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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    Oct 17 2013: Is Katoomba hit by a bush fire today Mitch? I saw a pix uploaded on a site but it wasn't dated, I have crap net speed. That looks like it was right in the subs or town center? You guys get hit with severe heat and we get hit with polar blasts that can blow buses off the roads.
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      Oct 17 2013: Hi Ken,

      Power was out for a while .. back on now.

      It's gone north of me - lucky so far.

      I watched it start yesterday about 10 Km north - been keeping an eye on the sky.
      Today, you could see that the fire-convections were getting so strong that they were forming full-sized cumulo-nimbus cloud-systems - thunderheads rising above the smoke. Never seen that before .. I've been watching bush fires all my life .. they never caused weather before.
      The wind is crazy - you can hear the gusts coming .. it's like a light breeze, then the gust arrives and bends the trees then calm .. and the gust goes on - a sound like a departing jumbo-jet.

      Springwood is really copping it now - I had an idea it was headed that way.
      According to the synoptic charts, the wind will go to the south and calm down over the next few days.

      This time around it's bad, but if it gets wind like it did in 2011 there will be a lot of people killed. this one is just a warning-shot. The 2011 winds flattened whole forests .. no fire that time, but you can imagine how it would be with both the winds and the fire.
      Spring came early .. humidity has been very low.
      In the Autumn we had floods - 12 inches of rain in 2 days.

      Instant community is interesting to watch - people stranded on highways are coalescing into instant towns with locals donating water and food, even portable toilets.

      The community spirit of people is very strong .. so there's some temporal factors to think about when designing long-term functional tribal units.

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