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Words against Ishmael

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  • Janos Biro
    I found this review of the book, and the autor is not happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this, and maybe respond the autor:
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 1, 2005
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      I found this review of the book, and the autor is not
      happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this,
      and maybe respond the autor:

      http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm

      Don't Call Me, Ishmael
      27 june 01


      I am not denying, you understand, that Ishmael by
      Daniel Quinn is a compelling book. I know it's
      compelling, because I opened it for the first time at
      two a.m. one night, intending only to read a few pages
      to help me sleep. Around two-thirty I started taking
      notes. Around three-thirty I started thinking I really
      should quit. It took me until about four to wind down
      enough to try to sleep, and even then I didn't sleep
      very well for what was left of the night.

      There are a number of people who have spoken of
      Ishmael in terms I would never hear them use for any
      other book. People of my acquaintance - sane, sensible
      people who are not given to this sort of inflated,
      touchy-feely rhetoric - have spoken of it as a
      life-changing, mind-altering experience. We'll let the
      cover quote of the latest edition (from Jim Britell of
      the Whole Earth Review) be the character note for all
      the various praises: "From now on I will divide the
      books I have read into two categories - the ones I
      read before Ishmael and those read after."

      Readers familiar with my own innate cynicism, and my
      tendency to pull in an opposite direction, with an
      equivalent force, to wherever I am being led, will
      probably assume that hearing all this buildup made me
      predisposed to dislike Ishmael before I ever opened
      it. This is not a bad assumption in most
      circumstances, but in fact for once the opposite was
      true. I believed the recommendations, because many of
      them came from voices I trusted. I WANTED to read
      Ishmael and have a life-changing, mind-altering
      experience.

      Instead, what I got was an enormous lie, all the more
      aggravating for being a very skillfully told one. A
      beautiful work of artifice, compelling and yet
      simultaneously hollow inside. I was only angry, I
      think - and I was livid about the book for twenty-four
      hours afterward - because I was so disappointed.

      Ishmael is a Socratic dialogue between a man and a
      telepathic gorilla. This implausible-sounding device
      comes off without a hitch and is not one of the
      problems I have with the book, so please accept it.
      The reason Quinn has chosen a gorilla as a spokesbeing
      for the side of Truth and Beauty is because no human
      would be able to perform the task. Because, at its
      heart, the book is about What Mankind Is Doing Wrong.

      Oh, the book is very careful to avoid casting it that
      way. Ishmael (the gorilla) uses the terms Takers and
      Leavers to try to avoid any bias, and the book makes
      it clear that there ARE some groups of humans in the
      Leavers category (read: good guys). But this defense,
      like so much about the book, is disingenuous.

      (Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding, please. It
      means that one is pretending to be an ingenue, that
      one is affecting a naivete that one does not truly
      have. One can only accept some of Ishmael's defenses
      and ideas by being unaware of certain harsh truths.
      Quinn - and thereby Ishmael - MUST be aware of these
      harsh truths, because if the book has convinced me of
      anything, it is that neither Quinn nor his protagonist
      are stupid. Ergo, something is wrong with this
      picture.)

      The fundamental principle of Ishmael is that the
      Takers - i.e. industrialized man, and particularly
      white man - are destroying the world in a way that no
      other life on earth threatens to do, and it is
      happening because the Takers are ignoring a
      fundamental law of the world - as immutable as a law
      of physics - that all other life on earth
      unconsciously or consciously obeys. That law can be
      summarized as "Compete, but do not make war." But
      you'll need to take it broadly. I'll come to that in a
      moment.

      The main problem with the book is therefore a
      two-pronged difficulty with this premise: One, that it
      makes certain assumptions about Taker behavior that
      are not true, and two, that it simplifies or alters
      the facts about how Takers got where they are to suit
      itself.

      Most of this is not going to be worthwhile to read
      unless you have read Ishmael or plan to.
      Unfortunately, because of the communities this book
      has propagated most heavily among, there's a
      better-than-average chance that you've read it or plan
      to. I'll come to that at the end. I will also discuss
      where the hopeful outcome of Ishmael goes wrong and
      why.

      But before covering any of that, a comment or two
      about a separate lie, taking place on an entirely
      different level.


      A Non-Prophet Organization

      Ishmael disdains the Takers' dependence on prophets.
      He says that Takers use prophets to try to tell them
      how they should live, whereas Leavers don't need such
      things because they instinctively KNOW how to live -
      by following the planet's unspoken laws.

      Aside from the fact that this is a fairy-tale
      simplification, and the fact that some of us Takers
      who can't STAND prophets and avoid them compulsively
      are a wee tad offended by this generalization ... the
      book itself is a work of prophecy. Quinn, via his
      spokesbeing Ishmael, is trying to tell us a better way
      to live. This is exactly the thing Ishmael blasts.

      This book is a myth which claims to dispel mythology.
      It is a utopian novel which talks a dystopian game.
      Oh, yes, it's utopian. It holds out the promise of the
      Leaver utopia, says, "look, this is a better world and
      here is the pie-in-the-sky way to achieve it," which
      is what utopian novels all do, only with differing pie
      ratios. No one is seriously proposing we can have
      Shangri-La (on the high pie end), but the limited
      utopias of Walden Two have always struck me as
      eminently achievable (on the low end).

      Alas, Ishmael's utopia - though the characters clearly
      believe in its achievability - is only possible
      through dramatic changes in human behavior,
      unattainable ones. Yes, I say unattainable. Some of
      that is, admittedly, my cynicism about human nature,
      apathy, and greed ... but some of it is because we
      CAN'T: The reasons we got that way are not things we
      can control and change.

      And so we come to Ishmael's biggest lies.


      Lions and Gazelles, Chickens and Eggs

      In its way Ishmael is even more cynical about human
      nature than I am. It assumes - fundamentally - that
      Takers got the way they are because they wanted to be
      that way.

      In order to accept that assumption, one must accept a
      number of other generalizations about Takers which
      frankly rile me. One must assume that all Takers are
      conspicuous consumers (I try not to be); that all
      Takers believe that humanity is the be-all-end-all of
      evolution of life on this planet (I've never believed
      that for a second, although I do often wonder if we're
      going to wipe out the place before Whatever's Next has
      a chance to get here); and most importantly, that
      Takers dominate the earth just because they can, which
      is an outright lie. Takers dominate the earth because
      they are forced to. They are forced to by population
      pressure.

      This develops into a chicken-and-egg problem which I
      believe Ishmael works the wrong way. Ishmael believes
      that the Takers suffered a population explosion
      because they systematically eliminated their
      "competition" - we'll get into that sticky word in a
      moment. I believe they eliminated their "competition"
      because their population exploded.

      In other words, the agrarian peoples did not
      systematically displace and sometimes kill the nomadic
      peoples, back at the dawn of man, to clear out a space
      for more agriculture - their plants, their ways - so
      that they could have more babies. No. They were having
      too many babies, reproducing too successfully, and
      therefore HAD to expand, no matter what it cost.

      This is borne out by the fact that all wars are caused
      by population pressure, no matter what the surface
      causes. Wars tend to look like they are caused by
      economics (or religion) on the surface, but there is
      always population lurking underneath. There are a few
      things I agree with Ishmael foursquare about, and one
      of them is that the systematic Taker failure to reduce
      birth rate will eventually do more to kill this planet
      than any other horrible thing we do, because as long
      as we fail to do it, all the other more immediate
      problems will not only never be eradicated, they will
      get worse.

      But Ishmael blames the Takers for their expansion,
      which to me is aiming at the right target in the wrong
      place. Takers HAVE to expand. They are not lions. Nor
      are they gazelles.

      Ishmael goes on a lot about lions and gazelles, his
      canonical example of how to live by nature's laws. He
      talks about how lions don't kill more than the one
      gazelle they need for dinner, they don't go on a tear
      and try to kill off all the other lions to avoid food
      competition, or try to keep other lions from getting
      to the gazelles, or kill off gazelles in other lions'
      hunting ranges. All of these things are made spurious
      by population - to wit, if lions bred faster and more
      effectively, we might find that lion behavior is not
      what it once was. Hunger and space demands caused by
      too many lions would change everything. In fact, for a
      lion the margins would be considerably narrower,
      because they need more food per pound than a human and
      ideally a lot more space. If lions had longer lives
      and longer fertile period, Ishmael wouldn't be using
      them as examples.

      (Certainly I would consider lions - or gazelles, for
      that matter - far more amoral than humans, for good or
      ill. I presume a lion acts only out of his body's
      self-interest and nothing higher; humans generally act
      this way too, but they're less honest about it. I
      could see a pride of lions, for example, guarding
      their hunting grounds to prevent other lions from
      getting to "their" gazelles - if they ever got hungry
      enough. [See rule #3 below.] Saying something like
      "The gazelle and the lion are enemies only in the
      minds of the Takers" is veriest bullshit. Just because
      the gazelle knows it's safe to go near the lion while
      the lion's feeding doesn't make them chums.)

      Here are three fundamental Taker violations Ishmael
      makes his human student discover. These are key points
      of the book's philosophy, and all three are flawed:

      1. Takers exterminate their competitors. Takers HAVE
      no competitors. That's the problem. If they had a
      competitor then they might have a natural growth
      limit. (Internecine squabbles between Takers, in both
      Ishmael's arguments and mine, do not count. Taker vs.
      Taker is a side note. We are talking about Takers vs.
      the world.)

      Ishmael's student notes, correctly, that exterminating
      one's competitors leads inevitably to a loss of
      diversity. "There would simply be one species at each
      level of competition: the strongest." True, and not
      desirable, but the catch here is in the phrase "level
      of competition." There IS no other species on the
      planet capable of interacting with Takers at their
      level of competition. That's the problem, and it's a
      problem Ishmael completely ignores.

