Strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.I'm reading a biography on one of the most fascinating characters in Western history. While sailing to Greece in his late teens, ostensibly for educational purposes but more probably to get away from Sulla's faction in Rome, Julius Caesar was captured by Cilician pirates. As a patrician from a well-pedigreed family, he commanded a non-negligible ransom. But when the pirates agreed to one, Caesar scoffed. He was worth more than that. He demanded they up their request. They did. The ransom was met. Before being released, Caesar let his captors know that he was going to have them all crucified for having taken him hostage. They allegedly took it as a joke and let him go on his way. Without the auctoritas he'd accrue later in life or any legal authority to do so, he raised a militia on little more than charisma and patriotism. With that militia, Caesar hunted down the pirates who'd captured him and had them crucified just as he said he would. He slit their throats before they were strung up, though. The guy knew the value of clemency.
I bring up ancient Rome because one could be mistaken for thinking that Chua's description of successful groups was referring not to disparate groups in 21st century America, but to the Roman upper echelons in first century BC. In the atriums of many accomplished senatorial and equite households were ancestor rooms (imagines maiorum) where busts of clan ancestors were somberly displayed. They served to simultaneously remind those ancestors' living descendants of their clan's historical greatness and as an impetus to motivate said living members of the clan that they had a lot to live up to. It took patience and dedication to climb the cursus honorum, and time spent dawdling was time spent disgracefully.
In many ways these tribes sound similar in nature to the "groups" Chua focuses on in her newest book. They might be thought of as extended families with some level of inbreeding present. Where have we read about that before?