The Tribe [Reverse Timeline Part 2]
Updated: May 15, 2022
“The masters of modern plutocracy know what they are about. A very profound and precise instinct has led them to single out the human household as the chief obstacle to their inhuman progress.”
Many tasks, physical or otherwise, require cooperation between more than one person to occur. The basic unit of human life is not the individual or the large scale society. The central hub around which humanity has been unfolding is the extended family [the small tribe]. That arrangement has been under relentless attack in the past centuries. This second essay in the reverse timeline series is dedicated to this most essential fabric of humanity.
As individuals we are [ultimately] limited. In our ability to get things done; in their scope; and in the value we ascribe to them. Modernity has done much to make individuals atomized. Each of us scrambling to carve out a niché in the marketplace of an increasingly complex, corporatised and globalised financial context. A marketplace which gives only lip service to family and community - and in reality does everything in its power to drive these apart.
Individuals are vulnerable. In a survival situation ‘the lone wolf’ is only a small accident away from mortal danger. The tribe is much more resilient. It speaks to the emergence of that which we identify as an essential human quality. Tending to the sick and infirm. The first emergences of human culture can likely be traced to when someone first broke a femur [or similar level of trauma] and survived the experience. For most animals in the wild such an event is a death sentence. To consistently survive such events heralds the emergence of human culture. (1)
Even if you can survive by yourself; without other humans the experience is one that is starkly constrained in the things we identify as being central to human life. What exactly makes a life worth living? More often than not the answer involves being with others and meaningfully acting with them. This way of being together is the only way that there will be anything for future generations to build upon.
We have intimately known how to human in the past. And no - that does not mean a return to “the good old days” - to preempt the inevitable mechanical rebuttal of infanticide and pestilence. This does not mean that all social, financial or practical arrangements were better in the past, either. What it does mean is that there are enduring patterns of living that have stood the test of time. Adaptations necessary to the environment, place and time hold within them deeper principles of human life. On the surface level they may appear different: as customs, style of dress and so forth tend to vary amongst different peoples. But below these are the perennial principles that are more similar than not. Those centred around the familial hearth.
The Tribe - A Human Continuum
“It is not, for example, the providence of the reasoning faculty to decide how a baby ought to be treated. We have had exquisitely precise instincts, expert in every detail of child care, since long before we became anything resembling Homo sapiens. But we have conspired to baffle this longstanding knowledge so utterly that we now employ researchers full time to puzzle out how we should behave towards children, one another and ourselves. It is no secret that the experts have not ‘discovered’ how to live satisfactorily, but the more they fail, the more they attempt to bring the problems under the sole influence of reason and disallow what reason cannot understand or control. We are now fairly brought to heel by the intellect; our inherent sense of what is good for us has been undermined to the point where we are barely aware of its working and cannot tell an original impulse from a distorted one.” - Jean Liedloff in the Continuum Concept.
Appearances betray self-evidence: that success in hunting, gathering, making shelter and staying safe in the primordial human situation had everything to do with our capacity as social beings. Cooperation and tribal values reigned supreme. Though curiously not at the expense of individuality that happens when we reverse engineer and contrive homogeneity. To the extent that we have been able to dispense with the need for primary survival tech, we may think that we at the same time have been able to dispense with the need for the tribe. But the tribal way has more important lessons when it comes to the areas of human life beyond the immediate necessity of shelter and bodily survival. To do away with these lessons is done at our peril. It offends our modern sensibilities but not all of the human domain are ones where the thinking or reasoning faculty has any business asserting itself. The innate expectations a human being has are severed by imposing intellectually contrived ideas into domains where they have no history or context, invariably creating unforeseen and unintended distortions.
We may ask ourselves the question: where or at what point did things go awry? If in doubt it is always good to start at the beginning - and to work forward from there. For human society that beginning is the tribe. Whereas for the individual human, the beginning as an independent agent begins at birth. So to make sense of the conundrum we find ourselves in, that is where we must begin at the intersection of these two points.
The tribe births social and cultural stability. An arrangement in which humanity is in balance with their immediate environment and greater Nature. Truth be told it is the reason we aren’t extinct. This arrangement forms a lattice for humans to work in harmony with the environment and themselves. The continuum of human experience can be defined in the following way: the primordial human condition has no real rupture between different stages of life. Each flows into each other quite naturally. The preceding experiences form an organic preparation for the next stage of growth. There are no sharp delineations, whereby a developing human is kept from precipitation in society at large. This particular subject -how modern society is at odds with this natural procession of life - was the subject of the excellent ‘The Continuum Concept’.
[IN ARMS EXPERIENCE] Central to Liedlof’s thesis is that the tribal way of raising small children, by being unencumbered with neurotic modern notions and theories, strikes vastly closer to a humane praxis. There is nothing to learn - but much to unlearn - to arrive back at this point. She observes that the characteristic crying and screaming, that western parents turn to experts to help to deal with, is virtually non-existent within the tribal context. In the case of small children who cry, when being left alone to sleep, she affirms that for the child this is a highly traumatic event: “Nature does not make clear signals that someone is being tortured unless it is the case. It is precisely as serious as it sounds.”
The primordial safety of the near-constant in-arms experience is the key factor here. The safety that the child learns osmotically from the in-arms experience leads to the deep primordial emotions that lay the path to a human ‘rightness’- feeling truly at home within one's skin and the world. At once an individual, a community and a cell in the great body of Nature herself. This style of child-rearing has immense benefits for the parents [and tribe], too. It is the construction of our social order, out of line with our humanity, that makes the common stresses of parents, common.
This is [of course] highly at odds with how modern child rearing is viewed. Which is at near-total odds with what humans have come to expect evolutionarily. Continuum work centres around the ‘in-arms experience’ - and this is a central feature of tribal child rearing. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is no hippie slogan. It is a developmental truth.
This way of rearing children may have other benefits that are less obvious: By being aligned vertically more of the time (being held), the proprioceptive and vestibular systems have a chance to develop earlier than if left in a passive position (lying down). We may even find that whole developmental stages, such as ‘toddlering’, have more to do with the way we mispractice child rearing, rather than being a stage that is necessarily part and parcel of human physical development.