      2. Takers systematically destroy their competitors'
      food to make room for their own. Ishmael's talking
      about the agrarians driving out the nomads, which I
      say was due to population pressure. Since that time,
      "competitors' food" has effectively been meaningless
      among humans.

      3. Takers deny their competitors access to food. See
      above. What's a competitor? Here I honestly can't
      figure out what Ishmael's talking about, unless he's
      referring to the dawn of agriculture yet again. (He
      does go on about it quite a lot - for Ishmael this is
      the point where Takers started to go bad.)

      Even taking into account internecine Taker squabbles,
      except during the excesses of wartime I can think of
      no case where one Taker population systematically
      denied a food supply to another, or through
      scorched-earth policies made it impossible for the
      other Taker population to cultivate its own supply ...
      so Ishmael MUST be talking about the dawn of
      agriculture again; there is no other idea that fits
      the terms.


      Jam Yesterday and Jam Tomorrow

      It's amazing how Ishmael manages to be simultaneously
      over-optimistic and over-pessimistic about Taker
      behavior. This passage from page 148, for example,
      makes my blood boil in its assumptions about what
      Takers feel and think. (Ishmael is describing Leavers,
      but doing so by talking about negative Taker traits
      they DON'T have.)

      "They're not seething with discontent and rebellion,
      not incessantly wrangling over what should be allowed
      and what forbidden, not forever accusing each other of
      not living the right way, not living in terror of each
      other, not going crazy because their lives seem empty
      and pointless, not having to stupefy themselves with
      drugs to get through the days, not inventing a new
      religion every week to give them something to hold on
      to, not forever searching for something to do or
      something to believe that will make their lives worth
      living."

      Um ... excuse me?

      I find this passage TREMENDOUSLY offensive, as a Taker
      who has none of those traits, who believes it is a sin
      for the most part to try to tell other people how to
      live their lives, who is not unhappy nor dissatisfied
      with life on the whole, who is not forever searching
      for new things to give life meaning because my life
      has never struck me as being meaningless in the first
      place. I do not take drugs nor religions; I don't need
      them. I'm not going crazy. And while I SUPPOSE I could
      be the only one of my ilk, I doubt it. I believe there
      are plenty of other Takers like me.

      (You may, at this point, propose the possibility that
      I am secretly a Leaver. This is laughable. But let's
      wait until the end to cover that.)

      But - in the biggest Pollyanna reversal of the book -
      the sum and substance of the "inspirational" portion
      of the message is: Tell all your friends. If enough
      Takers catch on, things will change.

      This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
      pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
      without breaking into giggling fits.

      First off, as I've already explained, Takers can't
      change their behavior that easily without overcoming
      some very substantial obstacles in the way. Even
      assuming we could rework our whole culture - and
      that's a very big assumption - what about that birth
      rate? Gotta get that birth rate down first.

      Second, I can't believe that a character can spend the
      better part of 260 pages dissing Takers and then turn
      around and say, "But I'm sure if enough of you tell
      everyone this story, you'll be able to turn it
      around."

      Actually, to be completely honest, Ishmael hedges that
      a bit. What he actually says (he is specifically
      referring to population control here, the core
      problem) is "If the will is there, the method will be
      found." (p. 140) Both clauses of that sentence contain
      cop-outs.


      Let Them

      Ishmael uses the phrase "Mother Culture" to mean the
      collective set of false assumptions the Takers live
      by, that have led them astray. Ironically, when he
      speaks of Mother Culture's assumptions, these tend to
      be the times when I disagree with him the least; I
      agree the assumptions are there (though I often
      disagree about how they got there), and more often
      than not, I agree the assumptions are bad.

      From p. 138:

      "Famine isn't unique to humans. All species are
      subject to it everywhere in the world. When the
      population of any species outstrips its food
      resources, that population declines until it's once
      again in balance with its resources. Mother Culture
      says that humans should be exempt from that process,
      so when she finds a population that has outstripped
      its resources, she rushes in food from the outside,
      thus making it a certainty that there will be even
      more of them to starve in the next generation. Because
      the population is never allowed to decline to the
      point at which it can be supported by its own
      resources, famine becomes a chronic feature of their
      lives."

      "Yes. A few years ago I read a story in the paper
      about an ecologist who made the same point at some
      conference on hunger. Boy, did he get jumped on. He
      was practically accused of being a murderer."

      "Yes, I can imagine. His colleagues all over the world
      understood perfectly well what he was saying, but they
      have the good sense not to confront Mother Culture
      with it in the midst of her benevolence. If there are
      forty thousand people in an area that can only support
      thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food
      from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand.
      That just guarantees that the famine will continue."

      "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by and
      let them starve."

      "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines
      that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler. 'I
      will not LET them starve. I will not LET the drought
      come. I will not LET the river flood.' It is the gods
      who LET these things, not you."

      This, for me, is the most significant passage in the
      book, because it not only demonstrates my fullest
      agreement with Ishmael, but also the built-in flaws of
      his arguments - and thereby Quinn's.

      (Am I making a mistake in assuming that Quinn's agenda
      is identical to his protagonist's? Normally, imputing
      a connection between author and character is a
      dangerous game, but here I'll take the risk. If this
      were more like a novel, I wouldn't dare. But this book
      is not a novel - even its fans admit that. It is a
      propaganda tract, or even a prophecy, disguised as a
      work of fiction. And why write propaganda espousing a
      viewpoint if that viewpoint is not yours? Unless
      forced to - and I presume no one was holding a gun to
      Quinn's head.)

      I agree about the need to let the world inflict its
      own wounds, about the dangers of trying to overcontrol
      and overtame. But if Ishmael knows perfectly well
      about the forces preventing more Takers from just
      "letting them starve," then how on earth does he ever
      expect us to pull ourselves out of our hole and get as
      ruthless as we need to be?

      Frankly, I have days where I am not sure that trying
      for a Taker solution is optimal for the future
      survival of the planet. Speaking coldly - taking the
      very long, post-human-evolution view - it might be
      better if we were allowed to ruin the place and kill
      ourselves in our own bile, so the planet could start
      recovering from us that much sooner. Assuming it can.
      After all, I agree with Ishmael when he says

      "If they refuse to live under the law, they simply
      won't live." (p. 144)

      Very well - then let us die.


      The Memepool Has a Hard Bottom

      Does that sound really horribly fatalistic?

      I am frankly dismayed by the popularity of this book
      among smart, eco-conscious, free-thinking types - the
      type of people I have historically counted on to pull
      some new save-the-world rabbit out of their collective
      hats. I see now that no rabbit will be forthcoming,
      not if this book's philosophy is in any way
      representative.

      This book is a spreading meme. I'm sorry I caught it;
      sorry because not only did the book cause me a day of
      anger which I could have done without, but also sorry
      to know that it has come so far and infected so many
      people. It is not a good meme. It only looks like one.
      And I am startled that so many people I thought knew
      better can't tell the difference.

      What worries me most about Ishmael is that I have seen
      no other serious criticism of it from people whose
      viewpoints I trust. I haven't looked to see what the
      people in the OTHER camp think of it - the people who
      revel in their Takerdom, the people who exploit
      because they genuinely DO feel it is their divine
      right.

      The way I feel, in short, is: If I can't expect the
      people with consciences and brains to see through this
      fluff, then I certainly can't expect anyone else to.

      Therefore I officially abandon hope.

      Fortunately, because I am a Taker, I can reluctantly
      abandon hope for the world - not from pessimism, but
      from sheer weight of evidence - and then say "oh,
      well" and blithely go about my life. I can lock bad
      ideas away and ignore them if I am incapable of fixing
      them. I have never seriously considered abandoning
      industrialized society - I try to change it in little
      ways, but I have never opted out of the game, nor have
      I wanted to. This, too, makes me a Taker.

      I fear that some of the intelligentsia who read this
      book flatter themselves they are secretly Leavers in
      disguise. Memo to these deluded people: There is no
      such thing as a Leaver in disguise. If you believe
      that, you are a bigger liar than Ishmael ever was.

      Which is saying something.




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    • Paula Bannerman
      You get from any book what you bring to it. Myself, I didn t read into Ishmael that Quinn is purposing a better world or that Quinn is blaming Takers (per
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 2, 2005
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        You get from any book what you bring to it. Myself, I didn't read into Ishmael that Quinn is purposing a "better world" or that Quinn is blaming Takers (per se) for population growth...he's blaming a mindset. And...this bit I find amusing..."Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding"? Who is this author writing for?
        This author could have summed up much of his critizicism with "I knew that already" or I don't understand.
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2005 1:48 AM
        Subject: [ishmael_discussion] Words against Ishmael

        I found this review of the book, and the autor is not
        happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this,
        and maybe respond the autor:

        http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm

        Don't Call Me, Ishmael
        27 june 01


        I am not denying, you understand, that Ishmael by
        Daniel Quinn is a compelling book. I know it's
        compelling, because I opened it for the first time at
        two a.m. one night, intending only to read a few pages
        to help me sleep. Around two-thirty I started taking
        notes. Around three-thirty I started thinking I really
        should quit. It took me until about four to wind down
        enough to try to sleep, and even then I didn't sleep
        very well for what was left of the night.

        There are a number of people who have spoken of
        Ishmael in terms I would never hear them use for any
        other book. People of my acquaintance - sane, sensible
        people who are not given to this sort of inflated,
        touchy-feely rhetoric - have spoken of it as a
        life-changing, mind-altering experience. We'll let the
        cover quote of the latest edition (from Jim Britell of
        the Whole Earth Review) be the character note for all
        the various praises: "From now on I will divide the
        books I have read into two categories - the ones I
        read before Ishmael and those read after."

