vineri, 3 septembrie 2010

Conservation when change is inevitable: an Eastern European rural perspective

Tibor Hartel

Rural landscapes were shaped by human activity, which sometimes can be tracked back to centuries. These landscapes represent a fascinating subject for applied conservation and research. I consider as “conservationist” every academic person who is actively involved in the conservation of cultural values of these societies. This can be an architect or anthropologist or ecologist. Preferably all together in a mixed team. In this note I highlight some aspects related to traditional and new values, changes in these values (which we, as conservationists of Eastern Europe generally don’t like) in rural societies and their potential consequences for conservation thinking.

When is a rural community (with its “extended phenotypes” such are the cultural products) traditional? Difficult question, especially because of the many uncertainties around the word “traditional”. From an Eastern European and Romanian context it seems that the “cultural heritage” of the traditional rural communities can be tracked back for centuries. The traditional costumes, traditional songs and dances, poems, or architectural products (houses, churches etc.) and nevertheless landscapes are just a few of the many cultural values produced and maintained by rural societies. Although these may change during time (since societies are not isolated entities, infiltration occur from other cultures as well – see for example the Saxon-Hungarian-Romanian interface in the Southern part of Transylvania), traditional culture will always give an identity to societies. Institutional aspects are also important. Under institution I understand a coherent set of rules, produced and accepted by the community, adapted (and adaptable) to changes in order to maintain the integrity and identity of the community and its cultural, moral or other values. Therefore the institution is a very important thing and it is not easy to have it. It needs time to be formed, including many conflictual situations within the group especially in the first stages of its formation. Once formed, it may be quite resistant to change (especially fast, global changes which seem to occur now and “hit” these societies) and may even lead to the collapse of a society. So, the institution may be key element of maintaining societies but at the same time, it may cause its collapse in sharply changing times. (I have this insight after studying the Saxon institution and its collapse in Southern Transylvania but many other reports suggest that such collapses occurred in many parts of the world – see Jared Diamond’s book about collapse) Nevertheless, well built institutions can be found not only in traditional rural communities. Many Western European urbanized countries seem to have good institutions without being traditional in the sense of e.g. the traditional rural communities presented above. (this being, I think, the key of their economic flourishing as well)

What will happen when a community is sharply “released” from the (traditional) cultural control? (to adopt a term from ecology: “cultural release” occurs (instead of “ecological release”)). For example, this may happen by the sharp cease of the temporal continuity of a culture (and institution) caused e.g. by a sudden dilution of cultural values by new values. This dilution can happen e.g. by replacement of people with different cultures and value systems (e.g. massive emigration of one culture - resulting in a 'cultural vacuum' - followed by immigration of other culture(s)). Dilution can also happen with massive “invasion” of new values into a society. These newly formed communities may have very different behaviour from the above presented ones. In the worst case, they will start a kind of “vandalization” of the cultural heritage they received from the past society. Basically this is not a bad thing, from evolutionary perspective. Imagine that the major social and lifestyle transitions (e.g. the nomadic ->pastoral, agricultural -> industrial transitions) which resulted e.g. in me being able to write this text from my laptop, were something similar.

The Saxon area of Southern Transylvania (Romania) may be a very good example regarding the “fate” of traditional cultural heritage under sharp institutional change. Without too many comments (and it is not my intention to skew the message of this post toward buildings…), I will illustrate this e.g. by presenting some pictures about buildings from this area (Pictures 1-3, below and also Picture 4 for a Finnish architectural type).

Picture 1. Sighisoara, in the Saxon period.

Picture 2. The new Sighisoara. The arrow show an unfinished huge building which (i) occupies a lot of space and (ii) is “architecturally mutilating” the town. Source: internet

Picture 3. If the visitor come into Sighisoara (a town built and shaped by Saxons along the centuries) from Brasov direction, this is the architectural landscape what she or he will see. The buildings from the left side of the picture are very recent (<5-6>

Picture 4. I experienced a “remarkable constancy” in the architecture of Finnish (and also Swedish) buildings across that huge country. They were beautifully diverse but at the same time so clearly representative.

Societies are changing, and most likely nothing can be done to stop this process. What need to be done is to help societies adapt (their institutions) to change.

I don’t know how much from the old values will be kept in the newly formed society after and during the institutional change. Conservationists are fighting to keep as much as possible - and I dont know how 'fair' is this or not. If one can manage to “plant” these values in the “core” of the (new) institution (or, why not, to build one around these values) then we may be optimistic. But this is hard to do, and it seems that most of conservationists from Romania fail to do this in a proper way.

