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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 52)...

    I get the impression from reading Ishmael that it is not possible for a Taker to become a Leaver, by education or any other process.

    ...and the response:

    This can be responded to in several different ways, depending on how you define words like "become" and "Leaver."

    (1) If you take yourself off into the interior of Brazil and manage to persuade the Yanomami to take you in and let you become one of them, then of course you will become a Leaver. This is clearly not an option that five billion Takers can exercise.

    (2) If you and some useful aggregate of other Takers work out a way to live "off the Taker grid" (i.e., not dependent on totalitarian agriculture or consumerist economy), then you will have become Leavers. If others can imitate or adapt your system, then they become Leavers.

    (3) What is impossible is a one-person lifestyle; what I mean by this is that one individual cannot sustain life off the Taker grid (or the Leaver grid!) all by him/herself. By yourself, all you can do off the cultural grid is starve to death. Among humans, the smallest viable lifestyle unit is the band---it takes that many hands to make a lifestyle.

    (4) Rather than thinking of the word Leaver in exclusively historical or anthropological terms, think of it operationally. If Leavers are people who live sustainably (and therefore harmlessly---as harmlessly as sharks, let's say), then there's no reason at all to think that it's impossible for Takers to become Leavers. Ishmael tells his student that the Takers must spit out the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; if he didn't it was possible to do that, why would he urge it?


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