        Readers familiar with my own innate cynicism, and my
        tendency to pull in an opposite direction, with an
        equivalent force, to wherever I am being led, will
        probably assume that hearing all this buildup made me
        predisposed to dislike Ishmael before I ever opened
        it. This is not a bad assumption in most
        circumstances, but in fact for once the opposite was
        true. I believed the recommendations, because many of
        them came from voices I trusted. I WANTED to read
        Ishmael and have a life-changing, mind-altering
        experience.

        Instead, what I got was an enormous lie, all the more
        aggravating for being a very skillfully told one. A
        beautiful work of artifice, compelling and yet
        simultaneously hollow inside. I was only angry, I
        think - and I was livid about the book for twenty-four
        hours afterward - because I was so disappointed.

        Ishmael is a Socratic dialogue between a man and a
        telepathic gorilla. This implausible-sounding device
        comes off without a hitch and is not one of the
        problems I have with the book, so please accept it.
        The reason Quinn has chosen a gorilla as a spokesbeing
        for the side of Truth and Beauty is because no human
        would be able to perform the task. Because, at its
        heart, the book is about What Mankind Is Doing Wrong.

        Oh, the book is very careful to avoid casting it that
        way. Ishmael (the gorilla) uses the terms Takers and
        Leavers to try to avoid any bias, and the book makes
        it clear that there ARE some groups of humans in the
        Leavers category (read: good guys). But this defense,
        like so much about the book, is disingenuous.

        (Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding, please. It
        means that one is pretending to be an ingenue, that
        one is affecting a naivete that one does not truly
        have. One can only accept some of Ishmael's defenses
        and ideas by being unaware of certain harsh truths.
        Quinn - and thereby Ishmael - MUST be aware of these
        harsh truths, because if the book has convinced me of
        anything, it is that neither Quinn nor his protagonist
        are stupid. Ergo, something is wrong with this
        picture.)

        The fundamental principle of Ishmael is that the
        Takers - i.e. industrialized man, and particularly
        white man - are destroying the world in a way that no
        other life on earth threatens to do, and it is
        happening because the Takers are ignoring a
        fundamental law of the world - as immutable as a law
        of physics - that all other life on earth
        unconsciously or consciously obeys. That law can be
        summarized as "Compete, but do not make war." But
        you'll need to take it broadly. I'll come to that in a
        moment.

        The main problem with the book is therefore a
        two-pronged difficulty with this premise: One, that it
        makes certain assumptions about Taker behavior that
        are not true, and two, that it simplifies or alters
        the facts about how Takers got where they are to suit
        itself.

        Most of this is not going to be worthwhile to read
        unless you have read Ishmael or plan to.
        Unfortunately, because of the communities this book
        has propagated most heavily among, there's a
        better-than-average chance that you've read it or plan
        to. I'll come to that at the end. I will also discuss
        where the hopeful outcome of Ishmael goes wrong and
        why.

        But before covering any of that, a comment or two
        about a separate lie, taking place on an entirely
        different level.


        A Non-Prophet Organization

        Ishmael disdains the Takers' dependence on prophets.
        He says that Takers use prophets to try to tell them
        how they should live, whereas Leavers don't need such
        things because they instinctively KNOW how to live -
        by following the planet's unspoken laws.

        Aside from the fact that this is a fairy-tale
        simplification, and the fact that some of us Takers
        who can't STAND prophets and avoid them compulsively
        are a wee tad offended by this generalization ... the
        book itself is a work of prophecy. Quinn, via his
        spokesbeing Ishmael, is trying to tell us a better way
        to live. This is exactly the thing Ishmael blasts.

        This book is a myth which claims to dispel mythology.
        It is a utopian novel which talks a dystopian game.
        Oh, yes, it's utopian. It holds out the promise of the
        Leaver utopia, says, "look, this is a better world and
        here is the pie-in-the-sky way to achieve it," which
        is what utopian novels all do, only with differing pie
        ratios. No one is seriously proposing we can have
        Shangri-La (on the high pie end), but the limited
        utopias of Walden Two have always struck me as
        eminently achievable (on the low end).

        Alas, Ishmael's utopia - though the characters clearly
        believe in its achievability - is only possible
        through dramatic changes in human behavior,
        unattainable ones. Yes, I say unattainable. Some of
        that is, admittedly, my cynicism about human nature,
        apathy, and greed ... but some of it is because we
        CAN'T: The reasons we got that way are not things we
        can control and change.

        And so we come to Ishmael's biggest lies.


        Lions and Gazelles, Chickens and Eggs

        In its way Ishmael is even more cynical about human
        nature than I am. It assumes - fundamentally - that
        Takers got the way they are because they wanted to be
        that way.

        In order to accept that assumption, one must accept a
        number of other generalizations about Takers which
        frankly rile me. One must assume that all Takers are
        conspicuous consumers (I try not to be); that all
        Takers believe that humanity is the be-all-end-all of
        evolution of life on this planet (I've never believed
        that for a second, although I do often wonder if we're
        going to wipe out the place before Whatever's Next has
        a chance to get here); and most importantly, that
        Takers dominate the earth just because they can, which
        is an outright lie. Takers dominate the earth because
        they are forced to. They are forced to by population
        pressure.

        This develops into a chicken-and-egg problem which I
        believe Ishmael works the wrong way. Ishmael believes
        that the Takers suffered a population explosion
        because they systematically eliminated their
        "competition" - we'll get into that sticky word in a
        moment. I believe they eliminated their "competition"
        because their population exploded.

        In other words, the agrarian peoples did not
        systematically displace and sometimes kill the nomadic
        peoples, back at the dawn of man, to clear out a space
        for more agriculture - their plants, their ways - so
        that they could have more babies. No. They were having
        too many babies, reproducing too successfully, and
        therefore HAD to expand, no matter what it cost.

        This is borne out by the fact that all wars are caused
        by population pressure, no matter what the surface
        causes. Wars tend to look like they are caused by
        economics (or religion) on the surface, but there is
        always population lurking underneath. There are a few
        things I agree with Ishmael foursquare about, and one
        of them is that the systematic Taker failure to reduce
        birth rate will eventually do more to kill this planet
        than any other horrible thing we do, because as long
        as we fail to do it, all the other more immediate
        problems will not only never be eradicated, they will
        get worse.

        But Ishmael blames the Takers for their expansion,
        which to me is aiming at the right target in the wrong
        place. Takers HAVE to expand. They are not lions. Nor
        are they gazelles.

        Ishmael goes on a lot about lions and gazelles, his
        canonical example of how to live by nature's laws. He
        talks about how lions don't kill more than the one
        gazelle they need for dinner, they don't go on a tear
        and try to kill off all the other lions to avoid food
        competition, or try to keep other lions from getting
        to the gazelles, or kill off gazelles in other lions'
        hunting ranges. All of these things are made spurious
        by population - to wit, if lions bred faster and more
        effectively, we might find that lion behavior is not
        what it once was. Hunger and space demands caused by
        too many lions would change everything. In fact, for a
        lion the margins would be considerably narrower,
        because they need more food per pound than a human and
        ideally a lot more space. If lions had longer lives
        and longer fertile period, Ishmael wouldn't be using
        them as examples.

        (Certainly I would consider lions - or gazelles, for
        that matter - far more amoral than humans, for good or
        ill. I presume a lion acts only out of his body's
        self-interest and nothing higher; humans generally act
        this way too, but they're less honest about it. I
        could see a pride of lions, for example, guarding
        their hunting grounds to prevent other lions from
        getting to "their" gazelles - if they ever got hungry
        enough. [See rule #3 below.] Saying something like
        "The gazelle and the lion are enemies only in the
        minds of the Takers" is veriest bullshit. Just because
        the gazelle knows it's safe to go near the lion while
        the lion's feeding doesn't make them chums.)

        Here are three fundamental Taker violations Ishmael
        makes his human student discover. These are key points
        of the book's philosophy, and all three are flawed:

        1. Takers exterminate their competitors. Takers HAVE
        no competitors. That's the problem. If they had a
        competitor then they might have a natural growth
        limit. (Internecine squabbles between Takers, in both
        Ishmael's arguments and mine, do not count. Taker vs.
        Taker is a side note. We are talking about Takers vs.
        the world.)

        Ishmael's student notes, correctly, that exterminating
        one's competitors leads inevitably to a loss of
        diversity. "There would simply be one species at each
        level of competition: the strongest." True, and not
        desirable, but the catch here is in the phrase "level
        of competition." There IS no other species on the
        planet capable of interacting with Takers at their
        level of competition. That's the problem, and it's a
        problem Ishmael completely ignores.

        2. Takers systematically destroy their competitors'
        food to make room for their own. Ishmael's talking
        about the agrarians driving out the nomads, which I
        say was due to population pressure. Since that time,
        "competitors' food" has effectively been meaningless
        among humans.

        3. Takers deny their competitors access to food. See
        above. What's a competitor? Here I honestly can't
        figure out what Ishmael's talking about, unless he's
        referring to the dawn of agriculture yet again. (He
        does go on about it quite a lot - for Ishmael this is
        the point where Takers started to go bad.)

        Even taking into account internecine Taker squabbles,
        except during the excesses of wartime I can think of
        no case where one Taker population systematically
        denied a food supply to another, or through
        scorched-earth policies made it impossible for the
        other Taker population to cultivate its own supply ...
        so Ishmael MUST be talking about the dawn of
        agriculture again; there is no other idea that fits
        the terms.


        Jam Yesterday and Jam Tomorrow

        It's amazing how Ishmael manages to be simultaneously
        over-optimistic and over-pessimistic about Taker
        behavior. This passage from page 148, for example,
        makes my blood boil in its assumptions about what
        Takers feel and think. (Ishmael is describing Leavers,
        but doing so by talking about negative Taker traits
        they DON'T have.)