To be efficient in our conservation attempts in a changing world, we need to know what the major driver (or what kinds of drivers operate - since likely there is more than one) of change is. If we understand this, we can assess better our aims, limits and possibilities and also we could allocate resources more efficiently.

If I would try a quick attempt to identify drivers of (institutional) change this would be not hard at all. From individual perspective some short bits could be: The wish to work less and gather more (and more). To feel safe. To feel good. To be healthy. To be sexually attractive. To have money, power (as much as possible). To be independent. (or: to be in a level of social hierarchy which assure more and more independence) To travel around the world. To know more, think more. To have fun. (these are what I generally see around, and I am sorry if the reader lack any or all of them)

If the existing cultural products and heritage allow at least the illusion of having some of the above mentioned things, then it is likely that people will keep them. Otherwise, likely they will dissapear or be markedly changed.

Now, how many milliseconds should be spent to realize how much of these may have a family which is doing something like that presented in Picture 5 especially when they are young and know that in their surroundings there is a life which is presented in Picture 6?

Picture 5. Upper picture: young people making traditional farming in a Saxon village. Picture below: a short brake during agricultural work with my grandmother, mother and a villager who come to help.

Picture 6. Youth in a party in Bucharest (source: Internet). Parties (of this type) are generally organized to allow people know each other, show how attractive they are, to have fun. And “to escape…”. These kids generally will not be very happy to do farming in the sense of Picture 1 and if they are not obligated they will probably not even try it (unless they will find in it a – temporary – fun)

There are, of course, a number of global-institutional drivers acting more or less independently from the above mentioned ones.

To come back to our problem: how to conserve values when the societies and value systems are rapidly changing? First, I really think that conservation work needs to be done. Other way, we loose all the important reference points. But what and how and how much? As a conservation biologist I would say: life, before all! I would invest a lot of energy and resource to understand the 'behaviour' of a social and ecological system under various circumstances: how adaptive and resilient that system is. Which are the key features of that given system which assures resilience and adaptability. Building or forming, (new) institutions and value systems - dont forget: we live in sharply changing times - would be of critical importance to achieve this goal even if this would mean the “broke” with many traditional values (traditional “cultural packages” should be “filtered”).

sâmbătă, 28 august 2010

The experience of a traditional rural community with conservationists: an Eastern European example

Tibor Hartel

Once upon a time, a group of conservation biologists go in a rural landscape for holidays. They were fascinated about its beauty. Many protected birds everywhere, orchids, wetlands, traditional land use. Nice, smiling villagers and beautiful landscape. They saw something like this (Picture 1):

Picture 1. This is what our biologists saw. It is really unimportant where this place is - lets say: it can be anywhere in Eastern Europe! (Photo: Letitia Cosnean)

Real “trap of hospitality” - they told. And they make lots of pics about local people and enjoy eating what they – strangely call – bio products! Healthy rural life! Just a perfect human and environmental dimension, certainly very different from that of the big city.

Some of these ecologists noticed (from the corner of the eye) that local people are just smiling when the Alauda arvensis, Gymnadenia conopsea, Triturus cristatus or other creature names were pronounced. "Well , they are not specialists like us" - biologists told. But the biologists also noticed that these people are not stupid at all. Of course, they don’t know what a laptop is and don’t have wireless internet. One old TV in the village seems to be enough for them and there is a phone too, which is rarely used. One conservationist noticed that the knowledge of these people is both qualitatively and quantitatively very different from that of the city people. And not very different from the scientific knowledge! And they name it indigenous knowledge and were very happy – apparently – for this new concept! After few nice days in the rural landscape, they go away, smiling and promising that they will come back.

And they do it. This time with more colleagues, big, fancy cars, all smiling and asking nice questions to villagers. They told that now they work within the framework of a research project - an FP7! They start to make lists using those strange names. And they told to villagers: these beautiful landscape need protection. There are so many species and habitats here which are endangered in European level … “Look for example that little toad in the ditch on the front of your house!" - told the herpetologist to one villager. "Its scientific name is Bombina variegata. This is a legally protected species because it is endangered by extinction! You are so-so lucky to have it! and should take care of it!” The villager look to the toad, and to the conservation biologist, and back to the toad and then to his wife. And smile. He told his wife that these tourists (which call themselves research scientists) are very nice people, no doubt, but sometimes they behave strangely. But, the world is big, there is place for everybody here, so, “I go to make hay and they go to do their job to search flowers, birds and frogs”.