[WORK] The developmental stages that we ascribe to children may be doing more harm than good, especially if it leads to a rigid categorization and isolation from other realms of human activity. More people are speaking up about the dangers of ‘cotton-wooling’ our younger generations. A key part of this is keeping children apart from work-labour in modern society. This is not a suggestion that we reintroduce child-slavery, but rather allow children to be in gainful activity when they want to.
The continuum concept speaks to how child rearing, and authentic human education at large, happens spontaneously. There are no people who are specifically paid and singled out to perform these tasks to the exclusion of someone else. No ‘experts’. It proceeds by natural order and function. The needs and objects of this style of education present themselves at the rate that the child is in need of mastering them; as their personal dice roll dictates - and thus are largely at the initiative of the child as they want to become a functional part of the tribe.
Work in the tribal situation is not something that happens in some magical faraway place; with which children have no interest in knowing about or participating in [as has become the mode du jour.] Instead children are included in the adult-centred experience to the extent that they can participate in, or simply bear witness to the happenings. There is no artificial segregation. The work that takes place in the tribe is there in full view for all to see and participate in. That neither mother nor child is excluded safeguards the mother from social isolation, as she can participate in the daily tasks of the tribe, on equal terms with everyone else. Likewise, it forms an educational experience for society's youngest and - as Liedloff notes - the young thrive on contact with all the other members of the tribe of different ages and stages of development, further contributing to the interpersonal developmental aspects of all involved.
Conversely, we may perhaps also appreciate the increasing rates of stress in modern society from this vantage point. By parents having comparatively less time with their children today, and having to deal with all the demands that are outside of ‘work’ at the same time, precious little time is left at the end of the day for ‘humaning’. Effectively we have done away with the sabbath.
To state the obvious: to change this in modern society changes will have to be so that women are allowed to be in the workspace with their children. To be allowed to breastfeed without sniding comments about ‘appropriate behaviour’. To be supported vastly more by government and occupations as they rear young humans. There is a stark irony in breastfeeding still being something that women have to fight for the right to do - and often have to field comments about not showing their bare breasts in public. Meanwhile our culture and tv programming is so explicitly pornographic that one can only wonder why no one is catching the irony. [...]
It is not to say that there aren’t specific dangers in modern society that children will need to be shielded from. We are so outside of our evolutionary experience that specific stop gaps will have to be put in place. The increased speed of traffic is one reason why playing in the street is a dangerous proposition. And so, there will be places where children cannot go until a certain point of situational awareness and capacity.
[WHAT IS A HUMAN?] The insights of the Continuum Concept primarily applies to how to raise children but ultimately it leads to a deeper and broader understanding of what a human being is and how to harmoniously develop. This understanding properly applied can help resolve many of the issues that plague modernity.
It is only when we can relate our artificially engineered smallest unit of co-living to the tremendous damage that the modern world does to its inhabitants, that we can begin to heal this rupture at the heart of modern life. By violently rupturing the primordial connection between mother and child - and again between child and tribe - an atomized individual is born. Fragmented from birth. Each developmental step eloped further shattering the broken mirror. An individual that is all the more likely to crave the trappings of an institutionalised society.
An intact continuum creates human beings who are innately sociable. When acting in the context of their established continuum, humans want to do what is expected of them. By making happiness a ‘goal’, rather than something that we have innately have access to, policies and practices can be put in place to search for happiness at the behest of the tribal arrangement (that so far has proven to be the most certain way of producing happiness in humans.) Ultimately this departure is nothing but a war with ourselves. For the object of life is life. Not some external object, goal or accruing. By evading the developmental stages proper to humans we are left with a society of developmental frankensteins’ monsters [arrested and out of sync development, if you will.] All looking for the safety and developmental experiences missed in early childhood.
[THE PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCES OF A RUPTURED CONTINUUM]
On a purely physical and physiological level, breastfeeding is the true diet for a small child. It has been found that breastfeeding results in a child that is generally healthier and also less prone to obesity later in life [amongst many other things]. That the consequences of the continuum doesn't end when we reach beyond childhood can be appreciated in a number of other ways too.
Within the canon of psychoanalysis and post-psychoanalysis, it is hardly stretching the insights of Reich, Lowen or Freud if we state that early imprinting and other key experiences are seminal for a healthy development of emotions, ability to relate to others or to have a satisfying sex life. Not to mention the legion of diseases that will eventually be linked to character armour and blocked sexual potency. A disturbed upbringing is all the more likely to yield problems later on. Modernity has made the abnormal ‘healthy’, as healthy is hardly ever encountered.
Translating the insights of the Continuum Concept into this context: Having the early childhood period in arms, be insufficient results in what Reich labelled the ‘Oral character structure’. The primordially felt lack results in an adult who is constantly grasping for a teet to suck on. The schizoid structure similarly is a result of deadening oneself, as an adaptation to ‘insults to development’, earlier still than the oral character. The completely helpless infant chooses to disengage as an adaptive strategy. Whilst that adaptive strategy may eventually bring about a quiet baby,such quietness comes at the expense of a deadened emotional life in adulthood.
That the bodies of tribal peoples look, move and feel differently from Westerners have been noted by numerous authors before. Unfortunately extensive work specifically on this topic is sparse. (2)
We do, however, have some evidence captured in sepia which -captured for other reasons - speak to this issue powerfully. Take, for instance, the research of Weston A Price - which focused specifically on dental health in populations before and after a Western diet was implemented. The general gestalt of the people living on their native diets is one which is generally healthier. Body carriage, bone structure and behaviour being unlike their kinsmen on a Westernised diet and lifestyle. Likewise modern researchers have pointed out that tribal peoples to this day, [as a rule] have a graceful way of carrying their bodies that are quite unlike anything you see in industrialised nations.
