Democracy: Why We Need to Go Tribal Again


By Michael Smith

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

For real democracy to work, the nation state needs to be abolished, assigned to the dustbin of history, and replaced with tribes and clans.

Already the monks in the Middle Ages realized that a community with more than about 150 individuals did not and does not work and thus, when approaching that number the abbot or prior would send out brothers to found new communities. This was done not (just), as often thought, done with the aim of “spreading the Gospel” but for administrative reasons primarily.

Democracy – real democracy – is  not  possible in large groups as people in such large groups are not able to properly participate.

Thus everything that is, today, referred to as democracy on a national and international level is not true (participatory) democracy. Therefore we must do away with the nations state, which has caused so much grief anyway, and return to a much smaller unit, that of the tribe (whether true tribe or otherwise).

The Nation State

In times past everywhere people were “organized” in clans and tribes, and even the notion of a nation or nation state would not have entered their minds.

The nation state, as we know it today, is a rather modern invention, as far as human evolution goes, and has brought about more grief than good. It is the cause of nationalism, of xenophobia, of fascism, of racism, and much more. It is also not governable other than by a dictatorship or other form of autocracy. True participatory democracy is possible only in small groups and communities the size of clans and tribes and villages they size they were in Britain and (elsewhere) some centuries past. Not that there was any participatory democracy in those feudal times in those villages or elsewhere for that matter.

The model of the nation state, or even larger, as in the case of the European Union almost superstate, is not sustainable and that on more than just one level, e.g. that of politics and participation for all in a truly democratic process. This can only be guaranteed in small communities.

Also on an economic scale. level localism needs to be invoked so that everyone is a valid participant in this too. This means that everyone, repeat everyone, works and contributes to society in some way and does not shirk from work. Honest work must not just be a prerequisite, it is an honor, and no man may benefit from another man’s labors by means of exploitation.

When we talk of a (new) system like this one there will always be people why will say, “But what about taxes? What about public services? What about roads, about policing? How will all that be paid for?”

The answer is that everyone will be involved in doing the jobs required without the need for public works departments and the like.

Participatory Democracy

Is this not anarchism? Yes, it is! Anarchism in the true sense of the term; the absence of government.

Government is just a king or dictator in a different guise, even in so-called democratic countries, as the people, even though they are told that they chose their representatives by means of (democratic) elections and thus participate in running their affairs, do not have any real say in the matters. Democracy in large groups, especially in countries, and groups of countries, such as the European Union, is just an illusion, a conjuring trick.

Participatory democracy, where each individual (and we must include also the children here) can play a full part does not work in nations and the so-called representatives of the people represent the people about as much as me being the Emperor of China.

Unless we want to to continue to live in a dictatorship by people who are supposed to be answerable to us but decide, time and again, that we are but imbeciles to be told by them what to do and how, then we have to change the system and this means a very radical change.

The system is not new. It is, in fact, very old. And we must bring it back to life.

Updated September 2014

Previous articles by Michael

About the author

Michael Smith (Veshengro) is the editor of  environmental, green and homesteading magazine  Green (Living) Review.  Green (Living) Review aims to be the definitive review journal about all things relating to sustainable living and the environment.

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  • Tomas

    All human beings are by nature social beings, making up humanity as one whole. Nations only separate us (and, as you noted, they cannot effectively function). By putting us into bigger or smaller groups, tribes, you always only further separate the whole and create misery in the world.

    States, communities, tribes are just another form of tribalism, and from thousands of years of history, you can logically assume that none of them could ensure the 3 basic necessities of man – food, clothes and shelter. Many social structures had been formed on various ideals and theories in such a way, that they tried to re-create the circumstances of a system for the people – communist, socialist, capitalist, etc., but none of them worked, and none of them could ensure total freedom for every one.

    This is because the inner world of each one of us, is always superior to and overruns any outer set rules/laws. Thus, you can never have inner freedom when you accept authority and conform to ways.

    Without knowing how you think, how you rely and depend on others, how you conform to things even if against your hair, how you lack responsibility, how we hate, how selfish we are.

    It may take 5 years, a whole life time or another century, to start wondering what life is all about (I mean, apart from searching for instant selfish pleasures and demands as propagated for such a long time). Ultimately, all of us get old one day, and start to look back and think. But why wait another 10-20 years to realize that all is gone and we are ready for the grave? Why not to do it now and see if we can be really free – free from words like democracy, states, tribes, ideologies, religions…

    When we drop our pity little affairs, our prejudices, our religions, our conformities, our good old ways we feel comfortable in, and stand as a whole human being, we become immensely responsible for everything we do or say not to hurt another.

    Only then we can start talking about a functioning society.

    • Donna B

      Intelligibly put Tomas! Bravo for your insight, light and amazing foresight of thought~!

      I love what you had contributed and how you had said it so well – good on you dear one. Good on you and all of us on this planet.

      Light and love ~

      Donna B.
      Nova Scotia ~ Canada