tribal values are not democratic

David Ronfeldt, originator of the TIMN framework (Tribes + Institutions + Markets + Networks) has written a series of posts on what current political changes mean from this perspective.

“— From a TIMN perspective, the reasons for ‘American exceptionalism’ lie mainly in our approach to the T form. We have welcomed immigrants and found ways to enable people from all backgrounds and orientations to live together. Trumpish tribalism will undermine that basis of American exceptionalism, especially if he and his cohorts claim to be restoring it.

— TIMN implies that malignant tribalization will make our society far more vulnerable to information warfare. The ultimate goal of strategic information warfare at the societal level, whether waged by foreign or domestic actors, is to tribalize a society, the better to divide and conquer it.

— According to TIMN, America is moving into a new/next phase of social evolution — it’s evolving from a triform into a quadriform society. Just what the addition of a +N sector will mean is far from clear, and this is not the place to elaborate. But I do want to note that Trumpish tribalism, if it doesn’t abate, seems likely to imperil the prospects for getting to +N for years to come (though I can also see opportunities arising in some respects). ” —David Ronfeldt

TIMN by David Ronfeldt

We have observed that the Tribal form (e.g. families, clans) continues to exist even when Institutions or Markets are the dominant organizational form. The challenge today is that many people no longer trust traditional institutions (e.g. church, government, banks) and there is diminishing faith in our Markets (e.g. repeal of TPP, Brexit). What is missing is an appealing network model that represents not globalism but rather internationalism, where diverse people can connect without the intermediation of global platforms and companies running on a market agenda. Platform co-ops are one such option.

If we want to avoid a return to Tribal conflict and a narrow view of society, we need to build and test alternative network models: now. We are in desperate need of new models for living, working, and learning. The great work of our time is to design, build, and test new organizational models that reflect our democratic values and can function in an interconnected world. Failure by current generations to do so will leave the next ones to deal with the reactionary forces of tribalism, corporatism, and perhaps even fascism.

Open information and access to our common knowledge assets is required. We can only deal with complex systems and problems collectively. I used to think that the great work to be done at the beginning of this century was the democratization of the workplace. This is no longer enough. Our great work today is the re-democratization of society. Everything is now being communicated, and fragmented, at an electric pace. Change happens quickly in an electric, and now digital, age.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
—Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777



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