Forming Tribalized Communities

Changing the mainstream - Changing the self - Changing the way we act together - The change to post Green
Self and society are intertwined. As the individual comes to understand that the environment must be sustained, then too, dawns the realization that society must sustain the environment. We exercise the direction of societal change by our individual changes. We are mayflies and as we change our direction in the breeze of change we bring down the mighty oak.
The mighty oak is survivalist society with all the implications of that society. The breeze of change is the global marketplace and environmental limits with all the implications of that change.
Ecological sustainability is now a motherhood issue for politicians. Every nation has made a commitment of some kind to control environmental degradation. Individuals are also well aware of the importance of sustaining our ecology and usually express their concern through recycling, re-using, and refusing. Nevertheless, many strongly believe that ecological concerns have not received their proper sense of urgency. They ask: What can be done to reverse the continued destruction of Nature and how can we bring about this change?
What can be done has three main streams; changing, a) the mainstream, b) the self, and c) the way we act together.

Changing the mainstream
Changing the mainstream is the external or political part of the process. What must be done to motivate the global brain to deal with environmental problems and the limits of production? How is it possible to get the attention of the five billion individual tendrils without a major environmental disaster? What is the political activity in the larger sphere that will change structural attitudes?
The first option of making changes is remaining as a member of a mainstream organisation. This has the allure of appearing to be the most sensible option. Proponents of change within the mainstream, such as Theobald and Drucker, hail business as the major exponent of change. Business can be a major force for change but it cannot achieve change alone. It must strongly influence politics and law as part of an overall movement. As Robert B. Reich stated in THE NEXT AMERICAN FRONTIER, we now need "a political revitalization as badly as ... we need an economic one".
The allure of change from within the system is easily tarnished. Efforts to change can be co-opted by the system. The acts of co-option then persuades the elements of change that the system does work. To be always on guard against complacency is a difficult task, especially as one becomes older and successful.
To attempt change within the system plays a useful role. It can be stressful for those who choose to follow this stream. There can be a continual sense of friction with the surrounding mileau. The result of this friction is the experience of being perpetually the `outsider'. To be an `outsider' overly long makes it increasingly difficult to recognise future compatriots. The defensive attitude becomes in grained. However, compatriots must be recognised and alternate networks strengthened. Unless companies like Quad Graphics and Celestial Seasonings link up with others of like mind and eddy outwards they will become isolated and inbred.
External change adherents assume that, no matter how many caring and concerned individuals there are, real movement only occurs when the external structures of society are changed. The individual who pursues external change may well have pursued the internal direction first and come to the conclusion that the world is heedless of an individual stance. Change then comes by influencing the mainstream of humanity, politically, commercially, legally, and morally.
The West German Greens had a similar problem. The fundies (fundamentalists) sought to preserve what they considered to be the essential green thought and individual attitudes. The realos (realists) believed that compromise accommodating other political views had to be made. The realos deemed is essential to gain a wider following, more political power, and not to be drawn into elitism. The discussion became an internal division contributing to the loss of the Green seats in the West German government.
Changing the self
The second part of the process of change is internal: The immediate concerns of work and community. How can individuals bring about changes in attitude and lifestyle that approximate their ecological concerns?
The ideal of self realization put forward by Maslow is a tempting ideal. Marx also believed that the good life for the individual was one of active self realization. Capitalism offers this opportunity to the few and denies it to the majority. Under communism each and every individual would theoretically live a rich and active life. Although closely bound to the life of the community, it would be a life of self-realization.
Self-realization for Marx was defined as the full and free actualization and externalization of the powers and abilities of the individual. The fullness of self-realization meant that under communism there would be no more specialized occupations. There would be no more painters, only people who, among others things, also paint.
The ideas of self realization are a paramount concern of feminist and spiritual literature. The ongoing process of self realization is a long and arduous road and for many it is the only road. Self realization assumes a choice of work, and a bundle of socio-economic factors, difficult to obtain. In these circumstances individual change becomes transitory and the ability to evolve is dominant. To pursue self realization may be more difficult than attempting change within the system due to this constant instability.
The individual who pursues internal change assumes that change can only occur within the self and a better world will exist when it is composed of better persons. Change comes about by internal catharsis and influencing on a one-to-one basis.
The main problem with this option is that concentration on the self can become selfish introspection. Obtaining self-enlightenment is a worthy ideal. However, the tendency to loftily dismiss the idea of an enlightened society, due to the acceptance of the belief that society never basically changes, erodes the usefulness of this option. A pessimism about the larger world, is difficult to evade when one is impaled by martyrdom. No man is an island.

There is also an irrelevance of isolated individual changes in the larger society. The heedlessness of society to individual worth emphasizes the need to bring about personal changes in community, specifically a tribalised community. It is the only organisation capable of fostering the growth and development of personal changes and, when it has sufficient numbers, pressure meaningful political activity in the larger sphere.
Changing the way we act together
The global culture is a natural focussing point for the betterment of humankind. The global market ensures that economic and social amelioration cannot be restricted to only a few parts of Earth. A sustainable economy, a reasonable standard of living (guaranteed work), and a community where basic human desires of sustenance and shelter are met, must be forged.
Politics, law, and economics, are ways of describing how we act together. They are descriptions of processes by which we govern or provide goods for ourselves. Processes, which, until now, we have used for survival. We must now acknowledge that it is the process, the way, that is important. There is no ultimate end or solution. The power and responsibility for the world lies in the present. And the present is always, `in process'.
With the focus on process, we remove ourselves from viewing change as only occurring when the old system has been superceded either from within or without. The building of new culture is an ongoing process. To be part of a tribe engaged in that process supports individual change and, through community, provides a potent means of external change. Bringing people together in a tribalised community is a process of change.

