TRIBALISM AND THE SPLITTING OF THE ATOM: TWO PHENOMENA ON DIAMETRICALLY-OPPOSED ENDS OF THE PROCESS OF HUMAN EVOLUTION WHICH BOTH HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO REDUCE HUMANITY TO ITS MOST PRIMITIVE LEVEL.
I was having lunch today and was mulling over a variety of things concerning the human condition. One was about how much we all depend to a large degree on highly-processed agro-industrial comestibles for our survival. This was so because I was having an argument in my head with my health-nut sister the Doctor who was exhorting me to make my own organic bread. So on the imaginary conversation went as I ranted on about ‘why don’t I just have a vegetable patch on my balcony and a couple of free-range chickens in my living room to supply me with eggs?’
The tone of my imaginary ranting reply and discourse got to be even more sarcastic as I argued against moving backwards, evolutionary-wise, towards any of this micro-urban farming stuff which is starting to catch on in the public domain, as fears over global food security start to get some people all worked up and some are starting to go back to growing food at home in a bigger way.
One of my nephews has a vegetable patch in the back of his house because he’s convinced the global financial system will collapse soon and he’ll need to survive by himself. Just the other day I went to an acquaintance’s house, who lives in a semi-rural area, and found two chickens wandering around out back. The local Anglican Bishop’s wife has a goat living out back of her house right downtown. My cousin in New Brunswick works for the Provincial Agricultural department and lives in the country and apparently has a few sheep and other animals out back of her house.
It looks like there’s a genuine countercultural reaction to all of this globalization of everything, with its ‘macroization’ of social structures, which is causing an equal and opposite ‘microization’ of social structures at the local level. As agriculture and agribusiness gets bigger and more impersonal and moves towards more and more genetically-engineered foods, more and more people are doing things at the micro level by having gardens and animals out back.
Which brings me to another aspect of ‘macro and micro’ in society: the militarization of society, specifically the unlocking of the secrets of the atom, and the upsurge of tribalism in the world. When the secrets of the atom were unlocked in the early years of the 20th century, culminating with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, people were both shocked and in awe of the destructive power that could be unleashed by the atom, but also by the potential for harnessing this same power for peaceful purposes, such as in medical applications and power generation.
This was especially true in light of the fact that its destructive powers had first and foremost been harnessed in wartime to crush a formidable adversary with heretofore unheard of violence and brutality, leaving many to wonder aloud as to what would the future of humanity hold, now that we held the power to annihilate ourselves completely, but by the same token, potentially eliminate all forms of sickness and hunger through the very powers of science and technology which had most recently wrecked so much havoc in the world at that time.
This brings me to my second point. Now that the power of the atom and the accompanying powers of overall scientific, technological and human evolution have brought us to the post Cold War, Post Industrial, and Post Modern era of Globalization, I see a new phenomenon emerging: One of the ‘microization’ of social structures at the local level, as social structures begin their process of ‘macroification’ at the global level.
As Pete Townsend wrote in his song by the Who ‘Pure and Easy’ back in the early 1970s: ‘As people assemble, civilization is trying to find a new way to die’. It’s as if the more people try and come together in ‘macro’ structures of continental and global trade and geopolitical unions, the more people have an aversely equal and opposite reaction at the tribal level locally to all of this, seeing their local traditions and customs threatened by forces coming from very far off places.
I see it every day in the news as different tribes in Africa fight amongst each other all overlaid within the greater global context of the fight for the control over animal, vegetable and mineral resources which are to be used to equip and outfit the armies of the world in their continuing push for global conquest and dominion so as to ultimately see who will control the very same animal, vegetable and mineral resources which will feed, clothe, shelter, educate, heal, entertain, and soothe the souls of the world’s population.
This form of tribalism is on the same level as the destructive power of the atom itself, in that it reduces humanity to its lowest form of life and impedes humanity from moving forward and aggregating itself into a greater whole and from developing a global consciousness of all humanity, irrespective of race, colour, or creed.
In this sense, tribalism is in essence ‘atomistic’ in its approach to human organization, and when those ‘atoms’ collide or are ‘split’, they ‘explode’, and cause much destruction throughout the world. I think it is better that we try and build as many ‘atoms’ into as many ‘molecules’ so as to form one ‘organism’ on this planet, instead of causing so many ‘atoms’ to ‘collide’ or to ‘split’, be they literally or figuratively-speaking.
In the meantime, those processed agro-industrial comestibles seem to be helping me survive quite nicely right now, despite my not having procured any of said nourishment from my vegetable patch on the balcony, promenading poultry out back, or other sundry forms of livestock, bleating balefully out back or otherwise.
Funny what happens when you have an imaginary argument with one of your siblings: You end up solving all the world’s problems in about 1000 words: How do you like them apples? Did you buy them at the store or get them from your tree out back? Ask me if I care!