The point John makes in his post on Atavistic Honour is essentially a question of viability versus identity. This is a key question in cybernetics, which was explored in depth by Maturana and Varela. See their book Tree of Knowledge.
The primary purpose (POSIWID) of closed systems is to maintain their identity, and to resist all challenges to this identity. However, in complex dynamic environemnts, viability often requires responding creatively to change. Identity is therefore often in conflict with viability.
Both the Labour Party in the 1980s and the Conservative Party today are clinging to some identity, which makes them non-viable in electoral terms.
Tribes certainly have this quality as well (and that's why tribes struggle to survive in complex dynamic environments). However, the preservation of identity (at the expense of viability) and the neutralization of innovation can be found in lots of other systems as well.
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