The great Ida Rolf remarked in her research that modern man has what she called a ‘random body’ - a body in which the parts do not work harmoniously together; are ‘out of sync’ with each other, both in motion and maturity. The random body is stuck in an immature pattern. It is not well aligned. It has to compensate to effectively deal with gravity. Outside of severe congenital disease or severe trauma, it speaks to an totality of arrested development of how the human body ought be structured. We instantly recognize the equipoise and grace with which a wild animal moves. When we see someone move in a way that approximates this quality even larvally we call it ‘catlike’. This betrays that we are losing touch with the grace and ease that is proper to a human. For what we should say is that this person is moving like a mature human. Whereas most of what we encounter day-to-day is an actual affront to what is our birthright. Now, we may by deliberate work move the body - by movement, training, bodywork and other means -towards a state of greater harmony. Though, would it not be better if society, as a rule, generated such appropriate physiology as a matter of course [?]
“I believe that the vast majority of parents truly love their children and deprive them of the experiences so essential to their happiness only because they have no idea what they are causing them to suffer. If they understood the agony of the baby left to weep in his cot, his terrible longing and the consequnces of the suffering, the effects of the deprivation upon his personality’s development and potential for making a satisfactory life, I do not doubt that they would fight to prevent his being left alone for a minute.”
Jean Liedloff - Continuum Concept
[Community, Family and Tribe] At this point in the essay it is necessary to make a brief remark on the language around small groups. As we have been examining the small group, especially as it relates to our evolutionary history, I have opted to use the word tribe - and will for the most part use this word to signify the primordial connection to this arrangement. However, an equally good case could be made for using the word community -or a third word, say extended family. Theorists of evolutionary history will often make references to Dunbar’s number (3) and state the humans will tend to band together in groups up to a size of 100 to 150 individuals at what point the group often splits, presumably because the amount of energy that is needed to maintain cohesion within the group after that point becomes too high. In either case, what I am referring to with the word tribe is a group of people who are living in the same place, and who rely on each other for day to day living. By using the words tribe, community or extended family for anything less, or something else, than this we are hollowing out the language [but more on that later.]
[I CHOOSE AN INDIAN LIFE]
It is obvious that we have departed a far way away from the arrangement of the Yehuana. The insight from the Continuum Concept and the validity of it is not confined to the jungles of Venezuela. This is the human way. As noted above, some simple steps can be taken to approximate the in-arms experience, which arguably is the most important single step. Likewise, changes could be made to the way that we approach work, family life and our tribe in general.
So while many will be quick to point that we ‘cannot go back’ - and that is true in all the ways that matter, at least if we talk about that particular adaptation.
Some will argue that there are issues with civilisation itself. Modernity has brought some positive features and some negative ones, too. Whilst losing many of our previously owned learnings. Whilst many crave the gems of modernity, it is not by a longshot a one-way street. One very illuminating account can be found in the Americas when the Europeans encountered the Native Americans along the frontier.
“Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aboriginees having from choice become European,” A French émigre named Hector de Crèvecoeur lamented in 1782. “There must be in their social bond something singularly captivating and far superior to anything to be boasted of among us. “
Sebastian Junger in Tribes
Not one person who was abducted by native tribes wanted to return to ‘civilised life.’ Zero! Meanwhile; Indians who were captured by the English always wanted to escape back to their plains and forests. This is not a statistical anomaly. This is a damning indictment. While the outcome of the conflict was inevitable, the resources and technologies available to the conquistadores made sure of that, much less obvious is that it was the superior social arrangement that was victorious. Such is the predictive and mechanical recoil in the face of life. To this day it is verboten to suggest that there are fundamental lessons, which people of an earlier age had mastered, and which we have scarcely even begun to heed. How these lessons are kept from being learned is subject to which we turn next.
“You don’t have to say it again. It’s not you I’m worried about, little man! But when I think of your children, when I think how you torment the life out of them trying to make them “normal” like yourself, I almost want to come back to you and do what I can to stop your crimes. But I also know that you’ve taken precautions against that by appointing commissioners of education and child care.”
Wilhelm Reich in Listen, Little Man
The way to teach people that there are no other modes of being is accomplished via schooling. Few ideas are as universally accepted as ‘schooling being for the greater good’, ‘necessary’ and ‘essential’. Rarely [if ever] are these assumptions examined: Good for what? Necessary for who? And essential to what ends? For the reality is that its school is one of the primary factors which prevents a Western continuum from establishing itself through the extended household or by other means.
Schooling is the way in which society instils its real lesson: an all out war against self governing small groups. As we observed: a functioning continuum and a human education are natural consequences of one another. It is only by waging war on the tribe - which can only be maintained by a continuous systematic deliberate effort of a militant determination in the lessons of school being learned. The maleficent efficacy of the process is largely obfuscated.
[You do not have to search far and wide, or go to exotic places to appreciate how schooling has been utilised as a means of coercion.]
[The Blue Books] The Western world is so deep into this process that it is best illustrated by an example of places where this war is somewhat more recent. Places and times that show how effective ‘education’ is a tool used for nefarious ends. And so we begin with: the Treachery of the Blue Books.
The blue books were a work commissioned by the British government in the 1840s. They were an investigation into the state of schooling in Wales. The findings were hardly surprising - given who ordered them and when. The Welsh were seen to be a backward and morally corrupt people. It is worth pointing out that none of the people who did survey actually spoke Welsh. [...] The proposed remedy was predictably diabolical. Destroy Wales and Welshness by taking over the school system. Discredit the Welsh language as a medium for proper education. Equally; the particular form of Christianity specific to Wales [non-conformism]was to be supplanted with something conforming with the creed of the Church of England. All of this spelled out unapologetically in bureaucratic damnation via government plans of the time. (4)
The deeper point here is how obvious it was to the British government all along. That if they wanted to affect change and subordination in the Welsh population, the most effective point of leverage would be the dehumanising education of its youth. They were to be singled out … ‘taught’ according to proper British standards.
Manufacturing the consent of the populace, as the British clearly understood, is what mutates people into good, loyal subjects. Ones’ who did not do too much of their own thinking. Think thoughts only obtainable by way of ‘proper’ education, if they were to provide for their loved ones. When a state isn’t at war with another state, it is at war with its own populace.
[The Real Lessons of School]
The tacit assumption is that children will go to school in order to learn the skills that they will need in order to be successful in life. We assume that this equates to real learning. At the very least, we trust this means acquiring ‘the basics’: learn to read, write and do maths. If we go beyond this we may say that it is to allow them to ‘develop their minds’, to learn how to cooperate and be ‘team players’ and ‘leaders’’ ; how to conduct themselves properly in social situations. And while there certainly are hours on a schedule dedicated to these ends, what we are looking at here is the real lessons of school. The things that aren’t written on any formal curriculum - but are inherently part and parcel of the school programming. We are talking about the imprinting and conditioning of schooling.
