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Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:07 PM

"Racism" & Group Psychosis

“I would like to draw a distinction here between racism and tribalism. Tribalism is a better description of our group psychosis.

“In our societies, people are conditioned along tribal lines. I use the word ‘tribalism’ because racism presupposes that there is more than one race of people on this planet. That is just another lie that we live with. There is only one race of people, the human race. We all belong to it. The drawing of artificial distinctions among people, and skin color is the most artificial of all, is the result of tribal conditioning. Tribes attempt to ensure the survival of people who look like them, act like them, smell like them, talk like them, or believe like them at the cost of any other segment of humanity. A tribal mentality divides people into opposites, black and white, French and English, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, or any other unconscious way that divisions can be made. Only in the example of language and religion are the differences more than superficial, although still not meaningful.”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; Eye of the Hurricane; Lawrence Hill Books; 2011; pages 113 - 114.


The discussion of certain topics on DU:GD tends to result in arguments and hostility. These topics include the “-isms,” such as racism and sexism. In part, the disagreements are rooted in the models that people use to define these issues. Those models have an impact upon the way various individuals perceive and experience the world around them. Too often, of course, these result in an “us versus them” concept of the larger society.

The behaviors associated with those perceptions and experiences may change over time, but their flavor is often identical. For example, Eugene “Bull” Connor was the poster boy for the violence that grows from hatred in the south in the 1960s; while Patrick Buchanan was a White House fixture in the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet both were motivated by the thought that non-white people were intent upon becoming full citizens of the United States. Each projected their personal pathologies upon non-white people, and were haunted by their own paranoid delusions that white folks would be victimized.

The model that Rubin used to understand both group and individual behaviors was “tribalism.” His second book addresses this in the above quote. He spoke at length about it at two of the public presentations that I was with him for ( Colgate University on February 27, 2001, and Binghamton University on April 25, 2001). I think that it has value, although it will not replace the various concepts of “racism” that different people use.

In part, I suspect, his perceptions were based upon his being incarcerated for 20 years. I remember that Malcolm X often said that prisons were second only to universities, in offering an opportunity for education. Not surprisingly, our nation’s prison-industrial complex provides a somewhat different view of the phenomena of “racism” than even a university department that studies prisons adheres to.

This does not mean that one is “right” and another is “wrong.” Just the opposite. For there are often more than one way of understanding any human behavior -- especially those with long and ingrained histories. Likewise, some beliefs are simply wrong. For example, I recently read parts of a discussion about racism on another internet site. One gentleman insisted that Native Americans had a long history of racism, before 1492. Sad that anyone would publicly reveal such gross ignorance; pathetic that he believes that nonsense.

Rubin used to say that there five large tribes: black, brown, red, yellow, and white. Each of these larger tribes contains numerous sub-tribes; for example, the English, French, and Germans. At various times, these sub-tribes go to war with one another -- WW1 and WW2 being obvious examples. Yet, he noted, if a non-white tribe was in conflict with any one of the white sub-tribes, the whites tended to unite to protect their own.

The larger white tribe would dominate the globe for many years, in large part by dividing and conquering the various non-white peoples of the earth. And the history of the last few centuries clearly supports that. The actual history of the conflict in Vietnam, if we consider it from WW2 on, provides an interesting example of how that process worked -- at least for a while.

The tragic, and often confusing conflicts that we witness around the globe today are often rooted in tribal and sub-tribal identifications. The post-WW1 and WW2 maps that were drawn exist primary in people’s minds. Like “race,” they are not realities in the natural world, and quite simply do not exist anywhere outside of people’s minds.

Is there “racism” in America today? Yes, of course. It is entrenched deep within the minds of many human beings. That “race” is a construct that exists only in some people’s minds, does not reduce the terrible damage that racism does. And that is true, even when racism becomes more institutionalized in our society, and racists believe themselves more sophisticated than old Bull Connor.

Perhaps one advantage of using the model of tribalism is that it might allow us the opportunity to move more people beyond accepting the group psychosis that Rubin spoke of. It might allow people of good will the chance to identify the causes of some of the inequalities that exist in the United States today, when we face problems so profound -- such as climate change -- that we no longer have the luxury of remaining invested in, or victims of, racism ….or any of the other “-isms” that are a product of diseased thinking.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Racism" & Group Psychosis (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2014 OP
Igel Jul 2014 #1
H2O Man Jul 2014 #3
el_bryanto Jul 2014 #2
H2O Man Jul 2014 #4
el_bryanto Jul 2014 #6
H2O Man Jul 2014 #8
el_bryanto Jul 2014 #12
H2O Man Jul 2014 #13
ismnotwasm Jul 2014 #5
H2O Man Jul 2014 #16
Baitball Blogger Jul 2014 #7
Bluenorthwest Jul 2014 #9
ismnotwasm Jul 2014 #10
Bluenorthwest Jul 2014 #11
H2O Man Jul 2014 #14
Uncle Joe Jul 2014 #15
H2O Man Jul 2014 #17
Uncle Joe Jul 2014 #18
H2O Man Jul 2014 #19
Uncle Joe Jul 2014 #20
DirkGently Jul 2014 #21
H2O Man Jul 2014 #23
redqueen Jul 2014 #22
H2O Man Jul 2014 #24
H2O Man Jul 2014 #25
Post removed Jul 2014 #26

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:35 PM

1. I've read some reports on some race/sex-related psych research.

It's sort of not what you'd expect.

