‘Political Tribes, Group Instinct and The Fate of Nations’ by Amy Chua
I purchased ‘Political Tribes, Group Instinct and The Fate of Nations’ by Amy Chua on a work trip to Glasgow earlier in the year. I found it so captivating, that I read the entire thing cover-to-cover on the train journey up. Tim Wu, describes it as ‘a page-turner and revelation, Political Tribes will change the way you think’ with Tom Brokaw concurring ‘insightful, provocative… Political Tribes is a wake-up call’.
Although Chua writes about the United States of America, I have found myself drawn back to this book over the past couple of weeks. Tomorrow the United Kingdom heads to the polls for our second general election in as many years. Politicians on both sides are referring to this as the election of a generation. Our country has never felt more divided, more conflicted, and more angry.
Inequality has been rising throughout the last decade. According to a UN special rapporteur report, one-fifth of the UK population is living in poverty. We don’t have to rely only on numbers and statistics, stories are being told everyday in our press-media, and yet it can feel as though the government is taking little to no action.
Chua states …
“Against a background of stark group inequality, the most successful extremist groups offer their members precisely what existing social institutions do not: a tribe, a sense of belonging and purpose, an enemy to hate and kill, and a chance to reverse the group polarity, turning humiliation into superiority and triumph”
She then gives examples of this across the US. However, we can see this much closer to home – with the rise of the far-right, UKIP and The Brexit Party. Seeds of division and hatred are consistently peddled through social media. With everyone on high-alert it’s no wonder we get miss-reporting of politician’s aides being ‘hit’ during campaigns. FYI – they walked into an outstretched hand.
“It’s hard to get excited about politics and elections when no matter which party comes into power, your life never changes”
Chua’s ‘Political Tribes’ is a brief journey through American history with a lens focusing on how hatred, and fear mongering has been used to bring the worst of our tribal instincts out to play. It is also a book about hope, if we can acknowledge that we act on these ‘group-think’ lines – we can take active steps to combat them.
This is a very accessible book, and one that I would thoroughly recommend reading to anyone with an upcoming election – US based or not. It provides great insight into how our politics has become so polarised in recent years, and why we sometimes find it so difficult to see other people’s point of view.
“Some tribes are sources of joy and salvation; some are the hideous product of hate mongering by opportunistic power seekers”
When the UK goes to the polls tomorrow – I sincerely hope we remember our neighbours and those less fortunate that us. We don’t have to be this divided; we can begin the heal the wounds.
‘Political Tribes, Group Instinct and The Fate of Nations’ in Facts:
Author: Amy Chua
First Published Date: 2018
Publishing House: Penguin Press (US), Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)
Pages: 293 (209 as bulk read)