[Sit still, and do as you as you are told]
What else do we learn in school? That what you want to learn is of no big import. Standardised curriculums take care of that. Someone in an office with no knowledge of the person who is going to undertake the learning decides the subjects and their sequence ahead of time. It is decided beforehand what we need to learn. Sequence dictacted, mechanically. Orderly. No natural unfolding please, we’re civilised. Lip service is paid to the IQ only ‘intelligence, originality and breadth of knowledge’ that leads to careerism and the ‘gold stars’ of life [remember what you got in kindergarten?]
Learning that arbitrary rules should be followed despite them having no connection with anything real is the hallmark of Western civilised education. Alienation as a preparation for life. “Knowledge” is forced upon the consumers of said knowledge. Place well in the test the ‘arbiters of reality' put forth and you can grasp more of the treats that surplant your missing Continuum. Be ‘creative and innovative’... but not like that.
The plight of children is not aided by keeping them locked up behind school doors. By the drip feeding them ‘curriculum’. Lessons are to be learned by following orders. By following time. Do not question what you are told. Bypass critically examination and ordering your experience according to your inherent genius.
All of this would be less of an issue if the scope of school was not ever expanding. The amount of hours available to a child to do with as they please is rapidly dwindling. That time is at the end of a crushing schedule of school and extracurricular activities. Freedom to follow their own interests comes later. So much later you may just be dead before it arrives ... but you’ll have been well schooled.
[The Panoptikon: An ideal model for a prison or schools. An inmate enjoys more rights than a kid in school.]
[Physical education in school]
Many young people naturally struggle to sit still for hours at a time. From a managerial perspective the ‘problems’ associated with increasing school hours is something that can be ‘solved’ with medication. To the people who rebut that some kids can and do sit still, I would add that this does nothing but show the severity of behavioural modification from a failed Continuum and early onset character armour that is against the natural order. Luckily for the educational authorities, the increased incidence of ADD/ADHD can be sorted with adderall, and many do give in to this solution. Never mind asking whether the problem of ADD/ADHD speaks to an underlying structural problem of having a school that everyone must fit into. That kids must sit still is assumptive of a culture with a broken Continuum as default.
Physical education - where some release of that pent up energy is supposed to occur - is not highlighted in most school programs either. Instead of being focused on exploration, martial arts and natural games, athletics and sports are emphasised. With the Yehuana archery practice is common but no one would dream of practising just to outdo others. It was about fun and skill acquisition. Skills that aided the tribe.
Further: if Physical Education isn't taught by someone who has a genuine love of physical training and its associated arts, it sets the tone for a child that nothing important or transmutational can be learned in the physical arts. It becomes a bore - punishment even, as the meme of PE in movies and television goes. Teaching nothing would serve as a superior arrangement to entrained and entrenching the combinations of fear, shame and pain associated with high school PE.
Kids quickly learn, subliminally, that nothing in school can be done for enjoyment, or for its own sake. There has to be a motive. It must be quantified. Physical education is no different. Even outside of school itself the drive of sanitization and schoolification has infiltrated the martial arts. Sportification has de-emphasised the traditional and the art element that is essential to their praxis. This process is at odds with the values and lessons the arts were supposed to instil in the first place. Set curriculums, grades and belt systems are now part and parcel of many systems. What they were supposed to represent is less important than how quickly they are obtained. The footnote has become the central thesis. Even in martial arts where the belt system used to be quite heavily guarded and a certain belt counted for ‘something’, the push to make advancements more rapid is now in place and the process appears to be accelerating. Where the older use of the belt system had an element of personal transformation inherent in it, now it is supplanted by technical mastery and ticking boxes as the thrust for coin and prestige makes a poor bedfellow with human transmutation. Thusly the way is forgotten - and we are left with fragmented arts; or worse ‘martial sciences’.
[The physical environment]
The physical environment of school is just as artificial and unnatural. It does not resemble an environment that any sane human family or tribe would want to live in or spend a large fraction of their life in. Words to the effect of ‘learning rich environment’ betrays a place that has none of the charm, homeliness or comfort of a genuine human habitat.
The playground is likewise so cleared of danger that all one learns is fear and suppression of organic playfulness. You are more likely to find that in an old overgrown playground, where nature is beginning to exercise its dominion again, or something made before health and safety boards had any real say in matters.
[The Efficiency of Schooling]
Any half objective look upon schooling will realise that its efficiency has been steadily declining. Hours set aside for schooling have only increased. The number of years spent in school has only moved in one direction. In some places, like the UK, it is now compulsory until age 18. There are no suggestions that what euphemistically is called ‘the basics’ are handled any better by this generation than the ones that came before. In fact many signs point counter to this.
It is all part and parcel of a basic attitude - the lack of efficiency in school can only be solved by doing more of the same. Increased schooling is doubling down on the same inefficient strategy. School is not working. It does not produce satisfactory results - even in the metrics it itself teaches. And in terms of preparing a human for life in the complexity and inhumanity of the 21st century, it does even less. If it were a business or a dog it would be put down. But that we cannot consider putting down schooling is a very telling thing, indeed.
Literacy rates in 1850 in the state of Massachusetts dropped after compulsory schooling was instituted. It has never since then recovered to pre-1850 levels. (4) Things are no different elsewhere. The amount of resources dedicated specifically to education is many orders of magnitude higher today. And yet the results dilute annually.
The amount of time it takes to teach a willing and ready subject to learn how to read and write is arguably only around 100 hours. (5) Despite this many today leave school today practically being analphabets. It is a testament to an incredible inefficient use of resources - not to speak of the human life wasted in the process.
A child's learning does not take place in the classroom. Nor as a consequence of a specific curriculum. But where and how does learning happen [?] More often than not the actual learning happens as a consequence of what a child picks up from friends, peers and family. In random and non contrived circumstances. Likewise, one of the best predictors of how much and how well you will learn is whether or not you come from a text-rich household. Most of what a teacher pretends to teach is not learned from the teacher but via osmosis and other organic ways of learning.
