Nike, Kaepernick and Looming Tribal Warfare

Today, many people, in the U.S., Canada, and the rest of the West, have rejected liberal democracy in favor of “woke” identity politics and cultural Marxist “social justice.” Following the Marxist vision of society as a division of classes, with the oppressed victims struggling against the privileged oppressors, identity politics has expanded the class struggle from proletariat versus capitalist to females versus males, people of color versus people of white, LBGT++ versus heterosexuals, and Muslims versus Christians and Jews. Ex Se, Plurimos: from one, many.

For those who are properly “woke,” their supremacist interests lie solely with the interests of their tribe, whether the feminist tribe, the black, Hispanic, or Asian tribes, the LBGT++ tribes, or the Muslim tribe. Those excluded from the tribe–males, whites, straights, non-Muslims–must be suppressed and sidelined, so that “victims” will triumph over “oppressors.” These identities supersede the identity of American or Canadian, and citizenship is viewed as an exclusionary privilege to be negated. The “woke” tribes unite to oppose national borders, claiming that borders are the old oppression against people of color and Hispanics.

Tribes historically, and in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are regional security organizations. They are commonly found in remote deserts and mountains and serve as an alternative to state organizations. The famous Arab example is Bedouin. The tribes and their many subgroups—from families to small lineages, to medium and large lineages, to tribal sections—are based on identity as descendants from common male ancestors.

[Word by Word, SJW’s Are Changing America]

Descent group members must unite and support one another, in opposition to groups with different ancestry, often a brother of their own apical ancestor. Groups are contingent, activated according to who is in conflict. Whether family vs. family, lineage vs. lineage, or section vs. section, “balanced opposition,” as anthropologists call it, is the required relation between descent groups. It is the balance of force that serves as a deterrent to aggression.

Tribal peoples remained on the geographical periphery of states, because pre-industrial states were exploitive and oppressive, extracting wealth from their subjects to support the elite while providing little benefit. Tribal peoples chose freedom from state imposition and united together to provide security for themselves.

Tribal society and politics are in many ways the polar opposite to those of states. While states are centralized, tribes are decentralized, organized and directed by each lineage in its own interests. While states are hierarchical, with a few authorities in change, tribes are egalitarian, each lineage group structurally equivalent to every other lineage group. While states rely on a degree of specialization and division of labor, distinguishing rulers, priests, generals, tax collectors, tradesmen, craftsmen, peasants, and slave, tribesmen, with the exception of a small number of religious specialists, each take on all roles: producer, warrior, and decision-maker. Tribes and states are organizationally and ideologically opposite from each another.

The liberal democratic state, drawing on Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment values, which developed over the past two centuries, is quite different from the pre-industrial, despotic state. Based instead on the consent of its citizens, organized by votes to choose leaders, the liberal democratic state is constrained by law and incorporates a division of powers. Governance is based on the agreement of the citizens to abide by the results of elections. Identity is defined as commonality: E Pluribus Unum, From Many, One.

[How Oberlin Played the Race Card and Lost]

The shift between liberal democracy and “social justice” requires that the “oppressor” tribes be negated and disappeared, Soviet style. The feminist and black power tribes want no more mention of “dead white men,” the authors, artists, politicians, industrialists, and scientists who invented Western civilization and American society. White men are personae non gratae; oppressors all, and must be superseded by female, black, and LBGT++ heroines, particularly black lesbians. This lesson is hammered home by the mass media, especially in products such as television programs.

A recent example of “wokeness” at work is the controversy over the Betsy Ross early American flag. Nike was going to release running shoes with the B.R. flag on the back. But Nike’s “woke” spokesman, Colin Kaepernick, who became famous by rejecting the national anthem on behalf of his identity tribe, objected to the flag, which originated at a period in which there was slavery. There were also claims that the flag has been appropriated by militant members of the identity tribe of white people, so it was deemed to represent an opposition tribe. In the eyes of the woke, there is no America or Canada, no American or Canadian citizens, only good tribes and bad tribes. In Canada, “First Nations” Indigenes are ascendant, and other identity tribes must step aside.

