Tribal Identity - Paradigm for the Next Generation
is a socioeconomic experiment. You can be an observer, or an active
participant. One way or another the venue is the real world.
a species we are approaching a window of danger and opportunity; a
time of upheaval which will shatter nations and superstates along
fault-lines of geography, language, and group identity.
socioeconomic reset is in order and in the works. The stakes are
high. Positive outcomes are possible, but are by no means guaranteed.
have a very limited time table to influence the outcome. We cannot
afford to squander our efforts and resources on ethical anesthetics
don’t control the system and we need to stop pretending that we do.
It is counterproductive to debate over how to use power and resources
that we do not have.
the bums out doesn’t work. This is not just a question of a few bad
apples, or a broken system. We have a paradigm problem. Those who
haven’t come to terms with these realities, are behind the curve.
is not the time to start fighting over what the ideal civilization
might look like. Perfection is not on the table. The question is
this: Can we do better? If so, we must try.
a deep breath. No seriously. Science tells us that the mere act of
slowing down our breathing calms the mind measurably. The mind works
better when calm, and we’re going to need the extra bandwidth, so
take a deep breath and reset for a moment. Press pause if you need
feeling better? Let’s take this to the next level.
are more stable, and easier to repair and update when they are built
using simple, compact and minimally bundled components. In systems
design this principle is referred to as modularity.
Dawkins coined the term “meme” to represent these minimal
clusters in the realm of ideas. Ideas replicate with greater fidelity
when they are simple, compact and minimally bundled. A meme is a
an idea to survive it must be adapted to its environment. Ideological
habitat dictates selective pressures. Modularity facilitates hybrid
systems, and rapid adaptation. Applied to culture, it facilitates
choice, and peaceful evolution.
clusters of ideas can bypass ideological gatekeepers (and avoid
triggering cognitive dissonance) in ways that monolithic belief
systems cannot. Once in the mind, new memes combine with existing
memes and emotions transforming the overall system. This process can
be positive, like an awakening, or it can be poisonous, like the
metastasis race nationalism within a previously diverse group.
virus of perception can begin with one person. However to spread, the
meme has a replication imperative.
humans are completely dependent on the flow of goods and resources
from afar. Transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and medicine are
all tied to fossil fuels. Cities and highways are designed with
automobiles in mind. Food production, industry and office complexes
moved farther and farther away from suburban sprawl. And all of it at
the mercy of a debt based monetary system whose ebbs and flows we do
not control, a system predicated on infinite growth on a finite
local resilience is imperative.
must transition NOW towards local systems of production, exchange,
and decision making. We must maximize efficiency, reduce inputs,
waste and distance traveled. We must start with small, testable
solutions that can be implemented right now without the sanction or
assistance of those in power.
Resilience is a modular component (meme). It resonates. It is
compatible with most world views. It is simple, self evident yet
fundamentally transformative if applied.
how would it be applied? How would we get from point A to point B?
attempting to design, or redesign a complex system, humans have the
tendency to start by formulating a detailed master plan, convincing a
majority of the stakeholders to sign on to the plan, then
implementing (or attempting to implement), the whole product in a
linear fashion, like a car being assembled on the factory floor,
leaving as a finished product, ready to be driven off the lot.
approach is sometimes referred to as the “Waterfall Model”. It
was termed “waterfall” because the design process was linear, it
only moved in one direction. Teams would complete one phase, fully,
before moving on to the next. The product wasn’t testable until the
final phase. There was no provision for a fundamental redesign once
implementation had begun. Water doesn’t flow uphill.
waterfall model is well adapted to projects where all the variables
are clearly defined and unlikely to change (such as the manufacture
of a car, or the construction of a simple house), but is has a high
failure rate on large, dynamic projects with changing requirements,
limited resources, and unforeseen obstacles.
the early 1990s the software industry faced what is often referred to
as “the application development crisis” or the “application
delivery lag”. On average it took three years to deliver a usable
app. In some industries the process took decades. Within that time
frame, requirements, systems, and entire business models had usually
evolved. This caused many projects to be cancelled before they were
finished, and since the linear model put off testing until the final
product was ready, in the end the client was not often not happy with
the result, even if it delivered precisely what had been requested.
developers attempted to protect themselves in this situation through
comprehensive contracts. But projects were chronically behind
schedule, over budget and buggy. Contracts provided legal protection,
but not a happy customer.
by the status quo, a contingent of the development community gathered
in 2001. They decided to radically adjust, and they put their intent
into a manifesto.Though the ideas that they drew together had existed
in other forms for some time, no one had yet unified those ideas with
a sense purpose and mission. They did.
ideas were simple: Rather than try to build according to a master
plan that accounts for everything in the beginning, they would take
an adaptive approach (aka iterative or non-linear).
