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.

  • Oct 13 2013: Mitch,

    Could not agree more. I feel we are and have always been tribal. It seems it occurs a lot sooner than I thought and may be built into our genes.

    I think the tribes are like most individuals and does not pay attention unless their goals/desires/needs are impacted. The question comes in when two or more tribes have opposing goals/desires/needs.
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      Oct 17 2013: Hi Wayne,

      Many thanks!
      This observation is in line with the experiments run by Jane Elliot:

      It is an eye-opener for sure.

      We are aware of the negative propensities in our nature.
      It focuses attention on the need for regulation, and how regulation itself is subject to the same propensities.
      Policy is a blunt tool - one that gets blunter over time .. the need for dynamic policy arises .. and then the need to cull the mountain of policy that results.

      Here, I observe that custom might be superior to written law, but that written law might be better applied at the inter-tribal level. Certainly, the middle-eastern religions sought to solve the inter-tribal legislative question. They had the advantage of recognising the fundamental tribal unit .. this has become obscure in the globalist world.
      That's not to say that religions got it right .. but I think it is a wrong-turn to abandon the advances they had achieved.
      The item that snags my attention right now is the function of "totem".
      If one assumes that totem is the prime identifier of tribe, then the work of producing a functioning inter-tribal legislature will be concerned entirely with totem.
      As it stands, totem is being used to disintegrate tribes rather than integrate them (advertising).

      Dmitry Orlov has some interesting observations on how the economic model operates on the totemic level - and influences tribal cohesion - by having the opportunity of watching the Soviet Union disintegrate, and transition into globalism, he gets insight into the defaults that emerge in functional economy.
      • Oct 17 2013: I remember this experiment and others similar to it. What scares me is that it seems to be in the genes.
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          Oct 17 2013: Well .. perhaps we have to examine why it scares us?

          Saving people from death is seen as a virtue, but is it?
          Solving the population crisis through the green revolution only paved the way for more death - with interest. And if we can contrive another revolution, and another, then the debt only mounts - as exponential as the interest.
          So it is that the wise counsel us to abandon fear of death.

          When you look at what genes do, you see that they don't just have single-state outcomes, they command a range of modes that react according to signal.
          So .. a policy that is sound in one mode, is disastrous in another mode.
          I keep harping-on about Sapolsky's discovery of the matriarchal/patriarchal modes of baboon tribe-behaviour.
          Each is stable - but which is appropriate?

          If death is not to be feared as a matter of policy and virtue, then which mode is it that returns it to virtue?
          And what is it in death that makes any difference? At that point one puts death aside and examines "harm".

          Our notions of morality - and the codes/laws that flow from it .. this seems to have individual advantage balanced against community advantage.
          And then you see that the simplistic notion of community fails to deliver infinite hierarchies of towns, cities, states, nations, empires, trade-blocs and globals - it all becomes intractably ad-hoc past the boundary of the tribe.

          What if we accepted xenophobia? What if, in accepting it, we got an opportunity to investigate it with the intent to make it work better?

          I think that while we treat these things with repugnance, we will never truly look at what they really are. And if we don't look, we will never deal with them.
          I can see a time coming soon where we will need that vision.
  • Da Way

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    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.
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      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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    Oct 12 2013: What would you reply to a friend of mine, Bob, who argues we already live in such neo-tribes but, instead of the tribe being imposed on people as was custom back in the days, we get to pick who's part of it and what tribe we wish to be on? He goes on further saying the neo-tribe has fuzzy boundaries compared to the traditionnal one, and that identity is a matter of gradient nowadays. This, he supposes, makes for a more peaceable super-society where it's usually hard to label anyone on the basis of membership or adherence to anything specific but where people don't necessarily feel like termites.
    Bob has an interesting idea about society evolution. He compares the way separate organisms under some kind of pressure merged at some point to create larger, more complex ones. For quite some time we reached a balance as large agricultural religious civilizations. Today we have new pressures, not such much because of the explosion of global population but because of the technological revolution plunging us into the age of information. Bob says we're probably evolving into some kind of global social network-like society, where people form reasonnable-sized neo-tribes but are part of the global community as well.
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      Oct 12 2013: Well .. I'd agree with bob.

