Return to Tribalism
A symptom of the tribal mentality’s self-arrested, perceptual level of development may be observed in the tribalists’ position on language.
Language is a conceptual tool—a code of visual-auditory symbols that denote concepts. To a person who understands the function of language, it makes no difference what sounds are chosen to name things, provided these sounds refer to clearly defined aspects of reality. But to a tribalist, language is a mystic heritage, a string of sounds handed down from his ancestors and memorized, not understood. To him, the importance lies in the perceptual concrete, the sound of a word, not its meaning. He would kill and die for the privilege of printing on every postage stamp the word “postage” for the English-speaking and the word “postes” for the French-speaking citizens of his bilingual Canada. Since most of the ethnic languages are not full languages, but merely dialects or local corruptions of a country’s language, the distinctions which the tribalists fight for are not even as big as that.
But, of course, it is not for their language that the tribalists are fighting: they are fighting to protect their level of awareness, their mental passivity, their obedience to the tribe, and their desire to ignore the existence of outsiders.