And an other season and year was spent. Villagers somehow get used with these nice researchers. Next year the researchers come back. With more cars, and this time with the mayor of the village as well. Villagers noticed that their clothes, their behavior is a bit more different than previously, and seem to not be prepared to be dirty as before. The other foreign people who come with them are also interesting: women with lots of makeup in her face, and men dressed with costume (they told that they come from the Environmental Protection Agency!!!). “These people are gentlemen, from high society and wise, not like us” – some of the villagers told silently. And they ask the villagers for a meeting to make for them a very important announcement. Some villagers go to this event. Finally, a small group of 10 people formed in the court of the priest. And they wait (and eventually ease the waiting with a glass of wine…). The “new people” were continuously smiling and they make an announcement for villagers, in a very official and imposing way. They announced that now, finally, the whole landscape and community received a – much deserved – legal protected status. Up to 50 strictly protected plants, and up to 80 protected birds, tens of habitats everywhere scattered in the landscape (even in the village!). And all these are underestimations! These species and habitats need to be protected. And they told (shortly, to save time of the farmers and to be explicit) that:

(i) Basically no intervention (i.e. development) should be implemented in the landscape before a management plan is written (they assured people that many very good scientists and professors are intensively searching for funds to carry out even more detailed studies and write an integrated management plan). If some interventions are planned by villagers (for example, somebody would like to connect his house to the gas, or if they want to restore their houses or anything else!), then an environmental impact assessment need to be done. They were so kind to suggest some organizations to do this – on personal (or community) expense, of course.

(ii) The traditional land management practices need to be continued to protect the rich biodiversity of this landscape. No land use intensification will be allowed, no machinery and no chemical use. And there are some potential sources of funding (through agri-environmental measures, for example) and all the details on this can be easily accessed on the internet.

(iii) If any “bad” intervention is made, from this time, the penalties are very “salty”.

And after making the announcement, these very nice and wise people go away with their fancy cars - back to their institutes and offices. And, as a manifestation of generosity, they give the reprints of some scientific papers to the mayor and the priest, where scenarios based on complex modeling will show what will happen with various creatures under various management regimes.

In this way, an other protected area was delineated somewhere in a rural landscape of Eastern Europe, making the “indigenous community” happy and proud and full with optimism!

luni, 23 august 2010


The financial (and mental?) crisis is getting larger and larger in Romania. The costs are huge and multiple. Including human life. The TV says that accidents happen because of the “improvisations”. People do that because there is no money to pay experts. If you have no money, there are two possibilities: (i) die quickly (e.g. because of cold) and (ii) use the improvisation and eventually longer your life (e.g. make fire in the room with the risk of being poisoned by CO). In both cases there is an important risk of dying and this makes every survived day a victory. Politicians don’t seem to bother. Romania is just like this. It seems that nothing is safe anymore: trains, airplanes, food, water, old buildings, and hospitals…all potentially dangerous. Maybe it was something like this in the archaic, when going out from a cave was a venture…but it was needed because other way people starved. Interesting feeling. Eastern Europe.

Ps: build conservation strategies in a country, where people`s physical safety is really questionable...

joi, 19 august 2010

Knowledge and practice – from a biodiversity conservation perspective

Tibor Hartel

“We can’t resolve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” (Albert Einstein)

Conservation biology is basically the „medical science” of natural systems. With well grounded ecological theory, cleverly designed research studies and analytical approach, its aim is to give a „diagnosis” for the status of an ecological system and identify its main treats. Depending on the situation, a number of management interventions are proposed to keep the system in (or improve it to) a desired state. In spite of the huge knowledge generated by science, biodiversity is sharply going down. Where is the problem? In this note I compare two types of knowledge: in one hand, there is the so called „western” world. Here ecological knowledge is generated mostly by scientists (experts) and kept by them and policy makers (institutionalized knowledge). The „real world” reach these information just superficially through mass media, NGO`s or educational systems. In other hand, the ecological knowledge or rural societies from Eastern Europe is still „living” and applied. It is part of their culture. In this (maybe chaotic) note, I compare two types of ecological knowledge from the farmland biodiversity conservation perspective. And their result.

Farmland biodiversity is actually a very frequent target of conservation ecological research. Farmlands witness a sharp decline in biodiversity and this may have serious effects on the quality of their services (e.g. food, water). The reasons are multiple, synergistically interacting and undoubtly human related. The various effects of landuse intensification on biodiversity are well documented by research. Figure 1 shows the number of papers in the topic of agriculture and biodiversity and Europe on the Web of Science (WoS) from 1993 to 2010.

