Neo-Tribes: Building a Frame

In the spirit of common inquiry, I would like to describe what the term Neo-Tribalism (which is emerging from this fascinating Facebook group started by Alexa Clay) means to me. I think if we’re going to capitalise on the energy we’re building, and do something awesome with it, we should take this step and share notes.

There are 3 questions posed at the bottom — please respond to them and/or leave other comments by highlighting the text in question and clicking the speech bubble icon.

I believe a growing number of citizens are fed up with the popular narrative of the world we inhabit.

Call it moral decay —societal cooption — globalisation. I’m tired of watching these massive institutions accumulate power, externalise the costs, and insult my intelligence with their perversions of honesty and justice. Citizens United, tax loopholes, revolving doors, secret trade deals, unending wars and growing resource conflicts. These forces do not represent me, and yet I feel powerless to prevent them from defining (at least part of) my reality.

I’m tired of being disempowered and alienated by this.

So my hunger for alternatives leads me (mostly, via the Internet) to find people, ideas, communities, and solutions that get me excited. Perhaps I contact these communities. Perhaps they invite me to do cool stuff with them. Perhaps we collaborate, share, and even meet at some space or event. Perhaps I become a part of this community.

Here I feel empowered and in creative control of my own reality.

What I think we’re witnessing more and more is brave people and groups taking the next step towards these ideas and communities becoming permanent. We can see this in the emergence of makerspaces, fab labs, hackerspaces, ecovillages, tiny house communities, off-grid settlements and even some social enterprises and NGOs.

Granted, these movements do not come from the same space — and nor should they — we’re all arriving at our own alternatives in our own way, in our own time. The common element I observe is that we are dissatisfied with our reality, and we are proactively changing it to something we can participate in meaningfully.

I see this as an intentional splintering from the globalised reality.

Where I see Neo-Tribes coming in is as an anthropological incubator, working to discover how we develop these communities into their most well informed, functional selves (communication, governance, values, tools, protocols, best practices) — and discover why they’re forming in the first place (motivations, disillusionment, escape, pain, longing?). I mean, hell, we could become a new community, and perhaps we already have done. But if this is the case, let us be focussed on this (or some other) mission, so that we can create something truly useful.


(Please highlight text to leave response)

  • WHY is Neo Tribes resonating with you?
  • WHAT is Neo Tribes as a group? (e.g. an anthropological incubator, a collective action community etc.)
  • HOW could you see yourself playing with Neo Tribes?