While these might be the more televised images of tribalism in action, the root meaning goes far deeper.
Webster defines tribalism as:
“1: Tribal consciousness and loyalty; especially exaltation of the tribe over the individual.
2: Strong in-group loyalty.”
Chief Falling Arrow, in his own simple way, called it “Sharing the air between us, knowing our blood, and making tomorrow a day of many feasts.”
There are as many metaphors for this innate drive amongst us as there are manifestations. Take for example the words; team, club, crew, society, troop, brotherhood, and order.
All of these denote forms of cooperating towards a common goal, some needing external common enemies, others not. The original word for tribe, tribus, came from the Romans who used it to describe any one of the various divisions of the Roman people, based upon the three primitive tribes of ancient Rome.
A tribe was any social group, their families and dependents (including slaves), plus any people from other tribes who had been adopted. Most of the tribes were unified by a shared history and language, proficiency in certain crafts and arts, and a similar genetic heritage.
So perfect is the word tribe, that it has become synonymous with any cooperative effort. When originally adopted by medieval scholars, it was a derogatory word, described by one monk as “… the lowest of social orders. ” To the Spanish Conquistadors, the concept of tribe was used to denote a weak nation or social order, one ripe for plunder and enslavement. But before we go any further, let’s establish the differences between the tribes of old and the Meta-tribe of the twenty-first century.
IN DAYS OF OLD, WHEN BRAVES WERE BOLD…
The tribes of the past present themselves to us through two very diverse lenses. The first lens is that of popular culture and the other is the scientific disciplines of archeology and anthropology. Both offer us only a partial view through the windows of time, but they are the most effective tools we have to grasp the past.
While scientists are unable to determine exactly how many different tribes have existed during man’s history, we do know that they numbered in the tens of thousands. Mostly extinct, they were the indigenous peoples, banded together for survival in a vast and mysterious world.
Separated by massive mountain ranges, huge deserts and uncrossable oceans, their limited discoveries and technology prevented them from joining together on a global scale. This allowed different cultures to develop and as isolated people began adapting to their part of the world, they began to evolve physically to cope with the environmental pressures.
This formed what we improperly call “Races” . But since we are all humans, there really is no race; only cultures. Think about it, how many races of goldfish are there? Or dogs? Get the point?
On all the continents (except Antarctica) they thrived, some peacefully coexisting with their neighbors, others growing stronger through the robbing and pillaging of smaller, non-combative tribes.
Many of these tribes grew and increased their numbers to massive proportions. They adopted agriculture and pottery, built cities and discovered metallurgy. They developed written languages, practiced science and invented religions. But they were still held back by the same problem that we suffer from; A dominator social order, with a chief or lord, king or priests ruling and ruining the lives of others.
All of this is understandable, for always there have been people who feel that they have this right. But only now, on the brink of the millennium are we gradually becoming ‘aware’ of these beliefs.
Everywhere that one looks, a resurgence of the Tribe manifests itself. People are deciding that they are actually qualified to live their own lives, free from the dictates of some greedy and selfish “Authority”. The youth are seeking the keys to higher understanding, one free of dogma, limitations and that “I told you so… ” mentality. As you read this, the roots of a new social order are beginning to take hold, and these roots travel along the lines of cyber-telecommunications and Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ).
Unlike our ignorant ancestors of the past, we have both the technology and the knowledge to liberate us from enslavement to the masters, merely by refusing to play their game. We can reject their elitist notions of master races and super models, personal doubts and self-degradation and begin our way on a journey towards non-violence and community. Together we can overcome the obstacles, but in order to begin, we must first understand the problems that we face.
WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
It has been said that homosapiens’ greatest enemies are themselves. Through ignorance, fear, prejudice and superstition, humanity has justified the horrific and callous destruction of many an unlucky soul. The dominator social structure has sanctimoniously nurtured this behavior and we have suffered the results for as long as we care to remember; wars, genocide, murder and slavery are our rewards.
Through trickery and duplicity, a portion of the population has taken it upon themselves to exploit others to their own selfish ends. This they do by creating social diversions; class, race, castes, wealth and laws, as well as by creating constant strife and competition.
The nuclear family of modern society is but one technique used to keep everybody competing against each other instead of coming together and cooperating.
The modern agro-industrial-military complex is very effective at producing ‘losers’ as well as ‘winners’, but this is the path of least resistance which causes homelessness, poverty, stupidity and other harmful things. Since the beginning of time, experts such as priests and kings have decided that only their knowledge and discoveries were valid and that this information must be guarded, lest the peasants will learn that they too can learn about; science, art, who controls our resources, as well as what holds the key to our own spirit.
