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Nathan    #15623
Edmonton    AB Canada     Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 19:36:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

If I may add my two cents ... Development can occur in any direction, towards any form, in a way we might profitably model radially, rather than strictly linearly. Takerism is development - in a particular direction, among other developments in other directions. That doesn't make it the endpoint of a linear progression into which every developments in the history of humanity fits. Takerism is a "natural" development - if it weren't "natural," it couldn't have happened. Recall Quinn's arguments concerning the uselessness of the terms "natural" and "unnatural." I'm not convinced that 2/10,000 cultures developing towards a particular form strongly supports the argument that that form is an inevitable development (though it is not always wise to ignore counter arguments, strong or weak). Nicholas, I would be willing to discuss this issue with you further outside of the guest book if you would like to.

john kurmann    #15622
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 13:29:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


I prefer to focus on the untold thousands of human cultures which did not live as Takers than the possibility that a 2nd culture developed into a Taker lifestyle entirely independent of the Near East Takers.

Also, while talking about the thousands of cultures that didn't live as Takers, we can use the catastrophic evidence of our history and the present to demonstrate the terrible consequences of living as if the world is yours to conquer and rule to convince people we can and must stop. None of that may be enough to transform our culture, but I see no better cause to work for than that, whatever the outcome.

Nicholas Maggiulli    #15621
Los Angeles    CA USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 22:26:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Thank you John for that response, I appreciate the words of wisdom.

I think your idea that 2 out of 10,000 cultures was actually too nice in favor of me. In reality, the two "Taker-like" cultures were more likely out of 100,000 or more tribes which had been replaced or died out over hundreds of thousands of years. However, I will still use your figure of 10,000 for consistency. I know that 2 out of 10,000 does not mean an inevitability in a more broad sense of the word, but with all its developments afterward, it means that Takerism must rise, whether or not it stays around for a lengthened period of time is another story.

I understand that the Taker lifestyle is not good for ALL of humanity, because it is unsustainable in the long term. Though Takerism is the right way for one group of people, it is not the right way for all people.

The problem with this, however, seems to be the rebuttal by the majority of civilized "Taker" peoples. They claim that Takerism is a natural human development. With this evidence of 2 out of 10,000 they can support their decision, even if it is only by a small fraction. Cause 1 out of 10,000 can be labeled a mistake or an accident, but 2 out of 10,000 gives a large amount of evidence that all human civilizations (if left alone and given enough time, would develop into this). Though I don't believe this, the counter argument is strong and hard to ignore. Without the Inca civilization, Quinn's argument is perfect. There is nothing that could stop his idea that Takerism is NOT development, but more of an accident.

I know that this one small argument may seem pointless in the bigger picture, but for me, it is this one piece of evidence that could destroy my argument for a more sustainable future, whether it is neo-tribalist or not.

Some would also say that the Inca's do not matter because they were wiped out by the Spanish (Mother Culture). Though the migration from the Old World to the New World can be paralled to a sort of "Big Bang" in New World history, where everything that happened before the arrival of the Spanish in the New World doesn't matter because they would have been wiped out by the Spanish anyways. The migration of peoples from the Old World to the New World was like the Big Bang in that it wiped the slate clean for the New World (for the most part). Over 90% of the cultures and peoples died from this migration, therefore it can be considered a singularity (the defining moment in New World History).

It is this idea (which is heavily borrowed from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time) that could support Quinn's theory once again, making the Inca's irrelevant. I could really discuss this entire issue for days, but yeah, that would get annoying, sorry everyone.

I know that there is some hope for living in a new way today, and we should be focusing on that.

john kurmann    #15620
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Monday, August 25, 2008 at 14:49:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


If I was a betting man, I'd be willing to bet you that neither Quinn nor Jensen agree with you that the differences between them are minor.

Laura Mitchell    #15619
   USA     Posted: Monday, August 25, 2008 at 14:27:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I disagree that Quinn and Jensen fundamentally disagree on anything. Yes, there is some minor "diversity" of opinion with regard to the most likely course of correction of our current situation, but it's only a slight difference of perspective, in my opinion. I agree with Jensen that our culture will not voluntarily stop sucking power wherever it can, from all the other systems of the planet. It CAN'T, because its fundamental nature is to suck power wherever it can, from all the other systems of the planet. Why would and how could such a system "voluntarily change its mind"?

It's individual people who make up the system: individual minds and small, local systems such as villages and families and businesses and monkeyspheres of all kinds.

In any system (including the one we call Taker civilization), resilience (unchangeability) is at the system level while vulnerability (changeability) is within its smallest parts. For example, in an ecosystem, resilience is at the ecosystem level and vulnerability is at the species level. For another example, in an economic system, resilience is at the level of the whole economy and vulnerability is at the level of individual businesses or consumers.

Taker culture as a whole cannot and will not ever "voluntarily" change itself - Jensen is utterly right in this. He urges us to see this and he attacks the system at its vulnerable level - the members of the culture. With reams and reams of supporting information, he convinces his readers of the utter need to stop supporting the dominant culture. He attacks the system by approaching the vulnerable level: individual minds.

