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Ishmael Community Guestbook Archive

Back to the *Current* Guestbook Previous 15 Records · Next 15 Records

VerevolfTheGrouch #14913
, USA - Friday, December 7, 2001 at 23:16:5 CST (GMT -6:00)

I didn't say they didn't believe wholeheartedly that there was something not entirely satisfactory about their old way of life. What do you think opinion is?

And you're missing the point. Those first Takers didn't say, "we must become Takers so that we can defend ourselves from Takers." (I know they wouldn't have had the term Takers). They wanted something that the Taker life could give them.

I would strongly disagree that the Taker strategy is evolutionarily superior to the Leaver strategy, however; otherwise we would have nothing to worry about. Evolutionarily superior strategies aren't self-eliminating as the Taker strategy is.

Bev #14912
, Australia -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 23:11:24 CST (GMT -6:00)


We were in NYC in 1985, I think. Yes, I'm used to the wide open spaces, but even our cities here aren't that big. I'm not a city person, I guess. I think they'll be dangerous places to be when the crash comes. Anyway, here's hoping you find a steady job soon.


Bev, tribal and hierarchal aren't living arrangements, they are organizational structures. Structures for coming together and doing together more than we can do individually.

OK, point taken.

When you hear about tribal businesses, do you feel concerned because you want the world to change quickly, and you feel to do that we shouldn't try to coordinate with others, but rather just head back to the land?

Certainly we should try to co-ordinate with others. So far I haven't seen anyone here come up with a scheme that seems to be working for them. Heading back to the land is still possible and it may lead to something that works better.

To achieve sustainability faster, are you suggesting that rather than find another way to make our living now, we drag some stones, save up money, and then buy our way out later as you have?

Well, whatever you do, you've got to drag some stones while you figure out a way to walk away. Whatever we do, we've got to put our skates on.

Ameno #14911
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 22:58:49 CST (GMT -6:00)


I want to address you post. First, this quote. You said: ""there was something in Takerdom that was lacking in Leaverdom" -- sure, that's how the first Takers saw their new way of life, most likely, but that's just the opinion of one culture. "

No, that wasn't the OPINION of one culture, that was REALITY to one culture. These people were as smart as you or I (the brain hasn't changed all that much in 10,000 years). If these people didn't BELIEVE wholeheartedly that there was something lacking in Leaverdom that was present in Takerdom, then they would not have become Takers, plain and simple.

On an evolutionary level though, I can tell you for CERTAIN something that was lacking in Leaverdom that was present in Takerdom: the ability to defend itself FROM Takerdom. Look to nature, if all of a sudden a new variation of a species of bear comes along that is bigger, stronger, and has a drive to destroy all other bears that are not of its strain, it will not take too many generations before the old version of bears are no longer around. That is why the Leavers are almost extinct. As above, so below. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

Ameno #14910
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 22:49:28 CST (GMT -6:00)

Stephen, to make it easier, I am going to use your own quote. You said in your last post "Ameno, Quinn suggested it wasn't just Leavers that knew this law, but all living things, all except the Takers."

EXACTLY. Look at that statement and tell me what is wrong there. See it? ALL living things know the law. Now here comes the stuff I learned in my very first college Philosophy class, Intro to Logic.

If all living things know the law, and Takers DON'T know the law, then that means that Takers are not living things. Well, we know that Takers ARE living things, and biologically and psycologically are in fact identical to Leavers. Ergo (therefore): If all living things know the law and Takers are living things, then Takers know the law.

Quinn's version gives so little shrift to how Takers became Takers (he basically says that somehow this mutation of totalitarian agriculture sprung up,a dn then people locked up food, etc...), that this fallacy in his argument can slip by if you are not careful. As a philosopher and a trained philosophologist (one who studies philosophers and their philosophies), I have learned to see fallacies that other people let pass them right by, as it looks like you may have, Stephen.

