It seems that in Leaver cultures children are thrust into their adult role in their society much more quickly than people of our Taker culture. We have such an elongated social adolescence where one can experiment with many different aspects of society.

Why has the social adolescence of our culture grown into such an extended period of time, while Leaver cultures seem to push their children into their role at a faster rate? Is it because of the Leaver vs. Taker education systems that are outlined in My Ishmael?

I’m a senior at a Catholic high school (a particularly uncomfortable situation since reading many of the Ishmael books), and in my religion class we have been discussing multiculturalism vs. objectivity. My teacher argues that without God or objective truth then anything is morally permissible and therefore Nazi Germany etc. would have to be considered just fine.

I replied that in tribal culture there is/was no salvationist religion and therefore there are/were no “thou shalt not . . .” laws, and they live/lived much more in peace with themselves and the world than our culture does. My teacher refuses to believe this, so I decided to research it and see what I could find.

Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find resources that describe tribal law as constructive as opposed to oppressive (thou shalt not . . .)?

Pre-Taker tribes were in a relatively constant state of low-level warfare against their neighboring tribes and this was accepted as part of life by these tribes.

Wouldn’t reverting to living tribally be divisive and eventually lead to “gang” warfare amongst groups who create their groups along racial, religious, or some other “powder-keg” divisions?

Mr. Quinn, here is an interesting question that a member of our discussion group asked: DQ relies heavily on natural selection as a framework to explain why early American civilizations were abandoned—they didn’t work as well as another form of social organization (presumably tribalism), so the people “walked away,” (like the children of Israel “walked away” from Egypt, pillaging and looting).

So my question is, what’s to stop anthropologists and other naive puppets of Mother Culture from using the same argument to explain why tribal peoples “walked away” from tribalism to civilization?

DQ would say that wasn’t a free choice; they were misled and coerced—but how do we know that the people of, say, Teotihuacan weren’t misled and coerced, when we have no records of what happened and there are signs of conflict (or at least looting and pillaging)?

DQ might then say that the civilizations weren’t environmentally sustainable, while the tribal cultures that our civilization “civilized” were sustainable.

But how does that figure into natural selection when the unsustainability is not yet affecting mortality?

The way our civilization wiped out tribal cultures was no less “natural” than the way crazy ants (Paratrechina longicornis) wipe out other species of insects. Meanwhile, the Teotihuacanis and Maya had not even come close to reaching the environmental limits of their surroundings . . . so their behavior is “not” explainable by natural selection.

Say you have a group of people who have pooled their resources together to make a living and succeed and/or fail as a group. Their commitment is “one for all, all for one” in the sense that each member contributes to the group and that the group provides for each member. This would be tribe-like no?

Now, say that this group is successful and have been approached by someone who would like to join the group. If the group has already made commitments (loans or other obligations), then any new prospective member must be expected to “buy in” to those obligations as well, yes? All for one, one for all?

In our present culture, groups such as this would make binding legal contracts to secure a stable and “safe” relationship amongst its members. Wouldn’t this just be a business as opposed to making a living tribally?

Shouldn’t there be some sense of “belonging” amongst people who make their living tribally? I mean, what’s an example of an aboriginal method of keeping unscrupulous members from really hurting the tribe?

I mean, obviously, there are no courts amongst tribes (at least that I know of), but I imagine that there are safeguards and, failing those, justice of some kind.

I am around kids who will soon be ready to hear the things that you’ve written about in your books. I am also in college preparing to teach middle and high schoolers.

What I’m wondering is whether it’s a good thing for young people to actually have their worldview changed to one that is so diametrically opposed to those around them. Is the alienation I’d be giving them something that would make their lives less satisfying? Is the worldview I’m giving them one that would make their lives miserable?

I agree 100% with the things you say in your books, but I wonder if sharing those ideas will do more harm than good for the individuals that take them in. For instance, when I held the traditional American view of life and the Judeo-Christian spiritual outlook I was on a path that I felt was very clear and I may have been happy to go along that path. But I had that mysterious feeling that something was off and Ishmael answered where that came from.

But since reading Ishmael, I have no enthusiasm for our culture, for its traditions, for America, for education, for “success.” I’m afraid that if I share my new way of looking at things, it will take away others’ enthusiasm for such things. While I was happy to gain other goals from reading your books, I feel it’s unlikely that any of those will be accomplished.

So what’s “better” for the kids—letting them keep their mainstream goals or giving them a new vision with other goals altogether, but that will likely never be met and may lead to lives of desperation as they look at reality?