Daniel Quinn also "attacks" the system; he convinces the parts of the system (individual minds) to abandon it. Same thing as Jensen, but with a cool-headed systems-thinking approach rather than a passionate plea to sanity.

For what it's worth, birth control and convincing people not to have more than a certain number of kids is about as useful an approach to solving humanity's problems as convincing people to fuel up in the cool morning hours and to carpool more often is to solving climate change and averting the coming economic crisis from energy descent. People will have as many babies as they can afford, and rich Takers can only afford a couple kids because of the massive resource needs of our unbelievably spoiled and coddled (and incompetent) children. I could raise 20 kids on the resources used by the average Taker family of 3 kids. It's far more important that the people in this world have changed minds than that they have vasectomies.

john kurmann    #15618
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Monday, August 25, 2008 at 10:15:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi, Nicholas. Even if you're right that Inca culture would've done much the same as Taker culture has done if given the chance (I don't know enough about Inca culture to say), that still wouldn't mean the Taker way is "inevitable." There have been tens of thousands of human cultures that did not exhibit the world-devouring characteristics of Taker culture, and 2 out of tens of thousands would hardly constitute inevitability to me.

It seems to me that what's really important to understand is that a great many human cultures have existed that did not grow without limit, and some such cultures still exist. If humans have lived well here as part of the community of life, then it seems reasonable to me to think it can still be done--we're not doomed by "human nature" to try to conquer and rule the world. We may not figure out how to do it in time to avert a crash, but we have good reason to try our damndest to make it happen.

Nicholas Maggiulli    #15617
Los Angeles    CA USA     Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 23:12:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Okay, so I just read the replies to my Inca post and I believe that I was misinterpreted. When I was comparing Inca culture and Mother Culture it had nothing to do with size, but ideology. The ideology behind the Inca empire is the same ideology as behind the Fertile Cresent culture, meaning that the ideology itself is inevitable.

It is this ideology of "Convert or Die", meaning convert to totalitarian agriculture or you will be destroyed, that was present in two independent areas of the globe.

And there was a problem with your facts about the Inca empire. You stated that it took "one thousand years" to conquer .05% of the New World. Besides the .05%, which I find to be significantly off (just look at a map of the Inca empire), the 1,000 years is also a major historical inaccuracy. Considering that the Inca empire started around 1400 and ended around 1530, that gives its lifespan of 130 years, which is 870 years SHORT of one thousand. I could understand if archaeological evidence showed that it was about 800+ years as an empire, but it was much, much shorter than that.

And in comparing sizes of the Inca culture and Mother culture to Hank's Auto Shop and the Ford Motor Company you also made a significant error. Though it is true that Mother Culture destroyed Inca Culture (as it should have), there was a large reason for this. Mother culture began around 8,000 BC. Inca Culture began around 1000 AD at the very earliest. Before 1000 AD, every group of peopls in the Cusco area of South America were all tribes and low level chiefdoms, if that.

So, once again, to compare Hank's Autoshop established 1000 AD with Ford Motor Company established 8,000 BC, I would expect Ford to win considering that they had 9,000 MORE years to develop! The point is that the Inca empire (if left unaffected by the Old World powers) would have most likely grown into an empire that rivals that of Fertile Crescent Mother Culture. Though I cannot guarantee any such hypothetical, the cultural meme was there. Meaning that without Fertile Crescent Mother Culture to stop it, the Incas would have continued expanding until they conquered the ENTIRE New World. If this were to be true, as it most likely would be true, then the ideology of "We are living the right way, you are living the wrong way" or the Inca/Fertile Crescent ideology would be an INEVITABLE development of mankind.

By the way, Inca culture does not equal Mother Culture, but they share one common characteristic, and that is there "cultural meme". A real world example would be like comparing Nazis to members of the KKK. They both hate Jews though they are very different groups. Inca culture and Mother Culture both use totalitarian agriculture, though they are independent of each others' influence.

john kurmann    #15615
Kansas City    Mo USA     Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 at 20:45:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


Colonize space? Are you kidding? This is our home, and no other planet possibly could be, IMO. I think we'd go mad trying to live on a world without the community of life we evolved as part of, worse even perhaps than we're going mad by attempting to conquer and rule the community of life now. At least we are still here, with the possibility of awakening.

Derek Goff    #15614
Boulder    CO USA     Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 at 9:32:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I have to say I am kind of disappointed that this guestbook is filled with people nitpicking over the readings of different authors. First off, revolution is impossible, even with a genuine cause in hand. In this day and age the only thing to do is to work within the system. You are not going to have 1/2 the population of the world give up their food source over night. Secondly, no matter which author you identify with more with, their are only two solutions to the problems we are faced with today: Population control (either 1 or 2 kids per couple) and energy from sources that have no adverse affects, i.e. solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc... Instead of arguing over which author is right you would be better off helping each other out more by working in your own community to solve either of these two problems! So now what do you do indeed!