VerevolfTheGrouch #14909
, USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 22:44:28 CST (GMT -6:00)


I'm going to make this quick so I can get to bed.

1. Leavers are not necessarily tribal, and Takers don't have to be civilized. The difference between Takers and Leavers is that Takers "take" the rule of the world into their own hands whereas Leavers "leave" the rule of the world in the hands of the gods.

2. Quinn doesn't say that people need to necessarily emulate tribes. He says that tribes have worked well for as long as they've been here, so there's something that can be learned from them.

I also don't think it's useful to make broad, sweeping statements such as "there was something in Takerdom that was lacking in Leaverdom" -- sure, that's how the first Takers saw their new way of life, most likely, but that's just the opinion of one culture.

Ameno #14908
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 22:23:19 CST (GMT -6:00)


I'm glad you are asking the questions that you are because it is helping me to refine my thinking down to the essence. The reason I say that I disagree on the idea that Leavers "know" the law and Takers don't know the law is this. Leavers had no real "concern" for the environment before the Takers came along. The environment itself to them was as a supermarket is to the people here in Los Angeles- if you want sustenance, that's where you go. If some alien group came along and as part of their day-to-day behavior started filling the supermarkets with a poison that killed off everything but the cardboard cereal boxes (which is what these particular aliens happen to eat), then you would see Los Angeles residents more concerned about "protecting" the supermarkets than they are now. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever heard an Angeleno say that the supermarkets needed to be protected. Before Takers, Leavers never once said, "we need to be sure this environment is protected." In this scenario everyone knows the law, from the LEavers, to the Takers, to the aliens. The law is, you gotta eat. That is the real law.

Because Taker society comes from Leaver society, and is born from it in a natural way (because humans can't operate in any other way), then that must mean that there was something in Takerdom that was lacking in Leaverdom. However, even though Takerdom is destroying the world it lives in and therefore itself, it is borne from a structure that didn't do that. Therefore, there is a core essence of Takerdom that also will be evolutionarily stable. So, the key is not to become a Leaver, it is to move from Leaver, to Taker, to SOMETHING NEW.

My work is derivative of Quinn's in the fact that Quinn is on the same path that I am, the path to that "essence." I think that he mistakes the eesence however with Leaverdom. Therefore, he thinks there needs to be a new TRIBAL revolution. When he says "look to the night air", he says look to the tribe. therfore he thinks people need to emulate tribes (I would argue that tribes are an expression of humanity itself and that there are plenty of "tribal aspects" even in the life of a Taker) When I say "look to what is IN the night air," I am saying look to the essence that is present in BOTH Leaverdom and Takerdom that actually works on an evolutionarily stable level. In the future, I'm sure others in the changed world would read my work and Quinn's and even be able to refine it further (perhaps to look to the essence of humanity itself). Because I guarantee that the changed world will have some element that makes it evolutionarily unstable as well, and ANOTHER cultural revolution will take place. It is in this way that humans transcend ever further.

Jaret #14907
Vancouver, Canada -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 21:59:31 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hey Buzz,

Re that quote from me. It's from a poem that hangs in my office and it is just part of it. It reminds me to look at things from a different angle than I normally would. Stay positive. Whatever it is, it has another angle. That things will be, and are, okay, not always problems. And it's not too difficult, that's how you learn.

All how you look at it kinda thing

Kind of like the Winners Creed

If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don't. If you'd like to win but think you can't, it's almost a cinch you won't. something something something.. Lifes battles don't always go to the stronger or faster hand, But sooner or later the person who wins is the person who thinks, I can.

I don't know,... I just asked my girlfriend what the something something part is of that poem, and she laughed at the thought that I was posting dribble like that also on the Ishmael site... so bad call on that.

