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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 651)...

    This might seem like a silly question, but I must attempt to have it answered anyway... When Mr Quinn speaks of living tribally as helping people get "more of what [they] want (as opposed to just getting more)" (BEYOND CIVILIZATION, p.115), is he simply referencing that tribal organizations FUNCTION to get people what they want (or need) whereas hierarchical organizations FUNCTION to benefit those in the upper echelon, or are there innate "needs" that can be fulfilled simply by BEING in a tribal social organization? (i.e. a tribal business can FUNCTION to give its members with children a free daycare service, but simply being IN a tribe fulfills needs of security, involvement, and "being apart of something" that all human beings seem to be attracted to).

    ...and the response:

    On a cold night, "being in" warm clothes feels good--and that is the FUNCTION of warm clothes. On the other hand, "being in" water infested with sharks can make you uneasy, but this is not the FUNCTION of the water or the sharks. "Being in" an aboriginal tribe tends to give people the things they need, but they didn't make the tribe the way they make warm clothes, so the tribe can't be said to have a function in the same sense that warm clothes have a function. On the other hand, if you get together with some of your friends to a create a tribal venture that will enable you to quit the rat race, then your venture can be said to have a function--you created it specifically to have that function. Members of aboriginal tribes don't create those tribes, they inherit them.

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