Mitch SMith


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Sedentary Vs. Nomadic: How can it work?

This is an old question.

How can relations between sedentary and nomadic populations integrate?

We started as hunter-gatherers .. even a troop of baboons can hunt/gather such that they each spend no more than 3 hours a day for survival.

What is it about humans that can be better than baboons? What hours do you put in for survival?

SO we have developed towns and sedentary lifestyles. OK. Can that be saved? Should it be saved?

And if some choose to be sedentary, and some choose to revert to nomadic life - how can they co-exist?

What are the integrative issues? And how might they be resolved?

(edit - to assist the definition of the question: This is about functional community units, not atomised individuals.)

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    Lejan .

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    Sep 26 2013: As for worst-case scenarios in the future it is questionable if the given understanding of nomadism was applicable.

    As much as I know about it, nomads are usually clocked by one dominating rhythm, which is the cycle of season and shorter local rhythms which are resource related.

    Autonomous nomads, those who are independent of trading with settlers, highly depend on unsettled, wide and open lands, as they use to follow the herd of animals - or, if they life of natural local resources and mono-cycle farming, they depend on untouched natural habitats, such as woodlands or jungles. Both of theses types of independent nomads are by their nature incompatible with settlers and therefore exist only at very remote perimeters to existing settlements.

    Trade dependent nomads often specialize on a certain trade, such as the 'festival people' Fritzie any you already mentioned, and therefore need to stay in close range and amongst the settlements. Their 'short cycles' are determined by the local 'saturation level' of their trade and to maintain a certain 'scarcity' which allows for 'revisiting' some time later. In Europe and by its climate conditions, these nomads developed the habit of 'hibernation' at places they are assured of being temporarily 'tolerated' by the locals, which kind of evolved certain 'stealth' abilities to 'blend in' less noticeably and to leave little to no traces of where they stayed, when they left.

    Yet the potential for compatibility in between 'Sedentary' and 'Nomadic' seems to be of limited nature.

    The rise of anonymity in modern and settled societies probably helped trade dependent nomads in finding their winter quarters nowadays and to use less to none of those 'stealth' abilities during their stay, yet this is at 'times of plenty', which is different from 'worst case scenarios' in the future.

    In older times, settlers have often been very protective about their local resources and even about the 'gene pool' of their communities.
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    Sep 26 2013: Do you mean sedentary or just not nomadic? I think of nomads as being those who don't have a permanent place of residence but rather move from place to place. I think of sedentary people as those who do very little physical activity. I would not place either small farmers or those who do physical work in either of those categories. I would not call nurses, maintenance workers, or park rangers either sedentary or nomadic.
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      Sep 26 2013: My apology - better definition:
      This is about functional community units, not atomised individuals.
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        Sep 26 2013: Are you looking for ways of accommodating transient populations? Facilities like camp grounds and hostels, networks of accessible emergency care providers and so forth? Interestingly one argument one hears for common school curricula is the importance of being able to accommodate children who move around a lot. (The festival people I know travel in vans).
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          Sep 26 2013: That would be part of it.

          My speculation is resolving to questions of what a tribal cellular-automaton needs in order to set-up stable self-organising capacity.

          evolution has equipped us well for internal community dynamics that will self-build after disruption, but the inter-tribal level has not evolved sufficiently for global tribal saturation.
          This might be artificially assisted if the actual interface dynamics are well enough defined.

          In this question, I am looking for some observations of how sedentary and nomadic groups have interacted in the past and in the present - what causes harmony, and what causes conflict.

          The result might become a set of inter-tribal codes and customs aimed at reducing xenophobic conflict. There might also be some interfaces that allow transition of a tribe between nomadic and sedentary operation .. I see the need of it arising with the rise of regional instabilities and the rising refugee population.

          Like it or not - this century will see massive shift to nomadic imperatives - displacement will soon be the rule rather than the exception.
          It would help to be ready.
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        Sep 26 2013: If one looks far in the past, I am sure one might see examples of transient hunter-gatherers hunting or gathering in a place where a permanent population has been growing or rearing flocks of animals. This would not apply to my friends who sell crafts at fairs!