        "They're not seething with discontent and rebellion,
        not incessantly wrangling over what should be allowed
        and what forbidden, not forever accusing each other of
        not living the right way, not living in terror of each
        other, not going crazy because their lives seem empty
        and pointless, not having to stupefy themselves with
        drugs to get through the days, not inventing a new
        religion every week to give them something to hold on
        to, not forever searching for something to do or
        something to believe that will make their lives worth
        living."

        Um ... excuse me?

        I find this passage TREMENDOUSLY offensive, as a Taker
        who has none of those traits, who believes it is a sin
        for the most part to try to tell other people how to
        live their lives, who is not unhappy nor dissatisfied
        with life on the whole, who is not forever searching
        for new things to give life meaning because my life
        has never struck me as being meaningless in the first
        place. I do not take drugs nor religions; I don't need
        them. I'm not going crazy. And while I SUPPOSE I could
        be the only one of my ilk, I doubt it. I believe there
        are plenty of other Takers like me.

        (You may, at this point, propose the possibility that
        I am secretly a Leaver. This is laughable. But let's
        wait until the end to cover that.)

        But - in the biggest Pollyanna reversal of the book -
        the sum and substance of the "inspirational" portion
        of the message is: Tell all your friends. If enough
        Takers catch on, things will change.

        This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
        pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
        without breaking into giggling fits.

        First off, as I've already explained, Takers can't
        change their behavior that easily without overcoming
        some very substantial obstacles in the way. Even
        assuming we could rework our whole culture - and
        that's a very big assumption - what about that birth
        rate? Gotta get that birth rate down first.

        Second, I can't believe that a character can spend the
        better part of 260 pages dissing Takers and then turn
        around and say, "But I'm sure if enough of you tell
        everyone this story, you'll be able to turn it
        around."

        Actually, to be completely honest, Ishmael hedges that
        a bit. What he actually says (he is specifically
        referring to population control here, the core
        problem) is "If the will is there, the method will be
        found." (p. 140) Both clauses of that sentence contain
        cop-outs.


        Let Them

        Ishmael uses the phrase "Mother Culture" to mean the
        collective set of false assumptions the Takers live
        by, that have led them astray. Ironically, when he
        speaks of Mother Culture's assumptions, these tend to
        be the times when I disagree with him the least; I
        agree the assumptions are there (though I often
        disagree about how they got there), and more often
        than not, I agree the assumptions are bad.

        From p. 138:

        "Famine isn't unique to humans. All species are
        subject to it everywhere in the world. When the
        population of any species outstrips its food
        resources, that population declines until it's once
        again in balance with its resources. Mother Culture
        says that humans should be exempt from that process,
        so when she finds a population that has outstripped
        its resources, she rushes in food from the outside,
        thus making it a certainty that there will be even
        more of them to starve in the next generation. Because
        the population is never allowed to decline to the
        point at which it can be supported by its own
        resources, famine becomes a chronic feature of their
        lives."

        "Yes. A few years ago I read a story in the paper
        about an ecologist who made the same point at some
        conference on hunger. Boy, did he get jumped on. He
        was practically accused of being a murderer."

        "Yes, I can imagine. His colleagues all over the world
        understood perfectly well what he was saying, but they
        have the good sense not to confront Mother Culture
        with it in the midst of her benevolence. If there are
        forty thousand people in an area that can only support
        thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food
        from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand.
        That just guarantees that the famine will continue."

        "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by and
        let them starve."

        "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines
        that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler. 'I
        will not LET them starve. I will not LET the drought
        come. I will not LET the river flood.' It is the gods
        who LET these things, not you."

        This, for me, is the most significant passage in the
        book, because it not only demonstrates my fullest
        agreement with Ishmael, but also the built-in flaws of
        his arguments - and thereby Quinn's.

        (Am I making a mistake in assuming that Quinn's agenda
        is identical to his protagonist's? Normally, imputing
        a connection between author and character is a
        dangerous game, but here I'll take the risk. If this
        were more like a novel, I wouldn't dare. But this book
        is not a novel - even its fans admit that. It is a
        propaganda tract, or even a prophecy, disguised as a
        work of fiction. And why write propaganda espousing a
        viewpoint if that viewpoint is not yours? Unless
        forced to - and I presume no one was holding a gun to
        Quinn's head.)

        I agree about the need to let the world inflict its
        own wounds, about the dangers of trying to overcontrol
        and overtame. But if Ishmael knows perfectly well
        about the forces preventing more Takers from just
        "letting them starve," then how on earth does he ever
        expect us to pull ourselves out of our hole and get as
        ruthless as we need to be?

        Frankly, I have days where I am not sure that trying
        for a Taker solution is optimal for the future
        survival of the planet. Speaking coldly - taking the
        very long, post-human-evolution view - it might be
        better if we were allowed to ruin the place and kill
        ourselves in our own bile, so the planet could start
        recovering from us that much sooner. Assuming it can.
        After all, I agree with Ishmael when he says

        "If they refuse to live under the law, they simply
        won't live." (p. 144)

        Very well - then let us die.


        The Memepool Has a Hard Bottom

        Does that sound really horribly fatalistic?

        I am frankly dismayed by the popularity of this book
        among smart, eco-conscious, free-thinking types - the
        type of people I have historically counted on to pull
        some new save-the-world rabbit out of their collective
        hats. I see now that no rabbit will be forthcoming,
        not if this book's philosophy is in any way
        representative.

        This book is a spreading meme. I'm sorry I caught it;
        sorry because not only did the book cause me a day of
        anger which I could have done without, but also sorry
        to know that it has come so far and infected so many
        people. It is not a good meme. It only looks like one.
        And I am startled that so many people I thought knew
        better can't tell the difference.

        What worries me most about Ishmael is that I have seen
        no other serious criticism of it from people whose
        viewpoints I trust. I haven't looked to see what the
        people in the OTHER camp think of it - the people who
        revel in their Takerdom, the people who exploit
        because they genuinely DO feel it is their divine
        right.

        The way I feel, in short, is: If I can't expect the
        people with consciences and brains to see through this
        fluff, then I certainly can't expect anyone else to.

        Therefore I officially abandon hope.

        Fortunately, because I am a Taker, I can reluctantly
        abandon hope for the world - not from pessimism, but
        from sheer weight of evidence - and then say "oh,
        well" and blithely go about my life. I can lock bad
        ideas away and ignore them if I am incapable of fixing
        them. I have never seriously considered abandoning
        industrialized society - I try to change it in little
        ways, but I have never opted out of the game, nor have
        I wanted to. This, too, makes me a Taker.

        I fear that some of the intelligentsia who read this
        book flatter themselves they are secretly Leavers in
        disguise. Memo to these deluded people: There is no
        such thing as a Leaver in disguise. If you believe
        that, you are a bigger liar than Ishmael ever was.

        Which is saying something.




        MSN: janosbirozero@...

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      • scart@comcast.net
        Much as Paula has already said, I think he just plain didn t get it. He obviously had a pile of preconceptions about the nature of culture, and unlike those
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 2, 2005
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          Much as Paula has already said, I think he just plain didn't get it.  He obviously had a pile of preconceptions about the nature of culture, and unlike those of us on this discussion board, was quite unwilling to give them up.  So in the method so indicative of what passes for "discussion" these days, he simply makes up arguments loosly based on sociological dogma and uses them as "fact" to "disprove" the tenets of Quinn.
           
          There are some people, no matter how ostensibly intelligent or open minded (and I use that term loosely with this guy) that simply are not going to get it.  Just like there are some people that are not going to get Bach or Zappa or Dr. Strangelove or psychedelics... Quinn's message is simply not for everybody.
           
          Scott
           
          -------------- Original message --------------
          I found this review of the book, and the autor is not
          happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this,
          and maybe respond the autor:

          http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm
        • Jim Linder
          I think the author makes two basic (and easy to make) mistakes. 1) He assumes that any competitor to humans must be equal. The wolf needs range to hunt,
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 5, 2005
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            I think the author makes two basic (and easy to make) mistakes.

            1) He assumes that any competitor to humans must be equal. The wolf needs range to hunt, humans
            need land to grow crops. We could therefore be in competition for the same land. (Or more
            accurately, humans need a safe place to recreate) Obviously, we can bring enough force to bear,
            that we can wipe out the wolf, the deer, the buffalo, or even the spotted owl, but if they require
            some of the same things we do, we are in competition.

