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Tribal warfare and Australian politics

By Peter Bowden - posted Friday, 2 March 2018

A Yale University professor has unwittingly given us an insight into why Australians are fed up with their politicians.

She writes about US foreign policy.

She calls it tribal politics.


But it applies to us. Her name is Amy Chua and she is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Her just released book is Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations.

She argues that humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups.

We have been in tribes for hundreds of thousands of years.

In today's world these fundamental tribal instincts have emerged everywhere.

Group identities that matter most – the ones that people will fight for, even die for – are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based.


The US sees 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."

She is right.

She adds that "We are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics."

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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