      Except that the lines have always been fuzzy - traditional tribes all have mechanisms of inter-migration .. even baboons .. there is strong evidence that evolution has already sorted out the genetic mixing advantage.

      I would also agree with Bob about the "fuzzy-gradient" - that the fuzzy "gradient" is the window through which inter-tribal convention can be applied to result in "the brotherhood of tribes" but that there is no need to codify what happens within the tribe - what works, works at that level. So the fuzzy gradient has a black-line in it - this line is the thing that has been forgotten.

      I would go on to say that it's not a bad idea to recognise how successful corporations have been - but that if they go across this fuzzy line, they will cause problems.

      So, in that vein, I support the modern notion of the "worker-run-enterprise" or co-op as the logical next step for tribalism AFTER the success of capitalist corporation - the next development being the formal recognition of the corporate tribe that it has responsibility for it's workers AND their dependants - including all basic needs (housing, food, health, entertainment etc) and no external payment to shareholders or other social parasites.

      Where I diverge from Bob is the assumption that network inter-dependencies will form into emergent capacity. My research suggests that any such emergence requires physical change - not just metaphysical change.

      I suggest that humanity has attempted a symbiotic merger as a result of the last ice age (which nearly finished us) - the stability of climate since has been taken as success, but it is a false success in geological timescales (those timescales that actually produce physical genetic re-code - and all subsequent emergence).

      If we are to become hyper-super-organismic hive-cells, then the root genetic change might be deliberately imposed - we can do that - we have the technology to do it .. but will we? Maybe accidentally?

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        Oct 12 2013: "My research suggests that any such emergence requires physical change - not just metaphysical change."

        Stop. Zoom in. Zoom in on that physical change thing, please. Can we have more detail on that, it looks interesting.
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          Oct 12 2013: Well .. back in the 90's I got a computer so that I could verify all the stuff I was reading.

          I kinda got side-tracked for a year or 2 doing models of erosion dynamics .. how topology adapts to ambience .. I did that for hours and hours .. mesmeric patterns so engaging at a level that made me shake my head every few days to ask WTF I was wasting all his time on??!!
          And then I read Edward De Bono's book about right/wrong in which he introduced the emergent property of networks - so I started programing that.

          Let me tell you - I hate the academy - there is no way I will ever waste that much time. So my next gig was helping a fortune100 bank to develop a system using neural processing to detect fraudulent loan applications. Got me some money .. cool.

          And then I watch al these online peole who haven't a clue what's happening under their feet and in their money .. and so I have to look at what money is . coming from a bank gives me some little head-start .. et me tell you .. negotiating a system shift to bring the zero-coupon-curve back from an investment branch to a business-deposit branch was a very tense episode!!! I was in fear of my life!!
          But I did it. Shame it wasn't in the USA .. in the process we raped-over a US GM subsidiary on the difference between the meta and the real. .. I note that the GM logo has disappeared in local media .. hey ho. As it tunrs out .. a bank is not comprised of its computer systems ;)

          I make pennywhistles now - I used to convert demographics into market predictions for mobile telephony - and you have to live what what I did.
          Now I tell you to get tribal.
          I keep in touch with the broad picture .. now and then I have to "go down the hole"
          I relate that the holes I've gone down and emerged .. some who have gone down those holes never returned - I feel bad about that - I did advise my "masters" not to command it, but they did anyway - and it was me who got the psychiatric help for their victims. On my own budget.

          Believe it or not. :)
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          Oct 12 2013: OK OK . you have asked a specific.

          You want to go down the hole.
          Now .. I am no longer in a position to fund your psychiatric remediation - so you better get it organised in advance .. and the quality of psych is far better than it was 10 years ago - and 10 times as expensive.

          Here we go.