            2) Because Ishmael talks about how we came to be this way, and some of the laws that Takers break,
            the author assumes, Quinn is advocating that we stop doing these things. Or, that the "right" way
            to live is to stop doing these things. I didn't get this at all from Ishmael. Instead, I clung
            to the whole no-one-right-way idea. "The problem is not that we live the culture of maximum harm,
            but that almost all of us live the culture of maximum harm" (or something like that)

            But after all that, I too tend to think that Quinn is disingenuous. (and yeah, I did look it up)

            I also think that Quinn has sought to somewhat change the message of Ishmael with his later books.
            He talks a lot more about population I think in these later books, and seeks to clarify why he
            refuses to propose how we need to change. (Although he did get pushed into it somewhat in BC)

            Jim

            --- Janos Biro <janosbiro@...> wrote:

            > I found this review of the book, and the autor is not
            > happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this,
            > and maybe respond the autor:
            >
            > http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm
            >
            > Don't Call Me, Ishmael
            > 27 june 01
            >
            >
            > I am not denying, you understand, that Ishmael by
            > Daniel Quinn is a compelling book. I know it's
            > compelling, because I opened it for the first time at
            > two a.m. one night, intending only to read a few pages
            > to help me sleep. Around two-thirty I started taking
            > notes. Around three-thirty I started thinking I really
            > should quit. It took me until about four to wind down
            > enough to try to sleep, and even then I didn't sleep
            > very well for what was left of the night.
            >
            > There are a number of people who have spoken of
            > Ishmael in terms I would never hear them use for any
            > other book. People of my acquaintance - sane, sensible
            > people who are not given to this sort of inflated,
            > touchy-feely rhetoric - have spoken of it as a
            > life-changing, mind-altering experience. We'll let the
            > cover quote of the latest edition (from Jim Britell of
            > the Whole Earth Review) be the character note for all
            > the various praises: "From now on I will divide the
            > books I have read into two categories - the ones I
            > read before Ishmael and those read after."
            >
            > Readers familiar with my own innate cynicism, and my
            > tendency to pull in an opposite direction, with an
            > equivalent force, to wherever I am being led, will
            > probably assume that hearing all this buildup made me
            > predisposed to dislike Ishmael before I ever opened
            > it. This is not a bad assumption in most
            > circumstances, but in fact for once the opposite was
            > true. I believed the recommendations, because many of
            > them came from voices I trusted. I WANTED to read
            > Ishmael and have a life-changing, mind-altering
            > experience.
            >
            > Instead, what I got was an enormous lie, all the more
            > aggravating for being a very skillfully told one. A
            > beautiful work of artifice, compelling and yet
            > simultaneously hollow inside. I was only angry, I
            > think - and I was livid about the book for twenty-four
            > hours afterward - because I was so disappointed.
            >
            > Ishmael is a Socratic dialogue between a man and a
            > telepathic gorilla. This implausible-sounding device
            > comes off without a hitch and is not one of the
            > problems I have with the book, so please accept it.
            > The reason Quinn has chosen a gorilla as a spokesbeing
            > for the side of Truth and Beauty is because no human
            > would be able to perform the task. Because, at its
            > heart, the book is about What Mankind Is Doing Wrong.
            >
            > Oh, the book is very careful to avoid casting it that
            > way. Ishmael (the gorilla) uses the terms Takers and
            > Leavers to try to avoid any bias, and the book makes
            > it clear that there ARE some groups of humans in the
            > Leavers category (read: good guys). But this defense,
            > like so much about the book, is disingenuous.
            >
            > (Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding, please. It
            > means that one is pretending to be an ingenue, that
            > one is affecting a naivete that one does not truly
            > have. One can only accept some of Ishmael's defenses
            > and ideas by being unaware of certain harsh truths.
            > Quinn - and thereby Ishmael - MUST be aware of these
            > harsh truths, because if the book has convinced me of
            > anything, it is that neither Quinn nor his protagonist
            > are stupid. Ergo, something is wrong with this
            > picture.)
            >
            > The fundamental principle of Ishmael is that the
            > Takers - i.e. industrialized man, and particularly
            > white man - are destroying the world in a way that no
            > other life on earth threatens to do, and it is
            > happening because the Takers are ignoring a
            > fundamental law of the world - as immutable as a law
            > of physics - that all other life on earth
            > unconsciously or consciously obeys. That law can be
            > summarized as "Compete, but do not make war." But
            > you'll need to take it broadly. I'll come to that in a
            > moment.
            >
            > The main problem with the book is therefore a
            > two-pronged difficulty with this premise: One, that it
            > makes certain assumptions about Taker behavior that
            > are not true, and two, that it simplifies or alters
            > the facts about how Takers got where they are to suit
            > itself.
            >
            > Most of this is not going to be worthwhile to read
            > unless you have read Ishmael or plan to.
            > Unfortunately, because of the communities this book
            > has propagated most heavily among, there's a
            > better-than-average chance that you've read it or plan
            > to. I'll come to that at the end. I will also discuss
            > where the hopeful outcome of Ishmael goes wrong and
            > why.
            >
            > But before covering any of that, a comment or two
            > about a separate lie, taking place on an entirely
            > different level.
            >
            >
            > A Non-Prophet Organization
            >
            > Ishmael disdains the Takers' dependence on prophets.
            > He says that Takers use prophets to try to tell them
            > how they should live, whereas Leavers don't need such
            > things because they instinctively KNOW how to live -
            > by following the planet's unspoken laws.
            >
            > Aside from the fact that this is a fairy-tale
            > simplification, and the fact that some of us Takers
            > who can't STAND prophets and avoid them compulsively
            > are a wee tad offended by this generalization ... the
            > book itself is a work of prophecy. Quinn, via his
            > spokesbeing Ishmael, is trying to tell us a better way
            > to live. This is exactly the thing Ishmael blasts.
            >
            > This book is a myth which claims to dispel mythology.
            > It is a utopian novel which talks a dystopian game.
            > Oh, yes, it's utopian. It holds out the promise of the
            > Leaver utopia, says, "look, this is a better world and
            > here is the pie-in-the-sky way to achieve it," which
            > is what utopian novels all do, only with differing pie
            > ratios. No one is seriously proposing we can have
            > Shangri-La (on the high pie end), but the limited
            > utopias of Walden Two have always struck me as
            > eminently achievable (on the low end).
            >
            > Alas, Ishmael's utopia - though the characters clearly
            > believe in its achievability - is only possible
            > through dramatic changes in human behavior,
            > unattainable ones. Yes, I say unattainable. Some of
            > that is, admittedly, my cynicism about human nature,
            > apathy, and greed ... but some of it is because we
            > CAN'T: The reasons we got that way are not things we
            > can control and change.
            >
            > And so we come to Ishmael's biggest lies.
            >
            >
            > Lions and Gazelles, Chickens and Eggs
            >
            > In its way Ishmael is even more cynical about human
            > nature than I am. It assumes - fundamentally - that
            > Takers got the way they are because they wanted to be
            > that way.
            >
            > In order to accept that assumption, one must accept a
            > number of other generalizations about Takers which
            > frankly rile me. One must assume that all Takers are
            > conspicuous consumers (I try not to be); that all
            > Takers believe that humanity is the be-all-end-all of
            > evolution of life on this planet (I've never believed
            > that for a second, although I do often wonder if we're
            > going to wipe out the place before Whatever's Next has
            > a chance to get here); and most importantly, that
            > Takers dominate the earth just because they can, which
            > is an outright lie. Takers dominate the earth because
            > they are forced to. They are forced to by population
            > pressure.
            >
            > This develops into a chicken-and-egg problem which I
            > believe Ishmael works the wrong way. Ishmael believes
            > that the Takers suffered a population explosion
            > because they systematically eliminated their
            > "competition" - we'll get into that sticky word in a
            > moment. I believe they eliminated their "competition"
            > because their population exploded.
            >
            > In other words, the agrarian peoples did not
            > systematically displace and sometimes kill the nomadic
            > peoples, back at the dawn of man, to clear out a space
            > for more agriculture - their plants, their ways - so
            > that they could have more babies. No. They were having
            > too many babies, reproducing too successfully, and
            > therefore HAD to expand, no matter what it cost.
            >
            > This is borne out by the fact that all wars are caused
            > by population pressure, no matter what the surface
            > causes. Wars tend to look like they are caused by
            > economics (or religion) on the surface, but there is
            > always population lurking underneath. There are a few
            > things I agree with Ishmael foursquare about, and one
            > of them is that the systematic Taker failure to reduce
            > birth rate will eventually do more to kill this planet
            > than any other horrible thing we do, because as long
            > as we fail to do it, all the other more immediate
            > problems will not only never be eradicated, they will
            > get worse.
            >
            > But Ishmael blames the Takers for their expansion,
            > which to me is aiming at the right target in the wrong
            > place. Takers HAVE to expand. They are not lions. Nor
            > are they gazelles.
            >
            > Ishmael goes on a lot about lions and gazelles, his
            > canonical example of how to live by nature's laws. He
            > talks about how lions don't kill more than the one
            > gazelle they need for dinner, they don't go on a tear
            > and try to kill off all the other lions to avoid food
            > competition, or try to keep other lions from getting
            > to the gazelles, or kill off gazelles in other lions'
            > hunting ranges. All of these things are made spurious
            > by population - to wit, if lions bred faster and more
            > effectively, we might find that lion behavior is not
            > what it once was. Hunger and space demands caused by
            > too many lions would change everything. In fact, for a
            > lion the margins would be considerably narrower,
            > because they need more food per pound than a human and
            > ideally a lot more space. If lions had longer lives
            > and longer fertile period, Ishmael wouldn't be using
            > them as examples.
            >
            > (Certainly I would consider lions - or gazelles, for
            > that matter - far more amoral than humans, for good or
            > ill. I presume a lion acts only out of his body's
            > self-interest and nothing higher; humans generally act
            > this way too, but they're less honest about it. I
            > could see a pride of lions, for example, guarding
            > their hunting grounds to prevent other lions from
            > getting to "their" gazelles - if they ever got hungry
            > enough. [See rule #3 below.] Saying something like
            > "The gazelle and the lion are enemies only in the
            > minds of the Takers" is veriest bullshit. Just because
            > the gazelle knows it's safe to go near the lion while
            > the lion's feeding doesn't make them chums.)
            >
            > Here are three fundamental Taker violations Ishmael
            > makes his human student discover. These are key points
            > of the book's philosophy, and all three are flawed:
            >
            > 1. Takers exterminate their competitors. Takers HAVE
