TRIBES KEPT THE EARTH IN BALANCE AND MINDS SHARP, BUT HAVE TO BE PHASED OUT. IN AFRICA, AND ELSEWHERE.
Abstract: Tribes are WMD. In light of this, overall, better empires allowed progress: transnationalism and overlords are a necessity to hold back the well ingrained tribal side of man, a euphemism for fascism and darkness. Although one should not forget that the battle of ideas has been helped by conflicts, tribes have got to go. It is a matter of survival.
EMPIRES CONTROL TRIBES WITH HIGHER PHILOSOPHY:
In a more distant past, land transportation was very difficult, so the nations were smaller. We now call those nations of yore, tribes. Thus the notion of "tribe" is stronger than the notion of "nation". Genuine tribes were often characterized, and separated, by language, religion, color, often biological inheritance. Denying the later is futile: just look at Pigmies. As we will see, tribes allowed giving full expression to fascism unchained, and that provided the Dark Side of man with delight. Thus the pleasures of authentic tribalism have been longed for, and synthetic tribalism has been felt to be a rewarding pursuit (even in the most recent times).
When Africa was completely administered by Europeans it was cut up in larger administrative units the size of large European nations (except Ethiopia). This arranging was not arbitrary. For example, there used to be an empire of Mali, pretty much where the French decided Mali was. Nevertheless, the creation of each of the African nations was an experience in TRANSNATIONALISM (otherwise we would have several hundred African nations). Under the overlordship of the Europeans, that forced experience in calm understanding of the other worked just fine. But it's unlikely it can be pursued without overlords.
In Europe nations fought each other for centuries, and before this, tribes did it for even longer. Europe has improved recently, but mostly because of the presence of OVERLORDING STRUCTURES (occupational armies and now the EU).
Lesson? Africa should be overlorded upon. The African Union (AU), the EU, the UN, the IMF and NGOs can play such roles. This is how the crises in Rhodesia, South Africa, the Sahara, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Darfur and Kenya have been dealt with. This is also how Europeans have been dealing with their own tribal conflicts, using supranational structures (many of those now part of the EU).
It's fashionable among some shallow European intellectuals to scorn the Europeans for having "created" a mess in Africa, although such an attitude only denotes a dismissive lack of knowledge of not just of World, but, also, of European, history. Europe used to be all cut up in smaller nations, in other words, tribes (the Basque are such a tribal remnant, from pre Celtic times).
European tribes used to fight all out (with plenty of Shoahs, as in the Bible). The Celts invaded North Western Europe, and then half of Italy (where Rome stopped them with extreme difficulty); some Celts invaded all the way to the center of present day Anatolia, "fearing only that the sky would fall on their heads" (they haughtily informed Alexander the Great). Four centuries later, Julius Caesar used a migration of the Helvetic tribe across Long-Haired-Gaul (Gallia Comida) as a pretext to invade all of Gaul. Caesar won, because Rome represented progress and union, and many Celts could feel this, so they did not resist (a similar phenomenon happened when Judea got conquered). Europe united because the empires of the Romans and Franks crushed most tribal organization (including, in the end, their own: Romans were forbidden to enroll in the ... Roman army!).
The emotional mess in Southern Slav lands (Yugo-Slavia) was a consequence of the fact those were, in the fullness of time, at the intersection of no less than seven empires. Yugoslavia did not erase its tribal differences because it was never solidly inside one empire long enough (emperor Heraclius had allowed the Serbs to settle in present day Serbia in the 7C, to reward them for fighting (the ancestors of) the Mongols; the frontier with the "Pars Occidentalis" was just west).
