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CONSCIOUS LOCALISM - A Unitive Politics for a Conscious Culture

From Sacred Anarchism to Conscious Localism.

I recently wrote, posted and then removed a post entitled Sacred Anarchism. In that post I wrote that I felt The Conscious Tribes Project was morphing into a political movement, and that the working-title of that movement was “Sacred Anarchism”. However - I have since come to feel (1) that The Conscious Tribes Project isn´t morphing into a political movement – that it already is one! And (2) that the name Sacred Anarchism - although a valiant attempt to situate The Conscious Tribes Project within a political context – is problematic in several ways.

And by “political” I didn´t-and-don´t mean the whole spiritually and emotionally vacuous, superficial and cruel theatre of politicians and political parties and elections. By politics I mean the values and methods by which a society organizes itself.

 After removing that previous post I continued to contemplate where The Conscious Tribes Project might sit on the political axis that stretches from overt and covert, centralized, fascist and communist dictatorships to decentralized, egalitarian, self-determining, local communities – and have settled, for now, on “Conscious Localism”. I feel, as I will now explain, that Conscious Localism expresses the political orientation of the Conscious Tribes Project without any of “the baggage” of either Anarchism or the word “sacred”. And not only that - I feel Conscious Localism captures the intention of The Conscious Tribes Project more accurately.


Why Not Anarchism?

Since honouring everyone´s uniqueness, existential equality, decentralization and local community empowerment are fundamental to the Conscious Tribes vision, one might immediately think that Anarchism would be a perfect fit for the Conscious Tribes Project.

And just to be clear: anarchy doesn´t mean chaos! The fact that anarchism is synomymous with social chaos in perhaps the majority of people´s minds is, in my opinion, an excellent example of extremely successful collective mind-conditioning (“brainwashing”) by a centralized system seeking to perpetuate its own survival.

In actual fact, Anarchism champions individual sovereignty and a deeply humane, egalitarian, mutually-respectful approach to social organization – via a shift from centralized government to co-operation between self-governing local communities.

Nevertheless, there remain at least two issues that make Anarchism a difficult fit for the Conscious Tribes Project. Firstly, although there are schools of thought such as Pacifist Anarchism, propounded by such great minds as Leo Tolstoy, many prominent Anarchists have advocated violent means in order to achieve the anarchistic end – associating Anarchism, not unjustifiably, with violence. And although the Conscious Tribes Vision doesn´t prescibe pacifism (that would be up to each Conscious Tribe to decide for itself) – its focus on Concious Relating inclines it towards kind and respectful dialogue.

 Furthermore, Conscious Tribes see themselves as “seeds of a conscious culture” - in other words, rather than being focussed on overthrowing a centralized system, they are focussed on embodying and “modeling” (showing by example) the Concious Way of Being that would be the “foundational vibration” of the Concious Culture they seek to co-create. They are very much about “the means being the end”.

Why Not Sacred?

The other issue that makes Anarchism an awkward fit for the Conscious Tribes Project is its association with atheism. Again – although there are have been open-minded Judeo-Christian Anarchists, and Buddhist and Taoist Anarchists - the vast majority of Anarchist leaders have been passionately anti-religious and devotedly, dogmatically atheistic.

Of course, Conscious Tribes aren´t religious. They are, if anything, “spiritual” - if by “spiritual” we mean dedicated to a free-form, experiential enquiry into the nature of our relationship with reality. But again, words like “spiritual” and “sacred” present difficulties – insinuating, as they do, the dualities: spiritual/material and sacred/mundane.

And nowhere in the Conscious Tribes Vision, set out in my book “Love & Revolution” do I ever suggest anyone should make such a distinction... I don´t say they should, and I don´t say they shouldn´t. I say “be attentive to your own, actual, felt, present-moment experience. Recognize your absentness. Practice Conscious Relating - and practice conscious action/creativity.” Nowhere do I suggest categorizing anything as sacred-as-against-mundane. If anything - I suggest everything is sacred – and that to see anything as mundane is not to really see it!

 Personally, I like the word “sacred”- and for me, on my own life-journey, as I have deepened into feeling my own moment-to-moment reality, I have come to sense an inexplicable miraculousness all around me – a presence that I can only describe as “sacred”. But in order to avoid the word “sacred´s” implicit duality with mundanity, and its associations with religiousness, holiness and other-worldliness, I have chosen to use the word “conscious”.

For me, the path of feeling (not thinking) our own, unique, subjective experience of the moment could equally be called “the path of awakening to the sacredness of all things”, or “the path from a foggy, dull, constricted, mind-identified, unconscious life to a bright, joyous, expansive, adventurous, conscious life”. But just as Localism comes without the violence-baggage of Anarchism, Consciousness comes without the holiness-baggage of the word “sacred”. Localism Means Localism

I don´t feel I need to elaborate on the term Localism. I think its quite self-evident. I remember reading E. F. Schumacher´s “Small is Beautiful – A Study of Economics as if People Mattered” when I was a teenager. And I still feel his vision is, well – beautiful.

The message of embedding our lifestyles in our local landscapes and seasons, valuing inherited local knowledge, depending on local food production and local economies was reinforced for me – again, very beautifully – when I read Helena Norberg Hodge´s “Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh” - in which she witnesses the arrival of Globalization in Ladakh, and the consequent dessimation of that people´s profound, sensitive, knowledgable, connected, joyful, ancestral way of life. As I say, I feel the case for Localism needs no elaboration. The technological monoculture of Globalism tears us from the land, and tears our communities apart. Whereas Localism is the way back to the land and each other...