        One conflict might arise if a transient population takes over a public space that is intended for common use. For example, New York has in its midst a very large park that provides a respite of green space for those who live otherwise in a kind of cement-filled landscape. If that were taken over by camping transients for, say, the summer months, as a community living space, the residents of New York would likely find that full time appropriation of their common space unwelcome.

        In contrast, many cities have not far from their boundaries camping-friendly areas where people can pull up their campers and tents. There will often be limits of how long you can stay there, precisely so that these public spaces can continue to be available for shared use, particularly in good weather, which often tends to be in the festival season.

        One issue that can arise in the case of transient populations is that they may not care for spaces through which they only pass but which are not part of their permanent environment. For example, I live near a park which prohibits camping. People moving through camp there anyway, which becomes particularly apparent when they leave discarded items behind (food packaging, toilet articles, sleeping bags, opened out cardboard boxes used as ground cloths...), tossed carelessly under the trees even when there are trash cans twenty feet away.

        A pack-it-out philosophy would solve this problem.
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          Sep 26 2013: If you ask your fairground marketeers ("stallies") about community, they will tell you about the strong community spirit they enjoy - this is one area to investigate whether such proto-communities might coalesce into permanent tribal community if pushed to do so.
          I know many stallies that are only loosely committed to permanent bases who spend the greater part of their lives on the road. It is in the company of such people that I have observed how rapidly a functioning community can coalesce.

          The issues of "the commons" is one important aspect .. many thanks for bringing it up!
          Also "trenchant incumbency" - all these will have cogence. The word "dignity" comes to mind - now there's a slippery word!
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    Sep 27 2013: OK.

    Let's do a mind experiment.

    Imagine you are part of a nomadic group.
    Please answer the questions:
    What do I like about town people?
    What do I dislike about town people?

    Then imagine you are a town-person and answer the questions:
    What do I like about the travelling people?
    What do I dislike about the travelling people?

    Please keep replies to answers - no need to discuss. And no need to have justification. Just "I like" .. "I dislike".
    • Sep 27 2013: Nomadic
      1. they are easy marks
      2. they are stealing from me

      1. they are easy marks
      2. they are stealing from me
  • Sep 26 2013: Have to agree with Lejan and Fritzie. The amount of land needed to support nomads are huge and the earth can not support 7 billion nomads. I believe the city will still be around and modern agriculture will be required to feed the population. There will be nomads but as a sub-culture or part of a national park environment.
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      Sep 27 2013: Hi Wayne,

      It becomes a question of biodiversity - the nomad is fairly efficient in a bio-diverse setting, while sedentary groups require monoculture.

      I agree that the Earth's carrying capacity cannot sustain 7-9 billion nomads, but neither can it support 7-9 billion urbanites. I regard our current population as a bubble-economy - cities can only be sustained by releasing entropic-potential stored in fossil fuels and extant-species.
      Just as the global economy burst at the point of exceeding capacity to repay debt, so too will urban humanity when the latent entropy is consumed.

      We need to be honest about our future - it's fairly obvious, and a bit of awareness/analysis might help with transition to an acceptable re-balance.
      It only takes 20 years to reduce population by 1/4 without actually killing anyone. If the rate of reduction is too rapid, then it can be eased-in over 100 years. We can do that by laws such as the single-child policy, or we can do it by exposing ourselves to natural selectors. Somewhere in-between seems more humane .. education seems the most effective way, but there may be other things.
      Personally - I see this stuff coming-up, and I would not like to see a huge harm-burden carried forward - as happened in the last ice-age.
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    Sep 26 2013: Marriages across villages was at times seen as 'high treason' and the village boys and youngsters secured their 'potential brides' from any other male candidate abroad, which in many cases led to incestuous related degeneration of health and mental development, as it formed in those times among the ruling class as well.