Cheers jaret

Edens #14906
, NC USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 21:57:7 CST (GMT -6:00)

Since the day I read Ishmael, i haven't looked at the world the same way. However, because I'm under 18, and (according to the rents) cannot make decisions on my own, I am at a total loss as to what to do. I try to involve others, but I find that adults all follow the same practice of listening. With blank smiles and "subtle" what-a-teenager-glances get very old after a few times. I believe that it is true, as Quinn wrote, the young feel the wrongness of the taker culture the most. And one only has to look at the 60's, or the punk movement, or any Ferris Bueller to realize the truth of this statement. Maybe its idealism. Maybe naivety. Maybe "youthful impatience". At any rate, the next time a teenager comes up to you and merely asks you to listen, take a moment and listen. If you want to start a revolution, look among the young.

Stephen Figgins #14905
Monroe, WA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 21:10:6 CST (GMT -6:00)

Ameno, Quinn suggested it wasn't just Leavers that knew this law, but all living things, all except the Takers. This was his explaination why Takers are destroying the world. He likens our culture to a plane that was not designed with an understanding of aerodynamics. Not that we are really breaking the law, just being ignorant of it, we destroy the world unintentionally. We are ourselves doomed to die without understanding this law, thus removing ourselves from the evolution game.

Now, if you toss out memes, the law of life, the way population growth is fueled by agriculture, I am not sure what is left to get from Quinn. Most who toss out all of that dismiss Quinn as being on some Rousseu like noble savage rant, but there is something you liked about Quinn, Ameno. You suggest he has done us a favor by pointing us to the night air.

What is the night air you think Quinn has pointed us to? If your work is derivitive, what is it deriving from?

Libran #14904
, USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 21:6:31 CST (GMT -6:00)


About 15235.

When I stated that I have no crystal clear image of what the saved world will look like, it was not regarding your hypothetical world or your follow-up suggestions. I only tried to indicate that my vision of the future is foggy.

About the 'no future' meme: I agree that there are some current trends in action that seem to display this meme as new. I purposely chose some spiritual examples in order to argue for the long history of this meme. I see it as a key ingredient in our culture's mentality- that your examples, and mine, are responding to. This brings a whole string of ideas about what our future tells us about being alive. If we create salvationist religions(as one example) in order to make life more meaningful, then we could logically conclude that our lives lack meaning. Examining the way that these religions treat the future or the present, reveals to me a structure that endows the individual to ignore or transcend suffering, sin, etc by dedicating life toward what will happen after death. One could argue that our vision of the future has been in flux. Once the industrial revolution began to roll, a vision materialized of a great utopia where all labor and manufacturing would be performed by machines. The funny thing is, noone really cared to wait that long(beyond their lifetime) for this vision to manifest. Thus, it began to recede, with the no future meme unaltered. Dummy destinies pop up all the time. Unfortunately, the vast majority don't care to back anything that won't deliver NOW. A utopia somewhere in the distant future won't benifit average joe because he will be buried in the graveyard of here and now, not a graveyard in that utopia. Salvation will benifit him because it effects his eternal soul, an individual quality that never dies. Take a look at the jehovah's witnessess. You might say that they believe in an everlasting future, but before that future can manifest, this world order must cease- and as they see it, very soon(will cease, by divine intervention.They keep trying to predict the date). The idea of the soul is very important as an expression of the meme I describe but I won't get into it now.

I should have been more specific about meditation. I had in mind the meditation that sought to break the endless cycle of death and rebirth practiced by buddhism and others(dzogchen is a good example). Patanjali's raja yoga is a good example of this system. Yoga essentailly means union. Many people practice varying degrees of yoga, but most popularized forms are merely preperatory excercises that get one ready for the real thing(like hatha yoga). Some others get into the pranayama(breath control), but none of this is true meditation(in the sense I have described). It is my opinion that destroying the ego really means nothing more than removing oneself from our terrible state of existence(it is interesting to note that the originators of meditation technique didn't really concern themselves with the ego in the way that modern minds do). There are many systems that taker religions use to deal with the no future meme. Salvation is easy. Read a book, commit for one day a week, and you're saved. Meditation takes a hell of a lot of work(to reach the desired samadhi). Both avenues provide the same things: partial relief during life, and an imagined everlasting relief in the here-after. Of course I've coupled the meme with our sense that life is suffering. Perhaps I miss named it from the get-go, but I think you know what I'm trying to say. It involves the future, but is based upon the way we feel about our lives. Maybe it's only hope in a new destiny that I originally intended- hardly worth what I wrote above, but it's getting late and I don't know if I've made any sense at all.

