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The Ishmael Companion
Beyond Civilization
 Study Guide


From My Ishmael:
Excerpt 5

A look into the future

Ishmael. For you, it’s just another bit of ancient history, like
Reconstruction or the Korean War, but twenty-five years ago many
thousands of children your age knew that the Taker way is a way
of death. They didn’t really know much more than that, but they
knew that they didn’t want to do what their parents had done—get
married, get jobs, get old, retire, and die. They wanted to live a new
way, but the only real values they had were love, good fellowship,
emotional honesty, drugs, and rock and roll—not bad things by any
means, but not enough to found a revolution on, and a revolution
was what they wanted. Just as they had no revolutionary theory,
they had no revolutionary program. What they had was a slogan—
“Tune in, turn on, drop out”—and they imagined that if everyone
would just tune in, turn on, and drop out, then there would be
dancing in the streets and a new human era would begin. I tell you
this because it’s as important to know why a thing fails as why a
thing succeeds. The children’s revolt of the sixties and seventies
failed because it had neither a theory nor a plan. But they were
certainly right about one thing: It’s time for something new for
you people.

You must have a revolution if you’re going to survive, Julie. If
you go on the way you’re presently going, it’s hard to imagine
your living through another century. But you can’t have a negative
revolution. Any revolution that thinks of “going back” to some
“good old days” of imagined simplicity when men tipped their
hats, women stayed home and cooked, and no one got divorced or
questioned authority is founded on dreams. Any revolution that
depends on people voluntarily giving up things they want for things
they don’t want is mere utopianism and will fail. You must have a
positive revolution, a revolution that brings people more of what
they really want, not less of what they don’t really want. If you want
them to lose interest in toys, then you must give them something
even better than toys.

That must be the watchword of your revolution, Julie—not
voluntary poverty, but rather voluntary wealth. But real wealth this
time. Not toys, not gadgets, not “amenities.” Not stuff you can put
in bank vaults. Real wealth of the kind that humans were born with.
Real wealth of the kind that humans enjoyed here for hundreds of
thousands of years—and continue to enjoy wherever the Leaver
life is still intact. And this is wealth you can enjoy without feeling
guilty, Julie, because it isn’t something stolen from the world. It’s
wealth that is entirely the product of your own energy.



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