In Political Tribes, Amy Chua diagnoses the cause of our current political discord: tribalism. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most – the ones that people will kill and die for – are ethnic, religious, sectarian or clan-based. Time and time again our blindness to tribalism has undermined our foreign policy.
At home, we have recently witnessed the rise of identity politics, a movement that encourages us to define ourselves against, and thereby exclude, others. The shock results of the US election and the Brexit referendum show that tribalism is a social truth that we ignore at our peril. When people are defined by their differences to each other, extremism becomes the common ground, and the grand ideals of democracy have a hard time competing with a more primal need to belong.
If we are to transcend our political tribes, we must rediscover a broader, more nuanced unity that acknowledges the reality of our group differences. Insightful, challenging and provocative, Amy Chua’s groundbreaking book could not be more timely.