The Conscious Localism Manifesto

So now that Sacred Anarchism has been re-named Conscious Localism – what exactly does it stand for? Remember – the term is intended as a way of situating The Conscious Tribes Vision within a socio-political perspective. So it´s more specific than just “being conscious” and “going local”. Here are three paragraphs that outline the essential message of Conscious Localism, as I intend it. Here is my Conscious Localism Manifesto...

Conscious Localism is a socio-political movement inspired by the efforts of our ancestors

to break free from centralized control, and establish a decentralized culture

of cooperation between self-determining local communties -

combined with the insights of transpersonal psychology of the last century,

and a sensitivity to our belonging to the Earth's ecology

and to the Great Mystery of Existence Itself.

Conscious Localism encourages people to become aware of their own unique experience

of the moment, to relate to each other in that awareness,

and to co-create a society based on such conscious relating.

In honest self-observation we realize that we are often not consciously aware of our unique experience of the moment, nor are we consciously relating to each other.

That is why Conscious Localism proposes we form small Conscious Tribes,

or “extended non-biological families”, dedicated to self-education, and mutual support

on the shared path towards a decentralized, nature-embedded society.

The vision of Conscious Localism is that these Conscious Tribes will be

the basic social structure of the local communities of a new society.

Nineteen Reasons Why I am a Conscious Localist

There are a lot of ideas, and a lot of information, compressed into those three paragraphs. So I´ve also drawn up a list of “Nineteen Reasons Why I Am A Conscious Localist”! Here they are...


1a I accept that I only ever experience the present moment.

1b I accept that my experience is unique. 1c I accept that my experience is subjective. 1d The sense that all each of us has is their own unique, subjective experience enables us to co-operate is deep mutual respect, whatever our individual paths, or faiths, or universal views.


2a I do not consider myself able to make absolute, objective statements about the nature or purpose of Existence.

2b I feel I am part of, or an expression of, the Earth. 2c I feel I am part of, or an expression of, The Great Mystery of Existence Itself.


3a I see you in the same existential situation. 3b I consider us existential equals.

3c I see us both as expressions of the Great Mystery of Existence.


4a I am in favour of a culture that embodies all of the above – in terms of individual identity, the way we relate to each other, the way we relate to the world, and the way we relate to existence itself.

4b I believe decentralisation and local community self-determination are a natural consequence of all of the above, and support all of the above.

4c I believe living as integral parts of nature is a natural consequence of all of the above, and supports all of the above. 4d. I understand that the quality of my action will depend entirely on the quality of my consciousness, which is why I am committed to my own education. EDUCATION

5a Although I understand I only ever experience the present moment, I am often absent from the present moment, and therefore need to practice presence. 5b Although I understand we are all unique expressions of existence, I often don´t relate in that awareness, and therefore need to practice aware relating. 5c Although I understand that I am a part of a world I cannot define, I often don´t relate to it as such, and therefore need to pratice conscious action. 5d In order to practice all of the above, I need others who also want to practice all of the above. 5e I undertand that this means a prolonged commitment to each other (Conscious Tribe / non-biological extended family)

First Things First: Form A Conscious Tribe

So, as you can see, Conscious Localism, as I intend the term, is more than a politcal philosophy, or an intellectual proposition – it is an experiential proposition. It is not a series of beliefs one can wave, like a flag, at others who have a different set of beliefs! It is not designed for armchair debates! It can be explained, yes - but then it needs to be experienced. An intellectual understanding of Conscious Localism is important, but even more important is our commitment to the path of self-education described above. As point 4d says “we understand that the quality of our action will depend entirely on the quality of our consciousness” - so in order to become a beautiful and profound socio-political movement, and to co-create a beautiful and profound new culture - we need to be united beautifully and profoundly. First things first.

And the first thing is to form small Conscious Tribes - “non-biological extended families” of ten, twenty, thirty people - committed, as the diagram above shows, to a shared journey of self-education in presentness and conscious relating - and also committed to supporting each other in depending less and less on the unconscious, materialistic, centralized, technological, industrial, anti-natural governmental system - and depending more and more on local foods, local resources, local relationships, and local skills.

Conscious Tribes can then link up to form Conscious Local Communities. And structurally, a Conscious Localist Culture would be a co-operative network of Conscious Local Communities. But first things first... Most of us are rushed off our feet, stressed out, and hardly have time to go for a walk in the countryside – let alone consider forming a Conscious Tribe and becoming part of a long-term, self-educating, localizing, socio-political movement! But that´s the challenge! And frankly – it´s just a question of priorities. If (for example) we all agree Wednesday evenings are Conscious Tribe Night, and if we all agree to attend every week – to practice Conscious Relating, to plan and co-create, and support each other, and celebrate - we´ll soon find ourselves united in deep intimacy, and united in a deep sense of shared purpose. In Love & Revolution I offer detailed recommendations for structuring such gatherings, and getting started.

 Nothing about Conscious Localism is new. Decentralization, or Localization, is not a new idea. Nor is living more naturally. Presentness isn´t new. Even Conscious Relating isn´t new. I would imagine that everyone who has read to the end of this essay already knows what needs to be done. We just have to do it. And here is a vision, and an actionable plan. We don´t need to buy land together, or all move in together to become a Tribe. We just need to start. And it starts when you speak to a friend and say “how about it? I´m up for it! What about you?”

Mark the Mystic Activist Aragon, Spain, February 2024

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