“whatever the technological advances of modern society – and they’re nearly miraculous – the individualized life styles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit”
One hell of a book! Sebastian Junger will be familiar to many of you as he is bobbing on a geezer of fame. to some – Junger is a bit of a celeb & dismissed as the ultimate embedded bias bitch (being a contributing editor to Vanity Fair doesn’t help these accusations) that’s read by businessmen on private jets so they can extrapolate sections of his work to their boardroom behavior. fame & some uncouth-affiliation aside, he is a great journalist & writer, & i remember his hugely popular 2010 book “War” (also with a documentary adaption called Restrepo) as being excellent (albeit outdone by Dexter Filkins – the Forever War), but his latest penning Tribe for me is his best yet & deserves substantial recognition (that’s not going to be a problem). the subjects & territory of Tribe are prime nerves of interest to me. it examines tribal history & conduct (particularly the Native Americans), the underscoring of solidarity, community & equality that can occur in times of conflict, disaster or intense hardship, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (particularly as experienced by military personnel) & “re-entry” into modern occidental society after military deployment. it’s also very’ very critical of the modern Western morass & it’s nullifying, individualist, inhuman sprawl that neither encourages nor stimulates or values some of the most rudimentary tenets of the homo-sapiens, (community, purpose, courage, & belonging) if any. having always abhorred the Western paradigm & the wrongs it normalizes or ignores & never having integrated in the conventional sense, this book & Junger’s research & reflection were immensely droll areas of personal interest. reading extensively on war, violence & conflict resolution for decades, i inadvertently discovered the profound misalliance & difficulty that returning soldiers often undergo when re-assuming civilian life (particularly when returning to Western societies) in accounts from all over the world & became very attentive to literature/testimony on this phenomena. i have never been in the military, but beside the actual PTSD, these same sentiments of alienation along with a disdain & perception of societal inadequacy that subscribes to a “survival of the shittest” have pretty much always been deeply embedded in my being, making this book especially intriguing for comparative study. as Sebastian states – “Modern society, on the other hand, is a sprawling and anonymous mess where people can get away with incredible levels of dishonesty without getting caught. what tribal people would consider a profound betrayal of the group, modern society merely dismisses as fraud.” the Financial Crash of 2008 seems to be a particular object of enmity for Sebastian who repeatedly returns to scorn this incomparable super atrocity. – ” the fact that a group of people can cost American society several trillion dollars in losses – roughly one-quarter of that year’s gross domestic product – and not be tried for high crimes shows how completely de-tribalized the country has become”. he also writes of various tribal punishments that included “assassination of the culprit by the entire group” – & I think Wall Street & The City would benefit from finally catching up with their death-toll for all the years of financial terrorism & gigantic social defacement & devastation wrought. for sure, you don’t need to have any interest in war or the military spectrum to read this book. it’s a very human & timely analyses presented in a sociological, political, anthropological, historical bundle with a very relaxed wondering & inter-change between the topics, all totally pretention free. for me it’s more than anything about the totally unnourishing falsehood & anti-natural reality of modern Western society in all it’s pointless putrescence.
as Junger quotes from his associate, anthropologist Sharon Abramowitz – ” We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people -our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that”.
Author: Sebastian Junger
Publisher: 4th Estate (2016)