TED Conversations

Mitch SMith


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Neo-tribalism - solving the identity crisis of humanity.

More and more, I get the signal that many, if not most, of the problems we are confronted with today trace to the collapse of our identity - as individuals and communities.

My idea in this conversation is neo-tribalism.

At the base of this idea is a recognition of our evolved capacity to conduct social advantage as a survival strategy - and how we now face the critical choices that will determine if evolution got it right in the case of humans .. or if we will become no more than a fossil record for the ponderings of some other species that got it right..

I encourage readers here to review Robert Sapolsky's work on primate social organisation - it helps get a larger picture if you understand that primates are very experimental in geographical time-scale.

We, as a primate experiment, seem to have gotten out of balance since the last ice age. we have entered into many exponential dynamics that all appear to be converging in the next few decades.

Personally, I feel that it is inevitable - that we are far less in control of what happens than we would like.

That said - Have we over-reached our own capacity?
And should we now consider a partial return to what we are designed to be?

My idea asks this question:

Are we tribal by default?

And if we are - should we not respect this - to the extent that our tribal limits are recognised in everything we attempt to progress our integration in the world we participate in?

I suggest that we are tribal.

And I suggest that our tribes cannot be more than 150 productive adults plus dependants.

I suggest that the "family of man" is a deep mistake and that the real advance is, not in the unification of all humans, but the unification of human tribes.

I suggest that we should abandon the notion of all humans in harmony and get on with the job of all tribes in harmony.

Please discuss?

I have some observation which I will share in the process.


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  • Da Way

    • +1
    Oct 12 2013: I don't believe there is a default setting for human behaviours. Similarly, I don't see any particular ways of life as the only correct one. You can happily run parrellel experimental models of different human gatherings and I believe they can co-exist side by side.
    • thumb
      Oct 16 2013: Hi Da Way,

      It is the nature of human gathering and co-existence that I'm examining here.

      I see familiarity as the major default.

      What we do after that? I agree, there is no "right" model, however, the co-existence part of the result is critical.

      I'd suggest that there are limitations to stable tribe-size, and failure to recognise these limits results in failure to co-exist.

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