    In this concern, nomads were seen as potential threat, although they certainly helped here and there to spark for new 'ideas' in closed genetic circles and to recruit for the same into theirs ... :o)

    This phenomena is observable even today and despite the rise in anonymity. It occurs locally around refugee camps or transit camps within the local population if those camps aren't 'encapsulated' out of political reasons, regarding the issue of residence permission.

    This guides me to what I think the worst case future scenario will more likely be. We won't see an increase in nomadism, as this would require the freedom of choice, we are likely to face an increase in refugees, and those triggered by a multitude of reasons of which many won't be 'reversible' anymore.

    Rising seawater levels, infertile lands, shortages of drinking water, famines, riots, civil wars, wars, etc.
    This combined with the downslope of fossil fuels and no sufficient alternatives, of which the tendencies are more than obvious, the usual 'patches' of first aid and development programs won't function any more (in case they did before). We would face the emigration of whole nations, who won't stop at customs for laking a visa and I am not certain for how long mainstream media was able to frame all of them as 'terrorists' to justify our border-defenses to 'Gatling gun' them down in endless numbers ...

    And as the 'fossil force' of the defending 'rich' nations were constantly weakening as well and their 'banners of humanity' crumbling against its very meaning, things may turn even more ugly from there ...

    What nomadism could become in an post 'Mad Max'ian' era, I don't know.
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      Sep 27 2013: hi Lejan,

      Many thanks for your insight!

      So it seems fruitful at this point to make a list of likes/dislikes between the groups.
      I think it's best to start with likes/dislikes
      If we start with threats/opportunities cost/benefit. Then we fail to identify sub-conscious reality - and the biological truth contained in it.
      The Renaissance assumed people to be "rational" and failed to identify the biological reality contained in the "irrational".
      We should not make that mistake.
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        Sep 27 2013: Hi Mitch,

        I like to contribute to your list if I can, but so far I am not quite certain about the context in which to put both groups in relation to one another and in what point in time.

        Are we looking at the current situation and for all types of nomads?
        Or are we looking in the past/future of it?
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          Sep 27 2013: Well .. all data schema analysis begins with collecting the data.
          After that, one can normalise the data through targeted classification.

          So .. a wild pool of observation can come from any area that yields data - past, present, geographical, anecdotal, empirical, speculative, historical, legendary, popular etc.

          This is where crowd-sourcing can be very powerful - adjoining previous study later allows the new analysis to identify previously unobserved structures - such observations can advance comprehension .. and often does.

          Here, I am crowd sourcing ;)

          I'll open a new comment to collect data. (not a lot of engagement here, but everything helps!)
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        Sep 27 2013: All right then, lets get crowdy ... :o)

        Sedentary = S, Nomadic = N, Likes = L, Dislikes = D

        SL: property, estates, continuity, predictability, security, fences, stone buildings, agriculture, laws, home security, ramparts, ditches, near by castles,

        SD: nomads, property tax, close neighbors,

        NL: freedom (space), security, hospitality, change, save camping grounds, stable weather, open skies, helpfulness,

        ND: settlers, borders, fences, steep slopes, marshlands, quicksand, xenophobia, rough terrain, ditches, deep rivers, torrents, wet season

        to be continued ...

        Note: In many cases the negation or inverting of 'likes' count for 'dislikes' and vice versa.
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          Sep 27 2013: Hi Lejan - I've opened a new comment to collect this.

          Perhaps I should re-do the entire conversation thread?
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        Sep 27 2013: No problem, just didn't see the new opening. I'll ft my data in.

        Regarding a new thread, thats up to you, as I am used to non-linear and fragmented data pools ... :o)
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          Sep 27 2013: I note that the complexity MOOC is re-starting.

          I only got half-way through on the last one - the netlogo application kidnapped me, and it took about 6 months to digest that into my lifestyle ...
          It's here:

          Well worth enrolling!

