Less than two hundred years ago, an adorable concept called romantic nationalism emerged. It was based on having a feeling of shared brotherhood with people in your close proximity. People got all worked up, started making national flags, collecting national songs, folk stories, dishes. It’s amazing how powerful something that started as a hippie fad got when it got the right forces to back it.
The concept of nation is…. fluffy (I’m not saying that’s bad, I mean I’m a cosmopolitanist, I’m the king of fluff). It also resulted in a truckload of complicated problems, whether in the Balkans, the Caucasus, or even in our own backyard. It does have a lot of unappreciated positives: it makes some shared basics familiar to any confused outsider, it gives you one authority you can then comfortably tweak, it’s also very good for personal freedom. In a nation, as long as you’re not hurting citizens or jeopardizing national security, you’re free to live life as you see fit, theoretically speaking.
That happens because in the pure romantic definition of nation, you are a brother whatever you do. You are part of this beautiful ecology all freedom fighters love, and just by being there, you are special. This mentality is an escape from a much more powerful and primal sense of identity… Tribalism
“Oh you mean the 3asha2er… yeah they’re bad”. Bullshit! We’re all tribes in denial and we know it.
Let’s observe for a minute how tribes function:
– A common set of morals, guidelines and traditions passed on from generation to generation. You accept all this baggage since birth.
– Just belonging to a tribe gives you numerous advantages correlated with your tribe’s power and ranking, as long as you stick to the morals
-Practicing one of the tribe’s taboos will strip you of all advantages and result in your disowning and banishment
Yup, I just described any of the over dozen sects we have :).
It’s cute to watch, especially in a multi-sectarian background. People you know are militant atheists go berserk when a family member dares to think about crossing a line. We might think we’re progressive, free thinkers, our own masters. Truth is, we’re all slaves to the perks of belonging to our tribes.
Break one of the golden rules, and it’s banishment! To you and your family till the fiftieth generation! Nobody will give you their women anymore, you can’t attend the tribal ceremonies. You are officially uprooted.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my tribe. I think we’re steadfast people who have been through so many hardships, and survived with our heads high. I’m connected with them. But when you start thinking about how to make your tribe more powerful, how to get them into higher positions, to support tribe restaurants and stores… I mean seriously?
This is why the region has no hope. From the ignorant to the most educated, we understand tribes and tribes only. Just look around you, examples are abundant. Any war or tension in the region, it’s not about ideologies, people lost interest in that long ago, tribalism is the only driving factor.
It’s like everyone is still waiting for the other to snap out of this. Judge yourself, how much of your lifestyle is dictated by your affiliation? And the boogie man they wave over us, is it really that scary? If there are more out than in, the punishments will get less severe, and you’ll have a community whatever you do. We just need enough people to have the guts.
Things like this, we should have gotten over them in the late sixties you know…