Today, we have a penchant for ‘human plasticity’ (neural or otherwise). There is rich irony in loudly suggesting that children are inherently more plastic than adults, able to pick things up naturally and quickly (like we do with our native tongue as a rule) - But then forcing them into the calcified dishonour of titrated, quantified “learning” of school. ‘Life is and the universe is more intelligent and complex than you can imagine!’ No no no! ‘Not THAT intelligent.’ Or to put it slightly more pragmatically: if children are so plastic, why is it that we are so insistent on a super rigid and artificial learning environment that is a complete rupture from our developmental heritage? We say we base this on evolutionary neurobiology, then promptly do something utterly incoherent in terms of our social and biological heritage. The prominence of the lie is only equalled by its vehemence. Not even in most churches would you see such religious behaviour - even then they have the common courtesy of not calling it ‘science’.
“ I’d seen the slogan plastered on buses that travelled the school route.ut to hear it uttered [and accepted with synchronised nodding heads] was another thing entirely. ‘We will do our best for young brains this school year’. Young brains. [...] Not even ‘developing minds’ anymore, as it was in my day. The slow death-march towards State-sanctioned neurocultism had entered the schooling system with no resistance. Another step along the dehumanisation trail. ‘Child’ was already a refraction from the growing, learning, living human being, who is essential to the future of the tribe. It mutated again into ‘young minds’, betraying the one-centred bias of the modern age. But ‘young brains’. [...] Fuck. If Huxley and Orwell could spine any faster in their graves, they would.” - Dave Wardman
Great minds are not made in schools. In spite of what ivy league schools may like to pretend, Education is that which is not medicated with metrics [or Adderall]. Neither is it the collation of random trivia and facts. Education is perception and right action [understanding put into practice]. In this era education begins with seeing into the anti-education properties of schooling [enforced upon us by the ‘masters of the modern plutocracy’ Chesterton so correctly points out].
“Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned. Think of what might fall apart if children weren’t trained to be dependent: the social services could hardly survive - they would vanish, I think, into the recent historical limbo out of which they arose. Counselors and therapists would look on in horror as the supply of psychic invalids vanished.”
John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down
[Experts] An increasingly common assumption is that education is something which only an expert can supply. The populous at large are asked to abdicate what common sense they may have - the educational expert knows best. Questioning the expert amounts to insurrection. Increasingly stiff penalties are doled out for going against these writs, no matter the heights of absurdity to which experts may climb. And, of course, if the experts are overwhelmingly found to be wrong via evidence ‘they couldn’t have known better at the time’ - the gallows are never due. They preach responsibility.. But some responsibilities are more equal than others. To return to the religious metaphor: It all smells far too much like the privilege of mediaeval Bishops, but we are still patting ourselves self-congratulatory on the back for how cleverly we did away with the power of the Church to notice the pattern similarity.
Following this ‘logic’: parents should not be an active part in a child's education. Much less be allowed to question the curriculum being taught. The lesson is: You do not know what is good for your child. But we do. (6) [kids as an engineering problem.] A subset of this issue is expert driven planning. Basically this amounts to an ‘A grade’ social experiment. One you did not sign up for. One designed to change ‘human nature’ -as if children are broken machines in need of fixing [or as if the educational authorities knews anything poignant about human nature].
Parents, family and tribe are inconveniences in the educational imprinting of the child. They stand in the way of the fulfilment of this procrustean plan. If I signed the social contract, show me the parchment.
Controlling the language and narrative of schooling is a tool to keep things this way whilst they try to regroup and provide a new and more pernicious narrative. By not talking in plain English - instead creating a self referential lingo - clarity is obscured.
The intentions behind the increased moving of control into the hands of certified educational experts is clear enough. Learning experiences are to be titrated out as a product of systematic and professional teaching. The assumption is that education is ‘a problem’ that [regular] humans cannot solve on their own. It requires administration by experts. (Once that has been accepted, then further services and solutions can be tacked on.)
In this way the experts become educational ‘breast formula’ - utilising shame, fear and State pressure to wean you off natural and organic learning, as they did with the original physical feeding of the human child. We. Cannot. Give. You. Too. much. Agency. It's bad for business as usual. Here; look at these evidence-based spreadsheets. All is well.
[Theseus fighting Prokrustes. ] [The procrustean bed of school fitting children to the mould appointed for them]
“No Doubt not only the teacher but also the printer and the pharmacist protect their trades through the public illusion that training for them is very expensive. (...) Skill teachers are made scarce by the belief in the value of licences. Certification constitutes a form of market manipulation and is plausible only to a schooled mind. Most teachers of arts and trades are less skillful, less inventive, and less communicative than the best craftsmen and tradesmen.” (Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society.)
The model of compulsory schooling itself is never brought into question. Private and alternative schools more often than not amount to more inclusive, creative, education free from co-students from less desirable social classes or of the improper type of imprinting.
So what it comes down to is that school is better understood as a tool, with which a war on the tribe and the extended family as the basic educational unit is enforced. An ongoing destruction of the human tribe is furthered. Organisation along age old principles vis-a-vis the continuum of human experience is prevented. Only a populace that has been thoroughly schooled will be sufficiently docile, low in self sufficiency and self reliance to accept, let alone choose the process of schooling.
Education as a failed rite of passage.
“Adults are amazingly ignorant about life and the way it manifests; a three year old is more aware. That's the problem handed to us by the culture. We have to know how to get words and put them together and emit them forcefully enough so that they make an impact on the wall which has built up in the past two thousand years.”
[Failed Rite of Passage] As discussed in the previous passages, school serves other [subliminal] purposes than supplying us with an education. That does not dispense with the need for a proper education and instruction. A huge chasm is left behind. Part of this gap we may call: lack of a rites of passage. In brief, a rite of passage is something that marks the passage of from childhood into adulthood [or from one role within a tribe to another]. Crucially, it is tied to a person's character, skills and wherewithal - not an arbitrary number or chronological age. Sometimes these were literal tests of strength, skill, cunning and fortitude; in other circumstances they have more of a ritualistic flavour. After the passing of these rites the now adult is answerable for his or her actions in full. With great power, comes great responsibility.