          Apart from that .. it is massively fruitful to simply stare at the "logistic" graph ..
          Helps even more to render the formula into a program and understand how it works.
          Much of what is presented to us as logarithmic, is actually logistic when you do the math past the point-of-accumulation.
          Not something that is easily said to those who rely on casual knowledge.
          One could wish for a better audience, but, the results are universally intuited for all those with open minds - all across the spectrum.
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        Sep 27 2013: I just figured, that following your mind experiment in stating what I like/dislike about 'them' collides with my inner directive not to generalize on any group or collective of people.

        I could easily say, that I like town people IF they are friendly, but I can not say, that what I like about town people is, THAT they are friendly. Because that would falsely conclude, that all of them are.

        Would those restrictions ruin your database?
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          Sep 27 2013: No.

          It's also got instant results such as you just demonstrated.

          I think I better do the mind experiment in a new TED conversation.

          Gotta adapt to current reality - and it can change radically in one instant.

          Did you get the MOOC enrolment address?

          It's nice to be able to do this kind of stuff so publicly - TED has a "lurker" proportion about the same as any other online forum - only about 1% actually contribute - but the effect is multiplied.

          This is the basis of "memes" - we can play it, or we can game it.
          "Play" is far more enjoyable than "Game" ;)
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          Sep 27 2013: BTW - the word "trust" tends to be the resting place for most of social investigation.
          Understanding it as an attractor might be useful in understanding the non-linear components of social "emergence". Economy for instance.
          Most things are so breathtakingly simple that they fly under our radar.
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        Sep 27 2013: Good, so I'll stay tuned for your new TED experiment then.

        Yes, I got your link, thank you! It seems quite interesting, even though I have to admit, that I am pass my high times in higher mathematics, especially that part concerning fractal geometry ... ;o) But if my memory isn't fooling me, those equations enfolded their complexity by iteration, and slow steps I may still be able to follow ... :o)

        But spare me logarithmic scales, as those not only deny any intuitive access, they make even fractals appear to be of linear nature ... :o)

        I am not sure which, if any, multiplication effect TED offers for 'memes', as this is my one and only experience in an online forum, but it certainly opened many playgrounds for me to play on and also to learn while doing so. Because thats what playing is about, isn't it?

        By the way and regarding nomads, a countryman of yours, Tim Cope once did a very interesting documentary about his 3 year journey by horse crossing Mongolia, in which he not only became a nomad, but also came to meet and live with the original ones:
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          Sep 28 2013: Hi Lejan,

          I must admit that logarithmic math is barely comprehensible to me, however, it is a way to discern dynamics over massive ranges - from micro to macro.
          The Logistic map is iterative and shows how a system will evolve as the main driver increases. It is also an example of a self-limiting system. It was originally applied to population growth calculations. Not all systems are self limiting - many are mutually limiting systems, but they all seem to result in chaotic behaviour when the drivers pass a certain point (the point of accumulation).
          You can gain a lot of insight when you extrapolate these insights over behaviour observed in many areas - from weather to markets.
          If one can identify a system driver, one can play round with the system using microscopic adjustment. Influence on how people "Frame" their perceptions is one of these critical drivers. TED just happens to have access to one of these critical "nodes". When you get a feel for the "ghost-lines" in chaos images, you can see them at work in media - sometimes it takes a few years for them to emerge globally, but they are discernible if you know how to look for them.
          I will review the documentary link - I will also make some time to review material on Australian aboriginal tribal structure - which was stable and intact up to 200 years ago .. so far I see that cultural compliance to geography is the reason that culture developed in the first place - we forget that at our peril.
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        Sep 27 2013: The whole aftermath of the global banking crisis is about 'trust', better to say, the lack of and confidence in it. There was even a time, in which the concept of the 'honest merchant' was more than just a concept. It was actually the 'least common denominator' within any business in those days. But just like in many other fields in our so called developed societies the corrosion of morals is only related to the incentives we allow to be gained in corroding them. About the consequences we can read in the news, if we know how to interpret them.

        My personal experience with 'trust' within my professional and private life was disappointing so far, and I can assure you, that if it comes just in the right timing and magnitude, it does support the idea of isolation. The given increasing numbers of people who experience this modern loneliness may indicate what else we have allowed to corrode in between us.