          You have to start talking to geneticists - you have to start talking to the ones who are investigating epigenetics .. Along the way, you will have to deal with pathogenesis .. and after you come out of that still believing in humanity, you can go on .. or resign .. and that's a bad resignation with the depression that goes with it ... then you get over that and star tto deal with symbiosis .. and IA and wtf is a self anyway .. and then you come out of that understanding that god is lucifer .. and then you come out of that watching all organised religion destroying humanity, and then you come out of at seeing the big thing ..
          And then you see the need to withdraw .. or die strategically.

          All you advised was true .. and all you saved needed saving and all you missed .. got saved by others and that's the best we can do.

          And then you drop all of that .. and just live.
          That's hard.
          I'll tell you how to do it when I learn it enough to tell.
          And I will - because I want living humans within reach - it's in my interest .. and yours' to do so. And I am fine-tuned to recognise when those like me are telling me something we all need to know right now.

          All I can say is that we need our tribes - the under-pin of our assumptions about global humanity are almost 99 per-cent false . it's an expression of those we cannot save. Would if we could.
          That's the problem - those who can't come are beyond saving. and it's not a matter of conspiracy .. we will save as many as we can.

          Every one who comes out the hole is worth a hundred. By virtue of who they will save.

          it is my unending grief that a thousand go down. I could wish to prevent it . but how?
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          Oct 12 2013: Bleu is blue

          It's a colour of the rainbow.

          When yellow floods our eyes .. that's happy, but it is the blue that makes us know the yellow.

          Blue makes us cry .. yellow makes us laugh .. we cry and laugh - the more we laugh, the more we cry .. the more we cry, the more we laugh.

          Crying . as it turns out - represses our immune - and crying makes us die a lot
          Laughing .. as it turns out - fortifies our immune - and laughing makes us live a lot.

          Now tell me the crime of laughter?

          16 years ago I registered a business name "slaughterhouse" take away the snake and it's laughter-house - that's how close it all is.

          Come into the house - we laugh here and no blood is spilled that you do not bring with you.

          I have been working on this a long time.

          And we do it one-on-one .. it's slow . but that is the best - and we are worthy of nothing less.

          Look at your own life Gerald - have you done any less?

          I know you have not - and I am here to welcome you.
          In the incredibly small capacity allowed me,

          if you are strong - read Maquis de Sade - and then you will know the tribe who is ranged against us. They are fuelled by our pain - there is much of that, but it is not a fuel - it is a collapse.

          If you can stand to come out of his works .. you are as strong as me . ahh .. the pain .. and yet De Sade laid this barrier down .. 1000 to 1 with the one saving the hundred . what a risk!!
          And we are talking about psychopathic sadism!! And how TF do you deal with those who read his work and got trapped in the risk he calls us to avoid!!??

          Well I did that .. and that's hard .. takes years . that's how strong it is . to the point where libertine saints come and show you how easy it is to die at the hands of an experienced trained Ninja .. but that he refrained by virtue of "love" and professed that you would be his first male lover!!??
          How do you survive that stuff??
          It's possible - by feeling the wind right now. There is the only wisdom - tears or smiles.

          It's funny - let's laugh!
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        Oct 13 2013: Chemistry and classical physics make a lot of sense but things get crazy when you zoom in on quantum intimacy.
        Many questions, so many things... Perhaps I'll just push Bob down the hole.
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          Oct 17 2013: Sounds like Bob has already been there and come back.

          Zoom in and out .. it's a grain-size thing.

          Have you ever noticed how, when you zoom into fractals, they seem to make sense as a shape, then as you zoom-in further, the shape dissolves and re-forms?
          The fractal itself has no real granularity - it is our own perceptive system that imposes, or attempts to impose, the comprehension of "shape".
          This suggests that we compare all things to our "self". and our selves have an at-rest "grain-size" by which all things are judged.
          Then we find that our "self" is also fractal ..

          Here, I look at the transition of the individual self to the collective self of tribe.
          There is a lot of dissonance in the transition.