The Greco-Roman empire, the various versions of the Persian empire, and the empires of the Franks, were gigantic experiments in transnationalism, in tribal extinction, and in the advancement of higher philosophical principles, especially tolerance, learning to be enriched by difference (this is also true for the Mongols and early Islam). This was deliberate: after Rome destroyed "Judea" (70 CE), she immediately installed Yahweh, the Jewish God, in the Roman pantheon, to grab Yahweh's best. That courtesy was not extended to Celtic or Punic divinities, which depicted traits Rome viewed as inferior. One hundred fifty years later, all free men of the empire were made citizens, the culmination of citizenship as transcending all other political values. The Franks, of course, enforced the largest philosophical jumps, by discarding sexism and outlawing slavery (this struck domestic fascism itself: if one can be ruled by women, and one has no more slaves to whip, who is left to oppress and torture?). This does not mean they were nice: the war making methods of the Franks went beyond those invented by the Romans, and have characterized Europeans and their colonists ever since. But the result was the creation of a PHILOSOPHICALLY united Western Europe, that spiritually survived ever since (before the Franks, the tribal frontier between the Greco-Romans and the Germans had been the object of 1,000 year war, with a very deep tribal psychological cleavages about freedom and sexism; Frankish imperial force wiped these out).
TRIBAL CONFLICT AS AN ADJUVANT TO IDEA FORMATION:
"What does not kill me makes me stronger" said Nietzsche famously. One could say a fortiori the same about ideas: "WAR DOES NOT KILL IDEAS, IT MAKES THEM STRONGER" (for example, the Franks invented plenty of new ideas as they faced the Muslims in a war of extermination, and not just military techniques the Mongols would use later, or fine steel, and very heavy cavalry, but also ideas such as the modern professional army (made of paid family men), and ideas such as the nationalization of the Catholic church to rise revenues and bolster discipline (~ 720 CE)). Inter tribal war makes ideas stronger, and they don't even have to die. In other words, inter tribal holocausts have encouraged mental creativity. Holocausts can often be seen as flowers from which new ideas blossomed: desperate situations make for ultimate thinking; the brain is first a survival machine. When Syracuse was besieged, super thinker Archimedes helped with war machines (giant claw, burning mirrors, steam canon) which struck imaginations for millennia to come, if not the Romans; the first recipes for gunpowder are found in a Chinese military textbook of 1044; the first recorded use of rockets was by the Chinese army in 1232 in a vain attempt to stop the Mongols.
So much innovation came from deadly conflicts that it is unlikely that the world of ideas would have achieved as much without the world of war (the point is moot, anyway, because WITHOUT WAR, MANKIND WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED AGRICULTURE). It is actually unlikely; the human brain's high energetic demands required fat and flesh (such is our superiority on chimps). Not only is it in general true that in the fullness of time, the best way to become a successful carnivore is to have a big brain (wild chimpanzees love meat, and dolphins know how to kill sharks), but, as early Homos became more and more delicate and precise in their physiology, hence weaker, armed bellicosity became ever more important (Homo is much weaker than a chimpanzee in muscle and compensates for this with the symbiosis of brain and weapon; and all advanced animals know this, so, when Homo appears on the scene, they run for their lives).
As we do away with tribes, we want to keep mock, make believe conflicts, lest we fall in mental torpor. That is why a lot of academia is organized so as to promote strong emotions to keep those mental juices flowing with lots of tempting payments, and titles, and even as they had it in the Middle Ages and similarly retarded places (USA), silly costumes. That is also why academics are prone to get angry about nothing, and obsessed about hair-splitting: they need the juices of war.
TRIBALISM IS FASCISM:
Hominids are social predators, they fight best in groups, as one mass, and the delight they take in satisfying the fascist instinct makes sure of that. The more delight they took in fascism, the more successful they were at war, hence at survival. At some point there were more than fourteen (14!) hominid species, just in one small corner of Africa, a bit more than a million years ago. Now, on the whole planet there is only one relative of Homo, and the Chimpanzee is not even a hominid. Give it a tiny bit more time, and only bacteria will be left. Even the bees are dying. Homo, or the war of all against all.
