Friday, January 11, 2008

Tribalism and Democracy

Watching events in Kenya and Pakistan we tend to assume that tribalism is a problem. This is a distorted view of events.

The real problem is democracy. Under democracy, the winner of the elections gets control. This "Winner takes All" principle means that it is really important for your party to win an election.

In western societies, businesses want the party of business to win. Unions want the labour party to win. When the Labour Party won a recent election here, the new finance minister said to businessmen, "We won, you lost, eat that!"

In a tribal society, it is really important that your tribe wins the election, because the winner takes all power. The winning tribe gets all the perks and the losing tribes will pay.

A system that is based on a Winner Takes All principle is morally deficient. That is why democracy is the problem.

Tribalism tends to get a bad press in the modern world. We forget that God established a tribal system and gave it his blessing. When the children of Israel went into the promised land, the entered as tribes. The tribes were allocated separate ares in Canaan.

Many Christians love this promise.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut 33:27).
Few notice that Deuteronomy 33 records God's blessing on the tribes of Israel.

God has promised to bless a tribal system. He has never promised to bless democracy. That should set us thinking

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