Enlightened Tribalism

I’d like to pick the brain of the community about something. I’ve been thinking about how we often resolve the conflict between the individual and the group using the concept of “Enlightened Individualism”. To me, this means that there are certain ways to pursue one’s personal interests that correspond with benefiting the group.

This seems to imply a general analysis. If we start with ego centric, ethno centric, and world centric then we might say that a problem can occur when acting from one center harms a different center. So acting from the ego was reconciled with the tribe, and even the entire world, with the introduction of Enlightened Individualism. I would argue that something similar has happened for World centrism, where we realized that attempting, for instance, to totally assimilate everyone into a generic way of thinking and acting, what we might call “assimilationist orange”, may appear to help the entire world but at the expense of the tribe (ethno) and the individual (ego). We seemed to have resolved this conflict with a form of pluralism that allows individuals to find their own path, which can include borrowing from the world’s modern and pre-modern traditions. We might call this “individualistic green”.

So the big question I have is, has there been a resolution of the dangers the tribe presents to the individual and the entire world? Do we still see the tribe as attempting to destroy the ego and the world? We might call the resolution “Enlightened Tribalism”, where acting in the interest of the tribe corresponds with benefiting the individual (ego) and humanity in general (world).

My question for you all is, what would Enlightened Tribalism look like? What limits should be placed on tribalism and what benefits can it offer the world and the individual?

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I had some more thoughts on this. It might be useful to ask what actions are required to resolve things from each perspective. So what must the world do, organizations like the UN or things we except to be generally true for everyone, in order to not destroy the individual or the tribe. Where there are extra points if they can act in a way that substantially benefits the other two categories.

Using the above ideas, individualistic green might actually not be sufficient from the perspective of what the world needs to do to defend itself in ways that doesn’t destroy the individual or the tribe. The reason I say this is because individualistic green is actually attempting to fracture the world into individuals where tribes are really only acceptable as a historical feature of the world. By fracturing us into individual narratives it really has no intention of preserving the tribe.

Perhaps a better resolution from the world perspective would be a form of Integral that says the tribe and individual are OK as long as they express in healthy ways and/or grow up in certain universal ways. We might call this “healthy hierarchy teal”. The action the world takes is providing the information about justified healthy hierarchy and tolerating the existence of individuals and tribes.

My question is about what actions should the tribe take to protect itself from destruction in ways that does not destroy the individual or the world and that ideally provides clear benefits to all three.

A few conventions I came up with are as follows

  1. Membership in a tribe must be voluntary - especially if participants have some of their basic rights suspended.
  2. The existence of tribes creates interesting units of information abut human experience. These information units tend to be large, unique, and highly internally integrated - meaning the various parts refer to each other. They also include both evolved and explicitly designed solutions to all sorts of human problems.
  3. Easy to create new tribes
  4. A basic set of human rights that the members of tribe must respect when dealing with those outside their tribe.

Perhaps “tribes”, and to some extent individuals, can show their worth by sincerely attempting to develop their own unique qualities while communicating about what they come up with. The “world” could then encourage what I call “liminal zones”, or in-between places, where these interesting units of information can be mutated, hybridized, generalized about, and transmitted.

I think it’s also interesting to note that when we allow tribes, or smaller subgroups, people may have more opportunities to find their life consequential. If we live in a generic world, very few people will come up with ideas or take actions that are valued by the single generic group. In a world of smaller tribes we get to see how our ideas and actions bring about change with much higher probability.

This general idea of providing large, internally integrated, unique information units to an in-between culture or space where it is mutated, hybridized, generalized about, and transmitted, I call Liminalism. Liminalism acknowledges the need for individuals and tribes to produce interesting information units that feed a process that improves things at the world level.

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