The confirmation used to mark a boy's move from childhood to a young man.
Whatever the case may be, our society has largely dispensed with these rituals - and what we have instead are now empty placeholders. Schooling is an anti-rite of passage. Certainly schooling instead has certain “rites” (exams) that you must pass through, and at the end you are granted a licence to participate in society (a diploma is awarded). Maybe even to go through some more “rites” and become an ‘expert’. Our rites are a shrinking and shrivelling of human potential and agency, not an opening into responsibility and character.
[Extending Adulthood in perpetuity] Tribal societies will make you an adult at 12-14 years of age, with the privileges that comes with that. In modern society adulthood (that is being someone who has the rights to fully participate in society) is now something that is perpetually postponed. First it was about Teenagers. Then Tweenagers. Finally Thirty something year olds. A perpetual extension of childhood.
There are ways of “dealing” with there not being a rite of passage. Schooling is forever extended. Half a century ago a basic education would suffice, today scarcely a Ph.D. will get you ahead. The University itself becomes a way of avoiding having to deal with the messiness of life itself. Tenure is as much a manacle as a ‘golden star’.
Compensatory patterns abound. Surrogate activities which compensate for that essential something that society has failed to create. The rise of extreme sports is one such example. Daredevils and flow junkies, using these sports and activities to create a ‘realness’. (8) They can even be seen as constantly seeking a (self created) rite of passage, but never finding it. We cannot get away from that human continuum - it does not mean that there are no other lessons to learn or nothing else to our existence either.
[Generational Gap] The flipside of the issue with the failed rite of passages is that children aren't eager to join the tribe - to be like the parents. No half-sane person to wants to work to join the ranks of the damned. And frankly, why should they? Their alienation is not of their own making. It is health to reject that poisoned offering.
This speaks to a tremendous rupture at the heart of civilisation. A wholly unnatural one, if we take an evolutionary and developmental perspective. A ‘tribe’, where the young do not want to participate in the life of tribe is doomed. A generational gap is a clear sign that a culture is at crisis point. It’s not the kids. Our liveliest members see truest. It is the civilisation patterning itself. This rupture creates a culture that is profoundly pessimistic, nihilistic. Creates ‘meaning crises’, that needn’t exist. Then makes a big deal about them. It is a culture in which nothing matters and everything goes. (9)
We cannot replace the in arms experience. Nor can we remove children from society without consequence. We cannot remove the need for a real and meaningful rite of passage for the young adult. We all have the inalienable right to prove to ourselves and our tribe that we are someone. Someone who wants to join the ranks of their fathers. Being “socially progressive” has no meaning if it is something that happens at the expense of a broken continuum or the splintering of the tribe.
The Commons or the structure of adult society.
[Cows going to pasture - an example of a commons at work]
The role correct to a human adult is one of stewardship. A caretaker of the land. And of its peoples [humans, animals, plants and minerals]. Limits will have to be observed. Not everybody gets their way all the time.
The sum-total of such arrangements are effectively the fabric or structure of an adult society. We call such arrangements by different names: structure, customs or (tribal) laws. An example of such an arrangement is ‘the commons’. A ‘commons’ is something that is held in common; owned by no-one - but something which everyone has the right to use (within certain limits). Likewise; there are clear rules delineated for what transgresses the limits of using the commons. Some modern researchers claim that eventually commons will become mismanaged and decay, or fall into control of a few people rather than being the domain of everyone. Others have pointed out that in place well managed commons have existed for hundreds of years.
The things that we hold in highest regard today, [such as democracy]find their origins in arrangements that are tribal. Consider, for instance, the world's oldest democracy; by many accounts the Icelandic. Icelandic democracy originated in a council held on a local hill. Parties with disagreements could meet; have their case heard; and, the public would have a vote on the subject. In Danish this was known as ‘at gaa paa tinget.’ [to go to negotiate or meet.] To this day the Danish Parliament is known as Folketinget: ‘The peoples meeting.’
This does not mean that we are talking about ‘tribal utopia; just that humans have been able to make long term stable social arrangements before. In a more modern context we can highlight the guild structure as one in which specific education to learn a trade was secured and standards for the quality of the wares sold. Education and life rolled into one.
These older structures allow for a rite of passage. To seek to facilitate their return is to allow full adulthood to be obtained in a world of childish, faceless globalism. A return to local responsibility. Unpunished misbehaviour of the financial classes, which impacts not just a tribe but a ‘tribe of tribes’ [a civilisation] is a particularly modern problem. The misbehaviour of a few is taken as a proof that cooperation is not viable and is against ‘human nature.’ The old ‘nasty, brutish and short’ quip of the blinkered social Darwanist. But this is again, only dysfunctional beings studying mechanical civilisation, where many of the primary human arrangements have been forgotten or intentionally suppressed.
It has always been messy - a return to organic organisations will have to guard itself. As the very large scale operations will always be dominated or seized by the power hungry. A responsibility that can only be realised by a group of full adults working in unison. Stewardship is only possible for adult humans.
“With the destruction of the family, the spiritual traditions of the family perish forever; when spiritual values are destroyed, then unrighteousness predominates the entire society.” - The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1: verse 39, 4th century BC
[The Nuclear Family and its economy]
The non-financial economy of the household has long been the centre of economic function in society. We can simply define economic activity as a process: services or object that adds value or utility to yourself or others. The irony is that modernity has many ‘economic’ activities that add little-to-no value to anyone. Point in fact: many of said activities actually leech value from small groups and localise them amongst a privileged few. Seeing the household as the central economic unit speaks to forbidden things. Things that human beings have done for themselves and each other, together, for aeons. Things that are ‘bad for business’ but great for human beings. The education invested in the household is oftentimes called ‘home economics’.
Still to this day there are goods and services that we don't pay for. This is the economy of the family and small household. It is the very fabric of everyday life: cooking, cleaning, raising children, gardening and all the other 10,000 things we do to make things work out. It is in a way a form of silent work - because it isn't done for money we sometimes forget that it is a form of work. The organisation of such activities are more often than not so informal as to best be described as anarchic. Because it cannot be readily measured, it is not valued in our culture - and poorly understood - but that does not mean that it isn't of real human value. We have confused human value with monetary value. In effect, debasing the human and over-emphasizing the monetary.
