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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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    Oct 12 2013: Hi Mitch,

    regarding Neo-tribalism especially for its transitional phase, would there be something to learn from the Amish?
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      Oct 17 2013: Hi Lejan,

      From what I see through media interpretations, the Amish seem to have achieved a remarkably stable cultural identity. It might be productive to have a closer look on how they do that.

      I am caused to explore this neo-tribal idea because I think that the globalist culture is about to disintegrate explosively in the near future.
      When that happens, people will have to re-discover the bottom-line reality of tribalism - and how no one is going to survive without it.
      Knowing a bit about the dynamics of tribalism will help.
      Specially those who fall into the role of gathering tribes into an identified group.
      Most p[eople do not seem to have any template for this beyond the savage/competitive model perpetuated in the media ..tribes formed on this model will not last long.

      Here is an analysis that might help:
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        Oct 18 2013: Hi Mitch,

        yes, there are strong indications heading for this scenario, although I think the release of 'explosive energy' of this rupture will be more sudden than transitional, which makes it difficult to foresee of how much use a better understanding of tribal dynamics can be.

        I think, tribal mechanics is a very natural, reliable human response for dramatical changes and as such highly difficult to influence.

        Compared to gas dynamics, the formation of tribes after 'energy impact' comes at later stages as condensation in which the stampede of individual molecules decelerates out of chaos. The 'gravity' to form human droplets is given by our inbuilt need for social interaction and therefore comes naturally.

        On sloped surfaces growing condensation droplets start to move and merge and so will tribes.

        The mechanics of surface tension, inertia, friction as well as the tendency for least resistance is what makes a droplet to ball up against its surrounding to maintain the lowest energy level possible.

        Compared to tribes, this 'balling up' effect could be seen as an instinctive act of isolation, in which I think lays part of the secret of the Amish, to have maintained their embedded, yet stable cultural identity, as you pointed it out.

        At the beginning, geographical nuclei for tribes to form around will be natural resources for survival, and the droplets will either start to move again (nomads) when the resources can not be sustained, or start to settle to sustain themselves (settlers).

        Presumably the numbers of nomad tribes will be very high at the beginning, while moving and merging around, until first tribes start to settle, while acting as attractor for those 'dissatisfied' with being constantly on the move.

        Given the 'collective memory' about the 'good old times' before the aftermath, I also assume, that settlements will rather sooner than later become the choice to go for, provided arable land is given or can be found.
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        Oct 18 2013: The question remains is 150 a natural on sloped surfaces? Or does it occur on planes?

        The membrane of a tribe droplet, its interface to the surrounding as well as the enclosure of the tribe itself is driven by surface tension, which, in analogy, would be the 'tribe identity'.

        High tension = spherical = high identity = high isolation as a group = low isolation as individual

        Low tension = flat = low identity = low isolation as a group = high isolation as individual

        Now how will a large droplet (> 150) which formed randomly by the merging of smaller ones, divide itself into its optimum size? Is this what prepared knowledge on tribe dynamics could be good for?
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          Oct 20 2013: Hi Lejan,

          I think your analogy is spot-on.

          The question of tribal splitting is important - because if an overloaded tribe does not physically split, it will internalise the split into a class structure - and from that point, the disaster has already re-started - it culminates in the "tower of Babel".

          So what I'm trying to get "out there" in neo-tribalism is that the natural tribe-formation of humans needs to be recognired in terms of the "totem" - the identity. And it is through this identity that class-structure is prevented.

          The rule is that no human or other tribe can be part of the totem. It is through the totem that parasitic tribes syphon the collective agency of another (I.E. exploitation - e.g. as is done by capitalist tribes to worker tribes, it is done by having the capitalist as part of the worker-tribe's totem .. the worker tribe has accepted the capitalist as part of their identity)

          When tribes have common totemic items - they are natural allies, and can maintain mutual advantages such as military action and inter-breeding (marriage customs are important to maintain hybrid vigour).

          Knowing the natural aggregation dynamics is handy to ease re-aggregation, but knowing what pitfalls exist in the natural dynamic helps the neo-tribe avoid reformation of parasitic formations.

          Keeping it in simple terms helps - a simple set of rules of the totem seems like the lightest-touch of "law" - something that can be propagated through custom - no need to write them. Written law becomes a nucleus for a parasitic tribe to form around - we call those tribes "lawyers" .. best we get rid of them as well as "rulers".

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