Skip to main content

Tribes, Culture, Religion and Politics

One of the greatest problems faced by the world is that which results in a failure to understand the nature of the political anthropology of different societies and cultures across the world.

This demonstrates itself in the culture clash over the play Bezhti just as much as it demonstrates itself in inner city gang culture and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

The first challenge is to separate religion from culture. It is entirely possible for people to have the same religion, but an entirely different culture. At the same time people can have the same culture and a different religion.

From an anthropological sense most human cultures develop around the family and the extended family. This can build up a sense of "tribe" or "clan". In many countries this segmented structure for society is the key structure. Most tribal structures are based around patriarchy and frequently property is more held in common by the family rather than being based around the individual.

Analysed from the segmented perspective, therefore, it is quite straightforward to understand what drives many disputes in the world. The root human emotions are quite strongly orientated towards tribal allegiances. This can apply to a clan or it can also apply to supporting a football team. When someone attacks a member of the clan there is an emotional need for revenge. The problem, of course, is that the cycle of revenge and retaliation frequently gets people nowhere.

Gun Crime and Gangs

Birmingham recently (in common with many large cities) has had a problem with gun crime. This is actually symptomatic of a gang culture rather than being an isolated problem in itself. There are normally three types of shootings (making the assumption that the shooter is actually accurate):

  • Debt Collection - Most drug deals are on credit where drugs are provided to the end dealer who then sells them and gives part of the receipt to a middleman. It is not really practical to enforce the debt contract through the court system, therefore the threat of being shot normally is part of the culture that gets the debt paid.
  • Disrespect - Respect is an important value for gang culture. If someone is insulted when they are carrying a gun they are likely to retaliate with the weapon. This is the only type of offence that requires that people generally carry their guns with them.
  • Revenge - clearly if A who is a member of gang Z has been shot by B who is a member of gang Y then C who is also a member of gang Z will be unhappy and wish to see B suffer in some way. If the police fail to prosecute then C and his buddies are likely to initiate a revenge attack on B. This then becomes a situation in which the members of gang Y are inclined to attack gang Z in some way.

Tribes and Politics

The tribe has the ability to "get the vote out" and you will find that generally tribe members will vote for the same candidates. Tony Blair has made it a lot easier for patriarchs in the UK to ensure that the family all votes the same way because he has given them the tool of the postal vote which can all be filled in by the patriarch or even handed blank to the chosen candidate for the candidate to fill in him or herself.

Two recent elections in the Ukraine and in Palestine have had a substantial tribal element to them. In the Ukraine the main distinction between camps was the language spoken. Similarly in Palestine different clans would support different candidates (often a mixture from different parties).

The evolution of political anthropology in the UK

Over time the UK moved on from a basic tribal political division to a class based system. For most of the 20th century political divisions occurred on the primary basis of class allegiance. This started fading in the 1960s and has now substantially faded particularly with the activities of the Blair government. As a motivation for voting, however, it still exists to a great extent in many areas of the country and with some voters. This class allegiance is moving to a far less stable and unstructured system. With the weaker bonds in society also occurs a lower turnout as the structures to link candidates to voters are weaker. The structure of society mirrors this becoming pseudo rational rather than class based and with a popular worshiping of celebrity and material hedonism rather than any more complex value system.

In the UK and US, therefore, as class allegiances fade political loyalties are more driven by individuals than parties although the party influence is still particularly material in general elections.


Popular posts from this blog

Statement re false allegations from Esther Baker

Statement by John Hemming
I am pleased that the Police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me and that the allegations had no substance whatsoever.
I would like to thank Emily Cox, my children, Ayaz Iqbal (my Solicitor), my local lib dem team and many others who supported me through this dreadful experience. There are many worse things that happen to people, but this was a really bad experience.
It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself. Luckily there was a more substantial lobby to the contrary as well, which included many people who were themselves real survivors of abuse, which has helped.
I am normally someone who helps other people fight injustice. …

Homelessness vs Selling Books

Candidates in elections tend to find themselves very busy with lots of things to do.  It is, therefore, necessary to prioritise things to ensure that the important things are dealt with.

To me the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping is an important issue.  Therefore, when Birmingham's Faith Leaders group contacted me to ask me what I would propose and whether I would work with them to make things better I was pleased to respond with my views and indicate that I would work with them after the election.

The Faith Leaders Group (Bishops and other religious leaders in Birmingham) have now sent out their report.

Sadly, according to their report,  I was the only candidate for Yardley to respond.  The group in their report said:

"Particularly disappointing was the lack of response from some of those candidates seeking re-election as MP for their respective constituencies."
It is worth looking at the priorities of my opponent.
Interestingly today she has decided to be at th…

Millionaires and politics

The Labour Party spent most of the last election criticising me for being a successful businessman (aka millionaire). That is business in the private sector employing over 250 people. It is worth looking at the situation for the Labour Candidate now:

For the year 2016-7 Annual Income from Parliament74,962Specifically for her book51,250Other media income etc5,322.82Total declared income131,534.82

Traditionally anyone with an annual income of over £100,000 has been considered to be a millionaire. I did not use my position in parliament to increase my income.

I have been asked for sources for this. This BBC piece looks at how one should define rich. It was written in 2011 so the figures will be slightly out of date. There are perhaps 2 relevant pieces:
"In 1880 a rich person would have had £100,000 in assets or an income of £10,000 a year, he says. About a hundred people a year died leaving £100,000 and by 1910 this was 250 - "a microscopic fraction of the number of death…