I've been tinkering with an idea for years now. It is steeped in the all-encompassing and seemingly ineffable topic that seems to be the premise of Freedom in Familiarity
. The familiar
is rooted in the family
, the oldest tribe. And as the family takes a back seat in the formation of humanity's perception of what is and what should be, the familiar takes over. Jeanee and Chris strike many of the same notes in their posts here on the blog. I call it New Tribalism
. The essential questions are those of identity, familiarity, and the deeper syntax of our activities. Perhaps the largest lesson to date is history, where we have catgalogued the transformation of these aspects across various cultures, economic ages, and social revolutions. From the problems we now face in mass media, consumerism and sprawl, and a lack of relevancy in education, we readily draw parallels to global industrialization of previous centuries. There is abundant connective tissue in the realms of production, advertising, product identity, personal identity, illusions of media, the urge to blindly believe and follow our 'leaders', etc. We tend to draw the line at Industrialism, forgetting that the forerunner to the Industrial Revolution was the printing press, an inescapable link to the middle ages that acts like a wormhole, skipping past the Scientific Enlightenment of the Rennaissance (which is possibly the birth of mass Capitalism), industrial booms, and failed revolts of Communism, straight to our current dilemmas in the so-called Age of Information. (See Frank Lloyd Wright's 'The Art and Craft of the Machine' in Prairie Architecture
To take it further, when we examine the middle ages in terms of the identity of the individual, the question arises: "How did the identity of these masses of people end up under the complete control of a few wealthy land-owners and religious leaders?" Is it really much different now? I argue that the majority of American population is still counted and exploited like so many head of cattle. The answer to the question of domination lies in the transformation of human settlement, from the fallen ages of empire and conquest which brought about the middle ages back through the pre-imperial nation-states, the chieftains of the metal ages, the earliest domestic tribes and their cult of the female and fertility, and finally to the hunter-gatherers, paleolithic man, and even to the animal kingdom and our ongoing speculations over evolution, if you wish. Somewhere in that massive history, there are turning points from idyllic societies to societies of domination, exploitation, and enslavement. This goes far beyond the physical limits of the body, possessions, and even the rights of action. It has always been about identity.
I can't even begin to answer it all here. It may be a life's work. I want to hear the ideas and opinions of everyone who reads this. We are all engaging in New Tribalism: you have already been initiated by your eyes and your active comprehension of my words and those of so many others. When Mankind banded together and formed settlements, the tendency of individuation and self-referential mentality was born. It was only a seed and it has been transformed in so many ways. Identity is an active mode of perception, wherein the part is separated form the whole. Nomadic hunter-gatherers moved their settlements with the changing environment. They had not reached a place of total identity, in which we find stability. The first village settlements abandoned the embedded identity of displacement and subjective existence, seeing strength, stability, and objective identity in a stretch of unmoving earth. There is a certain inherent violence in this act and we have lost our delicate control over the process.
For the vast majority, the identity of the self and the world is shaped and controlled by others. It is actually a small fraction of humanity that consciously questions the nature of identity. But the newly connected population of the world engages in the question as a subconscious act of subversion (see Michel de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life
) in the active and selective creation of new communities, virtual spaces, unhindered discourses, new tribes, New Tribalism. My proposal involves bringing these virtual domains back into the real world, back to the communal stretch of unmoving earth. I feel that this needs to happen to selectively affirm the virtual domain by way of an investment real human energy in the corporeal world. Most virtual communities are nomadic and the individual is able to participate on a whim wihtout exerting any real effort or sacrifice. There is rarely a sense of solidarity, support, and dedication unless those involved are also taking part in an actual physical community as well. Others will have different proposals. I am posing the question now to all of you out there:
What is your New Tribalism and can it/how can it be be used to repossess the self, production, synergy, and the perception of existence?