Figure 1. The number of scientific papers available on the WoS database regarding the agriculture and biodiversity in Europe (late April, 2010).

The number of papers shows a quick increase in recent years, as well as the number of citations (Figure 1). This reflects well the urgent need to understand the biodiversity of farmlands (also may reflect increasing funding for this type of research).
But is this huge knowledge provided by conservation science enough to stop biodiversity loss? Many policy proposals and regulations appeared, and international conventions were signed to halt biodiversity loss. Undoubtly, conservation science adds a significant input to their formulation and revisions. Are these measures enough to make people aware and motivate for action? The failure of the “2010 biodiversity target” show how efficient we can be in such situations. “Despite the significant progress achieved, we have failed to fulfill the promise to substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity adopted eight years ago by the 110 Heads of State and Government attending the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.” – this was the first sentence of the statement of Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (18 January, 2010 – Informal expert workshop on the strategic plan of the convention for the post-2010 period). New, “post 2010 period” strategic plans are proposed. It is always easier to push the target a bit ahead in time than to take an immediate action (a good question could be: what kind of actions is needed? Or: what kind of socially acceptable actions can be taken? Are there any such actions? The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) is not optimistic at all about our future).

Knowledge, attitude and societies

I wonder how much the actual conservation science contributes to the development of "conservation" thinking and attitude. Of course, conservation biologists cannot be blamed for what they do: their job is to do research and establish a “diagnosis” about a specific system according to their best knowledge. (about research paper industries maybe in an other note…) Many developments are made to improve the statistical tools and spatial tools to help in this process. The message of conservation biologists should be used by decision and policy makers (and eventually they do it) to improve the quality of environment and shape the attitude of people. However, as the evidences show, biodiversity is sharply decreasing in developed “western” countries. Development is now affecting even the most precious protected areas of Europe (look for example the Białowieża forest, Natural Parks from Romania etc.). Habitat fragmentation and loss continues and it is spatially extending, populations are going extinct and the quality of the environment is decreasing. The overall response to this sharply increasing destruction of natural systems seems to be the increase of funds to make even more conservation research. This research may or may not (mostly not, I feel) “make the difference”. In this way, with all brilliant research and scientific knowledge and “good intentions” we witness a further degradation of the environment. Certainly, research based understanding is needed – but is it enough?
Figure 2 shows the number of scientific papers available at the WoS (16 of July 2010) about farmland birds in some European countries. My intention was to see how the available scientific knowledge is distributed across Europe. The pattern is interesting.

Figure 2. Map of some European countries with the number of papers about farmland birds accessible on Web of Science (16 of July, 2010). The keywords entered in the "Topic" were: "farmland bird ...", where "..." represent the country name (e.g. Hungary, Poland, Romania).

First, it clearly shows that a high amount of scientific knowledge is concentrated in some Western countries. Generally these countries are well impacted by human activity and a lot of population decline and loss is reported from these areas. Contrary, Eastern Europe seems to be a white spot with respect of scientific information. I don’t have statistics to show (I am too lazy to do this) but it seems that the biodiversity richness pattern would show a totally opposite trend (over simplified in Figure 3).

Figure 3. Western and Eastern trends in scientific and traditional knowledge, gross domestic product (GDP) and biodiversity richness in farmlands.

Knowledge and practice – some quick remarks

In “western” world, it seems that the ecological knowledge is mainly restricted to academics and it is highly institutionalized (as the whole society). Of course, it is present in the educational system and mass media too, mainly to contribute to the “general culture” of people. However, it is clear that an educational system embodied within a “western type” of socio-economical system may not be powerful enough to lead to qualitative changes in society level and “push it” toward sustainable development. Simply because this would undermine the fundaments of such a society. And “nobody” really wants such a thing. To achieve this, other type of knowledge and other type of “social matrix” is needed. Figure 4 present a simplified model to compare two types of ecological knowledge and their relation with the real world.

Figure 4. A simplified “model” to show the relation between “ecological knowledge” and the “real world” in developed (typically referred as “western”) and developing (Eastern Europe) world. The point is that in “western” societies there is an increased gap between the ecological knowledge critical for conservation and the real, applied world. Only a little amount of scientific knowledge is applied and nature is seen as something that need to be harvested (exploited). Nothing can stop human development (which should always occur: more buildings, more roads, more food production etc.). In Eastern European traditional rural communities “knowledge” and “practice” are hand in hand.

