Occasionally we talk about what we’re currently reading, watching or listening to —not at the level of a full review, but simply to point out arguments, perspectives and issues worth considering. This is one of those discussions.
Amy Chua, professor of law at Yale, urges us to take seriously the growing phenomenon of tribalism. In her recent book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, she argues that Americans have been blind to the importance of tribalism, not only in other societies but also in our own.
I disagreed with much of Chua’s analysis and her way of thinking about tribalism, but I gained a lot by engaging with the book and thinking about the phenomenon she’s trying to analyze. In this video Ben Bayer and I discuss the issue of tribalism in America, then look at aspects of Chua’s approach to it (without assuming you’ve read the book), and finally broaden the focus to examine how Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism sheds light on tribalism and offers an alternative: the ideal of individualism.
Audio only, for immediate listening or download:
During the conversation, Ben and I mention several articles and resources you might want to look up:
- Ayn Rand Student Conference 2018: Individualism in an Age of Tribalism
- “Global Balkanization,” a recorded lecture by Ayn Rand (written version available in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought)
- “The Missing Link” and “Selfishness Without a Self,” two essays by Ayn Rand available in Philosophy: Who Needs It
- “Tribalism Fuels U.S. Double Standards for Dictators,” an essay by Ben Bayer
- “Why Read Thinkers You Disagree With,” an essay by Aaron Smith
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