Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

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Penguin, 2018 - Political Science - 293 pages
The bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua offers a bold new prescription for reversing our foreign policy failures and overcoming our destructive political tribalism at home

Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. 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. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles - Capitalism vs. Communism, Democracy vs. Authoritarianism, the "Free World" vs. the "Axis of Evil" - we are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics. Time and again this blindness has undermined American foreign policy.

In the Vietnam War, viewing the conflict through Cold War blinders, we never saw that most of Vietnam's "capitalists" were members of the hated Chinese minority. Every pro-free-market move we made helped turn the Vietnamese people against us. In Iraq, we were stunningly dismissive of the hatred between that country's Sunnis and Shias. If we want to get our foreign policy right - so as to not be perpetually caught off guard and fighting unwinnable wars - the United States has to come to grips with political tribalism abroad.

Just as Washington's foreign policy establishment has been blind to the power of tribal politics outside the country, so too have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans - and that are tearing the United States apart. As the stunning rise of Donald Trump laid bare, identity politics have seized both the American left and right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. In America today, every group feels threatened: whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives, and so on. There is a pervasive sense of collective persecution and discrimination. On the left, this has given rise to increasingly radical and exclusionary rhetoric of privilege and cultural appropriation. On the right, it has fueled a disturbing rise in xenophobia and white nationalism.

In characteristically persuasive style, Amy Chua argues that America must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes. Enough false slogans of unity, which are just another form of divisiveness. It is time for a more difficult unity that acknowledges the reality of group differences and fights the deep inequities that divide us.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jess_reads - LibraryThing

I know Hillary Clinton wrote "What Happened," but Amy Chua explains conflict along tribal identity, inequality, and foreign policy with precision and clarity. She revisits the failures in Vietnam ... Read full review

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

A Yale Law School professor with expertise in ethnic conflict and globalization, Chua (The Triple Package) devotes her thoughtful, if overreaching, survey to the role of tribalism in politics and ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
chapter O Ne American Exceptionalism and the Sources
15
chapter two Vietnam
37
cHAPTER THREE Afghanistan
59
chapter four Iraq
75
ch Apter rive Terror Tribes
99
chapter six Venezuela
117
chapter seveN Inequality and the Tribal Chasm
137
chapter eight Democracy and Political Tribalism
165
Acknowledgments
211
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About the author (2018)

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor at Yale Law School. She is a noted expert in the fields of ethnic conflict and globalization, and the author of the bestselling titles World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance -- and Why They Fall, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and her most recent book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, co-written with Jed Rubenfeld. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband and two daughters.

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