As easily taught as farming, the voyage of self-discovery liberates a person from the yokes of enslavement and enlightens people to a world of peace and unity. And this is precisely why the governments don’t want self-realization to occur. When you have the free association of individuals, as opposed to State-Mandated obedience, you have what the politicians negatively call ‘Anarchy’.
This is understandable, as their wealth and power comes from the labor of others. But really, barter is best; with money it is difficult for both sides to tell what is a proper value of things. We need water but have no real need for gold, but gold is expensive, and water is free. In any transaction both sides are pitted against the other. They perpetuate their existence through the alarmist threat of us versus them, and unenlightened people chain themselves to the dominators who offer ‘law and order’ in return.
But ask yourself this, “Do we have more safety and peace in the presence of governmental force? Or, if left to their own devices, can people live long, happy productive lives?” Only the future will answer this question. Another method to keep people from joining together is by vilifying the individual.
Anytime the ‘majority rules’, you have a smaller, but still repressed minority. But when you have power sharing and the individual rules, and relationships aren’t limited by pre-dictated standards, people have the freedom to express and establish themselves in the community. The opposite – dominator social orders, keeps people suppressed and unable to
maximize their true potential. And this leads to one really bad trip.
FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR ASS WILL FOLLOW
The tools of liberation are there for all to use and the best part about it is this; It’s free! You can give it away to others, but it can never be taken away from you. In case you don’t understand, it’s your mind that I am referring to. By realizing that we are all the same spirit, that no one individual is better than another, you set in motion a very powerful chain of events.
And each person who practices and shares this knowledge adds another link in the chain of time and space that brings us all together. Discover the connectedness of yourself to the universe and you will find yourself on a voyage of self-discovery and happiness that will last long after you’ve breathed your last breath. And as the naturalist John Muir once said, “Pick up one thing in the universe and you’ll find that it’s darn near hitched to everything else in the universe.”
DARWIN IS DEAD
The antiquated Nineteenth century theory regarding the survival of the fittest has been recently usurped by scientific discoveries in Canada. During one of the earliest mass extinctions, approximately 80% of life on earth vanished in a very short period of geological time, including the largest organism, about 4mm long, as well as several dozen more advanced species.
One organism which did survive was a simple little worm about 2mm long. Not equipped with fancy tentacles and suckers, completely devoid of appendages, claws or barbs, this tiny little worm eventually twitched his way on to become the vertabraed organisms of which we grew from. If you doubt this to be true, check out the Burgess Shale of eastern Canada where the microscopic fossils can be found.
The reason I share this with you is to illustrate that it’s not the survival of the fittest, but of the ‘luckiest’. Nature nurtures, and in a complex maze of symbiosis, cooperation – not competition, is the ultimate survival tool.
And what better form of global cooperation is there but the human tribes actively growing and thinking? As I had stated in the beginning of this story, there are two tools which set us free from the constraints of the geophysical, language-cultural, socially enforced division: The personal computer and the underground festivities (A form of Temporary Autonomous Zone).
Through nearly instantaneous global communication the boundaries between man and his far off neighbors is dissolving, and the global village arises from being a mere cliche and into virtual reality as people converse verbally, musically and by the telepathic body language of dance.
Just like the printing press which brought the sacred writings of antiquity to the masses, the computers’ ability to flow information at the speed of light from one point to the next will eliminate the veil of ignorance and fear that is used to keep the tribe from unifying into one large, diverse, strong but equal human family.
The more information that is available, the more knowledge you can gain, and the more you know, the more you realize-about yourself, about others, the worlds and journeys within. It’s no small coincidence that there has been a worldwide resurgence of psychedelics, for many agree that these are the readily accessible keys to unlock the gates of repressed soul within.
By opening the mind’s inner eye (by whatever means), the pale facade of the dominator culture and it’s phony trappings of greed and hatred wash away,
allowing the self to click with the new found awareness of infinity.
And once enlightened you will find that change cannot be ordered in others but only enacted through partnership and relationships that result in mutual satisfaction and harmony. Only then will this tribe of ours flourish, after the futile cycle of dominator societies is broken by the development of thought combined with creative and not so destructive actions.
Ayn Rand once rightly said; “If devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality, then there can be no more heroic, nobler form of devotion than that of the person who assumes the responsibility of thinking.”
So be a hero – think.
(To read a critique of this article, click here. To read the writer’s rebuttle that orignally appeared in “Unpronouncable Symbol”, click here) Photo by Jeffree Benet