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The New Parallel Social Networks
Rhizome networks and the emergent tribalism

After Hurricane Katrina most Americans woke up to the cold hard realization that in the event of a catastrophe, government can be relied upon to do very little. Any assistance it does provide will be slow in forthcoming and, very likely, insufficient to return circumstances to the status quo. A national emergency such as a Peak Oil induced depression, as opposed to a localized disaster such as the flooding of New Orleans, will only magnify government's inability to assist its citizens.

For this reason there is growing interest in ways in which we can cooperate to ensure our mutual survival. These methods include establishing rhizome networks which take the form of both community building projects, or "relocalization", and a new interest in tribalism.

Rhizome networks: is a term that describes a decentralized and distributed pattern of organization. The term originates in botany where it describes the decentralized, spreading mode of reproduction seen in bamboo and aspen. French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari first applied the term to human patterns of organization in their seminal work, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Jeff Vail, in A Theory of Power, used the term to describe a pattern of human political and economic organization which is antithetical to the predominant form of historical, hierarchical human organization. 
                                                            (Definition from Anthropik)

Below are a series of essays which provide an introduction to the rhizome network and the emergent interest in tribalism. Be sure to read the Community Building section as well.

Rhizome, Communication, and Our “One-Time Shot”

This brief essay by Jeff Vail makes for an excellent introduction to the concept of the rhizome network as alternative to the hierarchical organizations which, although predominant in society, are failing us miserably.

If you are interested in reading more by Jeff on rhizome networks, you can download his free pdf book, A Theory of Power,  from the link at top right on his website. The final chapter deals with rhizome structures as alternatives to hierarchies.

Research in such diverse disciplines as anthroplogy, sociology, and neurobiology seems to suggest that humans are hardwired to be able to track and interact with groups no larger than 150 individuals. See Dunbar's Number.  

Many more essays on environmental and/or energy depletion induced collapse can be found at the tribe's Anthropik site.

Rhizome vs. Hierarchy

This is another essay from Anthropik by Steve Thomas on why the rhizome organizational structure is more natural for humans.

The key point, I think, is that the pattern of organization that we've identified as tribal; or as rhizome; or as anarchy (I'll now use those terms interchangeably) is the mode of behavior which comes most naturally to the human species. Hierarchy is psychologically difficult to bear, and humans only enter into it under force—the locking up of the food supply. Rhizome anarchy is in fact the natural way humans organize themselves to live their lives and provide themselves with the things they need—and you'll find that even in contemporary society, those resources which are not “under lock and key” are all acquired tribally.

Read Tribe of Anthropik's Thirty Theses of Collapse.

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