        A nomad tribe would have already been disintegrated if it was among their people as it is among ours. Australia may still be different, as the history of white immigrants is still young, and so is your solidarity maybe, hopefully as well. Europe just sold theirs by sticking to a currency which does not unite but separates. As usual, everything boils down to business and its cost is our trust...
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          Sep 28 2013: Right now I am exploring the missing constraint of tribal unity.
          The assumption that people can form massive unified populations is a deadly mistake.
          If you use the wrong building-blocks you end up with what the old Bible called the "Tower of Babel".
          Unification can only be a unification of tribes. When you try to apply tribal dynamics to personal issues, or personal dynamics to tribal issues, it causes conflict and suffering.
          Trust operates within a tribe - beyond that, one has to use a different measure.
          All of this reduces to the meaning of the word "advantage" - every organism requires sufficient advantage to survive from one moment to the next. At a certain point, excess advantage becomes a chaos driver.
          As social animals, there is a stable balance of advantage between the individual and social levels - this is called "morality". If you shift the advantage morality to the individual it will result in chaos, if you shift it to the community, it will also be chaotic. The correct balance is determined by adaptation to geographic/ecological factors - not human edict.
          In terms of market related trust issues, it helps to look at the works Karl Marx - he identifies the structural fallacies driving much of the economic instability (David Harvey and Richard Wolff are great analysts on this subject) .
          Most of all - "trust" is a continuum from trust to distrust - it directly relates to the continuum of advantage/disadvantage and operates in the individual/tribal balance of morality.
          When you introduce the boundary of the stable tribal unit - you will see that morality does not operate beyond that boundary, and that markets/economies also behave differently inside and outside of a tribe.
          These factors are missing from global discourse - and no progress will be achieved until the reality of our tribal nature is fully acknowledged.
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        Sep 28 2013: Hi Mitch,

        without doubt, logarithmic math is of much use, but for me to understand, to 'feel' what's going on in the numbers, I rather use a zoom function on linear coordinate systems. Luckily, todays software allows for just that to visualize in real time ... ;o)

        What you say about tribal structures sounds very interesting, even though I have troubles at times to understand you in detail. Here it would certainly help to meet in a good pub one day to sort things out for me over a stout or lager, or two ... :o)

        What I don't see at the moment, is why 'massive unified populations' could not be formed out of unified. yet also self-regulating tribes? Germany for this part, is a collection of 16 separate states, which in themselves are collection of different regions, districts, etc., which themselves are a collection of towns, villages, etc. Any 'zoom level' has certain similarities and differences, but what unites them is a shared belief and agreement in a certain set of rights and rules, which - at least so goes the story - are democratically and dynamically reviewed and adjusted if necessary. And as it covers about 81 mio. it was to be considered a 'massive unified population'. So far it can be said, that at least among those separate states, no civil conflict, no war has broken out,which was way different in the past and before the forerunner of modern Germany was formed. Unfortunately, this didn't prevent Germany to fight their neighbors, yet regarding the 'inside' it seems to have worked out some how.

        I think the reason for conflict in between groups is related to 'identification' and 'differentiation / exclusion' and this regardless their sizes, but it seems those mechanism are inbuilt in our human nature as they keep emerging throughout our history.

        As I am not familiar with the history of native Australians, it would be interesting to know how different tribes behaved towards each other. Has there been violence or did they coexist in peace?
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          Sep 28 2013: I think the German social model is the most successful one at the moment.
          For instance, Germany is the first nation to begin serious energy-networking between distributed renewable sources. very impressive!
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        Lejan .