As agriculture made huge tribes possible, those aggressive masses Homo could gather into, became enormous, and so did the fascism. The Dark Side of human beings made tribes into Weapons of Mass Destruction. The foundational document of Judeo-Christo-Islamism shows Israel being born from holocausts ("Shoahs"). That was pretty much typical. The alternative was to eat everything down to the last rat. And the last fish, and the last nut. Like the feckless natives were doing at Easter Island (when they got savagely interrupted by the White Man).
Hominids have been on this planet for millions of years, as top predators, and they knew no enemy as lethal as themselves. This gave plenty of time and necessity for evolution to hardwire the hatred of man towards man in man. Homo killing Homo not only created Homo (by eliminating closely related monsters), but also kept the earth in balance (Homo being the top predator had to self predate). Man had to kill man so man could be, and it's somewhat hypocritical to deny this. And also dangerous, because the tribal instinct feeds on the fact that the Dark Side, deep down, for the reasons we just sketched, is more enlightened than it looks, and, thus, cannot be completely avoided, ever.
To deny this is to fall into the trap of extinction. Hillel the Elder abstracted his view of Jewish morality this way: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary" (around 0 CE). The problem with this (Babylonian) "Golden Rule" is that it eschews the Dark Side, which, as we said, was necessary not just to allow the continuation of man, but to engage in, and pursue, his evolutionary creation. If one chooses to ignore this formidable, constitutive element of the moral universe, the Dark Side, one ends with a lower dimensional hypersurface in reality. The resulting low dimensional morality will get folded by higher dimensional reality, like a crepe always is, because it's all it is. (In the case of Judea, within two generations, Hillel's obsession with goodness, compounded with an attending lack of realism led to a mix of very bloody Jewish civil war with a war with Rome, that ended with the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem, anti-Judaism and pogroms in the Diaspora, plus one million dead in Judea herself; all this because, instead of worrying about goodness, as if it existed disconnected from the world, one should have worried about what was real, and what was not; the truth is, all too many Jews in Judea were blinded by tribalism; the enormous Jewish community in Alexandria stayed clear of it, and clang to Romanitas, and thus survived).
Some, of course take great self satisfaction in self stimulating on how righteous they are. But low dimensional morality is so voluntarily naive, that it should be viewed as a moral recipe cooked up to be conveniently edible, something to consume, a self immolating accomplice of the greatest evil (except in genuine mental retards).
Nazism was a typical modern synthetic tribalism. All united, in the hatred of the other (French, Jew, Communist, Slav, etc.). TRIBALISM IS MADE TO KILL, THE REST IS COMMENTARY. Commentary can actually augment tribalism: Germany was the most literate country in the world, as she sank into tribal fascism (as Nietzsche himself pointed out ad nauseam before 1888). This has to be kept in mind as, thanks to the Internet, literacy is augmenting worldwide. It's not reading which does it, it's what you read: GARBAGE IN, HOLOCAUST OUT.
Religion of course is the metaphysical glue of synthetic tribes. That is why the powers that be in the USA pushed God onto the People around 1954 (in violation of the original spirit of the US Constitution, but closely parroting the Nazi lead: "Gott mit uns!"), and why the USA pushed Allah onto "Muslim" lands (among others, US support of and/or incitation for: the house of Saud (1945) , Iranian clerics (1953), Pakistani fundamentalism (1961), Al Qaeda (80's and 90's)). That is also why Marxism-Leninism was made into a cult by the Soviets. This also means that secular hedonism, being a natural enemy of superstitious religions, is a natural enemy of tribalism.
The moral idea of tribe is now too dangerous (because of Weapons of Mass Destruction). The future belongs to the UN, the EU, honest brokers therein, and imperial principles built along the same lines. The first principle, the one that is at the center of the European Union on-going construction, is that IT IS BETTER TO TALK TO DEATH, THAN TO WALK TO DEATH.
Tribes have got to go. And nations are next.