          The transition between the atomic and the sub-quantum looks like a phase-change.
          If there is any linear logic to it, I'd say that the sub-quantum is ruling the dynamic.
          But we are operating from a human self-granularity.

          I'm not sure if any of that makes sense . but you might see what I mean by looking at a chaos graph, such as the logistic, and zoom-in and out of a part of the chaotic bit .. you will see the fractal shape form and dissolve and reform .. the boundary of that formation and reformation, I'd suggest is due to your grain-size.
          To me, a tribe is like that .. a "harmonic" of grain-size from the personal to the collective.

          In regard to the "existing neo-tribe". I'd say yes.
          We call the most common of these "corporations".
          I don't see them as sustainable because they violate the grain-size.
          There is a very different set of dynamics when you replace gifts with money as a measure of tribal prestige.
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      Oct 12 2013: I think many people see things Bob's way.
  • Oct 11 2013: I guess stereotypes, race, gender, sexual orientation, and wealth/social class could be considered "tribes". The main point is humans need to learn to better stand together despite the many differences. Other than what I have provided, I have no idea how to respond to your discussion.
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      Oct 12 2013: These stereotypes are too general to use as a tribal identifier.

      That is part of the problem that neo-tribalism seeks to address.

      A stereotype forms as an attempt to re-gain natural tribal identity. This seems to be why they generate so much internal division.

      The stereotypes you have mentioned all seem to be the result of what happens when true tribalism is forgotten. The race category is the only one with true tribal identity .. it can easily be incorporated as part of the tribal totem.

      The aim of neo-tribalism is to devise harmonious interaction between tribes, not between individuals.
      But the real identity of tribes has to be re-established before inter-tribal harmony can be regulated.
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    Oct 21 2013: Hi Mitch,

    What function do you think language and ethinicities plays in neo-tribalism? Language barriers always seems to divide and people don't openly speak about it often, but stereotypes influence peoples thinking, even if initially it isn't true at all.
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      Oct 21 2013: Hi Dyed,

      Thank you for the astute comment.

      Neo tribalism s pretty simple - it emphasises the role of the totem in tribal identity and helps to also identify what passes between tribes.

      Language is a core totemic component - but it also helps to define how easy inter-tribal flows can happen.
      So, for instance, 2 tribes sharing a language have a far better means of negotiation.
      It is noted that with the stronger tribal boundary definition, languages will go back to becoming dialectic outposts - this will serve to constrain tribal intercourse and prevent too many other tribes influencing what happens inside each tribe.
      You might notice how all the great empires begin by destroying dialects and languages - this is done to infect each tribal totem with their own "approved" centralised imperial language - and it is by this means that they are able to syphon the surplus of large numbers of tribes - and at the same time destroy the infected tribe's means to regain their own identity.
      Ethnicity is also a primary tribal identifier. It is obvious that if a tribe encounters another tribe of differing physical appearance there will be no trust - and there should be no trust as it is unlikely that there will be shared totemic components.
      It is also a sign that the ethnic difference will indicate some valuable opportunities.
      Initial natural xenophobia is an honest basis to begin firm negotiation for things like unique trade in technologies, goods, services and limited interbreeding for hybrid vigour.
      n fact, there is probably an innate mechanism for sexual curiosity on this level. There might, in fact, be an item of prestige to have a cross-ethnical marriage. But this will depend on creating a common totemic component to resolve impinging tribal disruption.
      Neo tribalism is the craft of building a totem - there is only one law: after 150 productive adults - split.
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    Oct 19 2013: Hi Mitch,

    I wrote a book a few years ago about how the difference between social progressive and conservative personalities (which thanks to identical twin studies we know are heavily genetic) may stem from genes that mutated over the last 80,000 years, as we evolved from small tribal "focus on the family" to larger more social "it takes a village" cultures.

    We may accidentally be sorting ourselves out by political personality "tribe" here in the US as our highly mobile citizens choose to live in red Dallas versus blue Portland. I wonder how this might apply in other countries.

    There is a huge sample of the book at
    A few folks really dug it, but to most people the idea is Teflon. I'll send you a copy if you like the sample.

