Tribal (tribe)

In both your books and your lectures, you appear to critique archaeologists’ names for the Stone Age, Bronze Age and others. You say that these names define the people of these times by what they produced. However, these names derive from the fact that archaeologists rely on physical artifacts to classify periods of time. Saying “stone age,” simply means, “this is the age during which all the stone tools we”ve found were made,” not, “these people are defined by their use of stone.” Although I understand the sentiment behind it, I think that particular objection is unjustified. There are more apt places to find examples of our culture’s “product focus.”

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.

After having read your books My Ishmael and Beyond Civilization, I am intrigued about the idea of making a living tribally. I did some research and found out about the band “The Gypsy Kings”. They apparently have an estate where all of their families live together and take care of each other and school is looked at like this: If you don”t go, fine, but you have to do something here to support our families. If you do go to school, then the kids are encouraged to learn about things that will help the band ( law, business ). Is this an example of tribal living? And ,of course, the band is multi-generational. Cool, huh?

On page 192 of My Ishmael* you say “This is how you must differ from revolutionaries of the past, who simply wanted different people to be running things. You can’t solve your problems by putting someone new in charge.” This is a theme you’ve echoed repeatedly, and undoubtedly it is impossible for anyone to take office in this structure and save the world within it. My question is, do you not agree that it is important, however, to try to get someone in office who is at least PERMISSIVE of letting us make the necessary changes, or as permissive as possible. I feel that nobody will ever come into office and set into motion policies that will save the world. But, there are many who will come into office and set into motion policies that greatly inhibit the ability of others to do so. Do you agree with this concept of at least minimizing the force with which government prevents us from walking away, even if it will never assist us in that process?

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

On the ish site the other day, a quote was displayed was about tribal people not having any question as to the status of their adulthood, just as George Bush has no question of his status as President. I think it’s about time I went out to seek my manhood vision and definitively draw a line separating my childhood from adulthood. I mean this seriously. For countless generations, the natives of this area went off into the world alone and fasting until they were granted a vision that would help to define their life and guide them along their path. This can’t just be mumbo jumbo if so many people were rooted in it and learned from it. A vision must have been accorded most everyone who sought one, or else they wouldn’t have kept seeking them, generation after generation. I’m curious as to whether such a vision can still be sought, and whether or not it will be granted. I wonder what your thoughts are on this. Is this a foolish thing to pursue? In your opinion? Is there any merit in a 21st century digital white man wandering off alone into the vast open plains, eating nothing until he collapses into a hunger-induced hallucination that may or may not contain for him a guiding force to be present for the rest of his life?

I must admit that I was greatly disappointed with Beyond Civilization. Perhaps I am still too entrenched in the philosophies of the Takers, but I was hoping for something more tangible, a path to follow in my life. Writing this now, I feel like a whining child asking a parent how to get himself out of sticky situation but I feel that I must put it down anyhow. You speak of tribes as if they are a dime a dozen, people just waiting around on street corners to abandon the only thing that they know to follow in this endeavor. I am sure that you speak to many people on this subject and you realize that the reason they have come to feel lost in society is because they are disconnected from those who might understand them. Of all the people that I know (some who are the most intelligent and caring individuals that I have ever met), not one is willing to sacrifice the advantages that our culture has to offer for a heightened sense of personal fulfillment. Most believe that they can find everything they need within our culture, and I am not sure that they are wrong. I do not have a tribe, Mr. Quinn, and I would go so far as to guess that most other people do not. It is frustrating for me to read your work and then apply it to my life. I am $20,000 dollars in debt to the federal government (the cost of improving myself through a college education), I work waiting tables while I try (unsuccessfully) to publish my short stories, and I save up money to travel to places around the world where (somewhere in my heart of hearts) I hope to find some kind of real freedom. You have a wife that seems to share your ideals and (I assume) a group of friends and followers, you have had a successful job in publishing, and you are currently a successful writer. Surely you see that your plan is more easily applied to yourself than to those like me. There are no circuses in town for me to join (nor would I want to become a part of them) and I do not wish to live a homeless lifestyle if I cannot help it.