To make sense of the attack on the extended family and its linked communities it is necessary to understand that what we call ‘family’ today is a relatively recent invention. In spite of the romantic notions surrounding it and the many Hollywood movies and television series dedicated to its positive image. These can be more accurately viewed as propaganda. The family of two parents with an average of 2-3 children, sometimes called ‘the nuclear family’, is an artefact circa the last 200 years in some Western countries.
It became en vogue only after the consequences of the industrial revolution had come into full swing for a number of generations. Before that period what we consider family would be the extended family - the multi-generational household.
Fast forward to the 1950’s - and the push was for more people to enter the paid workforce. Increasingly the second adult from a nuclear family arrangement. More often than not this meant that women entered the paid workforce, albeit being paid less most times. A rarely noted point in that regard is that in the 1950s a single working class adult could sustain a family, pay off a house, car, send kids to school and possibly hope to have some money left for vacation and other trinkets and trappings of modernity [think those cheesy 50s ‘labour saving devices’ ads]. Today two working class adults can barely afford to pay rent. Much less think about buying a house. For large parts of the population, real wages have sharply declined. Likewise the employment in what euphemistically is called ‘the service industry’ has soared during this period. Curiously the quality level of service appears to be decreasing.
As already noted earlier in this essay - this did not make the activities of the household stop! Everything still needs to be done, domestically. So what had been done by the household and within the tribe was increasingly outsourced. Once you remove humanity and human beings as of primary value, all that matters is an economy that can be measured. A frozen meal sold in a supermarket is measured the same as a more nutritious home cooked variant. Quality and humanity are jettisoned overboard to make the ship of dollars progress with greater alacrity. Simply put: the alienated nuclear family is much easier to sell services to than the extended family.
Things that used to be done by the community; for the community, have now ended up being sold back to the nuclear family as services. The greater the destruction of familial cohesion the greater the potential of the cash cow. Whether these services are provided by the state or by private enterprise is of much less importance than people think in terms of the genesis of the problem [ is a red herring that attracts much attention]. This takes focus away from the underlying process. It outsources blame and exports responsibility. Instead of at all costs returning the power to the people.
At this point it is important to make a clear distinction between communities and networks. Networks, institutions and government agencies all now provide an increasing array of services that at one time or other were provided by the community for its own good. When viewed as bloodthirsty intermediation that they are, they can be understood as ‘Vampire networks.’ They demand an ever increasing amount of wealth (time, energy, financial resources) - the blood of the tribe. It is more parasitoidal than parasitic - in effect killing its host to stay alive and propagate itself. The solution to schools not being effective is always more school: more resources, longer hours, better facility. The problems of health are to be solved by pumping even more resources into hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry (and the enormous network of bureaucracy attached to them). That which seems like addition is drainage. It is less a tapped vein, more a severed artery.
The vampyric quality is most obvious when we consider corporations. Those vampiric masses which enjoy the protection of personhood under the law [in reality far, far more than the average person - particularly if that person is poor]. Thus leveraging the protection that human beings should enjoy, but extending it to a disembodied entity [the irony of ‘incorporation’] that disobeys the natural limits of growth. Allowing it to utilise these protections [plus additional ones precluded from individuals] without any of the responsibility or culpability of an individual, as it sucks the lifeblood of human beings and the ecosystem.
The replacement of the tribe with these surrogate entities is important insofar as the tribe represents a totally different identity, offers cohesion and a sense of meaning that is at odds with the officially mandated one. These entities wean the individual and family from the community, just as civilisation tries to wean the babe from the teet. The tribe is a nurturing, corporeal collective - not a vampiric disembodied pattern.
‘Our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives’
This is a war of legitimacy between living and dead human groupings. One that seeks to bring all under central control.
As long as we fail to identify the lack of community and self-determining individuals and groups at the heart of this silent war.
[Simulacrum, empty language]
What we are often left with is the idea of community as an empty vessel. What the tribe is for, say the Yehuana as described in the Continuum Concept, is no longer accessible to us moderns. But the idea and values of community still call to something primordial in our nature as human beings - something unfed and unheard and unnourished in modernity. The rise in the diseases of modernity, alongside its subliminal malaise and alienation speak to it as well. There is a giant elephant in the room and its name is ‘lost human community’.
There is a very good reason to play on and utilise words and images that invoke this idea of community to further whatever cause you have an interest in. It is exploitation of that deep cultural wound. We as Westerners are so deeply in the destructive process of tribe that the words themselves scarcely communicate or convey the meaning and actuality they would for a Yehuana. We are so thoroughly lost to this element of our heritage we have even forgotten the partial remembrance of it.
[The ultimate simulacrum; dinosaur turns to oil - oil turns to plastic - plastic turned to dinosaur.]
Our ‘simulacrum communities’ have fallen so far from grace that we now violently attack anything that preserves even an echo of the memory of the real thing. We have acclimatised to soylent community and ersatz education. We are now allergic and anaphylactic to natural human existence. In the presence of even diluted actuality, we get sick. On the trigger of our simulacrum, we go violently insane. We cannot handle the gaze of our own distorted reflection. Anything that mirrors what we have lost is to be clinically eradicated.
[Community as marketing]
The ability of nefarious forces to play upon and exploit the inherent value of tribes, community and family as a marketing ploy should shock people out of slumber - but it does not. The vacuum left behind in the very centre of experience allows the promise of that experience to be sold back to us at a premium.
It is not only governments and their henchmen who capitalise on pyrites' goodwill towards family and community. It is commonplace within the fitness industry to leverage the positive image of the small group for financial gains. ‘Tribe’, trance-inducing circuit training and more ‘cutting edge’ palaeolithic mimicry gyms alike, all cash in on this while further hollowing out our language. Few can have much of an idea what the words mean any longer, so bereft of meaning they have become. Tacking on a few evolutionary biological or ‘evidence-based’ keywords so they can reem a bit more coin off the honest seeker. [Whilst their hands are in crypto, stocks and NFTs.]
