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Ishmael Community Guestbook Archive

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

Sara #14823
NYC, USA - Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 15:6:27 CST (GMT -6:00)

Ameno --

you said:

"The thing about tribes is that they are basically self-contained. Everything that is needed for survival of the tribe can be readily found in their environment, or, in the case of capital resources, can be made (using human resources). My discourse (now a series) will get deeper into this aspect. You used the example of this newspaper. Well, there are lots of things you need to make what is traditionally known as a newspaper. You need people (ok, that's still tribal), but you need other things too: paper, a facility to write in, ink, tape, cameras, prolly a computer, ELECTRICITY. Unless you have the manpower to produce all of those things yourself, and an environment that supplies them free of charge, then you need to get them from the Taker society around you, don't you?"

first of all, the idea of tribes in no way assumes self-containment. no one is self contained. tribes (regardless of whether you're talking people a million years ago or a thousand years ago) don't exist in a vacuum. even pre-agriculture, there was trade, and people had access to outside materials.

secondly, i don't think the point is to operate independently of Takerism. the point is to get rid of it from within. do you not understand the word WITHIN? no revolution is going to get us out of Takerism. when you operate outside a system, you abandon that system, yes, but you do not take anyone else with you. you're saving yourself, not the world. which would be nice if the world were already doomed. but it isn't. if you think it is, there's no point in being here or reading Ishmael. if the world is already doomed, we're just wasting our time. we really should be studying wilderness manuals and preparing to move out to montana where we can live off the land like true Leavers. but the world isn't doomed yet. if we spread the word while living tribally within the system, we can probably save it.

thirdly, THE POINT OF ISHMAEL IS NOT THAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO RETURN TO THE WILDERNESS AND LIVE LIKE ANCIENT HUNTER-GATHERERS. THE POINT IS THAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO LEARN FROM THE LEAVERS THE WAYS TO LIVE SUSTAINABLY, THE BASIC RHYTHMS OF LIFE WHICH CIVILIZTION HAS MADE US FORGET. It's not necessarily the details we need, like how to tan a hide or figure out whether those berries are poisonous or not. We need to learn to live in small, interdependent groups. We need to learn to unlock the food so that everyone can make a living in their own way, without having to slave for what little the Pharohs are willing to give us.

Also, I want to stress again one concept that virtually no one on this board understands right now -- EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION. we will get absolutely nowhere if we wake up tomorrow morning and go out in the woods to live off the land. we will get absolutely nowhere if we wake up tomorrow and start plotting to nuke washington and blow up the UN. But if we begin to live tribally within the system, while at the same time spreading the ideas of Ishmael, eventually so many people will be attracted to our cause that the minds of the world at large will be changed. and then we can start to dismantle civilization, because it will be obsolete. This is all almost word for word in Beyond Civilization, and it is probably one of the most logical and well founded points in all of Daniel Quinn's work.

David Theis #14822
Hackenheim, Germany -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:51:27 CST (GMT -6:00)


Just another "Thank you" for saying what I would like to say. Keep up the good work.

"I don't know my way either, but I'm gonna take it."

Just-another-much-too-young-and-for-that-matter-not-grown-up-enough-and-much-too-idealistic-guy who's just happy to be alive every day

Debbie #14821
, NJ USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:30:34 CST (GMT -6:00)


No one said your way to save the world is wrong (at least, I don't think they did). It's a perfectly fine way. But the "hippy-dippy back to nature bullshit" that a lot of people here like so much is a perfectly fine way, too. Don't go being a city snob on us. I know that kind well. Whenever a family from NYC would move into my neighborhood, they would be so horrified that the rest of us were living in such filth while being so close to the brilliant perfection of the City. Of course, this is central NJ we're talking about so they were probably right, haha.

I can't agree with you that "disappearing into the woods" means you don't care what happens to the rest of the world. It's leading by example, showing people through action rather than words that there is another way to go.

Jim Linder #14820
San Jose, CA USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:27:52 CST (GMT -6:00)

(I’m in the zone now) Businesses. What are the key characteristics of a tribal business versus a non-tribal business? I can think of one: Tribal businesses do not endeavor to grow beyond a size that supports its owners. Non-tribal businesses seek to grow at all times no matter how big. My company I work for was at one time the largest valued company in the world. What is still their goal? Growth. Sustained Growth.

