Why Toxic Tribalism Is Destroying Our Society & What To Do About It

Zaid K. Dahhaj
Feb 18, 2018 · 5 min read

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” (Thomas Paine)

This topic is especially relevant to our modern climate in not only the Western world but the overall world. We have become intoxicated by toxic tribalism and the group mob mentality. We have unconsciously been seduced by the idea that one group is “wrong” and “evil” while our own group is “correct” and “good.” This mentality leads to a whole list of disastrous consequences which I will explain later on in this publication. But, the first thing we must understand is what exactly is toxic tribalism and where does it come from.

What is toxic tribalism and where does it stem from?

Firstly, let’s provide a definition of what toxic tribalism is.

Toxic Tribalism: A loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group to the point that dogma and dysfunction become the standard.

Let me provide 2 key characteristics in which an individual has become drunk with toxic tribalism:

  1. Demonization — This is the first and foremost quality of someone who is toxically tribal. If there is any labeling of the other group as being “stupid,” “evil,” “racist,” “demons,” “scum,” so on and so forth then you can almost be sure that they are in the mindset of toxic tribalism.
  2. Unconscious Behavior & Attitudes — One of the hallmarks of someone who is engrossed in toxic tribalism is a lack of conscious behavior. Unconscious behavior comes in many forms such as screaming, not entertaining contradictory ideas, being closed minded, violence, and the list goes on. You cannot be dogmatic if you are truly conscious in the present moment. Dogmatic behavior can only take place in unconsciousness.

Parents and schools should place great emphasis on the idea that it is all right to be different. Racism and all the other ‘isms’ grow from primitive tribalism, the instinctive hostility against those of another tribe, race, religion, nationality, class or whatever. You are a lucky child if your parents taught you to accept diversity.” (Roger Ebert)

What are some examples of toxic tribalism?

  1. Democrats vs Republicans
  2. Atheists vs Theists
  3. Black People vs White People
  4. Western vs Eastern Medicine
  5. Rationalism vs Empiricism vs Idealism
  6. Capitalism vs Communism vs Socialism
  7. Scientology
  8. Liberalism vs Conservatism
  9. Darwinism vs Intelligent Design

What are the consequences of engaging in toxic tribalism?

There are a litany of consequences that come with this mental operating system. Here are some of them:

  1. Violence & Genocide — This is by no means harsh by any sense of the imagination. The very philosophical framework by which the Nazi’s, Joseph Stalin, and every other perpetrator of a murderous rampage stems from toxic tribalism. It may be tough for you to connect the dots but a quick study of history will show you how the dots connect.
  2. Inaction From Tribal Squabbles — Toxic tribes constantly squabble with each other and never agree on anything. A classic example is the Democrats vs the Republicans. They’re constantly fighting with one another to the point where they accomplish nothing within the country which actually allows us as a country to move backward rather than forwards. It’s essentially like two cages full of monkey's who are placed beside one another, throwing shit towards each other.
  3. Degeneration — Toxic tribalism sets in motion a process of degeneration as opposed to evolution. People who have this mindset are dying as opposed to growing psychologically. They become angry, bitter and resentful towards everything outside of their tribe.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

How can we destroy toxic tribalism?

  1. Become An Individual — By becoming an individual and distinguishing yourself from the group, you ultimately own yourself as Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted saying above. Becoming an individual means following what interests you, becoming who you alone want to become and developing a quality of independence. Many people who aren’t independent or who haven’t become an individual get seduced by the context of a group. They crave the sense of community which is innate and get sucked into whatever the group dogma is. This comes with major consequences and can result in the worst of humanity such as the Nazi’s or the Soviet Union. Don’t be misled by the notion that you’re a “good” person and aren’t capable of evil because for most of history this was exactly the case. The majority of people within communist and fascist parties were normal people who had been swept up by the drug of community and the rest became history.
  2. Question Your Assumptions —Question your assumptions deeply. Look at yourself from an objective measure and take a bird’s eye view of your life and what tribes you find yourself in and get stuck in.
  3. Entertain Contradictory Ideas — Entertain ideas that go against your current beliefs and world view. This will help you become more open minded on your journey. Have discussions with other people, go to lectures, so on and so forth.
  4. Reading & Research — This will open your mind to new perspectives and allow you to step away from the subjective aspect of your life.
  5. Travel — Traveling is a great way to experience other cultures which just shatters your assumptions and ideas about cultural norms. The more you travel, the more experiences you have to gain wisdom from.
  6. Be Kind — This one seems ridiculous to mention but i think that it’s one of the most powerful things we can do to combat toxic tribalism. Approach everyone with kindness. Treat those around you how you, yourself want to be treated.

This “Us” vs “Them” mentality is not leading us anywhere productive nor appealing. It only leads down a path that leads to extreme suffering and destruction which nobody consciously wants. The Fight against toxic tribalism starts with yourself first and foremost because that’s all you can control. How can you fight toxic tribalism when you yourself act in a tribal manner and aren’t personally growing yourself as a human being? Start with yourself.


Address the things that you know you need to get done in order to get yourself together so that you can stand up and confront the world with independence and courage. Only after that point can you start to make a difference in your community and the overall world.

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