If the model presented in Figure 4 is (approximately) right, it can generate interesting thoughts about limits and possibilities of biological conservation in a real, human shaped world. For example how to think about sustainable use of resources in a world where resource use is not linked conceptually to ecologically functional natural systems (which provide them)? How to think about sustainable development and biological conservation in a society broken in pieces, and these pieces often function as “tribes”? How to protect biodiversity when the great majority of the society is basically isolated from nature and frequently have a deformed image about what nature is and how it works? I think the answer is simple. It is impossible. The question is: when and in which form will be this realized. And what will be the consequences of such a realization? Because if it will, this would be the start of a new type of thinking about the place and role of human beings in the world. And may have consequences (more positive than now…) on traditional rural societies (see below) too.

The situation of traditional rural communities in Eastern Europe (in Romania for example) is very different. Traditional rural communities are both culturally and through resource dependence linked to their landscape. They are always open to receive “feedback” from these systems about the system state. According to these feedback they are open and willing to adjust their “impact” (ways of managing lands) to keep system functional. And they manage to keep natural systems in a very “good shape” for centuries. Western Europe only now start to discover that farmlands of Transylvania are so species rich. Waters are clean, soils fertile. And people lived there for centuries, making farming. What is this if not the much needed and advocated “sustainable development”?. Recent studies show that traditional rural communities have a huge knowledge about biodiversity, habitats and landscape and this knowledge is comparable to scientific knowledge. Biodiversity conservation in cultural landscapes cannot be achieved by ignoring the huge and “holistic” knowledge of traditional communities about their landscape. In other words: biodiversity conservation cannot be achieved in these landscapes by forcing these people to be “institutional” (in western sense) and think in a binary way. Contrary, biodiversity conservation in these landscapes can be assured only through promoting traditional rural life. I would say: traditional communities of Eastern Europe may and should receive a protective status as the rare, endangered species. Because they still have “that” knowledge, which is threatened by the massive machinery of cultural homogenization. This forced cultural homogenization comes in Eastern Europe e.g. through pushing traditional lifestyle to the threshold of illegality (as it is with the transhumance of Romanian pastoral systems) and/or making traditional farming economically unprofitable (traditional farmers are very poor. This was not always like this. Just one decade ago for example, in a small village near Sighisoara, there were up to 200 cows. Now, there is only one. And no sheep’s. And only one horse. People are poor, humiliated, frustrated and destroyed). There is an urgent need to conserve and help these societies maintain traditional and environmental friendly knowledge and lifestyle. If not, with all the “conservation knowledge” and good intentions, Western Europe and the world will witness the loss of whole socio-ecological systems. And I am afraid that this will be immortalized in some trendy conservation journal by some research paper industry. And the basic story will continue…

Selected references

Molnár, Zs. and Babai, D. 2009. Comparison of traditional Hungarian Csángó and scientific habitat-related knowledge. In: Splechtna, B. (ed.): Preservation of Biocultural Diversity, University of Natural Resource Management and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria, pp. 133-141.

Tryjanowski, P., Hartel, T., Báldi, A., et al. 2010. Why western ecological models do not always work in Central and Eastern Europe: a case of farmland birds. Acta Ornithologica (submitted).

Wesołowski, T. 2005. Virtual conservation: how the European Union is turning a blind eye to its vanishing primeval forests. Conservation Biology 19:1349-1358.

sâmbătă, 14 august 2010

Tribalitatea: o cale spre înţelegerea societăţii în care trăim?

Existenţa noastră este inevitabil legată şi dependentă de societate. Această dependenţă are, evident consecinţele ei care se resimt atât la nivel individual cât şi la nivel social. În acest eseu aş dori să propun un model conceptual – o posibilă cale spre a înţelege sistemul social în care trăim. Eu mă refer acum la România pentru că acest mediu social este cel care mă (ne) afectează în mod direct. Un model conceptual se naşte într-o formă sau alta aproape inevitabil atunci, când un om vrea să înţeleagă un sistem (fie el social sau ecologic sau sistem solar). Dacă sunt coerente, simple şi sunt capabile să genereze „adevăruri generalizabile”, atunci modelul conceptual poate fi extrem de util în alocarea eficientă a timpului şi energiei în diferite „intreprinderi”, iniţiative, în a înţelege eventualele eşecuri etc. Evident, niciun model nu are valabilitate veşnică şi există situaţii care îl limitează. Cu acestea în minte, în următoarele voi prezenta evidenţe spre „caracterul tribal pronunţat al societăţii”. Nu sunt încă pe deplin iniţiat în ştiinţe sociale. Astfel, nu ştiu dacă un astfel de model s-a propus sau nu până acum pentru a înţelege, concret, sistemul social care se află actualmente pe teritoriul numit România. Scopul acestui eseu este doar de a invita la discuţie şi la gândire. Nu mai mult. Nu mă pronunţ nici în favoarea, nici în defavoarea tribalităţii (admit că există şi tribalitate „sănătoasă” şi tribalitate „nocivă”, mereu depinzând de contextul social). Publicând această idee pe blog, înseamnă şi faptul că sunt mai relaxat şi nu îmi pasă de precizia şi rigurozitatea ştiinţifică (care mi se pare deseori prea „constipată”).