Its simple and I am saddened that most of you still haven't figured it out. If you know a couple that is thinking of having another kid past their own replacements, convince them otherwise. Or, if you have the knowledge, or even the capacity for the knowledge, learn something or find somewhere to advance or technologies in the right direction. I'm becoming an engineer so that I can put us closer to colonizing space, through working on renewable and free energies. Space is the ultimate solution, because its the only place to put overflow. My advice to those who don't have the knowledge or the skills, push your politicians in this direction, because the sooner we advance ourselves, the better off we'll be.

Oh, and by the way, humans have the capacity for great intelligence. It would be a crime to waste it. Don't go back to living in the dirt because you have no hope! Take heart and together humans can become the greatest thing ever to have spawned in this galaxy!

Paul    #15613
   USA     Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 15:12:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Programs. It's a program to take down civilization. Not inherently wicked, but ultimately inadequate. I won't scorn anyone for making bad things less bad, helping to stave off our death, or working to protect the environment from becoming even more degraded than it is, but it's sticks in the river. Mere resistance, not a solution.

john kurmann    #15612
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 11:23:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


He's used the line I paraphrased about the impossibility of a voluntary transformation for years in his talks and writing, so I didn't see any reason to quote a specific phrasing of it.

While you may not be much moved or interested in the specific proposals for what to do offered by the authors whose books you read, I don't think most readers respond in the same way--as evidenced by the fact that Quinn has said the most common question he has gotten is "Now what do I do?" Consequently, I do think it matters if a charismatic and persuasive thinker publicly argues for futile, even counterproductive actions.

Scott    #15611
Lincoln    NE USA     Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 7:46:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


Since you quazi-quoted Jensen's "voluntary transformation" line out of context, here's the original:

"Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time."

(for all 20 of Jensen's premises, click on my name or go here:

I agree with you that there are contradictions between DQ's and DJ's work. I guess I just don't have a problem holding both perspectives in my head at the same time. My thing with Jensen is that I don't think PURPOSEFULLY bringing down Civilization is necessary, because it's already happening as fast as HUMANLY POSSIBLE, whether we are conscious of it or not, which is something I think he demonstrates amazingly and overwhelming comprehensively in his work.

I find that it's best to learn from thinkers' analysis, rather than dwelling too much on their suggestions for what we should do. That's our own responsibility as individuals.

john kurmann    #15610
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 0:19:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


While Derrick wrote the words "[w]e need it all," I think it's quite clear there's one thing he thinks we don't need--people working to bring about a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living, which is what DQ (and I) are advocating.

And here's the rub: You can't both work to bring about that voluntary transformation and work to bring it all down, as Derrick advocates--those are contradictory courses of action. Consequently, every person Derrick convinces to devote her/his life to bringing it all down is one less person working for voluntary transformation, and Derrick can be a very moving and powerful writer and speaker. I think he makes the work of folks like me harder than it needs to be, and, as a result, he makes it less likely we'll succeed.

I respect Derrick a great deal, but I'm pretty strongly convinced civilization cannot be brought down, which leaves me wishing he was much less effective in convincing folks it needs to be brought down.

Scott    #15609
Lincoln    NE USA     Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 14:1:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I've been following Derrick Jensen for years...I've read all his books multiple times (which, along with Daniel Quinn's work, is totally necessary to get the whole message).

Consider this passage from Endgame (volume 1, page 305):

"We need it all. We need people to take out dams and we need people to knock out electrical infrastructures. We need people to protest and to chain themselves to trees. We ALSO need people working to ensure that as many people as possible are equipped to deal with the fallout when the collapse comes. We need people working to teach others what wild plants to eat, how to build shelters. All of this can look like supporting traditional, local knowledge, it can look like starting rooftop gardens, it can look like planting local varieties of medicinal herbs, and it can look like teaching people how to sing. ... The truth is that although I do not believe that designing groovy eco-villages will help bring down civilization, when the crash comes, I'm sure to be first in line knocking on their doors asking for food."

He re-emphasizes this point repeatedly throughout Endgame as well as his public talks. There is no doubt that Jensen thinks that "making the Thunderbolt airworthy" is not just unlikely, but impossible, and his argument is powerful. Daniel Quinn says that it may be possible, but we may not succeed. Both say that if we find ourselves "post-crash", knowing how to move forward, using what we've learned, is desirable.

I take both seriously, and find them both incredibly valuable.

john kurmann    #15608
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 21:55:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

It's fitting that it was, in the end, Daniel Quinn who had to write something that would send dlundy stomping away in a huff, never (really?) to return. It's baffled me for years why dlundy continued to stop in every once in a while just to tell anyone who happened to be reading the Guestbook at the time just how wrong Quinn is about religion--Christianity in particular--and animism. I won't miss his periodic rants.

He doesn't seem to be genuinely familiar with Derrick Jensen's work, either, because DJ is just as interventionist as DQ. DJ advocates changing minds (though he doesn't use that particular phrase to the best of my recollection), though for the purpose of taking civilization down, not transforming our culture.

Dlundy also doesn't seem to understand much about animists, who most certainly don't take a noninterventionist approach to their world when they see things not going the way they'd like them to go.

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