Monday, March 14, 2011

Tribalism wins

Well, the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket: civil war, regimes falling in the Middle East; earthquakes around the Pacific Rim; cyclones and massive flooding here...

I think Mother Nature is the more pissed at the world.

The troubles with the Middle East have been ongoing for centuries, all down to tribalism, religious animosity and the elevated value of oil within their borders.

Mankind is instinctively territorial; he wants what's his and will defend it any way he can and with those of a like mind. But if someone next door has something he sees and better, he might just want it enough to take it through force. He has to be strong enough to keep it and so determines a strategy to demonise whom he decides is an 'enemy'. Propaganda. Not just the most effective tool of the twentieth century.

Go back in history to any war you care to name, and you'll find the troops on either side believe what their commanders tell them - until they have a meaningful discussion with the enemy. The Romans were determined to spread and oppressed the people of invaded lands until they saw the value of Pax Romana. The barons who defeated King John and forced him to sign the Magna Carta did so by telling the people what a bad dude he was, all the while maintaining their own feudalistic control over their own lands. Cromwell was determined to crush the Monarchy and explained why the royal house was so bad for the public. The list goes on.

Now add religion.

Christianised Romans hunted down and killed anyone worshipping pagan Gods - men, women and children. Catholics versus Protestants throughout the Middle Ages, and now, radicalised Moslems versus... well, everyone else who don't believe in their extremism; Sunnis versus Shi'ite within Islam. Worse in history, religious differences have been responsible for the most heinous torture of people. Extremists only grow more extreme, not less, and to maintain their power, they will manipulate any ancient text of their religion to 'prove' their veracity.

Why should one god be better than another? It goes back to tribalism: what you've got is better than the neighbours... or else. It goes back to power, the control of the population.

And then there's the oil. The value of an item used to be in what others would offer to pay; now, it is what those who control the item, demand. When it is within the borders of countries in turmoil, supply becomes a problem. The situation is made worse when acknowledged oil reserves are ignored.

It would be easy to see a global conspiracy, of oligarchs plotting to achieve their own nefarious agenda of world-wide oppression. Of fanatic religious groups determined to die for the creation of an extremist bloc, ready to take on everyone else in the pursuit global domination. But... tribalism, the protection of what's yours, be it family, property or the tribe and killing your enemies to keep it.

Even if defeated, a tribe will integrate the invaders culture, manipulate and develop the worthwhile aspects and call it their own; it's how Britain came into being following the Roman invasion.

At least with Mother Nature, she'll kill you by accident, not design.

And while this is a bit of a rant about what's happening in the real world, I've already read books with this type of world-building - complex, interesting, believable. I've read books with the weather as a character.

So while the current geo-political situation appears to spiralling out of control and Mother Nature is doing her best to vent her spleen, be aware of what's going on in the world, and plot accordingly.

I've donated to a number of charities to help those in need: in Queensland, in New Zealand and in Japan; if you find yourself with some spare change, donate to the charity of your choice and help those whom Mother Nature has kicked.

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