As for form of business, I don’t think it matters. My wife is the CEO of her own corporation (can you tell I’m jealous). Her corporation consists of 3 owners, and 8 employees. But growth is not her goal. She just wants it to keep going. At the end of each month, if there are any profits, the 3 split them up.

Is this a Tribal business, or just another Taker juggernaut?

Now, here’s how I really feel about this. It doesn’t matter! Who are we to judge what a tribal business is or even if it is a good thing? It’s personal. If you have a changed mind, you will know if this is something good or bad. If it feels right you will keep doing it. If it still doesn’t satisfy your desire to remove support for the Taker system you will do something else

Jim Try it: just 10 minutes of Being.

VerevolfTheGrouch #14819
, USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:21:44 CST (GMT -6:00)

Jim: I agree with that assessment about giving up things. I don't mean that people won't have to give up things -- I think I've said this before but I don't believe that we can keep technology going the way we have it going now without retaining some of the pretty unpleasant aspects of Taker culture such as product-centeredness. It's just that if you (not you personally)start telling people that all we have to do to save the world is "give up" big screen tv's and going to the movies and airplanes and cars, etc., etc., then people are going to assume that life after saving the world isn't really going to be worth all the trouble and they won't be interested. Better to have a good, short life than a bitter, long one. But if you show people that the world after it's saved (I know it's not going to be an exact moment in time, of course) can be just as good and probably even BETTER, then they'll be interested.

Debbie #14818
, NJ USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:13:41 CST (GMT -6:00)


So basically, you're saying that if we can't transform ourselves into leavers in one step, it's not worth it to try. Even if we've made a step in the right direction, if we can't stop being takers all at once, we're pursuing a useless strategy.


I agree that patriarchy and misogyny is still a very big part of our culture, even if women can now vote and be CEOS and whatnot. But this forum is not representive of our society by a long shot. People here have rejected the fundamental values that our culture is based on, and this includes patriarchy. Even if the guys here still often say things about women that are "typical male," well, I often say or think things about men that are "typical female." So I don't see what your big problem is.

I'm sure that feminism is a very enriching philosophy to study. But there are plenty of enriching philosophies out there. I still don't see how feminism, although an interesting topic to discuss, is absolutely vital as you seem to think it is.

Jim Linder #14817
San Jose, CA USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:12:55 CST (GMT -6:00)

Never meant to say men are scum. Have just met some people who call themselves feminists that just don’t give up until you admit you feel guilty for how women have been treated throughout time. I don’t feel anyone here has acted like that. Probably should have left the comment out as it didn’t apply to the audience at hand.

As for giving things up, I think I asked that question on this GB a while back and never got an answer (that I can remember). It was one of my first questions after reading DQ’s books. If I want a big house, and a new car every 2 years, and every nifty little gadget that comes out, if this to me is a happy life, how can it be sustainable? I don’t think it can.

My theory on what DQ said, and the way it has turned out for me, is: I am not going to say you need to give anything up. I am going to wake you up, and then you can decide if you want to live the same way or not. I do not think the only motivation to go about it this way is simply not to scare people. I hear a lot of people flat out state: Don’t tell them they have to give anything up, because they won’t listen to you. To me, this is kinda cheating. I don’t want to have to lie to anyone to wake them up.

So why don’t I tell people they don’t have to give anything up? Because I don’t know. The act of walking away is personal (no one right way). So that person may decide to keep some of those things, and offset them in other ways, or find a revolutionary way of keeping them while being sustainable.

Jim Just BE for 10 minutes today!

Sara #14816
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 14:3:16 CST (GMT -6:00)

Madrone --

"It would be nice if we had several generations, or even another 50-100 yrs to go for the gradual change, make it palatable to Mr and Ms Average Taker. We don't."

why not? first of all, it won't take several generations, or even 50 years, if we do it right. the seeds of change have already been planted, for one thing. i'm going to again compare our movement to women's lib, both because as a feminist you should be able to understand the parallels, and because that was a movement that worked (as opposed to citing martin luther king; his movement, while instilling a bit of progress, has not really started to work much yet). Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1965 (or perhaps '62, i can't recall). This book can be compared in a lot of ways to Ishmael, as the one book that started a movement. The women's movement really started in earnest in about '69. And now, in late 2001, look how far we've come. Look how much things have changed for women in the almost 40 years since The Feminine Mystique. "So, while you're dreaming up the best way to talk to these "average folks", you might want to also learn how to chop wood, carry water, grow food/identify it in the wild, things like that."

