here is no such thing as the non-tribal condition. When postmodern Man boasts of having gone through the process of ‘de-tribalisation’ to become a ‘citizen of the world’, he fails to notice that induction into a different type of tribe is unavoidable: the alternative being cultural statelessness. The new allegiances are drawn along axes other than ethnicity or dependence on one cultural patrimony or another. The willing, de-tribalised outcast immediately becomes an ‘antifascist’, a ‘feminist’, a radical free-marketeer, a ‘gender-bender’, a no-borders anarchist, a human rights advocate, an inner-city cosmopolitan, or a ‘chardonnay socialist’. Or any or all of them. These are the sirens that drown out any concept of home, culture, or civilisation. But the new abstract categories are no less tribes than the pseudo-religious cults that shore-up membership by vilifying outsiders and freezing all relations with them. Dialogue between xenophiles of this or that exotic culture is endlessly fascinating, but de-tribalised, Occidental, Postmodern Man — whatever his ideological allegiances — has no conversation at all.
The American writer, Tom Wolfe, is described in today’s article from Le Figaro as an ethnologist of postmodern tribes — a profession that began in earnest in 1970 with the publication of Radical Chic. Continue reading “The Ethnology of Postmodern Tribes”