We are animals of the pack. We are built to operate and be fully expressed as individuals inside of a tribal social structure.
The tribe is humanity’s original mode of social organization. It is a group of 20-30 individuals, each of whom has decided that his or her safety and well being is bound up with the safety and well being of the tribe. At its essence, a tribe isn’t about singing, dancing, cool tattoos, or going to Burning Man. A tribe is about economic production. and a collective that pools resources and produces food, shelter, and capital for the well-being of all members.
In terms of social organization, individual identification with cities or nation states can only ever be a conceptual phenomenon. Identification with these conceptual phenomena can stir emotions and feelings of pride, nationalism, loyalty. But these modes of social organization are unnatural because they are too large for an individual human being to connect with at an immediate, visceral level. A national politician can take on the symbolic role of wise elder. Or fool. Or prostitute. But this is because a person can only actually experience a wise elder - or fool, or prostitute - right where they are, in their physical proximity. That is, if they engage with the community outside their door.
Identification with outsized social organizations like cities, or our countries, causes us to experience isolation. The larger the group we identify with, beyond 150 persons or so, the more isolated we become. Isolation gives rise to a succession of pathologies, such as depression and addictive behavior.
This distance from our tribal roots has contributed to shattered bonds among people in our society. As a result of this breakdown of healthy interdependent relationships, we’ve bought into the myth of the fiercely independent, autonomous “lone wolf” archetype. Which is a lie.
In nature, the lone wolf dies.