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      Oct 20 2013: Hi Robert,

      I'll check the link in a moment - maybe do another reply post.

      There is some interesting stuff happening these days with the instant global media connectivity thing.

      Nothing like what I was prepared for - I was expecting emergent AI going down just out of network-adaptive dynamics .. didn't happen - it didn't happen because intelligence is a garbage-bin word outside the context of a "self" for the intelligence to serve.
      So what we have gotten is some pretty cool tools, and that's about it.
      And no one seems to be able to make the distinction except the odd few amongst out of .. what? 7 billion?
      Good word that "Teflon" and that's how it feels.
      But there is an inevitability about it - because when the Teflon turns into sandpaper - everyone tries to claim it - and that's OK. Because - no one can say which Teflon gets traction all of a sudden - because it only does that when the time is right. Telescopes and steam engines and such like .. these get their time like some weird wave-front .. and then proceed to become instant world-views.

      The tribe thing comes from the obvious numbers when you add up how many humans we all track in our zone-of-familiar when you multiply the 200 or so people we actually "know" by the Cartesian join of all them together to track 3r'd party relationships - that quickly uses-up the 10 billion neurons and trillion synapses available for any single human to use.
      So a stable human tribe can not ever exceed 200 fully matured "quadrads" (me - my-you/you your-me). Familiarity is the convergence of these quadrads through Bayesian learning - takes time but is exponentially convergent .. pretty cool, but limited.

      I observe that we have forgotten the absolute limit of tribal coherence - and we better remember it if we are going to get through the next bits - and they are upon us now. It's only just started, but the doubling-times are very short.
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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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    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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    Oct 12 2013: What I loved most about Sapolsky's observations is the fact that even Baboon Nature was open to a wide range of individual variety. Frans de Waal writes about our supposed default settings and gives a good counterpoint to Desmond Morris's The Human Zoo in which he described the problems inevitable to the abrupt transition from the tribe to the modern super-tribe.
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      Oct 12 2013: Yes.

      It puts a glitch into the common dialogue.

      What tends to be invisible to us is that we were all raised in a false atmosphere - we started wrong and we are all treading as hard as we can to get back beyond what we were born into.

      This clip makes me cry:

      It makes me cry because I too spent half my life analysing my father and bringing home his healing ..
      And when I did he was healed .. but tragically, he reverted within 2 days .. and that was as good as his death for me and released me to become my own person.
      The harm is inter-generational.

      TO get beyond it is a 10 thousand year quest .. and now we have to get all that done, because the big harm came from the last ice-age .. and now we have to face the hot-age. We have not the luxury for both.

      And I feel that this is the Earth's message to us that we had 10 thousand years to get ourselves right. And now we ARE right - if only we can accept it - because we will need it for what's coming up.

      Humanity is now charged by the solar system to achieve an adaptability that can accommodate the energy variability that is upon us - now.
      To do this, there is no time for argument any more - we will take our conclusions forward for better or worse, because the luxury of conversation is rapidly drawing to a close.

      We will save all the advantage of our tribal heritage plus the recently won wisdoms and live or die - the planet does not care - if we don't survive this, then it can wait a million years for the next attempt. We don't have that long.
      I love my life - and I love all those humans around me - I might be stupid about that, but if I'm stupid - I am gladly stupid.
      I am going soon off-the-grid - I don't want to be in the way of the collapse of humanities' accumulated stupidity - I want to be around to maintain the result.

      This will mean no connection to town-supply, much reduced coms .. but a place to keep what we have gotten. Spirit is not ghosts.
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    Oct 11 2013: Hello Mitch,
    Which tribe of 150 members are you signed up to?
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      Oct 11 2013: I seem to be more affiliated to the TED community than any other right now.
      You will note that the TED community seems to naturally split into political cells that rarely engage in each-other's topics.

      That's problematic because we are not equipped for physical survival functions .. e.g. food production and distribution.
      We are also subject to a poverty of communication - the rich redundancy of face-to-face communication is stripped-down to text.