Pleasant Dreams, Libran

Stephen Figgins #14903
Monroe, WA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 20:57:33 CST (GMT -6:00)

Ameno, the East Mountain news served an area that would not have supported a paper run as a capitalist venture. So the newspaper had no real competition. They eventually sold the paper and the new owner turned it into a shopper. The tribal members went on to do other things.

Quinn doesn't suggest everyone decide to be part of a tribal business, he says if you are tired of dragging stones, you might consider doing what you love together with others in a tribal venture instead. You don't have to drag stones.

Considering that a tribal organization is the organization we evolved with, as much as honey bees evolved to a hive organization, I don't see how organizing tribally requires people to be better than they have ever been before. For hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years, this organization has worked for us, and works for us still wherever humans employ it.

I think your point with the white footed mouse is that tribal organization has been outcompeted by hierarchical organization, and to go back is to die, because you can't compete. Am I reading that right?

That is probably true if your idea is to create a business that competes with Mega Corp Inc., at Mega Corp Inc's game. But perhaps less true in other cases.

A friend of mine, who has been a member of several bands, points out that bands are well named, their organization is generally tribal, and they do what they do because they love doing it. They are with the band.

Which is not to say that MTV can't hype some corporate band to beat your more tribal band, but still the best organization for most remains tribal. They may not be getting rich and famous, but they keep doing what they are doing as long as they are having fun at it.

Not that I am saying you should join a band, just pointing out that not everyone is trying to beat mega corp, inc. There are plenty of cracks to exploit among these lumbering giants, and the tribal structure provides you a way of getting what you need. Hierarchal organizations never really have.

Ameno #14902
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 20:19:18 CST (GMT -6:00)

I do want to deal with the tribal business issue, or rather the issue I have with tribal businesses. I have NOT read Beyond Civilization, but simply by seeing the examples Quinn uses, ie. circuses, and by seeing the "tribal business" he attempted to create (newspaper), it is blatantly obvious that this part of the equation he does not understand very well.

I first want to say that his basic idea of what a tribal business is is ABSOLUTELY the answer. But in this respect he is a bit like Marx. For Marx, communism was the FINAL mode under which humans would be living in bliss. And communism does work, but communes themselves work ONLY in a vaccuum, as the Soviets learned. Quinns idea of a tribal business is the same, and by asking people to all just decide to be a part of "tribal businesses" he is thinking utopian, and asking people to be better than they ever have been. Actually he is asking them to go against the laws of nature. Here's an analogy from Quinn himself (My Ishmael) to understand why I say this.

