Monday, 9 November 2009

The importance of our tribal nature

LINK to Guardian article by Peter Preston, which nicely illustrates our much neglected tribal nature.

An interesting article, which provides a vivid illustration of just how deeply tribal we humans are, of what really counts, so far as our deepest emotions are concerned, is our personal relationships and interactions, not just with our immediate friends and family, but also with our extended family, or TRIBE.

In the light of what we now know about human evolutionary origins, it is easy to understand why this is the case, and why - were we to overcome the taboo against recognising it - in modern mass society, there is so much unhappiness, mental illness and anti-social behaviour, most of it perfectly legal and respectable, even greatly admired, such as being stinking rich, and thus (perversely) quite independent of any tribe.

We have the potential for such strong emotional interactions and bonds with our tribe, because when human emotions and behaviour patterns were evolving, long before the rise of civilization, the individual depended completely on his or her tribe for survival and reproductive success.

As small tribes were coerced (by shared security interests, on the one hand, and individual opportunism on the other) into ever larger tribal groups, eventually culminating in states and empires, the individual's original tribe was subordinated (as "local communities") and eventually lost almost completely (in modern mass society), its place (along with most of the emotional and material dependencies associated with it) being taken by the state (and a money economy).

Team sports, military and economic units of organization, for example, offer, and exploit, a more personal experience of our tribal nature, but all are subordinated, ultimately, to the demands and purposes of the state, which sees (sells and imposes) itself as a nation, the natural extension of and heir to our original tribes.

We have all been conditioned to see the state - i.e. our idealization of it, if not its reality - in this rosy light, and because of our emotional and material dependency on it, it is very difficult (in many states, illegal) even to question; but question it we must, if we are to understand our situation and the mounting problems (social, political, economic and environmental) which now threaten our very survival.

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