      Prior to TED affiliation I had a folk-music affiliation - that particular tribe is well prepared for practical functionality. I still retain connection with the old tribe but there is a strong tendency to concentrate on a single tribe.
      Virtual tribes will need to be carefully regulated in neo-tribalism.

      BTW - the number 150 is an upper limit. Beyond that the neo-tribe would have mechanism to formally split.
      tribes can function OK as small as a family unit.
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        Oct 12 2013: I don't think it is true that members of the TED community generally engage only in topics that align with their political positions. An exception was your conversation on memes related to global warming, but that was only because you made quite clear, I think, that you did not want the participation of those who are not convinced of man-made global warming.

        If you personally avoid questions and ideas raised by conservative members of the community, you may simply not realize that people with a range of views do participate in them!

        I think, given your belief in strong tribal divisions, that you should be particularly cautious about the conclusions you draw from what you tend to notice in this area, because of the well established human disposition to confirmation bias.
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          Oct 12 2013: Hi Fritzie,

          My observations pre-date the memic topic. They extend into a lifetime of moving between one set of social cohesion and another.

          Up till recently, I viewed the prevalence of social cohesions more like the chaotic banding in a turbulent system .. as a visual metaphor I like to evoke the behaviour of smoke-plumes, or dye dropped into water .. weather systems etc.
          However, such phenomena occur within a wider system - when I correlate a notion of "self" to any particular system, we can propose that a human community has a "self". This idea is the basis of the topic. The proposal is that the "membrane" of this community self has some pre-existing adaptations - i.e. tribe.

          When cast in that light, the curls-of-smoke image of social cohesion suggests that it could be an aberrance - that my observations are of a ruptured system. Neo tribalism is the proposition that the rupture should be identified and addressed.

          The caution of confirmation bias is noted - and appreciated.

          I am also fully aware that challenging the popular notion of "the brotherhood of man" is confrontational .. my suggestion of "the brotherhood of tribes" will not go down well with those who view tribal cohesion as a threat - i.e. vested interests ;)

          edit: just thinking about it now .. the confirmation bias itself might be a part of cohesion principle of tribes . .. thoughts?
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        Oct 12 2013: I expect that confirmation bias is part of the cohesion principle of tribes in the sense that particular beliefs help a person fit where he wants to feel he fits. Still, someone who likes to feel unique may "employ" confirmation bias to confirm that solitary identity.

        I think challenging the idea of a brotherhood of man isn't particularly confrontational. I think, rather, that some people can care genuinely about a wider range and greater number of people than others can. Those who find it difficult to care sincerely about more than a few people might not be able to understand those who care sincerely about people who would on their face seem to have little in common with him. Those who care sincerely about a wide range and large number of people may have trouble understanding why some people seem to be able to care only about a tight circle around themselves.
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          Oct 12 2013: I don't think it's as simple as that.

          Having general empathy does not easily reconcile with specific empathy.
          With compassion being the active part of empathy, limits emerge that are not simply individualistic.
          For instance .. I had great concern with the conduct of my own compassion .. I am very easily moved to have compassion for those in distress, however, any action arising from that compassion can have the reverse effect to the compassionate motive. If, for instance, I give money to a beggar who then uses that money to damage him/herself (as in the addict-beggar who goes straight from the street to the dealer) - in that case, my compassionate act operates contrary to my compassionate intention. The introduction of true familiarity to the scenario re-normalises the balance. If fro instance I know the beggar well, then the offer of money will be known to be inappropriate to the compassionate intention - and there are physiological limits to the maturity of my empathy - and by extension to the effectiveness of my compassionate act.

          In that regard, one could say that general compassion is desirable, but that effective compassionate action requires specific empathetic maturity.
          Dealing in generalities can be dangerously politic - specific advantage then becomes the subject of analysis before any conclusion can be drawn.

          In this, my advantage is the stability of the social structure that supports me. It seems worth exploring. Coincidentally, this is a specific that might influence the generality - and benefit advantage to more than just me.
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          Oct 12 2013: For some reason, I feel you would benefit from looking at this.