O încercare de a defini trib(al)ul

Cu certitudine, există mai multe definiţii pentru ce inseamnă „trib”, „manifestare tribală” şi la ce scară socială (şi spaţio-temporală) se aplică. Amintesc aici lucrări interesante ale lui Konrad Lorenz şi discipolul lui Eibl Eibesfeldt, Desmond Morris şi dinspre estul europei, Csányi Vilmos. (poate nu este inutil să amintesc că etologia umană, ca ştiinţă, este inexistentă în România) Multiple surse par a accepta că, caracterul tribal este trăsătura societăţilor archaice. Câteva trăsături al unui trib (sau a societăţii cu caracter tribal): (i) Este format dintr-un grup de oameni, care se supun unor norme etice şi comportamentale unanim acceptate de toţi membri grupului. Aceste norme dau identitate acestui grup. Astfel, conflictele în cadrul tribului, sunt de regulă, reduse. Aceste norme pot fi mai mult sau mai puţin diferite între diferitele triburi. În funcţie de aceste diferenţe şi alţi parametri (legate de regulă de resurse şi monopolul acestora), conflictele dintre triburi pot fi frecvente - mult mai frecvente şi mai agresive, decât conflictele din cadrul tribului. Pe scurt descris: un trib se comportă ca un organism. (stadii aproape „perfecte” de supraorganism se întâlnesc la societăţile de furnici de exemplu, sau albine) (ii) Au un teritoriu bine definit, în funcţie de distribuţia resurselor. Teritoriul conţine resurse vitale existenţei tribului respectiv: hrană, adăpost, loc de recreere, loc strategic etc. Aceste resurse pot sau nu fi incluse în relaţii comenciale cu alte triburi. Dacă se face comerţ cu ele, este doar şi doar pentru a creşte bunăstarea tribului respectiv, şi implicit puterea lui. Aceste resurse sunt vehement apărate şi pot face subiectul certurilor şi a conflictelor tribale. (iii) Indivizii aparţinând unui trib manifestă comportament de neîncredere faţă de indivizii străini (din alte triburi). Orice individ străin poate periclita resursele şi securitatea tribului, astfel este ţinut departe (de exemplu, de resurse), eliminat sau tratat cu neîncredere. (iv) Există norme şi atitudini care sunt acceptate (chiar promovate) in cadrul tribului dar nu sunt acceptate când este vorba de relaţia cu membri altor triburi (de exemplu, a fi darnic, prietenos etc.). Şi invers este valabil: anumite norme şi comportamente sunt sancţionate in cadrul tribului dar pot fi încurajate faţă de membri altor triburi. (de exemplu furtul şi manifestările agresive – milţi „eroi naţionali” pot fi de fapt criminali) (v) Fiecare trib se crede superior altor triburi. Acesta se manifestă într-o serie de comportamente bine identificabile. Existenţa a „axis mundi” (vezi Mircea Eliade – de ex. „Sacrul şi Profanul”) de exemplu, arată că fiecare grup archaic a considerat că trăieşte în centrul „lumii” şi au arătat acesta prin diferite simboluri (construcţii, un stâlp, o scară etc. care de regulă se ridica „la cer”) (vi) Triburile pot manifesta „dear enemy effect”. "Dear enemy effect" este extrem de pronunţat la organismele puternic teritoriali. Individul sau grupul teritorial este permanenţă potenţial candidat pentru a ocupa (cu forţa dacă trebuie) resursele vecinului. Acesta este valabil şi invers. Astfel, toate triburile sunt "înarmate" pentru a-şi apăra teritoriul dar scanează în permanenţă punctele slabe ale triburilor vecine. Aşa rezultă de fapt un echilibru, care se numeşte "pace" între triburi. Evident, o pace "tensionată". Orice iniţiativă de "dezarmare" venită din partea unui trib îl va expune invaziei din partea triburilor vecine, deci, va rezulta în dezechilibru şi război. Dear enemy înseamnă de fapt ca tribul vecin ne este inamic (ca ne ia resursele la o adică) dar ne este şi drag pentru că îl ştim, şi nu avem conflicte fizice frecvente cu el (suntem deci în echilibru). Dacă apare un trib nou însă, vom coaliza cu triburile vecine ca să îl înlăturăm. E bine să fie aşa pentru că dacă intrusul distruge doar unul dintre vecinii "dear" existenţi, îi poate periclita pe rând pe toţi. Asta este deci efectul duşmanului drag, propus de etologi (Konrad Lorenz) şi modelat în teoria jocurilor de John Nash şi Robert Aumann (laureaţi ai Nobelului).

