie gangs, and even the US Marine Corps and Special Forces groups. It is an organisation based on the warrior and his code of honour - rules are secondary. The classic tribe is typically at constant war with neighbouring tribes - fantasies about the peaceful Native American Indians not withstanding - so when Alexander, the British, the Russians or the US-led coalition came into Afghanistan to fight, the Afghanis were ready with knowledge of the best ambush sites for attack and secret rat lines for escape.

Mankind has spent 99% of its time on earth organised into tribes so it is not surprising that the tribe still has a great pull on the human psyche. Whether it can - or even should - be ultimately eliminated from human society is another question.

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