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        Sep 28 2013: David Harvey and Richard Wolff are certainly worth to study, what I already did. And to my own surprise as I didn't expect this, I found a highly intelligent and active group of concerned citizens in the hacker community in Germany, namely the Chaos Computer Club. Theses people really care about the true meaning of democracy! Great resource, great people ... great tribe! :o)
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          Sep 28 2013: Tribal affiliation is obvious in the internet .. observing them is what inspires me to investigate further.
          Hackers are a great power .. tribalisied hackers are a damn good idea - so long as there is a strong "totem" a tribe cannot be so easily seconded by national or criminal war-lords.
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        Sep 30 2013: Hi Mitch,

        the German social model is fading faster than ever. Germany today ranks lowest in Europe in social fairness regarding education, which determines the future of many generations. As everywhere, the 'middle class' is eroding away as more and more people can not support a decent living for their families by a single, permanent job, as they could in the past. And the Euro-Desaster is going to force even stronger austerity measures on the people, as it is in whole Europe at the moment.

        At the moment Germany still is on the winning side within the given crisis, because we do not allow Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and others to free themselves off the Euro and thereby devalue the dept they have at German banks. And to make things even worse, we allowed whole Europe to enslave their people to pay for all the risks and losses of the private financial sector and to ensure their business in the future. This enslavement got installed by the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism, which only stabilizes the influence of the usual 1%. And Germany had a driving force, if not THE driving force in this to happen. We sold democracy over private interests!

        This 'energy change', as we call it, was triggered exclusively by Fukushima, as if we were lacking enough imagination what the term 'worst case scenario' really means. Shortly before this incident, Angela Merkel, our chancellor, was even about to prolong the operational approval for our oldest nuclear power plants for decades, as if no danger was related to this technology whatsoever. Mrs.Merkel is a physicist by education by which it is unlikely that Fukushima was necessary for her to understand the scope of risks related to this technology, which only reveals the opportunistic character of her sudden change in mind and politics.

        How much arrogance is hidden in between the lines about the lessons learned in between Fukushima and Chernobyl, as Soviet technology was seen as inferior as 'their' system in comparison ...
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        Sep 30 2013: Due to our arrogance and lack of imagination, we needed Fukushima to blow up, which was build and maintained by the Japanese and which are respected in Germany for their technology, for us to realize, that there are alternative sources for energy, which doesn't endanger whole generations in case of an accident.

        Surprise, surprise, Germany finally learned something in risk management in 2011 ... but lets wait and see what will come out of this...

        I am supporting the decision made to free ourselves off nuclear energy asap and to substitute it by renewable energy. It is going to be a difficult task and so far it has been put 'on hold' due to the recent election, as the consequences of it are not always a popular topic to talk about while campaigning.

        What has been settled already is, that 'highly energy depended' industries will be freed of their contribution in covering rising energy prices, as their usual argument has been put forward to remain 'competitive' in global markets, which therefore is crucial as an exporting nation.

        But what makes it impossible to combine their contribution dynamically in relation to their annual benefits, is beyond my understanding but fits the usual tendencies to protect those beautiful 'job creators' .... :o)

        The infrastructure necessary to realize this 'energy change' will be pricey and so far its seems, that the tax-payers alone are going to cover it. If the European economy crisis is going to stop that change in its tracks remains to be seen, but there is a high risk that this is going to happen, the very moment Germany gets affected by this crisis as well. We'll see ...

        I for my part am willing to pay more for my electricity bill, as long as I know the energy is green and sustainable and that I am not subsidizing the profits of private companies which have been freed of their share to make this energy change happen.
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          Oct 1 2013: This is one reason why I am now looking at tribal dynamics.
          The tribe represents a distributed power schema - by default.
          It distributes everything, but acknowledges a limited collective.

          The limit of collectivism represents a major rift between left and right wing politics - a rift that is healed when you introduce the tribal limit as the upper point of collective advantage for humans.

          But that leaves inter-tribal dynamics largely unexplored .. so far exploration has been assuming city-state or nation-state boundaries.
          I think that there might be value in reviewing the old explorations from the time of tribes - i.e. the old testament, the Quran and whatever literature came out of the Mongol empire.