Consider să diferenţiez două mari extreme: tribalitatea „hard” cand punctele sus amintite (i-vi) se pronunţă foarte bine, sunt foarte evidente, si tribalitatea „soft” unde una sau mai multe puncte de mai sus pot lipsi pentru anumite perioade de timp şi nu sunt atat de pronunţate. Figura 1 arată un exemplu simplificat referitoare la capacitatea de a forma grupe funcţionale eficiente la diferite scări sociale, în funcţie de caracterul „soft” versus „hard” a grupului. Evident, grupele pot „oscila” între cele două extreme, în funcţie de anumiţi parametri (de exemplu, cantitatea şi calitatea resurselor, frecvenţa de contact cu alte triburi etc.)

Figura 1. Un model simplu care arată capacitatea de organizare a oamenilor în funcţie de „tribalitatea” care îi caracterizează la diferite scări sociale: de la individ la stat. Dacă persoana, grupul sau societatea se plasează spre extrema „soft”, sunt şanse mari pentru alcătuirea unor grupe funcţionale. În caz contrar, nu.

Cred că trăsăturile sus menţionate, caracteristice societăţilor archaice sunt perfect aplicabile pentru România de aztăzi. (şi altora desigur, dar s-a întâmplat să trăiesc in România şi mai precis, Sighişoara – şi înainte de toate pe asta vreau să o înţeleg)

România tribală

În următoarele o să menţionez câteva exemple care eventual, pot candida bine pentru a fi manifestări tribale pronunţate (spre extrema „hard”, vezi mai sus).

Religiile tradiţionale au deseori o tribalitate pronunţată pe când religiile mai noi au tendinţa spre diversificare şi a deveni „soft”. Resursa critică este aici reprezentat de om. Poate exista competiţie pronunţată între diferitele religii pentru acest substrat de resurse. Religia ca şi manifestare poate fi şi este în competiţie cu alte moduri de a aborda lumea.

Comunităţile tradiţionale rurale (are sunt de regulă şi religioase) sunt extrem de diverse în România. De la îmbrăcăminte, architectura caselor prin dansuri populare şi alte comportamente sau cunoştinţe, comunităţile tradiţionale undeva fac ca anumite regiuni sa fie rupte în bucăţi la modul „cultural”. Aşa mi se pare că aceste comunităţi tind spre extrema „soft”, foarte probabil ca o reacţie „naturală” la condiţiile de globalizare care se întâmplă inevitabil în condiţiile în care numărul de oameni creşte (mai mult decât) exponenţial.

Sindromul etnocentric este de fapt inducerea unor comportamente tribale „hard” în cadrul unor indivizi aparţinând unor naţionalităţi spre a-i direcţiona împotriva altei naţionalităţi. Conflictele româno-maghiare sau unele manifestări cu caracter teritorial cu diferite ocazii (vizibile atât la maghiari cât şi la români în Transilvania) cu caracter „hard” de exemplu menţinute pe un plan oarecum politic de ambele părţi sunt exemple bune în această direcţie.

Poza 1. Manifestări ai sindromului etnocentric din partea unor organizaţii româneşti şi maghiare la Cluj Napoca. Astfel de manifestări cu o pronunţată tribalitate hard deseori rezultă în violenţe fizice stradale şi contribuie la adâncirea situaţiei conflictuale ale diferitelor etnii (deci la promovarea şi oarecum menţinerea tribalităţii) (sursa: Internet, cuvinte cheie "15 Martie Cluj Napoca")