It is in community that the truly dynamic social and economic life takes place, where vital interests are stated, and specific measures taken. The tribalised community is the obvious choice for a sea change where work becomes an act of freedom of expression, and a means of engaging in society. Life has to have meaning. People do not want to be sidelined and `put out to pasture' because they have reached a particular age. A vigorous and healthy life is one of engagement. How one engages life may change but the idea of retirement as a reward for a life of service will not survive.
Authors Camoy, Shearer, and Rumberger, in A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT, THE ECONOMY AND GOVERNMENT AFTER REAGAN, also see the possibility of new ways of working together. They write:
The third alternative-the democratic alternative-builds economic recovery on increased participation by workers, consumers, and citizens in the economic decision-making... based on both planning and market relationships, but the planning is democratic and public, not corporate and private.1
None of these streams exclude the others and the rapidity of their advance varies from time to time. The eighties, the `me' generation, perhaps caused a rapid advance in the second stream (changing the self) and as we enter the nineties that stream has slowed.
The change to post green
The Green movement posed the question:- Environmental degradation imposes limits on industrial society. If we continue an excessive consumerism we will live in an industrial chemical soup at a considerable cost to our health. At what point is health more important than material comfort?
Consumerism, to the extent that a degree of material comfort is expected, is an accepted global allegiance. As an end in itself, it is not acceptable, but as an aid in the search for a better life, it is. That degree of material comfort or level of consumerism must be sustainable based on the planet's natural productive excess. If the harvest of any article (cherries, cars, salmon) stresses or depletes the environment then its production must be curtailed.
An example of natural reproductive excess economics is the Adams River in British Columbia. It is the scene of one of Nature's greatest reproductive spectacles. Every four years more than two million salmon swim upstream to this relative short river to spawn. They lay millions of eggs and about 20% will survive to become fry. Of that 20% that are now frys only 25% will escape predators to become smolt (ie. only 5% of the eggs). Of those smolts only 5% survive the ocean migration and return to the river (ie. only 0.25% of the eggs). For every 10 salmon that return, eight are caught by commercial fisherman and two are allowed to return and start the next generation. The entire Adams River salmon spawning system produces eight out of ten mature salmon for consumption as its natural reproductive excess.
This is a rigid natural economic system. If all the returning salmon were taken the system would collapse in four years. If nine of the returning salmon were taken there would be a decline in consumption (production) of 50% in four years. If seven of the returning salmon were taken there would not be a 50% increase in production as all the suitable spawning grounds would be full. There is an optimum number that must reach the spawning grounds and this number is regulated by suppressing or increasing the catch levels. It is a natural example of an environmentally sustainable economic production.
Guaranteed work ties natural reproductive excess economics to a sustainable standard of living. It ends unemployment, unemployment payments and retirement pensions. There will still be a jockeying for better jobs at higher wages but a floor will be set through which a person can only go by choice, if, for example, he or she wishes to take a holiday for six months. It would also mean that, in the main, no matter what disability a person may possess he or she will be integrated into the work place. The idea that disabled persons are useless will end. Part and parcel of guaranteed work is the generation of feelings of worth, usefulness, belonging; a place of interaction with others.
Guaranteed work also moves the focus from economic growth at an cost to other values. With a shorter work week the librarian might decide she or he now has enough time to write that book, the longshoreman may decide he can now go to university for his four days off, the motor vehicle branch employee may decide to make some extra money from his `rockhound' hobby, the possibilities are endless.
It also strengthens regional and community control by encouraging local initiatives. The huge "transfer payments" issue, one-third of the United States government budget, would practically disappear. The grants for cultural activities would disappear and student support schemes would be unnecessary. Guaranteed work is a simple answer for a plethora of schemes which are only partially successful because they are only partial answers.
Natural reproductive excess economics fosters the growth of non-materialistic ideals for society. Guaranteed work makes it explicit that the pursuit of materialistic success has a price. There may be very few people that would want to be garbage collectors and with guaranteed work it would command a higher wage. There may be many people who want to be teachers and thereby eligible only for a sustainable wage. Certainly there would be greater pressure on the ending of boring jobs through automation and capital investment; something that is already occuring. It is a concept that flows with the times, not against it.
Society, at present, places survival values on air, water, and the preservation of natural habitat. This value is described as the ‘non market valuation of eco-systems’. This is the techno-managerial approach. The costs of a pollution free environment has no market, or dollar, value. The implied rationale is that the eco-system can be invaded and used until it has a dollar value, such as the cost of environmental cleanup.
Such a viewpoint avoids speculation on the effects of environmental degradation in wider society. Health costs resulting from birth deformities, sickness from air pollution, general debilitation from mildly toxic food, are all disregarded. Techno-managers view a pollution free environment as a luxury. Health is reserved for those who can afford to live in a clean uncrowded environment, and purchase healthy food.
The Post Green viewpoint considers clean air and water, and the preservation of natural habitat as priceless. The view is that cultural values such as self-realization, community cohesion, good health, and spiritual communion with Nature supercede monetary values. It is the preservation of those values that decide whether a monetary scheme proceeds or not.
This discussion is already raging in small skirmishes with a huge number of individuals taking small steps towards a post Green economy. Small steps, such as organic farming, selective logging, horse logging, and similar operations have minimal environmental impact.
Natural reproductive excess, where Nature produces more than the eco-system can sustain, is the economic guideline determining whether a project is economically beneficial or not. Greater importance, however, is the building of a tribalized culture in the mantle of humankinds noblest sentiments. It is only in a societal structure that aspires to realize humankind’s greatest potential that the worth of any scheme can be determined.

1. A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT. THE ECONOMY AND GOVERNMENT AFTER REAGAN, by Martin Camoy, Derek Shearer, and Russel Rumberger. Harper and Row, Publishers, New York. 1983. P. 216.