A: the absolute most important thing for us to do to "save the world" is to spread the message of Ishmael to the average folks. i guess, in a selfish way, it doesn't matter personally to some people whether the suburbanites know or care about walking away. because you've read ishmael and you're gonna go get all holed up in a cabin in montana and watch the whole world self-destruct. but why? why busy ourselves learning how to chop wood, forage for food, haul water, etc. when we could be spending our time in much more productive ways, and maybe not have to all go learn to chaop wood and carry water. telling everyone to go do outward bound and move out of the cities and never watch TV again is like saying, "there's no way to save the world, save yourself while you still can." which is NOT the message of ishmael. Quinn has even said himself that the most important thing you can do is spread the word. i agree that the wilderness training and commune ideas are very exciting and romantic, and they will make you feel like you are DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW. and, if your interest is only in getting yourself out of civilization and not trying to get anyone else out, then great. go live in the middle of nowhere like a hermit. give up everything you can think of. but don't think that's the way to save the world, because it isn't. that's the way to save yourself, and to condemn the rest of the world.

B: it honestly isn't that hard to live in the wilderness, if you're creative, have common sense, and are a bit crafty. when/if the great apocalyptic disaster you seem to be referring to does happen, the intelligent ones will survive, and the idiots out there will die. and it will be their own fault, not because they didn't do wilderness training, but because they're idiots and they can't figure out how to survive in the wilderness. any good camping guidebook should explain all the really hard things (lighting a fire without matches, figuring out what plants are edible and which aren't, trapping small game, tanning a hide, navigating by the stars or a compass, etc.). hell, after reading children's novels like My Side of the Mountain and Island of the Blue Dolphins i probably could have gone out to the middle of nowhere and lived. And i'm a city girl at heart. Wilderness training is not something that takes months, or even weeks of training. a bit of practice, a couple of good guidebooks, and the right equipment, maybe, but you hardly have to go get a degree in it.

"Maybe start small, like quit watching tv and supporting the vastly wasteful film industry; once you've done that, you'll have an amazing amount of time on your hands. Out of boredom, you just might think about taking up gardening or making your own bread or music...thus taking yourself that much closer to survival as a creature."

I find it quite easy to survive as a creature in the city, with TV and movies, without needing to make my own bread or grow a garden. i think you're confusing New Tribalism with hippy-dippy back to nature bullshit. in fact, i probably would find it much more difficult to live tribally in the country than i do here in New York, where there are so many people you can just slip through the cracks and do whatever you like. I make a living quite easily by temping, and once i graduate college i'll probably find it fairly easy to find my niche in academia, or get an office grind job, or do freelance writing, or just keep temping to make a living just like i do now, or whatever it is i decide to do with my life. i have the best libraries in the world at my fingertips, which feature every form of media you can imagine, all for free. also the best parks in the world. luckily for my boyfriend and i, the previous tenant in our apartment stole cable and forgot to close his phone account. meaning that we get free local calls because Verizon is so entrenched in red tape that no one can do anything about it. in New York, all the major studios do movie test screenings, and, if you know where to hang out at what time, you can see virtually any film you want for free, months before anyone else does, and you get to feel all important giving feedback to the studios. if you're willing to live in an out-of-the-way neighborhood you get the quiet and safety of any suburb, plus a sense of cameraderie and "neighborhoodism" you can't get anywhere else, plus food prices that are at least as cheap as anything suburban or rural life has to offer (great chinese dinner last night for 2, $10). transportation costs far less than the price of a car, insurance, maintenance, and gas, and is also far less pollutive. you can also find anything here -- whatever food, music, literature, academic course, or type of person you like. I think you get my point here.

"And maybe you don't want to live in a commune in the country, but soon, much sooner than most people believe, the cities will be nothing much more than sinkholes of toxicity and disease, despair and violence."

do you have access to some secret information i don't? because, from my vantage point, city life is only getting better and better. and even if it isn't, there's no need to be fatalistic about it. if the world is already beyond saving, i'd rather live my last days happily than trekking out to a commune and living my life arguing with my co-flakes over whose turn it is to feed the chickens or why do the women always do everything while the men sit around and talk about Ishmael (the 2 main causes for communes failing in the 60's and 70's; i did a pretty comprehensive paper on this once).

if your idea of saving the world is withdrawing from it, then go ahead. but don't tell me my way is wrong.