If you show subjects footage of sports teams with black and white players and with male and female players you'd think people would notice what's important. It's important that the teams *not* be known to the subjects.

Depending how you ask questions about the events during game play, the subjects' answers indicate with race, sex, or team colors (red/blue, green/yellow).

They default to team colors. In other words they "don't see" race when team membership is important, and that's usually what's important during a game. In fact, if you ask the race of the person who did a specific act they usually don't know or randomly guess unless you set them up to notice. Race is not something that we automatically take note of.

However, subjects typically still notice if it was a man or a woman, even if they're been set up to focus on team colors. Sex is something that we seem to automatically pay attention to.

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Response to Igel (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:47 PM

3. Right.

"Sex" is the first thing that people notice -- consciously or unconsciously -- from the time we are infants. That's built in us.

I do remember, back in 1976, watching the Olympics. I was watching the boxing competition, while in a red-neck bar. Ray Leonard was fighting a Russian, and one fellow with a group of friends yelled out, "Kill the __igger!" I remember thinking how stupid that was, coming from a jackass who likely identified himself as "patriotic."

Strange species, human beings are. Some so much so, that it can be difficult to accept that we are all human.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:43 PM

2. It's an interesting discussion

The benefit of it is that tribalism is pretty common - even if it's not broken down in terms of race or ethnicity. It is rooted, to a certain extent, in the denial of humanity to people outside the tribe or in the other tribe (if you believe yourself to be in conflict). Someone in the other tribe is of little to no value, and is worthy of little to no respect - they just aren't worthwhile.

That said, the area where this analysis falls down a bit is on the power equation of tribalism. Tribalism is rarely a good thing, particularly when it denigrates people outside your tribe. But in the case of the "white tribe" we hold more power in society - socially, economically, politically - so when we engage in tribal thinking we have a lot more potential to hurt those we designate as other.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:50 PM

4. "Tribalism"

can never harness "good" power, when it defines those who are "other" as of less value, thus having less rights.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:53 PM

6. What about civic pride - or pride in your heritage / ethnicity?

Aren't those a form of tribalism? And if not, why not?

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:57 PM

8. What about them?

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #8)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 03:16 PM

12. I think I misread your initial post - so I apologize

I agree that when tribes define the others as lesser or inferior there's nothing positive that can come from that.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #12)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 03:55 PM

13. No problem.

I wasn't sure what you meant, thus how to respond. But it did make me think of something that might be kind of related.

I live in rural, upstate New York. Our state is divided in eight divisions, for high school sports. Now, in our area (Section 4), many people take a lot of pride in their high school teams in, for example, football and basketball. Some of those schools have long traditions of talented teams. And that, in and of itself, is a good thing. (Some people might take it a little too serious, in my opinion, but that's fine.)

Generally, the community from "team A" gets along well with those from "team B." People tend to have relatives in the various communities, or friends from the workplace. But from time to time, there are a few who act hostile towards another town's team and/or fans. There are some examples of where long-standing grudges are the tradition! Even to the point where the police are at times called, or show up because they know trouble is likely. Yet, when one local team goes on to the regionals or states at the end of the season, usually a lot of fans from the area go to cheer them on.

Hence, we can see that, even with some good aspects of "community pride," there are still some potential problems. And those problems can raise their heads in very negative ways. Over the decades that I've enjoyed high school sports, I've seen a troubling increase in violence associated with "fans." At times, it might be a parent who expects their child to be a star (or THE star). Or, at a wrestling tournament a few years back, fans and even coaches ended up out in the parking lot for a brawl.

More, both kids and adults will, at times, target an opponent, including well after the sports season. I can think of a half-dozen incidents from our area, over the past decade, that have included serious physical assaults. Now, this isn't "scientific," and I haven't done anything close to a formal study -- but in each of these cases, it involved white people attacking a non-white boy or girl.

That's so wrong, on so many levels. I say that, not only as the uncle of a student athlete who was viciously assaulted by a racist hate group, but as a human being.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:51 PM

5. A very interesting read

The concept of 'the other' seems to be often overlooked or ignored.

