We've gone from tribes to villages to the modern nation-state over a few thousand years. In many ways, the development was inevitable with the development of contemporary weaponry, technology and industries. From the middle ages, where Nordic tribes, through Christianization and civilization, formed new Kingdoms and built cities and villages not only for one's tribe, to the modern eras industrial revolutions, electrification and nation-states, we've been heading towards centralization of power and larger and larger governmental entities.
With the new digital era, the so-called Information Age, I suspect that we've reached the end of the old cycle and slowly (or maybe relatively fast) are approaching a new cycle, where we'll head in a different reaction. This doesn't mean that we will lose the technological advancements we've made in the last thousand years and go back to living in a carbon copy of the Classical Era. It's the other way around, as technological advancements are a prerequisite for the imminent return of tribalism.
The birth and death of the modern nation-state
The modern nation-state developed when no one had access to cheap flights around the world or a communication device that connects you to the rest of the world in the comfort of your own home. Most people, especially in the North, were living in ethnically homogenous cities, villages and countries. We all got our news and stories from more or less the same sources; was it the churches, the few newspapers or some of the first TV channels. We all very much shared the same depiction of reality.
It's a product of its time, and that time is already gone.
Internet and modern travel has destroyed the nation-states raison d'être, and we're right now living through the crumbling phase of what once was a great time in the history of our race. From an individual perspective, the fall will take quite a long time, but in the eyes of history, it's heading downhill at rocket speed.
But how does this talk about modern technology boil down to the rise of tribalism? Aren't we seeing the opposite happening right now with a concentration of power, not only financial but also surveillance and control over media flow, into the hands of a few megacorporations?
Yes, we are. But at the same time, we see a movement in the opposite direction, where more and more people gather around digital bonfires and create new stories and loyalties. Take the so-called "alternative media" as an example: In Sweden, a significant part of the population gets all their news from the alternative media and has none or minimal trust in the mainstream outlets. At the same time, another significant part of the population only trusts the mainstream media, and everything "alternative" as "fake news".
We're not one people anymore
These two groups within the population, within what used to be my people, has two totally different narratives of what is happening in the world. Not only regarding who is good or bad, but even what is true and false. Many also dig deep into digital trenches, where they refuse to listen to "the other side".
This is often referred to as "polarization", but I would argue that this is the seed to the return of tribalism. We might be biologically alike, all Swedish in the traditional sense of the word, but are we one people? If we don't have the same view on history, present or the future? If we disagree on basic foundations on how the world works? If we don't even agree on what our identity consists of and what defines it?
No. We were one people, but right now, we're disintegrating into tribes.
The concentration of power into a few global megacorporations is the natural consequence of the death of the old nation-states. Their power is fleeting because it's not based on genuine community and fellowship.
We're witnessing the return to tribalism, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. There's no reason to be nostalgic about what has once been; instead, let us be excited about what's about to come.