China may be setting the underlying tone of our new world, but many other groups have responded in similarly tribal fashion. Like China, Russia has abandoned internationalist communism for a kind of Leninist state-capitalism with racial overtones, as evident both in the increasingly rough treatments of darker-skinned ethnic minorities such as Chechens and an aggressive ethnic Russian retro-imperialism -- once disguised in socialist trappings -- toward "near abroad" countries like Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The state-sponsored restoration of everything from the Orthodox Church to Stalin -- as well as the consolidation of state ownership over the lucrative energy sector -- reflects the deeply nationalist core of the modern Russian state, which, for historical, geographical, and cultural reasons, has, with few exceptions, always bent toward authoritarianism. The end of the Soviet Union, it turns out, did not usher in a wider embrace of universal capitalism so much as engender various forms of ethnicity-based irredentism and, in Russia itself, a renewed Slavic nationalism.
As they have modernized and globalized, other races -- Persians, Arabs, Brazilians, for just a few examples -- have turned out to be far less cosmopolitan and more tribal. These nationalisms, or tribalisms vary widely. Some, like China and Russia, are specifically racial in character. Others, such as Brazil, are remarkably multi-racial. In some cases historic resentments are at the base. But all are less interested in adopting globalized norms of free markets or capitalism than using state power (through sovereign wealth funds and state-controlled corporations) to increase their influence and wealth.
The new tribalism is also increasingly evident in Europe. Just a few years ago Europhiles like French eminence grise Jacques Attali or left-wing author Jeremy Rifkin could project a utopian future European Union that would stand both as a global role model and one of the world's great powers. Today, Rifkin's ideal of a universalistic "European dream" is collapsing -- a process accelerated by the financial crisis -- as the continent is torn apart by deep-seated historical and cultural rifts.
Europe today can best be seen as divided between three cultural tribes: Nordic-Germanic, Latin, and Slavonic. In the north, there is a vast region of prosperity, a zone of Nordic dynamism. Characterized by economies based on specialized exports, a still powerful Protestant ethic, and a culture that embraces authority, these countries -- including Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, and, arguably, the Baltic states -- are becoming ever more aware of the cultural, fiscal, and attitudinal gulf between them and the southern countries.
At the same time, the attempt to build a new European identity fused with immigrants appears to be failing. As Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, Germany has failed at "multi-culturalism." Such sentiments may be reviled by the media, academics, and even business leaders in Northern Europe, but they are clearly popular at the grassroots. Once considered paragons of liberalism, countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands have incubated potent anti-immigration movements.