            > no competitors. That's the problem. If they had a
            > competitor then they might have a natural growth
            > limit. (Internecine squabbles between Takers, in both
            > Ishmael's arguments and mine, do not count. Taker vs.
            > Taker is a side note. We are talking about Takers vs.
            > the world.)
            >
            > Ishmael's student notes, correctly, that exterminating
            > one's competitors leads inevitably to a loss of
            > diversity. "There would simply be one species at each
            > level of competition: the strongest." True, and not
            > desirable, but the catch here is in the phrase "level
            > of competition." There IS no other species on the
            > planet capable of interacting with Takers at their
            > level of competition. That's the problem, and it's a
            > problem Ishmael completely ignores.
            >
            > 2. Takers systematically destroy their competitors'
            > food to make room for their own. Ishmael's talking
            > about the agrarians driving out the nomads, which I
            > say was due to population pressure. Since that time,
            > "competitors' food" has effectively been meaningless
            > among humans.
            >
            > 3. Takers deny their competitors access to food. See
            > above. What's a competitor? Here I honestly can't
            > figure out what Ishmael's talking about, unless he's
            > referring to the dawn of agriculture yet again. (He
            > does go on about it quite a lot - for Ishmael this is
            > the point where Takers started to go bad.)
            >
            > Even taking into account internecine Taker squabbles,
            > except during the excesses of wartime I can think of
            > no case where one Taker population systematically
            > denied a food supply to another, or through
            > scorched-earth policies made it impossible for the
            > other Taker population to cultivate its own supply ...
            > so Ishmael MUST be talking about the dawn of
            > agriculture again; there is no other idea that fits
            > the terms.
            >
            >
            > Jam Yesterday and Jam Tomorrow
            >
            > It's amazing how Ishmael manages to be simultaneously
            > over-optimistic and over-pessimistic about Taker
            > behavior. This passage from page 148, for example,
            > makes my blood boil in its assumptions about what
            > Takers feel and think. (Ishmael is describing Leavers,
            > but doing so by talking about negative Taker traits
            > they DON'T have.)
            >
            > "They're not seething with discontent and rebellion,
            > not incessantly wrangling over what should be allowed
            > and what forbidden, not forever accusing each other of
            > not living the right way, not living in terror of each
            > other, not going crazy because their lives seem empty
            > and pointless, not having to stupefy themselves with
            > drugs to get through the days, not inventing a new
            > religion every week to give them something to hold on
            > to, not forever searching for something to do or
            > something to believe that will make their lives worth
            > living."
            >
            > Um ... excuse me?
            >
            > I find this passage TREMENDOUSLY offensive, as a Taker
            > who has none of those traits, who believes it is a sin
            > for the most part to try to tell other people how to
            > live their lives, who is not unhappy nor dissatisfied
            > with life on the whole, who is not forever searching
            > for new things to give life meaning because my life
            > has never struck me as being meaningless in the first
            > place. I do not take drugs nor religions; I don't need
            > them. I'm not going crazy. And while I SUPPOSE I could
            > be the only one of my ilk, I doubt it. I believe there
            > are plenty of other Takers like me.
            >
            > (You may, at this point, propose the possibility that
            > I am secretly a Leaver. This is laughable. But let's
            > wait until the end to cover that.)
            >
            > But - in the biggest Pollyanna reversal of the book -
            > the sum and substance of the "inspirational" portion
            > of the message is: Tell all your friends. If enough
            > Takers catch on, things will change.
            >
            > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
            > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
            > without breaking into giggling fits.
            >
            > First off, as I've already explained, Takers can't
            > change their behavior that easily without overcoming
            > some very substantial obstacles in the way. Even
            > assuming we could rework our whole culture - and
            > that's a very big assumption - what about that birth
            > rate? Gotta get that birth rate down first.
            >
            > Second, I can't believe that a character can spend the
            > better part of 260 pages dissing Takers and then turn
            > around and say, "But I'm sure if enough of you tell
            > everyone this story, you'll be able to turn it
            > around."
            >
            > Actually, to be completely honest, Ishmael hedges that
            > a bit. What he actually says (he is specifically
            > referring to population control here, the core
            > problem) is "If the will is there, the method will be
            > found." (p. 140) Both clauses of that sentence contain
            > cop-outs.
            >
            >
            > Let Them
            >
            > Ishmael uses the phrase "Mother Culture" to mean the
            > collective set of false assumptions the Takers live
            > by, that have led them astray. Ironically, when he
            > speaks of Mother Culture's assumptions, these tend to
            > be the times when I disagree with him the least; I
            > agree the assumptions are there (though I often
            > disagree about how they got there), and more often
            > than not, I agree the assumptions are bad.
            >
            > From p. 138:
            >
            > "Famine isn't unique to humans. All species are
            > subject to it everywhere in the world. When the
            > population of any species outstrips its food
            > resources, that population declines until it's once
            > again in balance with its resources. Mother Culture
            > says that humans should be exempt from that process,
            > so when she finds a population that has outstripped
            > its resources, she rushes in food from the outside,
            > thus making it a certainty that there will be even
            > more of them to starve in the next generation. Because
            > the population is never allowed to decline to the
            > point at which it can be supported by its own
            > resources, famine becomes a chronic feature of their
            > lives."
            >
            > "Yes. A few years ago I read a story in the paper
            > about an ecologist who made the same point at some
            > conference on hunger. Boy, did he get jumped on. He
            > was practically accused of being a murderer."
            >
            > "Yes, I can imagine. His colleagues all over the world
            > understood perfectly well what he was saying, but they
            > have the good sense not to confront Mother Culture
            > with it in the midst of her benevolence. If there are
            > forty thousand people in an area that can only support
            > thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food
            > from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand.
            > That just guarantees that the famine will continue."
            >
            > "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by and
            > let them starve."
            >
            > "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines
            > that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler. 'I
            > will not LET them starve. I will not LET the drought
            > come. I will not LET the river flood.' It is the gods
            > who LET these things, not you."
            >
            > This, for me, is the most significant passage in the
            > book, because it not only demonstrates my fullest
            > agreement with Ishmael, but also the built-in flaws of
            > his arguments - and thereby Quinn's.
            >
            > (Am I making a mistake in assuming that Quinn's agenda
            > is identical to his protagonist's? Normally, imputing
            > a connection between author and character is a
            > dangerous game, but here I'll take the risk. If this
            > were more like a novel, I wouldn't dare. But this book
            > is not a novel - even its fans admit that. It is a
            > propaganda tract, or even a prophecy, disguised as a
            > work of fiction. And why write propaganda espousing a
            > viewpoint if that viewpoint is not yours? Unless
            > forced to - and I presume no one was holding a gun to
            > Quinn's head.)
            >
            > I agree about the need to let the world inflict its
            > own wounds, about the dangers of trying to overcontrol
            > and overtame. But if Ishmael knows perfectly well
            > about the forces preventing more Takers from just
            > "letting them starve," then how on earth does he ever
            > expect us to pull ourselves out of our hole and get as
            > ruthless as we need to be?
            >
            > Frankly, I have days where I am not sure that trying
            > for a Taker solution is optimal for the future
            > survival of the planet. Speaking coldly - taking the
            > very long, post-human-evolution view - it might be
            > better if we were allowed to ruin the place and kill
            > ourselves in our own bile, so the planet could start
            > recovering from us that much sooner. Assuming it can.
            > After all, I agree with Ishmael when he says
            >
            > "If they refuse to live under the law, they simply
            > won't live." (p. 144)
            >
            > Very well - then let us die.
            >
            >
            > The Memepool Has a Hard Bottom
            >
            > Does that sound really horribly fatalistic?
            >
            > I am frankly dismayed by the popularity of this book
            > among smart, eco-conscious, free-thinking types - the
            > type of people I have historically counted on to pull
            > some new save-the-world rabbit out of their collective
            > hats. I see now that no rabbit will be forthcoming,
            > not if this book's philosophy is in any way
            > representative.
            >
            > This book is a spreading meme. I'm sorry I caught it;
            > sorry because not only did the book cause me a day of
            > anger which I could have done without, but also sorry
            > to know that it has come so far and infected so many
            > people. It is not a good meme. It only looks like one.
            > And I am startled that so many people I thought knew
            > better can't tell the difference.
            >
            > What worries me most about Ishmael is that I have seen
            > no other serious criticism of it from people whose
            > viewpoints I trust. I haven't looked to see what the
            > people in the OTHER camp think of it - the people who
            > revel in their Takerdom, the people who exploit
            > because they genuinely DO feel it is their divine
            > right.
            >
            > The way I feel, in short, is: If I can't expect the
            > people with consciences and brains to see through this
            > fluff, then I certainly can't expect anyone else to.
            >
            > Therefore I officially abandon hope.
            >
            > Fortunately, because I am a Taker, I can reluctantly
            > abandon hope for the world - not from pessimism, but
            > from sheer weight of evidence - and then say "oh,
            > well" and blithely go about my life. I can lock bad
            > ideas away and ignore them if I am incapable of fixing
            > them. I have never seriously considered abandoning
            > industrialized society - I try to change it in little
            > ways, but I have never opted out of the game, nor have
            > I wanted to. This, too, makes me a Taker.
            >
            > I fear that some of the intelligentsia who read this
            > book flatter themselves they are secretly Leavers in
            > disguise. Memo to these deluded people: There is no
            > such thing as a Leaver in disguise. If you believe
            > that, you are a bigger liar than Ishmael ever was.
            >
            > Which is saying something.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > MSN: janosbirozero@...
            >
            > Site Pessoal:
            >
            > www.antizero.cjb.net
            >
            > “Para um anti-site, está mais ou menos” - Anônimo
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > _______________________________________________________
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          • Paula Bannerman
            I have to agree Jim. I think the mistake people also make is that their vision is so WIDE . Our world has become so global that our thinking is
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 7, 2005
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              I have to agree Jim. I think the mistake people also make is that their vision is so "WIDE". Our world has become so global that our thinking is globalized...and thus it gives us too often the excuse of "its too big".
               