would first establish their abstract goal: describe what the product
needed to accomplish in the broadest sense. They would then
prioritize functionality, and build a minimal, stable, and USEFUL
first version quickly. Test. Get stakeholder feedback. Reprioritize
and adjust immediately. The process was non-linear.
of the focus on adapting quickly, the contingent decided to name the
sense of purpose that they were bringing to existing adaptive,
iterative non-linear processes “Agile”.
sense of purpose gave that word an identity. That identity caught on
and was copied because it resonated. It was logical. It was an idea
worth spreading. Their vision persisted because it worked: it
provided tangible and immediate benefits.
approach to project management improves outcomes in a wide variety of
fields. For example, adaptive logic applied to food production, when
the abstract goals are to increase efficiency, reduce inputs, waste,
and distance traveled is Permaculture.
idea worth holding must be worth testing. Unproven models must be
tested at the smallest possible scale. Some will merit replication.
Others will serve as cautionary tales.
than one model can and will succeed. This should be embraced. At a
macro-systemic level, diversity is inherently more stable than
monoculture. This principle holds true in ecology, agriculture,
economics and geopolitics.
the early 1970s social psychologist Henri Tajfel set out to study the
minimal conditions required for discrimination to occur between
groups of humans. In his tests he discovered that group identity
could be easily formed in a very short time using trivial criteria
(such as one’s musical preferences or the results of a coin toss),
and that groups divided by such trivia would immediately display
prejudice against those on the other side,and favor those in the same
arbitrary category. He referred to this principle as The Minimal
Group Paradigm. It’s the psychological root of tribal identity.
Sapiens Sapiens is a social animal. Tribe the human analogue of a
instinct pre-dates humanity, and will persist. Failure to account for
it, invites tragedy.
pack instinct is a survival adaptation. It is triggered by physical
insecurity. Those who are able to coordinate their efforts with those
around them are able to accomplish exponentially more than those who
attempt to go it alone.
which define and maintain a strong shared identity are more stable
than those which do not. This provides a selective pressure which
will always come into play during times of upheaval.
sense of belonging is a vital need, and modern civilization is in in
throes of an identity crisis. This is the window of danger and
there is opportunity there are always opportunists. Those willing to
tell an angry crowd exactly what they want to hear, weaving stories
that gives meaning to their pain redefining in-group against an
out-group to be saddled with the blame.
national identity becomes too weak to provide that sense of tribe,
new group identities emerge to fill the void.
vacuums cannot be ignored, or rationalized away. They will be filled,
the only question is by who, and with what.
we fill that void with a positive vision, or demagogues, and prophets
of hate will slice and dice, pitting us against each other over
FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
next generation needs paradigm and code of identity that bind with a
sense of purpose, community, and mission: An idea and a feeling that
transcend superficial characteristics (like skin color, gender and
vision must resonate, and inspire action; action towards concrete
goals, minimal starting points that provide immediate and tangible
code must be synchronized with reality. It must adapt to logic and
evidence (the scientific method applied to the way humans learn,
organize and live).
code must be open source. It must be simple, modular (meme level),
and compatible with a broad spectrum of existing ideologies. It must
work with (rather than against) our instinctual psychology. It must
be adapted to human biochemistry.
don’t have time to reinvent the wheel.
must learn from the lessons of history, and the innovations of the
modern age. Take the best of the old and the new. Integrate what
works and discard what doesn’t.
never going to get every culture and subculture on this planet to
agree on every aspect of the proper way to live, as such we will
never eliminate in-group and out-group, or erase all borders of us
and them. This understanding precludes one-size-fits-all, global
socioeconomic designs defined in detail, to be imposed on all by the
barrel of a gun, end in war and atrocities committed for the common
ability to maintain peace and security within a group, and in
relation to neighboring groups is vital. This duty is, and has always
been our responsibility. However for generations we have outsourced
these functions to other groups of humans, often thousands of miles
away, who claim the monopoly on violence, money and truth within a
given region. As the current system weakens, this responsibility must
be picked up again on a community level. The transition must be
guided by principle.
would agree that it’s “not right” to punch the neighborhood kid
in the face and take his toy. But where does that feeling of “NOT
RIGHT!” or “That’s NOT OK!” come from?
frame the concept of non-aggression as a moral principle, but moral
principles could also be described as expressions of the tribal
instinct. Such principles resonate deeply in the human psyche, and
are easily reawakened because for eons they have facilitated the
stability (and therefore survival) of groups which hold to them.
assertion can be tested. Game theory has established that the most
successful strategy in experiments modeled around conflict, is tit
for tat: never attack, retaliate in kind.
for tat was a mathematically consistent selective pressure. Instincts
are adapted to that pressure. This is why every human culture has
some concept of the right to self defense. It’s also why most
societies condemn aggression, and why states always claim to be
attacked when they want to start a war.
retaliation instinct is counter balanced by empathy. Conflict
resolution and consensus building improve outcomes by preventing long
cycles of retaliation, and averting escalations before they start.