In the sphere of physical training this is fairly common practice. ‘Community’, ‘tribe’, ‘family’ are often used as descriptions of what sets a particular gym apart from the rest. And while it is identifying something missing within the realm of physical work; these words can only ever be simulacrum, because they by necessity signify something which physical training in its current paradigm cannot heal. A gym cannot do this. This is not necessarily a critique of the gym either, just that people further deaden words when they apply them without understanding the wider context.
It is not only the ideas and image of the small group where the goodwill of older social arrangements are being used for marketing reasons. Older educational arrangements, such as the apprenticeship, have recently become a commodity to be leveraged and sold. An actual apprentice would be paid, or at the very least have living expenses covered and be given tasks to do under the supervision of the master craftsman. Now, it can be shamelessly exploited, in the process hollowing out the real meaning of apprenticeship. The deepest value of a real apprenticeship was the enrichment of craft - not the deepening of pockets.
[Community is still latent]
After all of this, itis not to say that the tribe or community has irreversibly been lost. Insofar as we remain human they cannot be lost. We are seemingly trying all and everything but what we need to do to reclaim them, and yet they remain hidden and untarnished. In times of disaster, the camaraderie and the innate sociability of human beings surfaces more often than the opposite. Despite what ill-spirited people might say about “human nature”. A lot of this ‘human nature’ is done via broken continuum researchers studying broken continuum humanity, in the first place.
For instance, it was observed during the Blitz of London during the second world war, that people behaved well in the bomb shelters, despite being unsanitary places with people stuck closely together for hours on end. And perhaps counter-intuitively the incidence of mental disorders dropped dramatically in this period. People did not become neurotic and anxious as a general rule. They became much less neurotic. Once the blitz ceased the frequency of mental disorders rose again. (10) . Similar phenomena and togetherness seem to be universal phenomena. Disasters often bring people together. One way of viewing this is quite simply, that tribe and community is a latent default mode of being. It is only when the ‘normal order of things’ returns that this mode of being is dispensed with. One incredibly poignant remark in a documentary on the Blitz was a survivor mentioning: ‘I wouldn’t mind having a blitz.. once a week’. So different was the human connection in this time that even the very real and decent chance of a bomb being dropped on them, they still chose to have the potency of life that civilisation-spell displacement yeilds. Are the the statistics around substance abuse really that hard to fathom, in the light of this and the evidence of Native Americans fleeing civilization [?]
Dismantling of the tribe and the extended family household as the locus of life has heralded the ‘Age of the Institution’. The reverse timeline principle is not one of reform of these institutions to be more ‘inclusive’, ‘humane’, ‘socially just’. None of these things will fix the fundamentals of the situation. That can only happen by disempowering them. And that can only occur by removing participation in them. By creating new options that resonate with our primordial needs more coherently and take back the lifeblood that was stolen.
[The Cathedral of Rheims - the product of voluntary community effort.]
A common counter to suggestions around organising on a small group basis is that this would effectively preclude large scale projects from being realised. Now, it is not entirely clear what type of project that is. If we are talking about waging war across several continents against far-a-way people, then certainly. However, projects of a seemingly impossible magnitude have been undertaken by relatively modest communities. Further;many of these projects were created on a voluntary basis. The Cathedral of Rheims is a case in point. It may have taken 100 years to build - not an unreasonable length of time for such a project we may add - but will likely stand for at least a full millennium. Few modern mega projects can make any such hopes. And few [if any] show so much evidence of human energy and love in their craftsmanship.
[Living cultures] Holy architecture and other objects of ‘sacred materialism’ can only exist by people working together inside a living culture. No government institution will ever be able to contrive such a thing. In fact, our bodies [once they have been trained out of their slumber] realise this. Buildings are bodies of civilisation and our own physical bodies resonate [or not] in different ways in different spaces. No government buildings ever stir deep human emotions [except, perhaps profound disgust] - whereas as much as secular society puts down religion, it is the churchs, mosques and halls of meditation that often have a living geomancy to them. They are buildings with character - with an indwelling spirit of humanness.
Guilds and other communal edifices are physical symbols of deeper social structures which have been proven to create artefacts of superior quality - while also supplying a community with appropriate opportunities for learning. This ensures that the craft and tradition are kept alive. Out of this a culture grows. Peoples of old understood that the building and what was taught within it had to be in an auspicious harmony. Craft and tradition are not contrived from the top down, they emerge organically from the bottom up.
By belonging to a place and a people - by having observed the lessons fitting to a human being, we can in fellowship create things that cannot be institutionally contrived.. This is what we have lost, this is what we stand to lose further. And these are things we need to remember and forge anew within civilisation.
The Internal Commons
We are changed by by working harmoniously within small groups. But we cannot, we must not take that for granted. We arose through the small group in some primaeval antiquity. It is the human way.
[Something to fight for] Resurrecting these ancient educational practices will not come about lightly or without any kind of upheaval.
We must encourage forms of education that is edifying for our children, ways of living that respects and encourages the thriving of the small group. It is the only form of living that can sustain a human life that is worth living, and not a simulacrum there of.
It is naive to expect the way of schooling and the realm and reach of institutions to go silently and voluntarily into that good night. Much like cancerous growths, they know only one thing: expansion. Likewise, they have knowledge and a systematic approach as part and parcel of their modus operandi. Much like it was for the colonial governments who systematically exploited two continents that were ripe for the taking. Our ability to remember and return the harmonious human small group is something that we must retain and rekindle - as the hour is very late, and we are quickly forgetting what little we remember of our human way.
Forward to the Past - Societies
We must exercise our energies where they are best utilised. In this case it means protecting individuals and small groups from the rational insanity and sensible homogeneity of institutions.
Not relying on centralised institutions and solutions. Larger-scale positive outcomes cannot happen from the butchering of the small group. It’s bottoms up, not top down. Regenerative culture is . Cultivated. Not grown in a vat. We need the permaculture of the human spirit. Technology is relegated back to technological tech, not technology as a world-principle . This is not to say that this is a simple task, as many have wrestled with it before and come up empty-handed, and yet! We have plenty of blueprints: modified Continuum child rearing, the Commons, the Guild traditions and so on. A