              Honestly, the thing that struck me most when I read Ishmael for the first time, is for once here was someone taking it down a few notches. I find Quinn makes it more personal...in that he forces you often to decide for yourself. He doesn't give the answers, he asks the questions. I liked that. I still do.
               
              Its that fundamental issue I personally have with the Live8 "message". I had the opportunity to go to the one here in Toronto, or rather, Barrie really. I just couldn't muster up the desire though. I understand, even somewhat agree with the message. I just still have a problem with anything "global". Its not so much "how can I make a difference all the waaaaay over there. Its more....what kind of a difference can I make right here...in this place.
               
              Its like "we" are doing these things, "they" are doing those things. I think fundimentally what that critic missed was ....how they fit in. Time and again they made the point "they were already doing that". I kept thinking...great, excellent. Who gives a shite. So what's your problem?
               
              Anywho.....I guess....as Yoda said
               
              "Do, or do not, there is no try". ;-}

              Paula B.
               
              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 1:47 PM
              Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] Words against Ishmael

              I think the author makes two basic (and easy to make) mistakes.

              1) He assumes that any competitor to humans must be equal.  The wolf needs range to hunt, humans
              need land to grow crops.  We could therefore be in competition for the same land.  (Or more
              accurately, humans need a safe place to recreate)  Obviously, we can bring enough force to bear,
              that we can wipe out the wolf, the deer, the buffalo, or even the spotted owl, but if they require
              some of the same things we do, we are in competition.

              2) Because Ishmael talks about how we came to be this way, and some of the laws that Takers break,
              the author assumes, Quinn is advocating that we stop doing these things.  Or, that the "right" way
              to live is to stop doing these things.  I didn't get this at all from Ishmael.  Instead, I clung
              to the whole no-one-right-way idea.  "The problem is not that we live the culture of maximum harm,
              but that almost all of us live the culture of maximum harm" (or something like that)

              But after all that, I too tend to think that Quinn is disingenuous.  (and yeah, I did look it up)

              I also think that Quinn has sought to somewhat change the message of Ishmael with his later books.
              He talks a lot more about population I think in these later books, and seeks to clarify why he
              refuses to propose how we need to change.  (Although he did get pushed into it somewhat in BC)

              Jim

              --- Janos Biro <janosbiro@...> wrote:

