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The Ishmael Companion
Beyond Civilization
 Study Guide


 

From My Ishmael:
Excerpt 3

Retaliation and annihilation in the New World

Ishmael. When European settlers first arrived in the New World, the
natives were of course still following the Erratic Retaliator strategy.
This had worked for them from the beginning of time, and they
were careful to follow it with the newcomers, who were baffled by
it, to say the least. Just when they got things nicely sorted out—
as they thought!—the natives would suddenly lash out in brutal
and unprovoked attacks (just as they were used to doing among
themselves). This made perfect sense to the natives, and it actually
worked very well for them for quite a long time. The white settlers
learned to be very, very respectful of the natives’ unpredictability.
But eventually, of course, the settlers’ numbers grew to the extent
that they were able to override the native strategy. In some cases
they moved in and absorbed the natives. In other cases they moved
in and drove the natives out to live or die elsewhere. And in still
other cases they just moved in and exterminated them. But in every
case, they annihilated them as tribal entities. The Takers were not at
all interested in being surrounded by tribal peoples playing Erratic
Retaliator, and they were able to generate unlimited supplies of the
stuff that wins wars. This made them unbeatable by tribal peoples,
even working together. New circumstances can undermine any
strategy, even if it’s worked flawlessly for a million years, and a tribe
with virtually unlimited agricultural resources playing Annihilator
was certainly something new. The Takers were irresistible, and this
led them to imagine themselves to be the agents of human destiny
itself. It still does, of course.

Julie. It sure does.

 

 


More excerpts from
THE TEACHINGS

 

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