VerevolfTheGrouch #14815
, USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 13:59:14 CST (GMT -6:00)


you're 100% right about what you said in your last post, and that is why I'm not 100% sold on tribal business. But Quinn himself readily admits that tribal business is living "on the back of" Taker culture. That's why it's an intermediate step.

Jim Linder #14814
San Jose, CA USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 13:54:32 CST (GMT -6:00)

Sorry Madrone, I’ve got to call you on this one. I think you have judged David much too fast. I’ve been here a few months, and I think you should spend some more time before condemning him. He is one of the gems here.

I’ve been reading the posts from both of you, and I see a lot of miscommunication.

Can we try to be a little more tolerant, and consider that the forum is possibly skewing our perceptions? I don’t know how we even communicate to the level we do on this GB. I find it very frustrating to have to read the posts backwards to find out what’s going on.

Almost didn’t send this, because it’s none of my business, but I feel the need to support David.

By the way, nice story Mike.

Love, hugs and kisses all :o) Jim

Ameno #14813
Los Angeles, CA USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 13:33:19 CST (GMT -6:00)

Stephen and Sara- What you are describing is NOT anything new. As far as business goes, these types of businesses have always existed. Generally, we in business (and I don't have an MBA, I studied philosophy in school, I just hapen to actually run a business) call these sort of operations "mom and pop" or family businesses. The purpose of the business is to make a comfortable living and that is it. These businesses will generally be partnerships or single proprieter. That means that if the business goes bankrupt, it falls on the shoulders of the owner(s). A corporation is a business BUILT to grow. I will show you why, in this environment "tribal business" cannot exist.

The thing about tribes is that they are basically self-contained. Everything that is needed for survival of the tribe can be readily found in their environment, or, in the case of capital resources, can be made (using human resources). My discourse (now a series) will get deeper into this aspect. You used the example of this newspaper. Well, there are lots of things you need to make what is traditionally known as a newspaper. You need people (ok, that's still tribal), but you need other things too: paper, a facility to write in, ink, tape, cameras, prolly a computer, ELECTRICITY. Unless you have the manpower to produce all of those things yourself, and an environment that supplies them free of charge, then you need to get them from the Taker society around you, don't you? Not only that, you need to sell papers (or more likely- advertising). That money has to be received from Takers (because tribal businesses alone are not going to provide enough for you to get the needed capital resources). Just because you operate basically as a self-regulating NONPROFIT (ahah, see, we have those), do you have anything to do with a tribe.

A TRIBE IS A TRIBE BECAUSE THEY CAN AND DO SURVIVE WITHOUT ANY OTHER TRIBES. So much so, that even tribes living close to one another developed different languages due to lack of interaction with one another. A tribal business in 2001 cannot survive (or will not be allowed to) without other "taker tribes" (businesses).

And for your COMMUNAL FARM people, the second you purchase land, tools, seeds, generators, etc... you TOO are participating in the taker economy. Therefore, you TOO are a taker (albeit a less dangerous one). This is why the idea of "tribal business" (at least at this stage of the game) is a fantasy.

Please, stay alert for my first discourse. It will shed alot of light on the questions you have for me and explain them with much more clarity than any of these posts do.

David Theis #14812
Hackenheim, Germany -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 12:58:14 CST (GMT -6:00)


alright, let's just forget it. I once tried it again and you refused it. Calling yourself provocative and ducking away if I say something. I don't want to be star of this guestbook. I tried to explain what I felt about the things you mentioned. You just refused to answer me. You insult me and ignore me. You assume I have not the slightest clue what I'm talking about. You tell me I'm writing in an adoloscent-style, whatever that means to you. I don't know where all this assumptions come from, but hey, do as you like.

What exactly is a "real" thought on feminism? What you call real?

Sorry, I just tried it. I did not say to you that I don't like you, I told you honestly what problems I have with the concept of feminism. I thought you wanted to talk about it. I could tell you now that this last post seemed as arrogant as possible to me, but I want no bitchy fights here, and what purpose would it serve anyway?

Let's just forget it. I'm not addicted to a response from everyone. I just thought about discussing. No sleepless nights for me.

