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Transcending tribalism

Jun 24,2018 - Last updated at Jun 24,2018

For every act great or small that Jordanians may wish to do, there is inevitably a point at which they need to submit a petition, supported by a pile of bumph, to some official for permission to proceed. At best, the official would not do anything positive to assist the citizen in his undertaking, he merely would not obstruct the project by denying permission. So, depending on the importance of the project, Jordanians often seek the mediation of a person of consequence to put the official in a receptive frame of mind for their petition. 

The question then becomes, to which person of consequence the applicant should appeal. In Jordanian parlance, the question is “who is the official’s key”? In many cases, it is sufficient to know to which tribe or tribal subgroup the official belongs. From this single piece of information, it is often possible to trace the lines of patronage and allegiance that would determine the prospects of success or failure.

This practice is not unique to Jordan, of course; it is so widespread that some scholars and diplomats try to embellish it with the politically correct term: “advanced indigenous entrepreneurial skills”. In the 19th century, Nikolai Gogol described it vividly in his short novel “The Overcoat”. 

All the same, this practice is a serious handicap to any country’s progress. When people think with their epidermis, genitalia or pedigree to make professional decisions, the outcome is inevitably flawed. Anyone who doubts this needs only raise the question to see how otherwise intelligent and reasonable people start to blurt out the most alarmingly asinine arguments. 

But there are instances when Jordanians rise above tribalism. For instance, during the recent protests, when officials were criticised for alleged corrupt behaviour, whether or not the accusation was justified, it was not on the basis of their tribe or ethnicity. 

Another positive indicator, is that the selection of the new prime minister, Omar Razzaz, was welcomed not only by Jordanians of Damascene origin, but by the majority of the population. Jordanians appear to have cast aside considerations of tribe, region or confessional group, and welcomed the appointment of the prime minister because he is highly educated and has a reputation for being an effective and clean administrator. 

The behaviour of Jordanians in these instances is the opposite of traditional social behaviour because, in times of uncertainty, people tend to fall back on primitive forms of communal identity, such as the tribe or confessional group. This is normal, because one of the most primordial survival instincts is the belief that one’s tribe is inherently superior to all others, and hence it deserves better.

And yet, in this moment of extreme uncertainty, Jordanians appear to have opted for meritocracy rather than the tribe. There may be a message in this behaviour, that tribalism, along with many other institutions, has largely discredited itself. A more optimistic outlook would be that Jordanian society, or at least some sections of it, are becoming mature enough to transcend tribalism.

 

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HOW CAN ANY ONE THINK THAT TRIBALISM CAN BE TRANCENDED IN JORDAN WHICH IS A COUNTRU BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF TRIBALISM. AS NERMEEN MURAD HAS BEEN SAYING, WRITING AND CRYING FOR REBOOTING OF TRIBALISM AND ENTITLEMENT BASED
ON TRIBALISM, I HAVE COME TO A CONCLUSION THAT MERITOCRACY ID DEAD AND BURRIED IN JORDAN. IT WILL BE EASY FOR A CAMMEL TO PASS THROUGH A NEEDLES EYES THAT FOR JORDAN TO REVERT TO MERITOCRACY IN FOMULATING PUBLIC POLICIES THAT DECIDES WHO GETS WHAT, WHEN AND HOW.?

Capturing analysis... with far-fetched conclusion on eliminating tribalism!

The recent appointment of the prime minister Razzaz can't & shouldn't be viewed as transnationalism to tribalism. It is one isolated incident that was preceded by a number of identical appointments over the course of the long list of Jordanian prime ministerial appointments. To suggest that appointment of the prime minister transcending tribalism is akin to suggesting that Kushner's deal of the century is the optimal solution for the Palestinian predicament. Your article of August 22, 2017, entitled Tribalism vs lawfulness is much more representative & reflective of the current status quo of tribalism. To suggest otherwise is misleading particularly in light of the absence of any inferable verifiable empirical data that moves in that direction. Tribalism is alive and well, it will probably remain that way for the near and far away foreseeable future. As a matter of fact, it may serve as a balancing leverage between modernism and traditionalism. I personally don't see any change in the current status of tribalism at least for the next two to three more generation or longer. It is innately ingrained in the mindset of the general populace even those of us that are not fully indigenous we seem to find a great deal of comfort in diligently pursuing tribalism if and when the given situation calls for it.

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