Tribalism, new tribalism, tribal revival


A tribe is a group of people sharing material and immaterial things, often with a common past, heritage or gene-pool, but these days the notion of a tribe is equally applicable on movements and groups in cyberspace.

In the past 50 years, anthropologists have greatly revised the understanding of the tribe. Franz Boas removed the idea of unilineal cultural evolution from the realm of serious anthropological research as too simplistic, allowing tribes to be studied in their own right, rather than stepping stones to civilization or "living fossils". Anthropologists such as Richard Borshay Lee and Marshall Sahlins began publishing studies that showed tribal life as an easy, safe life, the opposite of the traditional theoretical supposition. In the title to his book, Sahlins referred to these tribal cultures as "the Original Affluent Society," not for their material wealth, but for their combination of leisure and lack of want.


This work is for the progression of humanity and the enlightenment of ourselves, such as that advocated by John Zerzan or Daniel Quinn. These philosophers have led to new tribalists pursuing what Daniel Quinn dubbed the "New Tribal Revolution". The new tribalists use the term "tribalism" not in its widely thought of derogatory sense, but to refer to what they see as the defining characteristics of tribal life: namely, an open, egalitarian, classless and cooperative community. New tribalists insist that this is, in fact, the natural state of humanity, and proven by two million years of human evolution.

In an open letter to the Occupy protesters, Quinn described the Occupy movement as the "New Tribal Revolution," a term he first used in Beyond Civilization.


Tribes of magic


In our day and age the old tribal awareness, once rooted in genetic and ethnic connections, is changing, people feel a tribal connection based on common cultural patters, shared expressions like music, literature, sports or just common interests. The internet and its social networking opportunities enhances this trend. So there are tribes of people interested and active in this or that hobby, activity or subject.


A special kind of tribal awareness, and one that has deep roots in many indigenous cultures, is the feeling that a tribe shares a magical understanding, a sacred and to some extent secret core. We can call these kinds of tribes the tribes of magic.


This magical feeling goes beyond the religious, it has to do with the spiritual connectedness to the all, with nature, the earth, with the notion that we are all one. Anyone who has experienced the deep connection of indigenous and sometimes age-old tribes understands this, but magical tribes have also developed in our modern world. In many forms, sometimes diametrically opposed to current values, like the Cathars then and the Hellís Angels now, sometimes hidden in remote locations like the Essenes then and religious sects nowadays.


What matters is to acknowledge the magical, apart from ethical or moral values, to honour the sense of connectedness, with each other and the wider all. Especially as this sense of connectedness is suppressed, antagonized, often deemed illegal or criminal, this sometimes leads to resistance, revolution or deviant behaviour.Tribes of magic in that sense are often repressed and deemed anti-social and their members prosecuted and worse. This polarisation - and history is full of examples, the Cathars are but one example - actually enhances the tribal feeling and group cohesion, a common enemy unites like nothing else.


The value of the tribes of magic is that they often, not always, preserve deep knowledge and wisdom and maintain a connection with the past, with traditions in danger of disappearance, with perennial understanding lost in our material affluence.


Magical tribes are the salt of the earth, and there are many different salts! An example, the Christiania people and the Ruigoord folks from Amsterdam came together in July 2008 in Copenhagen, both are magical tribes and had the opportunity to share and exchange the magic they carry!


A meeting of the tribes of magic, not aimed at convincing each other or the world, but just celebrating the diversity, respecting the variance of beliefs, rituals and worldviews is a great way to spread the message of tolerance and respect the world needs, today as ever.


It can also help individual tribe members to learn from others, to widen their view, to become a global and yet tribal human being. The quality and influence of any tribe depends on their common good, but also on the level of awareness of the individual members.




June 12, 2008



Two Urban Tribes Meeting

(2008 Christiania, Denmark)

A manifesto of celebration

Enjoying our union, our differences, our common ground, our sharing.


Ruigoord and Christiania, both urban tribes of people who are different, slightly aberrant, conforming not to what the world dictates, but to their inner voice, their spirit. We feel connected in many ways and would like to express and explore that. Tonight, June 12, 2008, we do this by shifting the axis of our world to this location in Christiania, where the magical tree Ygdrasil has been erected, emphasising that we are here, now, beyond time and space and yet very much connected to this place.


What and how

Urban tribes, as we are, share the following characteristics:

We have our own style and way of living,


We are organic, in the sense that problems are seen as opportunities, that we change as we go along.


We are natural, in the sense of honouring the earth and what it has to give, of celebrating the seasons and making ďnaturalĒ an inspiration rather than a label.


We are a link in a chain passing on knowledge, wisdom and tolerance between generations, cultures and beliefs. That chain of human contact is basic and comes out in art, in festivals and in taking care of each other.



Individualism and collectivism come together in the tribal spirit, which is beyond the political. It honours tradition and yet despises worn out ways, we are a bridge between the prehistoric and the future, between the shamanic vision and the age of Aquarius.


We promote recycling of goods and materials, but also of ideas and ideals.


We believe in a way of life that matters, that is worth fighting for, that fosters respect. A life where it doesnít matter what you are but what you do.


We seek harmony, bringing out the best in people in their varying colours and tempos and yet making ourselves heard and seen in a peaceful way. Conflict can lead to harmony, new perspectives.


Small is beautiful, so we aim at small scale initiatives, democratic circles, to enable the freeing of the inner child to play, to create, to share and to feel safe.


We believe ideas come first, materialism, money and institutions are second.


We honour the common ground, the physical as well as the virtual.



Urban tribes have a much wider importance than just being a nice way of living, an escape for a happy few. As the world is in dire need of new directions, the tribal model that has survived many a crisis in the past, deserves attention.


Ł We show the world that there are alternative ways of living, working and being together.


Ł We have visions and dreams to share, that can be an inspiration to a much wider group.


Ł We can show the rational planners and politicians that there are people and groups that care, that still hoist the flag of love and raise the banner of the heart.


Ł The world needs experimental zones and laboratories, schools and places where the alternative models of interhuman relationship, government, decision making and social structure can be developed. They donít need to succeed but allow us learn about processes andpossibilities.



We relate to change, by refinding ourselves, using what makes sense, taking the best and recombe or reshape it into a new form.


So this tree is as much a symbol as an invitation to let others join our circle or to make their own, we wish to share our good intentions and our joy - letís celebrate life, letís make this planet sing!!


We, the Ruigoord and Christiania urban tribes, declare Christiania to be the centre of our world right now!!!


Christiania, July 18, 2008, Copenhagen