Tribalism and the State: Michael Walzer Replies

Tribalism and the State: Michael Walzer Replies

Jim Rule’s passionate attack on “tribalism” raises more questions than I can possibly address in a brief response. Since I by no means disagree entirely with what he writes, I want to begin by clearing up one misunderstanding. I do not believe—and, of course, nowhere say—that “the tribe is an indispensable…facilitator of democracy.” My argument, which owes a great deal to the research of Karl Deutsch (see his Nationalism and Social Communication, 1953), is that democracy is the “facilitator” of tribalism. Local elites can easily assimilate into the diffuse and open (and in many ways attractive) cosmopolitanism fostered by imperial rule, and that is exactly what they did in the great empires of the past and, more recently, in the communist empire. But the resulting patterns

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