or subscribe to our
Twitter service


Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 20, 2010


John Robb, Global Guerillas - How do you manufacture a strong community that protects, defends and advances the interests of its members? You build a tribe. Tribal organization is the most survivable of all organizational types and it was the dominant form for 99.99% of human history. The most important aspect of tribal organization is that it is the organizational cockroach of human history. It has proven it can withstand the onslaught of the harshest of environments.

If you are like most people in the ''developed world,'' you don''t have any experience in a true tribal organization. Tribal organizations were crushed in the last couple of centuries due to pressures from the nation-state that saw them as competitors and the marketplace that saw them as impediments. All we have now it is a moderately strong nuclear family (weakened via modern economics that forces familial diasporas), a weak extended family, a loose collection of friends (a social circle), a tenuous corporate affiliation, and a tangential relationship with a remote nation-state. That, for many of us, is proving to be insufficient as a means of withstanding the pressures of the chaotic and harsh modern environment.

The solution to this problem is to build a tribe. A group of people that you are loyal to you and you are loyal in return. In short, the need for a primary loyalty to a group that really cares about your survival and future success.

So how do you build a tribe? A strong tribe, in this post-industrial environment, isn''t built from the top down. Instead it is built organically from the bottom up. A simple tribe starts with cementing ties to your extended family, a connection of blood. The second step is to extend that network to include other families and worthy individuals. A key part of that is to build fictive kinship, a sense of connectedness that leads to the creation of loyalty to the group. That kinship is built through:

- Story telling. Shared histories and historical narratives.

- Rites of passage. Rituals of membership. Membership is earned not given due to the geographic location of birth or residence.

- Obligations. Rules of conduct and honor. The ultimate penalty being expulsion.

- Egalitarian and often leaderless organization. Sharing is prized.

- Multi-skilled. Segmental organization (lots of redundancy among parts).

- Two-way loyalty. The tribe protects the members and the members protect the tribe. If this isn''t implemented, you don''t have a tribe, you have a Kiwanis club.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have tribes in the US: They're called 'gangs' and 'professions'.

January 21, 2010 7:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home