DANGEROUS MEME #1: TRIBALISM WORKS

civilization From Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization:

If you note that hive life works well for bees, that troop life works well for baboons, or that pack life works well for wolves, you won’t be challenged. But if you note that tribal life* works well for humans, don’t be surprised if you’re attacked with almost hysterical ferocity. Your attackers will never berate you for what you’ve said but rather for things they think you’ve said: that tribal life is idyllic or perfect or noble. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t say these things.

Tribal life is not in fact idyllic or perfect or noble. But wherever it’s found intact, it’s found to be working well – as well as the life of geese or raccoons or lizards – with the result that the members of the tribe are not generally enraged, rebellious, desperate, stressed-out borderline psychotics being torn apart by crime, hatred and violence. What anthropologists find is that tribal people, far from being nobler, sweeter or wiser than us, are as capable of being mean, unkind, short-sighted, selfish, insensitive, stubborn and short-tempered. The tribal culture doesn’t turn people into saints. It enables ordinary people to make a living together with a minimum of stress, year after year, generation after generation.

{*Definition: A tribe is a self-organized, self-selected non-hierarchical group, each member of which contributes importantly to the group’s ability to make a living and takes responsibility for the welfare of the whole tribe. It is not the same as a commune, and does not entail or preclude co-habitation.)

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