          So .. more on the reading list :)

          Just now I'm a bit distracted with the meme experiment .. it is based on this, and other conversations, The release of the IPCC report made it important to act quickly -
          and I'm keen to see it develop!
  • Sep 26 2013: The oldest culture/tribal people on the face of the planet are the San dating back about 80-175 thousand years ago. With the exception of a few young folk longing for the promise of the modern world they are nomadic and relatively unchanged. While its true they are now facing extinction due to ethnic pogroms from neighboring nations, apparently nomadic life works for some.
    The arguments I've heard so far amounts to, hunter gatherers will die from a food shortage. Truth be told city folks will as well. The difference is that nomadic population tends to reflect the nomads ability to survive on all fronts, urbanites only notice a food shortage when bread and milk prices shoot up. The challenges are the same but the nomad knows the source of his pain and act accordingly, city dwellers just become more socially canibalistic and irresponsible when dealing with its sick and poor.
    As for the quality of life challenge, nomadic people, in general, have almost no cases of mental or social illness, almost no cases of metabolic or environmental diseases, virtually no crime or poor and enjoy a level of physical fitness observable only among athletes. Peace of mind, social tranquility, strength of body and a healthy envirionment vs. cell phones and red lobster.
    I don't wonder if they could coexist I wonder why we aren't all nomadic.
    • Sep 26 2013: Quality of life in a nomadic society is not quite so ideal.

      Factoring in (the very high) infant mortality you have without civilized living and modern medicine, the average life expectancy is in the thirties, despite everyone being more physically fit. No one is fatally allergic to anything common place... because the allergic people all die off. Lack of large scale trade with the outside world means that a single drought or or similar localized natural disaster can send an entire tribe over the brink.
      And that's without factoring in the loss of more modern amenities you can only get through sedentary life. Electricity, running water, medicine, long term food storage...

      Population size is also very small, because the land can only sustain so many people without agriculture. Without our modern farming practices, the population of the earth would crash. In fact, we can't even support the current population without commercial farming and synthetic fertilizers, for several decades now, and the world population is only increasing.

      Finally, nomads are vastly under prepared during wartime. Any non nomadic group would be able to use its vastly improved weapons making infrastructure and higher population to simply take everything the nomads own by force of arms.
      There is a reason large nomadic groups stopped being influential on the world stage around the time of the Renaissance. That's also coincidentally around the time colonialism started. Even indigenous civilizations often had trouble with invaders; indigenous non-civilizations stood no chance at all.
      If you want peace, be prepared for war. Modern nomads are ill equipped for war by definition.
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      Sep 27 2013: Some believe that we exited direct eco-Darwinian adaptive pressure at the point we became urbanised (agricultural settlement).
      That would infer an arrested adaptation at the point populations reached town-size. (Desmond Morris).
      However, having thought about it a bit, it is more likely that urbanisation was forced upon humans during the Older and Younger Dryas ice events. The enclaving of humanity is observed during the younger dryas that may have forced humans to become sedentary and more crowded than usual. It is notable that this seems most extreme in western Europe where the Mediterranean prevented southern escape from the ice-sheets.
      It is probably no surprise that western agriculture first appears in the land-path from Turkey through the fertile crescent.
      Göbekli Tepe is very interesting - the oldest known western stone structure - no evidence of permanent occupation. Oddly the site was periodically buried, then later re-built on top of the previous buried structure.

      I wonder what might remain buried in the Basque region?

      We seem to have retained technology through periods of forced mobility. This time around I think it would be worthwhile retaining the internet.
      The only way to do such things is to retain a component of the technology within the tribal definition - such that it will spontaneously generate/regenerate upon tribal interaction.
  • Sep 25 2013: A nomadic existence simply can't support our modern way of living.
    Nomadic populations have always been smaller--agriculture is required to prop up large numbers of people. You try to turn any significant number of the world's population into nomads today, you end up with a famine on your hands.
    In fact, its believed this is the original reason humans turned to agriculture. A hunter gatherer enjoys higher standards of living than a stone age subsistence farmer--it was either make the switch or face a famine.

