It’s obvious from the book and your answers to questions that you have knowledge on a broad range of subjects. Furthermore, to develop the unique perspective presented in Ishmael requires a special blend of disciplines (e.g., theology, anthropology, ecology, history, etc.).

How did you acquire this knowledge and how did you develop the arguments used in the book?

A new reader of Ishmael recently suggested that we ought to let the “weak, old, and handicapped” die in order to decrease population and live in the hands of the gods.

I remember in The Book of the Damned you wrote that part of the Leavers story was that in each generation some would survive and go on to reproduce while others less suited would return their substance early on and that this is how we are shaped.

Does this in anyway come close to “social Darwinism”?

My question is one of the place of the role of government in general for human beings, Leaver and Taker both.

If the natural existence for humans is the tribe, or a grouping of men so that they may make a living better, then does natural growth of a group create a democracy, or is it that tribes stay the same size or they break up?

Does the tribal form of living lend itself to ever larger groups, equipped with representatives and a constitution? Or does representation ruin the essence of the Tribe, thus ending its existence as a Tribal unit?

I recently saw a show on the Discovery Channel that attempted to explore the life of a tribal society (though for the life of me I cannot remember their name). In that group, young women are married off by their fathers to men they have never met.

The young women are guarded day and night (and this reminded me of the tale of the adulterous wife in one of your books, but in this case the women are not loosely guarded, they are FIERCELY guarded), and many young women choose to take their lives, since they are not capable of flight as an alternative to marrying the men they have been assigned to.

I have mixed feelings here. How can I hold true to a “there is no one right way for a people to live” philosophy while still regreting that here is a society that unnecessarily sheds life because of one of the rules of its culture.

Taker culture says that they should not do this. How can I say that it is “OK because it is THEIR culture” without sounding like some sort of monster?

In your books, you seem to draw a very definite line between the structure between tribal life, and that of “civilized” people, but I’ve encountered many tribes, that even before their contact with the civilized world, have had things in common with civilized society.

As an example, the Potomac tribes had a vast stretch of land they controlled, had many branching tribes, and a complex system of trading, with their chieftain getting a cut of the action. There were tribes in the western parts of California and Washington that had slaves, people that did agricultural work, and kept them in seperate huts from the rest of the tribe.

There were tribes that Spanish conquerors came across in America that had vast storehouses (guarded storehouses) that contained pearls, and gold.

My question is, since these “tribes” don’t seem to fit under your qualifications for tribal life, are they still bona fide? Since they have been around for so long, and they seem to be working, are they in line with natural laws of conduct?

In one of the lectures in The Story of B, I think it may be the first of Shirin’s, you brought up the point about female circumcision in Islamicised tribal cultures.

I remember the question from the audience jolting me when I first read it, and B’s reaction to it more so (“abominable practice” seemed somewhat out of character), and was wondering if there was a particular reason for this—why it wasn’t left until after the lecture, or if you were prompted to put it in somehow.

I did some research on a group of people that live in a remote mountain valley in Switzerland. They call their valley “Loetschental” and have been living there sufficiently and sustainably for about 1,250 years, and they still do.

This society performs a special form of agriculture that is not totalitarian, yet has been a sustainable kind. And this small civilization runs very differently from ours.

They raise three livestock animals—cattle, goats, and sheep (for wool, meat, and dairy) on the same pasture, hence no need to change the contents of the diversity of the pasture. Also, pasture is only around during the growing season—about 4 months a year—so hay grown there is used to feed the cattle the rest of the year, and food is stored for winter feeding.

They plant salad greens in gardens together, NOT on monocropped fields, and although they have single rye fields, they rotate their crops. Since the valley is about 7,000 feet above sea level, they have a very short growing season. Where they plant rye and hay one year they do not plant rye the next year.

They do not attempt to invade and conquer any neighboring villages, and do not try to make more of anything. They have a complete sense of limit. They grow the same amount every year—the amount needed to sustain their fixed population of 2,000—and no more.

Also, the wooden buildings in their valley never are torn down. The ones that exist now have existed since the dawn of the settlement. They also use no pesticides or hormones to raise productivity. They let Nature take its course to feed their livestock, and they feed whatever the pastures offer.

They may water their crops, but they do not try to control Nature—hence they “live in the hands of the gods” to a certain extent. They have made no attempts to hunt down the competitors or wage war on their animals. They may try to defend their livestock if attacked, but do not try to kill off the attackers.

They have no health problems or diseases of civilization, no depression, and have no hierarchical systems. Everyone shares the good times and the bad times together in the village. Yet they have all the good artifices of civilization—a culture, recorded history, an annual holiday celebration, and the ability to communicate ideas to the whole village. Would you call this a Leaver society?

I have a question about religion. In Mother Culture it appears that religion and the state have been tied up together since the dawn of civilization. Even though in the United States they claim there is a separation, it appears that many of the state (“state” as in government) laws appear to originate from our deeply held Christian belief system.

Religion’s place in Mother Culture mainly appears to inflict rules of behavior and conduct. My question is regarding indigenous tribal religion. I want to have a better understanding of the purpose religion serves in an indigenous tribal culture.

Are tribal laws and religion one and the same? Or does religion serve only to help them understand their spiritual place in the world? Or is it neither?

I recently spent a few days at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. It was truly refreshing to witness tribalism in action.

While giving an Indian friend a ride, he commented favorably on My Ishmael that was lying on the dashboard. He also told me that your books are several of his relatives’ favorites.

I was wondering how big is your Native American following and how much of your knowledge of tribalism come from Native Americans.