Whence and Whither Tribalism?

Tribal Rifts Threaten to Undermine Libya Uprising

This headline from the NYT (Aug. 13, 2011) hit me not because it is unusual – we constantly hear about Arab tribalism – but because it comes just as I’m reading the book The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama, in which he devotes a good deal of space explicating the move from tribal societies to states…… and back.

I haven’t got to the ’and back’ part yet, which he labels political decay, but I have a feeling that’s what we’re seeing in Libya. Are we seeing this in the U.S.? Those who want to see individual U.S. states dominant want a certain type of society; what type is that?  I would welcome speculation on exactly what those who yell “I want my country back” actually want back.

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