LINES OF INCLUSION
and pluralism within a strong code of identity is a sign of strength,
not weakness. However an inclusive identity can only be maintained if
it is protected. For example: a single member attacking another tribe
puts everyone in danger. As such, lines of inclusion must be clearly
defined, and violators held to account.
validation is a biochemical incentive. If you incentivize something,
you typically get more of it.
code of identity which values conflict resolution, and consensus
building, honors those who master those skills, and condemns those
who initiate of violence, or call for wars of aggression, gives
cultures which hold to it a much better chance of peaceful
collected the dots. Let’s connect them.
can do better. It is imperative that we try.
time is now. The next generation needs the path to be cleared,
pragmatic examples to emulate, and an idea to spread like a virus of
resilience, non-aggression, conflict resolution, consensus building,
and adaptive action are logical starting points. These are modular
components. They are simple, self evident, useful at the smallest
possible scale. They are compatible with any sane ideology, yet
fundamentally transformative if applied.
Resilience implies converging, forming coalitions, and teams, getting
our local community involved. Non-aggression, conflict resolution,
and consensus building will make the transition more peaceful. The
adaptive approach will make us more effective.
can form around any idea (humans can divide themselves on any
characteristic they focus their attention on), but what holds it
together is a feeling. The feeling of belonging. The tribal identity.
This we can cultivate, reawaken. The code is written in our DNA.
small, work with what you have, set realistic goals, and take steps
to achieve them. The evolution might begin with a gathering of
friends, or garden in your front yard.
following message is for those who get it. You see the stakes. You’ve
connected the dots. You’re motivated to take action. You’re
looking for some minimal starting points.
key is to start with the right questions: Press pause and go get a
pen and paper.
Write the following at the top of your page: “What can I do”
of you have different skills, assets, liabilities, time and
pause and make a list.
write the next question: “What am I willing to do?” How much time
and energy are you willing to invest into changing the world? What
are you willing to sacrifice?
pause and write an honest answer.
you are writing that answer, consider this: If you aren’t willing
to make radical changes in your own way of life, how can you expect
you’re done write the next question: “Who do I know locally or
online who would might resonate with the local resilience meme?”
pause and make a list. Next to each name take notes on when and how
to initiate contact. You’ll find tools for working with contacts in
our activism section.
let’s formulate some concrete goals. The specific variables will
change, but the abstracts will apply across the board.
make a difference, we must build local and online networks guided by
principle. This is an abstract goal. The concrete goals will be
adapted to the context.
can define local as the maximum distance that humans in a particular
region can coordinate and meet physically without the use of fossil
fuels. Geography will influence this distance significantly.
establish your concrete goals you must to assess your radius.
water, community and security dynamics must be accounted for.
such resources and networks are few or non-existent in your area, it
is up to you to either plant the seeds, make them grow, or migrate to
a point of convergence that you resonate with.
local resilience kits, visit our local activism section.
of you have technical skills (translators, programmers, graphic
designers, animators/video editors ), and or time to contribute. To
volunteer online or onsite visit our volunteer section.
next generation will need radically different skill sets. They will
need new strains of intelligence. They will need to adapt and
innovate in ways that most can’t even imagine.
who want to get ahead of the curve and help others do the same; those
who really want to change the world, have their homework cut out for
a lot to absorb. Some of what you need to learn isn’t taught in
school. Some realities are impossible to fully integrate just by
reading a book. Study cannot replace experience.
apply the scientific method to the way humans learn, organize and
live will require the socioeconomic equivalent of laboratories;
physical testing grounds where theories stand, or are buried by
results (Tribal R & D).
impact the world beyond our local sphere, results must be open
sourced to public domain. We must use the internet to disseminate
these ideas while we still can.
an extreme proposition, so to get the ball rolling we’re launching
a prototype; a socioeconomic experiment. You can be an observer, or
an active participant.
experiment has a physical base of operations: a piece of land. You
could also think of it as a laboratory.
with, and transmitting alternative approaches to production, exchange
and social dynamics (while transitioning off of fossil fuels, debt
based money, and vertical collectivism), are abstract goals. Each of
these must broken down into sub-modules to be addressed in concrete
terms onsite and online.
the first iteration we built a shared kitchen, living area, bathroom
and campground. Mountains had to be terraced, swamps transformed into
ponds, permaculture everywhere.
was our minimal starting point, the first deliverable: an off-grid
adaptive learning center to host visitors, volunteers, and resident
beta tested. Participants are onsite. We’re going live.
this project serves as an example to replicate, or a cautionary tale,
is yet to be seen. What we can guarantee, is that it’s going to be
more information, or to participate in the next iteration, look up
the pongovi experiment.
of the content produced by this project are creative commons. You
have permission to download and distribute by any and all means.
can download components used to make this film (and films to come)
for use in compatible projects in our modules section.