The Fifth World

Community

Communities form from a tightly-woven network of relationships between human beings and the places they inhabit. Each community has a territory, bound to it as closely as any human kin. Communities form the basic sovereign unit of the Fifth World. We can categorize communities in the Fifth World very broadly as bands (50 or fewer people leading a nomadic or semi-nomadic life) and villages (150 or fewer people leading a much more sedentary life).

Individual & community

Civilization often saw the individual and society at odds. This notion would strike most people in the Fifth World as quite odd. They show far greater respect for personal autonomy as an absolute value, and far more concern for the community they belong to, simultaneously. They see this as causal, rather than paradoxical. The community exists for the purpose of supporting its individual members, and no individual can achieve her fullest self on her own without the support of her community.

Most communities in the Fifth World will not tolerate any abridgments of personal autonomy, even for children. At the same time, nothing matters more to them individually than their relationships, to the point of thinking of themselves as “dividuals” rather than individuals — defined by their relationships to others, especially their families.

Territory

Nothing matters more to people in the Fifth World than community and land — though the word “and” may well suggest a more distinct division than that person in the Fifth World would see. They often recognize the personhood of places, and a family has many bonds of kinship tying it to its territory. They bury their ancestors in the ground, allowing them to become plants, and the plants become animals, so that each passing generation ties the family more deeply to the land in which they dwell. The territory and the community share a bond such that they cannot draw a clear distinction between them. The commmunity exists as a facet of the territory, inseparable from it.

Mission

Communities in the Fifth World do not conceive of themselves as merely making a living together. Each community possesses some special purpose to heal or protect their territory. Each member of the community has special rights and responsibilities that enable them to fulfill that mission.