riots


Tribalism or racism?

I think it is reasonably complex in the sense that it is both a race/cultural issue as well as a tribalism issue. Tribalism (imo a form of in/out groupism) acts on differentiating markers. Groups of people (often young men) do usually form packs or tribes or gangs that differentiate themselves from other groups using these markers. It provides a sense of identity and security and belongingness.

the papers seem to be trying to draw comparisons about how cronulla has always been a flashpoint for tribes of young men competing and battling for turf. I agree that the process is pretty much the same. However, there is a crucial difference in that in the past, the young men could change their markers – ie surfies could cut their hair and buy a bike. And there were also neutral markers which marked others as non-combatants.

The problem here is that the markers are raced based. Which means there are no non-combatants and young men cannot change allegiance or drop out of the tribe.

This radically changes the nature of the conflict as there are now no longer any “natural” bounds to it. The potential and risk for the wider community to be involved in what is usually a small turf war is now very great. If the violence increases, which i think it will, then more and more people will be drawn into rival tribal groups and hence the tribal mind-set for self-protection, through anger and the propensity for violence as a legitimate means of expression. The turf that is in dispute also increases from small beach areas to streets to suburbs.

If that happens, what J. Ho dismisses as tribal conflict has moved in to the next stage of ethnic conflict. IMO, the only way to stop this escalation is for the State to fully utilise its monopoly on violence. Come down hard and equally heavy on all involved parties. The steps are pretty universal – curfews, overwhelming police presence, military presence (if required), rounding up of inflamatory leaders and speakers on both sides, banning of all gatherings.

Of course, longer term solutions will need to be put in place as well. But only after the immediate danger is past.

thank goodness no one has started using guns. yet.

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