Triburi instituţionale cum ar fi consiliile locale, partidele politice, asociatiile vanatoresti, ocoalele silvice, universităţi, foruri de alocare a granturilor "importante" şi multe altele. Caracterul tribal al acestora se poate resimţi cînd o persoană doreşte să îşi exercite dreptul la informaţie publică. Această persoană poate provoca reacţii care se pot descrie cu toate punctele menţionate mai sus, dar în special punctele (iii), (v) şi (vi). Încercaţi de exemplu să intraţi în posesia unor informaţii referitoare la statutul pădurilor, sistemul de exploatare a lemnului etc. sau a unor hărţi, ca să vă daţi seama de ce vorbesc. Exemplele când persoane ajung să monopolizeze resurse comune importante pe cale politică sunt şi au fost mereu abundente în România, la nivelul „hard”. Comportamentul manifestat de unele grupări politice sunt de asemenea de o tribalitate „hard” cu toate punctele (i-vi) sus amintite foarte bine evidenţiate. Tribalitatea politică din România cred că ar putea fi un caz de studiu ştiinţific de mare potenţial datorită unor trăsături aparent unicate in Europa.

Tribalitatea prezentă între diferite „grupe de interes” inclusiv fundaţii sau alte asociaţii, conservaţionişti şi „exploatatori” etc. În aceste cazuri se manifestă un comportament „hard” de teritorialitate (de exemplu prin ţinerea posesivă, aproape paranoică uneori la date adunate de organizaţia respectivă sau manifestări tribale orientate spre alte organizaţii considerate tribale etc.). Această tribalitate duce la incapacitatea de a colabora şi de a fi eficienţi în a identifica şi rezolva efectiv anumite probleme.

Tribalitatea „de stradă”, tribalitatea mafiotă sunt alte cazuri de manifestări tribale cu puternice consecinţe sociale.

Tribalitatea individuală se manifestă atunci cănd trăsăturile mai sus menţionate (i-vi) sunt puternic prezente la un singur individ. Capitalismul de exemplu exploatează puternic tribalitatea individuală.Un alt caz de manifestare tribală a individului este când de exemplu cineva aruncă mizeria pe stradă, altcineva îi atrage atenţia, iar omul tribal consideră acest gest ca fiind atac la persoană, manifestând reacţie agresivă. Etc.

Toate exemplele menţionate mai sus au în comun următoarele: (i) ele reprezintă o barieră între individ şi societatea care este „deasupra” tribului. (ii) Sunt obstacole în calea dezvoltării (sociale, economice, culturale „sănătoase” din punct de vedere social). Sărăcia şi incapacitatea organizării şi a luării deciziilor de exemplu se pot datora unei instituţii rupte în bucăţi tribale, aşa cum cred ca este România azi. (iii) Într-o societate unde tribalitatea este prezentă la nivel „hard”, este puţin probabil ca persoanele cu idei inovatoare şi potenţial benefice sistemului să evolueze şi să capete amploare în societatea respectivă. De regulă, dacă aceste persoane se manifestă, stârnesc reacţie adversă (vezi de exemplu punctele i-iii mai sus) sau sunt folosiţi, rareori promovaţi. Orice manifestare individuală poate fi considerată ca potenţial periculos şi astfel, va fi într-un fel sau altul oprit (prin desconsideraţie, marginalizare, excludere etc.).

Cu ce mă poate ajuta acest concept?

Pe mine personal mă ajută să înţeleg sistemul în care trăiesc şi lucrez zi de zi. Mă ajută să imi evaluez în permanenţă atitudinea şi manifestările comportamentale pe care le am în raport cu alţii. Nu îmi manifestă încredere persoanele, grupurile cu trăsături pronunţate de tribalitate (tribalitate „hard", Figura 1). Pe cât este posibil, îi evit într-un mod „netribal”. Ipoteza tribalităţii poate scurta multe discuţii. De exemplu, în loc să se discute ore în şir despre greşelile unui partid politic sau manifestările etnocentrice dure, este de ajuns să ne gândim în tribalitate. Dacă auzim pe cineva urlând pe stradă: manifestă comportament tribal, unde el este tribul versus "restul lumii". Manifestările tribale sunt previzibile şi înainte de a încerca controlarea lor trebuie să fie înţelese (ca şi bolile dealtfel: pot fi vindecabile doar dacă sunt înţelese). Cred că dacă am putea reduce tribalitatea din România la nivel minimal ("soft" - de tot nu se poate şi nu trebuie), social acceptabil, ar putea avea efecte benefice semnificative şi multiple.

Referinţă (blog) adăugat în data de 16 August:

Emilia Corbu: România Tribală. Publicat în data de 1 Iulie 2010.

Tibor Hartel