          It tells something about my small clumsy exertions here:

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        Oct 12 2013: Hello Mitch,
        Thank you for the clarification.
        My observation is that tribalism is on the increase, naturally. For example the Basques want out of Spain, the Scots out of the U.K, various regions of the former USSR want increased independence. And with the internet virtual tribes emerge all the time based on common interest. People identify more easily with smaller groups. I agree with your basic thesis.
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          Oct 12 2013: Yes.

          I'm intrinsically lazy - I tend to describe rather than prescribe .. but .. well, that's not nothing.

          I appreciate your support.

          I happen to love life - and won't risk it as did the truly great men of our history .. but even in a coward's risk .. there is something.

          I think of the "power-law of distribution "few do much, many do little" and when you add it all up - it's enough.

          I could wish to be a greater man - but those who rely on me would disagree .. we are not alone - and in company .. great or small .. we are enough.

          I wish to explore how little is enough - and how too much is destructive for all us little people.

          I feel this is worthwhile - my much for the little - who are many.
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        Oct 12 2013: I listened to his talk and a bit of the Q and A. For the reader who may not have the time to listen to it, the speaker points to the groundswell of disillusionment with the results of capitalism in America as an opening for a broadened discussion of Marxism, but in particular of democratic, worker centered decision-making in firms.

        He further claims that this discussion has been quiet for forty-five years, but that recently he has been invited on Charlie Rose and twice on Bill Moyers.

        As I listened to twenty of twenty-six minutes of the selection, I did not hear his name, but he taught, formerly, at the University of Massachusetts. In the United states, I might add, universities vary in how much critique of capitalism or of market systems is represented on their faculties.
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          Oct 12 2013: Ahh . yeah ;) lol

          Get to it - let me know.

          I think it's kinda all over at this point. But happy to cover the fringe.

          If I get time to look.


          (had a couple of goes at this .. I'm a bit slow .. but have a long attention span .. all the best. Mitch)
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        Oct 12 2013: I know you had a couple of goes, confusing on my end as I get alerted and see part of a message and then when I click the link, it is gone on the site. For example, was one Barry McGuire lyrics?
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          Oct 16 2013: HI Fritzie,

          Could have been anything .. your reply sent me through a series of reflections - a lot of them false.

          There seem to be some cardboard rocks in my cave. And some of them are bears.

          Whether cardboard or real, rocks can be useful - but .. seems the real bears are more instructive that utile.

          I do these threads as sticks to poke the bears - and one of them turns out to be the TED-conversation-utility-bear. This latest one seems real.

          The question becomes - is there any utility which can be brought fourth as a gift?
          I have bears and rocks enough for one man - so there is no use for more except to share.

          So .. a bear has instructed me to have more outcomes in mind when I poke bears.
          For instance - can the material generated here be collected into a book?
          Is there any need to do such a thing?

          Or do we set loose bears for the joy of running?
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        Oct 17 2013: On the plus side, if you were to write a blog or a book of essays, you would have your thinking on a variety of subjects in one place. It would be like a snapshot of what you were thinking in 2013. At the very least, this might be interesting for you, and, as you have a son, there would be a keepsake of your "voice."

        If you want others to benefit from your thinking, you might need to put more time and effort into writing than you have available. Writing a book someone might read is more work than writing a series of blog posts, which in turn is more work than posting your ideas in a stream of consciousness, as it were, online.

        There is also the matter of a program of action. I probably misunderstood, but I thought you were planning to launch an actual program of action.

        If you are most seriously committed to a program of action that needs to "take off" with people to be effective, I think a book is probably not as good a vehicle for moving that along as some strategy that communicates ideas and a plan more succinctly.
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          Oct 17 2013: We are in strange times.

          The stream appears to have currents.

          At one time, books were like the rocks in the stream that influenced the flow.
          This is becoming less and less.