From Wiki:
Scholars such as Michel Foucault, the Frankfurt School and other postmodernists have argued that the process of othering has everything to do with knowledge, and power acting through knowledge to achieve a particular political agenda in its goal of domination.[6] Edward Said quotes the following from Nietzsche, saying what is the truth of language but

...a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #5)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:46 PM

16. Thanks.

Rubin often quoted from Ouspensky and Ibsen regarding "ageing truths":

"All the truths belonging to the majority are like ancient rancid bacon or like rotten green ham; and from them comes all the moral scurvy which is eating itself into the life of the people around us."

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:57 PM

7. A big part of tribalism is identity politics.

In other words, groups may associate with people that look like them. That, alone, falls within the definition of racism if the desire of that tribe is to game the system for their own benefit.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #7)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:07 PM

9. As if looks were the only defining characteristic majorities use to otherize minorities.....

 

Because the Straight Tribe would never discriminate against the Gay Tribe. Because the members of one religion would never seek to oppress members of the other religion who look like them, that would never ever happen!

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #9)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:12 PM

10. Another very good point

Sexual orientation leads right into gender and gender identity as well. Far too large of a topic for the OP's article, which is deliberately limited in scope, but still interesting.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #10)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:32 PM

11. I do not agree that this is outside the OP's scope, perhaps it is outside some reader's

 

grasp of the topic. I think what I am saying is pretty much what Carter is saying. People divide into tribes which are along socially constructed and often artificial lines not all of which have to do with physical characteristics.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #11)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:00 PM

14. Interesting.

Rubin included the pathological violence that has targeted people for being gay. I believe it is an important part of the larger sex-ism. I don't think an individual can be unhealthy in this area, yet be healthy in other areas -- for example, a man who hates gay men isn't going to have a respectful attitude towards women.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:38 PM

15. I'm editing a post on my thread, thanks for the insight, H2O Man.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #15)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:48 PM

17. What post?

Not that it matters; just curious.

I am not claiming this OP represents "THE truth" .... just a corner of it.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #17)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:52 PM

18. Post #8 on this thread, I changed it from racist to tribal-listic.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025275765

I believe your OP pronounces a major truth that should be heralded.

"There is only one race, the human one."

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #18)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:57 PM

19. Okay, thanks.

Rubin was a brilliant thinker.

It is curious, the hatred between two closely-related groups of human beings in the Middle East. That hatred can upset the entire world, if it continues on the path it is presently on. (I do think events in the Ukraine are more likely to upset the apple cart; it has the potential to be the fuse that sets off a powder keg of global violence. No matter -- all of it is troubling.)

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #19)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 05:09 PM

20. I'm hoping the shooting down of MH17 will have the opposite effect of Ferdinand Duke's

Assassination and will cause the parties to take a major step back, allow cooler heads to prevail and some form of peace agreement to be reached.

The world has too much to lose in allowing this situation to escalate, even more so than in 1914, bloody as that became.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 05:17 PM

21. "Tribalism" describes it well.

Groups, or perceived groups, protecting themselves from the Other Guys. Saw something a few days ago wherein people are easily convinced to agree with and defend members of their perceived group, regardless of whether the member was actually "right."

It's short-sightedness, basically. There is one group. We are all in it.

We do ourselves a lot of harm glomming on to group identity and hacking at each other over that instead of trying to figure what might actually work best for all of us.

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Response to DirkGently (Reply #21)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 07:21 PM

23. Thanks.

As difficult as it may be, we have to admit that we are all of the human race.

Thank you for your contribution to this discussion.

"Group psychology" is a fascinating subject. I remember that The Beatles quit touring, after Lennon had a clear vision of the nature of a crowd as a "being." It's fascinating to view how individuals can lose any sense of personal responsibility, if they are within a crowd. Not only "covering" for another group/crowd member when they are wrong -- a very important point you make -- but also, to engage in "wrong" behavior themselves.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 06:25 PM

22. This sounds nice but it seems to me to erase oppression. nt

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 07:36 PM

24. It's interesting

(at least to me) :

The police were looking for a man with light-brown skin, 6' tall, thin, with no facial hair, who was wearing a dark-colored business suit. and no hat. They eventually "found" Rubin, who was 5' 8" tall, heavy-set, jet black, with a thick Fu Manchu and goatee; he was wearing a light-colored outfit, with his favorite hat. Although the lead investigator would testify that Rubin "didn't even remotely" fit the description of the gunman -- indeed, two shooting victims said it was definitely NOT him, with one able to ID the actual killer -- that same detective would later claim the description "fit" rubin.

That detective claimed that Rubin was the racist. He said that a black man who Carter had never met was murdered the previous day, and that Rubin was a rabid, mad-dog racist murderer, who vented his rage on four innocent people. (There was no evidence -- ZERO -- presented to support the claim that Rubin hated any white person, much less all of them. Quite the contrary.)

Our society too often has its mind incarcerated in the prison of hatred.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #24)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 09:26 AM

25. kick

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