The “mainstream media,” national newspapers and television networks, has joined the tribal fracas, identifying with the “woke” tribes, and focused their work on attacking opposition tribes.

As well, the schools and universities have joined the “woke” tribes, and have set themselves in opposition to America and American culture, and Canada and Canadian culture, rejecting their alleged “oppression” in favor of reverse sexism, reverse racism, “decolonialization,” and favoritism for minorities and disdain for the majority and its values. Colleges and universities pander to the “woke” tribes, providing them with segregated living and dining spaces, segregated graduation ceremonies, and preferred access to funding, hiring, and other benefits.

[Goodbye Humanities–Hating White Males Is Not a Curriculum]

The most basic processes of liberal democracy are violated by the “woke” tribes: The results of elections may be denied and rejected if those elected are not sufficiently “woke,” as we have seen with the “resistance” political movement initiated by the “woke” identity tribes. Legal assumptions of innocence and due process are rejected for the opposite tribe, as we have seen in the abrogation of due process under the Title IX impositions, which persecute men for alleged sexual misbehavior. The “woke” must always believe in what members of their tribe say, and disbelieve what those of the opposed tribes say. One’s tribe is always deemed fair, true, just, and good, while the opposite tribe is always deemed unfair, false, and unjust, and evil.

Then there is the rejection of the American Constitution, the glory of liberal democracy, by the “woke” tribes. Three rationales are given: The historical one is that the authors of the Constitution were slave owners, so everything they did was tainted by racism and inequality.

This basis of rejection means that every accomplishment of every civilization in world history must be rejected, given that every premodern civilization—Ancient Greece, Rome, Indian civilization, the Islamic Empire, and Russian Civilization—was heavily based on slavery or some functional equivalent. Some of the “woke” tribes’ American ancestors–white, black, or Native Indian—were slaveholders.

The contemporary reason that the “woke” tribes reject the Constitution is twofold: First, the Constitution is rejected because it does not recognize female, black, and LGBT++ supremacism, and thus does not offer special status and benefits to these tribes. Second, the Constitution’s Electoral College allows the “basket of deplorables” from the flyover states to have an equal say in the government, allowing them to elect to office unacceptable and evil people from unwoke tribes.

American and Canadian unity is disappearing and being replaced by identity tribes. Fellow citizens no more, Americans and Canadians are now members of one or another identity tribe, and in active opposition to other tribes. The “woke” have rejected American history, values, and legal procedures because America and Canada are deemed by the “woke” tribes as oppressive, backward societies: sexist, racist and colonialist. Unfortunately, tribes are incompatible with liberal democracy, so we are left with little more than a divisive cultural war of all against all until some take up weapons and lead us to civil war.


  • Philip Carl Salzman

    Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Past President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

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3 thoughts on “Nike, Kaepernick and Looming Tribal Warfare

  1. I wouldn’t buy those because they are so cheesy to be disrespectful, and the best theory I’ve heard is that Nike didn’t intend them to sell them in the first place.

    After all, people like us aren’t going to pay $140 for those sneakers, and definitely wouldn’t if we already had a perfectly good pair of the same sneakers without the tacky imprint on them. Nike has a niche market of supposedly oppressed young men who somehow able to buy a new pair of sneakers each week. And look at where Nike is headquartered — right outside Portland, Oregon — Antifa Central…

    So Nike spends maybe $10 a pair to have them made in some 3rd world sweatshop and then trash them as a marketing campaign to their base — who will continue buying *other* sneakers which are even more expensive.

    And the rest of us will buy New Balance sneakers, which are actually made in the USA (Maine mostly) and of far better quality.

    1. I just purchased a pair of New Balance 1006 tennis shoes.
      Never considered Nike …. no interest in supporting them.

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