Ishmael told Julie a story aobut the white-footed mouse and its competitive behavior. Just for those who might not remember it too well, the male mouse goes out and any pups that he find outside his territory he kills, and any pups inside his territory he protects. The reason he does this is because he is competing with other male mice for limited genetic resources. I am so glad that the particular business the Quinn chose was a newspaper because it fits very well within this analogy. Picture that each newspaper is a male mouse. The advertising revenue that the newspaper needs to survive (into the future) is a den full of pups. Got it? OK, mice (newspapers) have these killing tendencies because it is an evolutionary advantage. Otherwise it wouldn't exist. The newspapers of today try to "scoop" each other or do new and different things in order to have the most entertaining, most comprehensive, most varied content, that is distributed to the widest possible audience. The better the content, the more readership, and the better chance that advertisers will purchase ad space, thereby letting the newspaper continue to operate (and even turn a profit). This is the normal mouse, he cometes to the MAXIMUM of his ability. Now, it needs to be noted that the fiercest competitors are those whose territories overlap (usually the newspapers in a particular city or region, or which are printed in the same language [this happens alot in Los Angeles which has many newspapers in many languages]). Quinns idea is to create a mouse that does not compete for MAXIMUM dens, but only competes for enough dens to be "adequate." This is the kind of mouse who, so long as he had "enough" dens would walk right into a den filled with his competitor's children and just leave them be. Do you know why there are none of these mouse to be found in the wild? Because that trait did not work and the nice mice (tribal businesses), or more precisely their genetic information, were, over time, "outcompeted." There are always a limited number of dens (as there are a limited number of readers and a limited number of advertisers and advertiser dollars). The reason that a tribal business cannot survive within a taker economy is the same reason that a "nice mouse" cannot survive in a world of mice who compete to the MAXIMUM. Business-minded people like myself will see this IMMEDIATELY, whether they can articulate it as I have or not, and therefore cannot be convinced to follow in Quinn's footsteps and start a "tribal business."

I have a formula that I think works better and you will all soon read it in a coming discourse. ANd for all of you, it absolutely does allow people to survive by basically doing what they like to do. But it is a bit more complex than Quinn's "tribal business," and I would call it neither tribal, nor business in the traditional sense of either word. I also think I have hit on a sort of "transition" or at leats a transitory environment. And from the looks of it, I don't think mine is that difficult and isn't going to require much convincing. By the way, how is that newspaper doing, financially?

Marjorie #14901
Burton, MI USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 20:14:14 CST (GMT -6:00)

I am an 18 year old female just recently out of high school. A mentor of mine suggested Ishmael as reading material. It changed everything in my life. It gave a verbal capability to the thoughts in my head. I was just looking for some comments that could help me guide this youthful idealism that is inside me. If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it.

Ameno #14900
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 19:42:19 CST (GMT -6:00)


First I want to address your question. You said: "I just said you neither understood nor answered Ishmael's question: 'what is the natural law Takers are unaware of?'"

You are right, I DIDN'T address this, and there is a specific reason. I don't believe that there is a NATURAL LAW that Leavers know but Takers are unaware of. In fact, if it is a natural law, whether Takers and Leavers can articulate it or not, then they MUST follow it. The purpose of the first discourse was to show that the movement from Leaver to Taker followed natural law. At the very least, it followed human psychology, and human psychology is directly related to human biology (the relation of the mind to the brain), and human biology is directly related to natural law. This is an area that I disagree with Quinn in.

As for the rise of the merchant class, you are absolutely right, that is a modern phenomenon. But if you carefully read my discourse, you will see that merchants didn't rise to MUCH power, they couldn't even keep the bandits away. The first group to truly RISE to power were the Defenders who became kings.

As for reading, I would suggest that you look to reading vedic scholars. These are the scholars of all things India, ancient to modern. Because India has the oldest contiguous culture on Earth, a study of India is a pretty good study of the history of Takerdom. One things that Vedic scholars have noted, and PR Sarkar does a masterful job of clarifying is the cycle of "rises" to power. They go like this: Shudra (worker or "common man"), Kssattriya (warrior), Vipra (thinker), Vaeshya (merchant) and back to Shudra. Within each "cycle" there are mini cycles.

So yes, as you can see, the rise of kings and empires was followed by the rise of religious empires (this really exploded with Constantine in Rome, the first Christian Roman Emporer, but there had been advisers, spiritual and otherwise pulling the strings of Kings for ages). After this age the merchants come to power, mainly because the "thinking empires" create conduce environments for business. Within these cycles were mini-cycles.

W. Wright Robinson #14899
Charlotte, NC USA -
Friday, December 7, 2001 at 19:36:36 CST (GMT -6:00)

I use Ishmael in my AP Environmental Science class and the students love it (as do I). Will read My Ishmael when time allows.

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