Every time I talk about walking away from civilization and living tribally, my friends and family say they are all for it, but when we go thru possible scenarios they all seem to end in the ATF burning down our “compound.” To paraphrase Tolstoy, all Taker societies are maintained by violence or the threat of violence.

The U.S. government will not sit idly by while we stop paying taxes and stop asking for building permits, they will view us as a secessionist and attack. While true that it would be difficult to attack multiple “tribalist”‘ groups, I am talking about doing this tomorrow with just one group of people.

Unless I wanted to be a martyr, which I don’t, shouldn’t I be prepared to fight? How will it be different than the U.S. government attacking the Native Americans?

It’s been over a decade since Ishmael was published. My question is, how are we doing?

You once described the potential for exponential growth of the ideas in Ishmael. Has this been the case, or do you think there may come a time when “Quinn-changed minds” are relegated to the ranks of cultish idealists?

My friends and family have put me in such a category for years, and I’m starting to believe them.

I have been reading the book My Ishmael and was wondering if/when we save the world, after a while people might forget about this culture and start locking up their food again, starting a whole new “Mother Culture.” This whole saving the world will be essentially pointless if some one messes it up again. Would we have anything to keep us from doing that again?

This is regarding Q&A #603 on this site. It’s worth pointing out that the questioner is wrong. Some rule-based systems have been found to be chaotic, but chaos theory itself isn’t purely about chaos—it’s about how there are strange aspects of order underneath certain kinds of phenomena that we might think of as purely chaotic.

The questioner seems to be using the colloquial meaning of chaotic rather than the technical meaning. Further, and more importantly, complexity science (which has big intellectual ties to chaos theory and systems thinking/theory, and all of these are deeply tied to each in conceiving of non-linear dynamic systems) is all about how certain kinds of systems based on even a few simple rules can produce incredibly dynamic results that are defined as “complex”—being on the “edge” between order and chaos, showing enough order to make sense but enough chaos to be dynamic and interesting.

In a very big way, this idea is at the heart of “living in the hands of the gods,” of doing things “with nature,” of seeing the universe as a fundamentally friendly place, and having good things sort of effortlessly flow as a result—as opposed to insisting that control be exerted to get things done and having so many bad things flow effortlessly as a result, impelling you to exert more control, ratcheting up the revenge effects and the vicious cycles.

This questioner has confused rules in the sense of underlying principles (which very often take the form of what we call natural laws—biological evolution, the functioning of ecosystems, the rise of solar systems, etc., all occur in conformance with particular underlying “rules”) with rules in the sense of human laws which dictate what must be done.

Your answer to this question is totally appropriate in itself, but I feel that many of your site’s readers will nevertheless come away from Q&A 603 with misinformation simply as a result of the way the question itself has been put. It’d be nice to educate them a bit on this other stuff I’ve mentioned here.

Regarding the “lies” of Mother Culture, there is one lie (actually it’s just a widely held misconception) that I’d appreciate hearing your take on. A pervasive belief of our culture is the belief in (and reliance on) the Rule of Law.

Most people will concede that we need rules in order to have an orderly society, and that without rules there would be chaos. It was precisely a hundred years ago that the French mathematician, Poincaré, first discovered that even very simple rule-based systems were chaotic.

Today, most well educated people have at least heard of Chaos Theory (Edward Lorentz, James Gleick), Fractals (Benoit Mandelbrot), and Cellular Automata (Stephen Wolfram). It is not exactly a secret that rule-driven systems are now known to generate chaos rather than order. But it occurs to me that most people don’t fully appreciate the significance of those esoteric mathematical diversions.

For some 3500 years, Western Civilization has operated under the unexamined and unchallenged belief that rule-based systems are inherently orderly. Now we discover that this foundation belief is an astonishing misconception.

Have you spent any time regarding this observation? How might it be possible to reveal this (perhaps disturbing) finding to the lay public, along with some insights on how we might craft and introduce into our culture a more highly evolved and enlightened regulatory mechanism capable of delivering the “divine order” it promises?

I am now fighting two distinct battles. One against the idea that people are supposed to rule the world, and the other against the notion that governments are supposed to rule people.

Frankly, I’m surprised you’re not an anarchist. You’ve indicated that the “laws” that governments write are inferior to those that grow and evolve with cultures. But, in the answers to questions 502 and 592, you seem to concede the inborn right of you and your tribe to govern yourselves—to ignore old minds that are merely elected, and often critically opposed to your ideas.

You contend that the problems of our culture developed systemically, yet you feed a failed, corrupt system (the U.S. government) with your vote. I find it difficult to believe that you can see the potential of walking away from civilization without ceasing the opportunity to walk away from corruption. Al Gore is a great alternative to George Bush for president, just as a clean knife is better that a rusty one for impaling oneself.

As you have so often stated Leaver societies work(ed) because they were time tested for thousands of years. Having destroyed the wisdom of most of these societies, how can one be optimistic for our culture to survive our impending cultural collapse?

The generations after our culture has failed will not have any other option but to “invent” systems. Even with a tribal paradigm how can it be expected to work?