Stephen Figgins #14811
Monroe, WA USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 12:43:56 CST (GMT -6:00)


in Beyond Civilization, Quinn makes the point that tribal businesses have worked, for a couple hundred thousand years or more, they have worked. There was a lot of variety in the particulars of how each of these businesses worked, but for the most part they made their profit they way most all animals do, living off the land, foraging and farming, hunting and scavenging.

Quinn's concept of what comprises a business is pretty broad. Basically any living is a business--you want to gather more calories than you expend. (Money is essentially a representation of calories.) Tribal, as Quinn conceives of the term, is a means of organization for business, one that has been used with tremendous success in the business of Leaver peoples for about as long as we have been human.

Ameno, when you write about what a business is, I hear you saying a business is about ownership, specifically a business seeks to own natural, human and capital resources.

I hear you saying that seeking to own these resources is the defining difference between takers and leavers, and ownership of resources is the deadly meme from which we must rid ourselves, it doesn't matter how we organize as long as we are seeking to own and control these resources.

When you hear about Tribal Businesses, do you feel concerned because you want to see us survive, and you don't understand how a tribal "business," as you define and think of business, could address the meme you consider most deadly?

Sara #14810
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 12:33:45 CST (GMT -6:00)

Ameno --

did you read Beyond Civilization? because i think you misunderstand the concept of Tribal Businesses.

Basically, what seperates a tribal business from just a business is that, in the former, you make money so that you can keep running the business (and keep yourself and your employees alive), whereas in the latter, you run the business so you can keep making money.

I know you have an MBA, and i certainly don't. but i have done a lot of research on small businesses, because my boyfriend and I were thinking of starting one prior to september. and in every single "small businesses for dummies" type book i read, the main goal of a business (even a small family oriented one) was stated or understood as growth -- you start a small business in hopes that the business will grow and someday you will have a large business. for example, Ben and Jerry's.

However, the objective of a tribal business is to do what you like to do and also provide something others will benefit from. for instance, DQ's East Mountain News, which was a small weekly newspaper that he, his wife, and 2 others ran for their area when they lived in New Mexico. they did it because they liked writing for a paper, and they liked the idea of supplying local news in an area that had no other source of local news. sort of like Jaret's model of the corner store. they weren't starting a paper in hopes of becoming the next New York Times or USA Today. They just wanted to do what they liked (journalism), while also supplying people with something they really enjoyed.

Both kinds of business are, in a way, profit motivated. The regular business needs ever expanding profits for their ever expanding business, and also so that they can Get Rich. The tribal business needs a marginal profit just so that they can keep doing what they like to do while also making a modest living for themselves.

This can be compared to food production, if that's what you're into. there's a huge difference between horticulture, which is sustainable, and agriculture, which is all about growth. Horticulture grows the same or similar crops as the farmers would be foraging, so basically it's foraging with a bit more control. Agriculture grows starchy staple crops, the point is to feed the maximum number of people while providing the minimum of actual nutritional value. Sort of the way that large profit and growth oriented business work.

VerevolfTheGrouch #14809
, USA -
Thursday, December 6, 2001 at 11:53:34 CST (GMT -6:00)


First, thank you for the apology. As to the generality of your remarks about Jim, the wording sounded to me as though you thought Jim was one of the only men here who was actually applying his ideas in his life. It was the "talk is not much without the walk" that I was referring to. I'm not telling you, "That's what you meant"...just that that's how I read it before.


I think you hit it right on. That's exactly what DQ meant when he said don't talk to people about giving up things, because they're just not going to be interested.


Actually, I find trying to make us men feel like scum to be highly unjustified. As madrone has pointed out, none of us here invented patriarchy. We may not even like it. If we go along with it, it's certainly not because we want to. It's no more justified trying to make Takers feel like scum for being Takers.


Ok. I think David explained the anger of everyone who is angry pretty well, so I won't repeat that. I disagree that tribal business seeks to own human resources, however. In fact, that is the one thing that makes it different from regular business. In regular business, you have human resources who are more or less expendable. The business does not exist for them. They are simply resources the business uses to plod along. A tribal business on the other hand exists specifically for its members. Yes, in some sense they are still resources that the business uses to move along, but in a less impersonal sense than with regular business. You could argue that an ethnic tribe uses human resources as well. It can't go on without its members. But the people don't exist to serve the tribe. The tribe exists to serve the people. That's the idea behind tribal business.

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