          Now it is looking like a topology .. something far more fragmented .. the rocks dissolve, and reveal .. what? Is it just the sand becoming fluid, creating a topology of sand, far more intricate than the stability of rock?

          In one sense, contributing here is like being a grain of sand in the TED conversation stream.

          A plan of action?

          Most definitely - in fact, the response here will determine where I choose to live for the next few years.. The nature of the tribes that will be ambient in that place seems critical at this stage. And once there, how I can work the levers of tribe dynamics to secure some certainty for my son, and as many more as can be accommodated.

          Just generally, it seems like a good long term strategy to add a fraction of awareness on this subject to the global flow.

          The importance of the totem and how it grants our adaptability in the face of accelerating change - and how to examine the health of it.
          How the totem allows us to wrest-back adaptations that cost adaptability.

          These will be my contribution once all the fluff gets knocked of by the current.

          It's becoming fairly clear .. a little more, and it can be just set loose like a spore.

          For some reason, poetry seems important right now.
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          Oct 17 2013: I am listening to a live feed now - it is reporting about how the environment and infrastructure around me is exploding in fire.
          I watched the sky today, felt the wind .. I was woken up by branches falling on my roof from the bangy energised climate.

          The fires go around me this time .. but next time - I won't be here.

          I am going to a place on solar/wind/rain-tank with satellite comms.

          I will get the chance to abandon more of the institutions that have failed me one after the other over the last 10 years - all of which have taught me that global culture is an adaptation - a fatal adaptation.

          I will commence the tribal dynamic from the standpoint of recognition that all our institutions are dead.

          I am ready I am acting. I might fail, but if you remain adapted now it will be at the expense of your adaptation.

          As my future unfolds, I am going tribal from a place where my fellows are already distant from the adaptation of globalism.

          I will destroy money, I will destroy all things that do not sit on my totem.

          If I fail, I will fail .. but there is no way forward outside of a tribe.

          Better discover what your tribe is.

          There is nothing abstract about this. IT's real. It's happening as I speak, people are dieing and their houses are burning .. right now within 2 kilometres from here.

          This is my turn - you will not escape yours.

          Don't be surprised.
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        Oct 17 2013: Be safe, Mitch.
  • Oct 11 2013: I have a few questions.

    What do you mean with this sentence ? "We, as a primate experiment, seem to have gotten out of balance since the last ice age." Are you saying that the primates have it right? I am no primate expert but don't primate "tribes" fight other tribes? If this is what you mean then I think we are right in balance with our primate experiment. We do form tribes and we do fight each other.
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      Oct 11 2013: Yes.
      According to what I've read, some primate tribes certainly do fight each other.
      Chimps have been known to commit genocide on neighbouring troops.
      I'm not sure about bonobos.
      Some are more territorial than others.
      Many primate troops balance things out by having a male-exchange system - with baboons, for instance, the adolescent males join other troops - they tend to keep the violence within the troop with the males killing each other in dominance disputes.
      But overall, it seems like these inter-tribal wars are rare.

      Sapolsky observed that baboons, at least, have more than one social configuration - the most common is a deeply hierarchical social mode modulated by male violence, the second is less hierarchical modulated by mutuality - the first is patriarchal, the second is matriarchal. There may be more modes that have not been observed.

      One is tempted to view territory as the be-all/end-all of the basis of violence, but some intertribal violence seems to be conducted just for the joy of it - specially in humans.

      There are a lot of question marks in my neo-tribal idea - one of which is whether humans are equipped to conduct a more sophisticated social configuration which can avoid hierarchical and territorial violence as well as identifying and moderating inherent male aggression.

      The comment about imbalance refers to population balance. This seems to be caused by systemic wealth concentrations culminating in global ecological collapse - no other primate species has done this.
      I refer to the last ice age as the turning point of the imbalance - with agriculture being a symptom rather than a cause.
      The quest of neo-tribalism is to re-establish firm identity to human tribal groups which can re-claim autonomy sufficient to spread the risk. As it stands with the attempt at the single global tribe, we have consolidated our risk into one very precarious basket.