Despite our many technological conveniences, from iPhones to hybrid cars, we humans are still an incredibly primitive and tribal culture. We love to identify ourselves based on differences: e.g., “I am American, and you are French”; “I am Christian, and you are Muslim”; “I am rich, and you are poor”; etc. So entrenched are we in our tribal identities, I feel, that we have reached a stopping point in our civilization’s progress: we will continue to create useful gadgets to enhance the cool of our everyday lives, to make us feel ever hipper and with it, but in our current tribal state, there is no hope of us realizing the end of war, disease, world hunger, and other such strife. Our tribal identities require us to battle out who should lead us to this idealization, and of course, when one tribe is in power, another tribe will inevitably suffer. Our understanding of science continues to grow and give us glimpses of future happiness, but science’s great enemy, ideology, has overridden our common sense and left our civilization standing still and growing stagnant. Once we can overcome the ideology obstacle, our tribal identities will dissipate, and we will finally see true progress as a people and as a race at our finger-tips.
Allow me to envision an ideal world, free of ideology and, subsequently, tribal identity.
It began with our various national governments phasing out their tribal identifications by allotting the UN greater political power, which culminated in the foundation of a consolidated world government, presided over by a democratically elected council. Without tribal identifications — e.g., “I am American, and thus I want my council candidate to defeat the French candidate” — we are forced to elect our leaders based solely on their qualifications and character. There are no political parties in this future; there are only people. This council elects a president, who functions as a facilitator of council meetings and who otherwise oversees the maintenance of laws based on the common good of all humanity, not merely a portion of it.
Free from tribal identification and its ideological implications, we were at last free to embrace science unconditionally. This, combined with the benefits of the consolidated world government, led to rapid developments in food production and medicine, which in turn brought an end to world hunger and [most] disease. Wealth became less of a priority, for what further purpose did currency serve in a world where food and health care were easily available to all? Without our tribal identifications, we no longer made decisions based on “what was best for our country”; we made decisions based on what was best for humanity. Thus, if there was a famine in eastern Africa, surplus food rations were diverted to that region. But in time, thanks to our scientific focus, we managed even to eliminate the threat of famine. With hunger and disease eliminated, we could then set our sights on finally uniting the globe.
Of course, not every world power joined the World Council at first. Most of Western Europe and America and parts of Asia complied almost immediately, but certain governments lingered. Negotiations between the Council president and the leaders of these stubbornly tribal nations took place, and while some negotiations descended into violence — particularly with those nations governed by despotic dictators — most ended peacefully, with the addition of these nations to the world government. Various radical groups also rose up against the World Council. These radicals consisted of ideologues who saw the departure from tribal identity as a war waged on their religions or political beliefs, or both. Though the council attempted to negotiate peaceful terms with these radicals, some inevitably resorted to terrorist acts in the attempt to bring down the world government. But the Council, seeing what was best for humanity in the long-run, dispatched counter-terrorism military units to combat these radicals, and in the end the council won due to a combination of greater numbers and common purpose: fighting for an idea will no doubt inspire passion, but fighting for one’s race will inspire passionate resilience.
Despite our united secular focus, religion still plays a substantial part in the affairs of humanity. The main difference between before and after the departure from tribal identity is that, with the World Council focused on what is best for humanity, religion is now strictly a private practice. This was a difficult transition for many religions, but we have decided that it is best for humanity to keep our faiths outside of our interactions with one another on a global scale — to still attend to our rituals, if we’d like, but to do so in a manner that does not diminish the basic human rights of others and that does not interfere with the world at large. Missionary work still continues, but only in a charitable fashion; forced conversion is outlawed, for it is deemed intrusive upon individual human rights.
Once the major conflicts across the globe had been settled, we were able to shift our vision outwards, from looking down at ourselves to looking up at the cosmos. Developments in what used to be crudely termed “green” technology led to the harnessing of clean and endlessly renewable fusion power and the advent of “atmospheric cleansing,” which allowed us to remove harmful pollutants and restore the crumbling ozone layer. With our Mother Earth cleansed and on the mend after more than two millennia of abuse, we began developing the technology to take us to other planets, and beyond. We had made enormous progress as a civilization — or, more to the point, as a race — but only after we had renounced our tribal identities and, as a result, our disastrously differing ideologies.
It is easy for me to write that we phased out our tribal identifications, but that is no simple task. Indeed, even in my ideal history of a prospective utopia, I make note of continuing conflicts. Ideology is perhaps the greatest hurdle humankind has ever had to clear on our track of progress, and it will not be cleared easily. Perhaps it will take a Third World War to overcome tribal identity and ideology; perhaps we will need to decimate ourselves before we can unite. I am an idealist, but I cannot ignore reality. Our tribal history is rife with violence, and certainly renouncing our tribal identities will not be a peaceful process. But once that hurdle is cleared, our unified progress will be within reach. There is no progress without fear: was primitive humanity not afraid of fire even while mastering it? Were doctors inspecting and treating plague victims not fearful of catching the disease themselves? Were our early astronauts not anxious at the prospects of all that could go wrong whilst jettisoning themselves into space? But to clutch to ideology is to hide from fear. Truly, fear is a necessary component of progress; but it is just as true that once we confront these fears in the face of progress, our anxieties will dissipate. Let us let loose our primitive tribal identities and corresponding ideologies and progress boldly in spite of our fear.
Postscript. I acknowledge that my argument that ideology is the enemy of science and progress is itself an ideology, but it is one that does not diminish the rights of others, and it is therefore one that I feel best suits the needs of humanity — of us as a global community. It is an ideology designed for the modern world: an ideology that celebrates our individual uniquenesses and eschews all prejudice and hatred based on primitive and out-of-date beliefs. We need not hurt ourselves; why cut of our nose to spite our face? Instead, why not work together and accomplish something?
In short, let us be nice to each other and work for humanity — not for our own ends.