    Its only gotten worse since the industrial revolution. Most of the infrastructure a modern industrialized nation relies on is completely and utterly stationary; going nomadic would require abandoning most of it. There is a reason nomadic tribes used to be a substantial force, especially militarily, but then conspicuously disappeared from history almost completely by the industrial revolution (the nomads didn't disappear themselves, they just turned less and less noticeable in their impact). Ever increasing stationary infrastructure turned them less and less able to compete.

    In short, I hope you like your current civilized living accommodations, because it completely impractical to turn them mobile.
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      Sep 25 2013: Hi Nadav,

      Many thanks for your observations!

      There are still some nomads, not many, but enough to study. Bee-keepers are nomadic, festival marketeers are nomadic, a few others.

      The question is - how can sedentary and nomadic peoples co-exist without clashing?

      I ask the question because, as economies falter, humanity will become more and more nomadic in the search for survival. Having some fore-sight of this will be an advantage.
      • Sep 26 2013: Returning the majority of the population to nomadic life means you won't be able to feed the majority of the population. Again, agriculture is crucial here, and doesn't sit very well with mobility. Living off the land can only support so many people before everyone starves, and that number isn't very large compared to the same amount of space with agriculture and herding.

        The only thing I could guarantee in a massive nomadic transition is massive die-off, and an immediate drop in quality of life due to loss of infrastructure.
        If we're ever forced to go nomadic for survival reasons, I'd say civilization is probably screwed. There's a reason people don't turn into refugees by choice.
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          Sep 26 2013: This scenario has, I think, been portrayed frequently over the last few decades in popular movies of dystopian futures. In fictional accounts, these groups have the character of street gangs. I think that these images create expectations of possible futures, as do fictional portryayals of futures in which the wealthy are in their great estates and the rest are in walled, degenerating cities..

          Somewhere mingled with the former is the romance of the open road or the wandering minstrel. I have neighbors and relatives whose retirement dreams involve taking to the road in a trailer on a more or less permanent basis. But I notice there is a competing drive that settles in, calling them to a particular place.
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          Sep 27 2013: Hi Nadav,

          I don't think we will be given the choice - many pressures are building that are likely to force people to move.
          I ask the question because moving populations require to be accepted intelligently. Otherwise they will destabilise existing functioning towns and cities - to the point that everyone will be displaced.
          Personally, I believe that sedentary life is a dead-end for humanity, but I recognise that there is some capacity for it - the question is how to design a basic system to integrate these modes.
          If we think hard about it, we might avoid a lot of unnecessary trauma.

          The default reaction is xenophobia - as can be seen in current political attitudes to refugees. Xenophobia leads to genocide.

          Imagine yourself to be an extended family unit - as a nomadic group, and as a sedentary group - imagine each encountering the other - what issues arise?
          And what opportunities?
      • Sep 27 2013: That's actually a pretty big issue. No one really knows what to do with large numbers of refugees and the myriad problems that come with them (both for refugees and the other people around).

        The best I've got is to do as best you can to integrate them, and not as nomads. Modern standards of living and population sizes can simply not be sustained in a nomadic existence.

        Integration of a large group of people into an existing population is always a challenge, and one that I'm not at all certain has a universal solution. Xenophobia is a big obstacle of course, but there is matters of cost, potential outbreaks of disease, lack of education and training among refugees, having to scrounge up food and housing for the refugees until a more permanent solution could be found, not having your funding dry up before the process is finished...
        All difficult problems that occasionally prove beyond solving. Looking at refugee statistics in the world today, we can't even properly integrate the relatively small numbers we currently have. Going purely on track record of the world's handling of refugees, some manner of major war or catastrophe appears beyond containment.

        In short, the people forced to go nomadic are probably going to be completely screwed. Just like refugees have always been throughout history.
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          Sep 28 2013: To be realistic, I think you are right.

          The problem with letting refugees be screwed is that they are massively motivated - a lot of them survive despite our efforts to exterminate them - and they bring the harm back into our communities. Harm which takes generations to heal.

          If there's a way around that, It's probably worth a try - no matter how slim the probability is.
          Any degree of success is worth it.