De Tocqueville (and me) on the distinction between a people and a tribe

Malcolm Pollack writes:

You recently replied to a reader:

Tribalism is a primitive concept. I do not advocate tribalism for white Americans. I advocate that they act as a people. When white Americans colonized this land, and drove back the Indians, and kept blacks in a subdued condition (so that whites would not become victims of the rampant black savagery we have now), and drastically reduced southern and eastern European immigration, they were not, as you would like us to do, thinking of themselves as a “tribe,” and they were not calling themselves a “tribe.” They were acting as the American people, as civilized white men.

People who embrace crude and primitive concepts like “tribalism,” as do many paleocons and race-conscious conservatives, become crude and primitive themselves.

In connection with that comment and other critical remarks you’ve been making about tribalism, I’ve been rereading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America, and just ran across this passage:

Although a democratic government is founded upon a very simple and natural principle, it always presupposes the existence of a high degree of culture and enlightenment in a society…. It is needless to observe that I speak here of the democratic form of government as applied to a people, not merely to a tribe.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 02, 2012 05:44 PM | Send

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