              > I found this review of the book, and the autor is not
              > happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of this,
              > and maybe respond the autor:
              >
              > http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm
              >
              > Don't Call Me, Ishmael
              > 27 june 01
              >
              >
              > I am not denying, you understand, that Ishmael by
              > Daniel Quinn is a compelling book. I know it's
              > compelling, because I opened it for the first time at
              > two a.m. one night, intending only to read a few pages
              > to help me sleep. Around two-thirty I started taking
              > notes. Around three-thirty I started thinking I really
              > should quit. It took me until about four to wind down
              > enough to try to sleep, and even then I didn't sleep
              > very well for what was left of the night.
              >
              > There are a number of people who have spoken of
              > Ishmael in terms I would never hear them use for any
              > other book. People of my acquaintance - sane, sensible
              > people who are not given to this sort of inflated,
              > touchy-feely rhetoric - have spoken of it as a
              > life-changing, mind-altering experience. We'll let the
              > cover quote of the latest edition (from Jim Britell of
              > the Whole Earth Review) be the character note for all
              > the various praises: "From now on I will divide the
              > books I have read into two categories - the ones I
              > read before Ishmael and those read after."
              >
              > Readers familiar with my own innate cynicism, and my
              > tendency to pull in an opposite direction, with an
              > equivalent force, to wherever I am being led, will
              > probably assume that hearing all this buildup made me
              > predisposed to dislike Ishmael before I ever opened
              > it. This is not a bad assumption in most
              > circumstances, but in fact for once the opposite was
              > true. I believed the recommendations, because many of
              > them came from voices I trusted. I WANTED to read
              > Ishmael and have a life-changing, mind-altering
              > experience.
              >
              > Instead, what I got was an enormous lie, all the more
              > aggravating for being a very skillfully told one. A
              > beautiful work of artifice, compelling and yet
              > simultaneously hollow inside. I was only angry, I
              > think - and I was livid about the book for twenty-four
              > hours afterward - because I was so disappointed.
              >
              > Ishmael is a Socratic dialogue between a man and a
              > telepathic gorilla. This implausible-sounding device
              > comes off without a hitch and is not one of the
              > problems I have with the book, so please accept it.
              > The reason Quinn has chosen a gorilla as a spokesbeing
              > for the side of Truth and Beauty is because no human
              > would be able to perform the task. Because, at its
              > heart, the book is about What Mankind Is Doing Wrong.
              >
              > Oh, the book is very careful to avoid casting it that
              > way. Ishmael (the gorilla) uses the terms Takers and
              > Leavers to try to avoid any bias, and the book makes
              > it clear that there ARE some groups of humans in the
              > Leavers category (read: good guys). But this defense,
              > like so much about the book, is disingenuous.
              >
              > (Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding, please. It
              > means that one is pretending to be an ingenue, that
              > one is affecting a naivete that one does not truly
              > have. One can only accept some of Ishmael's defenses
              > and ideas by being unaware of certain harsh truths.
              > Quinn - and thereby Ishmael - MUST be aware of these
              > harsh truths, because if the book has convinced me of
              > anything, it is that neither Quinn nor his protagonist
              > are stupid. Ergo, something is wrong with this
              > picture.)
              >
              > The fundamental principle of Ishmael is that the
              > Takers - i.e. industrialized man, and particularly
              > white man - are destroying the world in a way that no
              > other life on earth threatens to do, and it is
              > happening because the Takers are ignoring a
              > fundamental law of the world - as immutable as a law
              > of physics - that all other life on earth
              > unconsciously or consciously obeys. That law can be
              > summarized as "Compete, but do not make war." But
              > you'll need to take it broadly. I'll come to that in a
              > moment.
              >
              > The main problem with the book is therefore a
              > two-pronged difficulty with this premise: One, that it
              > makes certain assumptions about Taker behavior that
              > are not true, and two, that it simplifies or alters
              > the facts about how Takers got where they are to suit
              > itself.
              >
              > Most of this is not going to be worthwhile to read
              > unless you have read Ishmael or plan to.
              > Unfortunately, because of the communities this book
              > has propagated most heavily among, there's a
              > better-than-average chance that you've read it or plan
              > to. I'll come to that at the end. I will also discuss
              > where the hopeful outcome of Ishmael goes wrong and
              > why.
              >
              > But before covering any of that, a comment or two
              > about a separate lie, taking place on an entirely
              > different level.
              >
              >
              > A Non-Prophet Organization
              >
              > Ishmael disdains the Takers' dependence on prophets.
              > He says that Takers use prophets to try to tell them
              > how they should live, whereas Leavers don't need such
              > things because they instinctively KNOW how to live -
              > by following the planet's unspoken laws.
              >
              > Aside from the fact that this is a fairy-tale
              > simplification, and the fact that some of us Takers
              > who can't STAND prophets and avoid them compulsively
              > are a wee tad offended by this generalization ... the
              > book itself is a work of prophecy. Quinn, via his
              > spokesbeing Ishmael, is trying to tell us a better way
              > to live. This is exactly the thing Ishmael blasts.
              >
              > This book is a myth which claims to dispel mythology.
              > It is a utopian novel which talks a dystopian game.
              > Oh, yes, it's utopian. It holds out the promise of the
              > Leaver utopia, says, "look, this is a better world and
              > here is the pie-in-the-sky way to achieve it," which
              > is what utopian novels all do, only with differing pie
              > ratios. No one is seriously proposing we can have
              > Shangri-La (on the high pie end), but the limited
              > utopias of Walden Two have always struck me as
              > eminently achievable (on the low end).
              >
              > Alas, Ishmael's utopia - though the characters clearly
              > believe in its achievability - is only possible
              > through dramatic changes in human behavior,
              > unattainable ones. Yes, I say unattainable. Some of
              > that is, admittedly, my cynicism about human nature,
              > apathy, and greed ... but some of it is because we
              > CAN'T: The reasons we got that way are not things we
              > can control and change.
              >
              > And so we come to Ishmael's biggest lies.
              >
              >
              > Lions and Gazelles, Chickens and Eggs
              >
              > In its way Ishmael is even more cynical about human
              > nature than I am. It assumes - fundamentally - that
              > Takers got the way they are because they wanted to be
              > that way.
              >
              > In order to accept that assumption, one must accept a
              > number of other generalizations about Takers which
              > frankly rile me. One must assume that all Takers are
              > conspicuous consumers (I try not to be); that all
              > Takers believe that humanity is the be-all-end-all of
              > evolution of life on this planet (I've never believed
              > that for a second, although I do often wonder if we're
              > going to wipe out the place before Whatever's Next has
              > a chance to get here); and most importantly, that
              > Takers dominate the earth just because they can, which
              > is an outright lie. Takers dominate the earth because
              > they are forced to. They are forced to by population
              > pressure.
              >
              > This develops into a chicken-and-egg problem which I
              > believe Ishmael works the wrong way. Ishmael believes
              > that the Takers suffered a population explosion
              > because they systematically eliminated their
              > "competition" - we'll get into that sticky word in a
              > moment. I believe they eliminated their "competition"
              > because their population exploded.
              >
              > In other words, the agrarian peoples did not
              > systematically displace and sometimes kill the nomadic
              > peoples, back at the dawn of man, to clear out a space
              > for more agriculture - their plants, their ways - so
              > that they could have more babies. No. They were having
              > too many babies, reproducing too successfully, and
              > therefore HAD to expand, no matter what it cost.
              >
              > This is borne out by the fact that all wars are caused
              > by population pressure, no matter what the surface
              > causes. Wars tend to look like they are caused by
              > economics (or religion) on the surface, but there is
              > always population lurking underneath. There are a few
              > things I agree with Ishmael foursquare about, and one
              > of them is that the systematic Taker failure to reduce
              > birth rate will eventually do more to kill this planet
              > than any other horrible thing we do, because as long
              > as we fail to do it, all the other more immediate
              > problems will not only never be eradicated, they will
              > get worse.
              >
              > But Ishmael blames the Takers for their expansion,
              > which to me is aiming at the right target in the wrong
              > place. Takers HAVE to expand. They are not lions. Nor
              > are they gazelles.
              >
              > Ishmael goes on a lot about lions and gazelles, his
              > canonical example of how to live by nature's laws. He
              > talks about how lions don't kill more than the one
              > gazelle they need for dinner, they don't go on a tear
              > and try to kill off all the other lions to avoid food
              > competition, or try to keep other lions from getting
              > to the gazelles, or kill off gazelles in other lions'
              > hunting ranges. All of these things are made spurious
              > by population - to wit, if lions bred faster and more
              > effectively, we might find that lion behavior is not
              > what it once was. Hunger and space demands caused by
              > too many lions would change everything. In fact, for a
              > lion the margins would be considerably narrower,
              > because they need more food per pound than a human and
              > ideally a lot more space. If lions had longer lives
              > and longer fertile period, Ishmael wouldn't be using
              > them as examples.
              >
              > (Certainly I would consider lions - or gazelles, for
              > that matter - far more amoral than humans, for good or
              > ill. I presume a lion acts only out of his body's
              > self-interest and nothing higher; humans generally act
              > this way too, but they're less honest about it. I
              > could see a pride of lions, for example, guarding
              > their hunting grounds to prevent other lions from
              > getting to "their" gazelles - if they ever got hungry
              > enough. [See rule #3 below.] Saying something like
              > "The gazelle and the lion are enemies only in the
              > minds of the Takers" is veriest bullshit. Just because
              > the gazelle knows it's safe to go near the lion while
              > the lion's feeding doesn't make them chums.)
              >
              > Here are three fundamental Taker violations Ishmael
              > makes his human student discover. These are key points
              > of the book's philosophy, and all three are flawed:
              >
              > 1. Takers exterminate their competitors. Takers HAVE
              > no competitors. That's the problem. If they had a
              > competitor then they might have a natural growth
              > limit. (Internecine squabbles between Takers, in both
              > Ishmael's arguments and mine, do not count. Taker vs.
              > Taker is a side note. We are talking about Takers vs.
              > the world.)
              >
              > Ishmael's student notes, correctly, that exterminating
              > one's competitors leads inevitably to a loss of
              > diversity. "There would simply be one species at each
              > level of competition: the strongest." True, and not
              > desirable, but the catch here is in the phrase "level
              > of competition." There IS no other species on the
              > planet capable of interacting with Takers at their
              > level of competition. That's the problem, and it's a
              > problem Ishmael completely ignores.
              >
              > 2. Takers systematically destroy their competitors'
              > food to make room for their own. Ishmael's talking
              > about the agrarians driving out the nomads, which I
              > say was due to population pressure. Since that time,
              > "competitors' food" has effectively been meaningless
              > among humans.
              >
              > 3. Takers deny their competitors access to food. See
              > above. What's a competitor? Here I honestly can't
              > figure out what Ishmael's talking about, unless he's
              > referring to the dawn of agriculture yet again. (He
              > does go on about it quite a lot - for Ishmael this is
              > the point where Takers started to go bad.)
              >
              > Even taking into account internecine Taker squabbles,
              > except during the excesses of wartime I can think of
              > no case where one Taker population systematically
              > denied a food supply to another, or through
              > scorched-earth policies made it impossible for the
              > other Taker population to cultivate its own supply ...
              > so Ishmael MUST be talking about the dawn of
              > agriculture again; there is no other idea that fits
              > the terms.
              >
              >
              > Jam Yesterday and Jam Tomorrow
              >
              > It's amazing how Ishmael manages to be simultaneously
              > over-optimistic and over-pessimistic about Taker
              > behavior. This passage from page 148, for example,
              > makes my blood boil in its assumptions about what
              > Takers feel and think. (Ishmael is describing Leavers,
              > but doing so by talking about negative Taker traits
              > they DON'T have.)
              >
              > "They're not seething with discontent and rebellion,
              > not incessantly wrangling over what should be allowed
              > and what forbidden, not forever accusing each other of
              > not living the right way, not living in terror of each
              > other, not going crazy because their lives seem empty
              > and pointless, not having to stupefy themselves with
              > drugs to get through the days, not inventing a new
              > religion every week to give them something to hold on
              > to, not forever searching for something to do or
              > something to believe that will make their lives worth
              > living."
              >
              > Um ... excuse me?
              >
              > I find this passage TREMENDOUSLY offensive, as a Taker
              > who has none of those traits, who believes it is a sin
              > for the most part to try to tell other people how to
              > live their lives, who is not unhappy nor dissatisfied
              > with life on the whole, who is not forever searching
              > for new things to give life meaning because my life
              > has never struck me as being meaningless in the first
              > place. I do not take drugs nor religions; I don't need
              > them. I'm not going crazy. And while I SUPPOSE I could
              > be the only one of my ilk, I doubt it. I believe there
              > are plenty of other Takers like me.
              >
              > (You may, at this point, propose the possibility that
              > I am secretly a Leaver. This is laughable. But let's
              > wait until the end to cover that.)
              >
              > But - in the biggest Pollyanna reversal of the book -
              > the sum and substance of the "inspirational" portion
              > of the message is: Tell all your friends. If enough
              > Takers catch on, things will change.
              >
              > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
              > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
              > without breaking into giggling fits.
              >
              > First off, as I've already explained, Takers can't
              > change their behavior that easily without overcoming
              > some very substantial obstacles in the way. Even
              > assuming we could rework our whole culture - and
              > that's a very big assumption - what about that birth
              > rate? Gotta get that birth rate down first.
              >
              > Second, I can't believe that a character can spend the
              > better part of 260 pages dissing Takers and then turn
              > around and say, "But I'm sure if enough of you tell
              > everyone this story, you'll be able to turn it
              > around."
              >
              > Actually, to be completely honest, Ishmael hedges that
              > a bit. What he actually says (he is specifically
              > referring to population control here, the core
              > problem) is "If the will is there, the method will be
              > found." (p. 140) Both clauses of that sentence contain
              > cop-outs.
              >
              >
              > Let Them
              >
              > Ishmael uses the phrase "Mother Culture" to mean the
              > collective set of false assumptions the Takers live
              > by, that have led them astray. Ironically, when he
              > speaks of Mother Culture's assumptions, these tend to
              > be the times when I disagree with him the least; I
              > agree the assumptions are there (though I often
              > disagree about how they got there), and more often
              > than not, I agree the assumptions are bad.
              >
              > From p. 138:
              >
              > "Famine isn't unique to humans. All species are
              > subject to it everywhere in the world. When the
              > population of any species outstrips its food
              > resources, that population declines until it's once
              > again in balance with its resources. Mother Culture
              > says that humans should be exempt from that process,
              > so when she finds a population that has outstripped
              > its resources, she rushes in food from the outside,
              > thus making it a certainty that there will be even
              > more of them to starve in the next generation. Because
              > the population is never allowed to decline to the
              > point at which it can be supported by its own
              > resources, famine becomes a chronic feature of their
              > lives."
              >
              > "Yes. A few years ago I read a story in the paper
              > about an ecologist who made the same point at some
              > conference on hunger. Boy, did he get jumped on. He
              > was practically accused of being a murderer."
              >
              > "Yes, I can imagine. His colleagues all over the world
              > understood perfectly well what he was saying, but they
              > have the good sense not to confront Mother Culture
              > with it in the midst of her benevolence. If there are
              > forty thousand people in an area that can only support
              > thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food
              > from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand.
              > That just guarantees that the famine will continue."
              >
              > "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by and
              > let them starve."
              >
              > "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines
              > that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler. 'I
              > will not LET them starve. I will not LET the drought
              > come. I will not LET the river flood.' It is the gods
              > who LET these things, not you."
              >
              > This, for me, is the most significant passage in the
              > book, because it not only demonstrates my fullest
              > agreement with Ishmael, but also the built-in flaws of
              > his arguments - and thereby Quinn's.
              >
              > (Am I making a mistake in assuming that Quinn's agenda
              > is identical to his protagonist's? Normally, imputing
              > a connection between author and character is a
              > dangerous game, but here I'll take the risk. If this
              > were more like a novel, I wouldn't dare. But this book
              > is not a novel - even its fans admit that. It is a
              > propaganda tract, or even a prophecy, disguised as a
              > work of fiction. And why write propaganda espousing a
              > viewpoint if that viewpoint is not yours? Unless
              > forced to - and I presume no one was holding a gun to
              > Quinn's head.)
              >
              > I agree about the need to let the world inflict its
              > own wounds, about the dangers of trying to overcontrol
              > and overtame. But if Ishmael knows perfectly well
              > about the forces preventing more Takers from just
              > "letting them starve," then how on earth does he ever
              > expect us to pull ourselves out of our hole and get as
              > ruthless as we need to be?
              >
              > Frankly, I have days where I am not sure that trying
              > for a Taker solution is optimal for the future
              > survival of the planet. Speaking coldly - taking the
              > very long, post-human-evolution view - it might be
              > better if we were allowed to ruin the place and kill
              > ourselves in our own bile, so the planet could start
              > recovering from us that much sooner. Assuming it can.
              > After all, I agree with Ishmael when he says
              >
              > "If they refuse to live under the law, they simply
              > won't live." (p. 144)
              >
              > Very well - then let us die.
              >
              >
              > The Memepool Has a Hard Bottom
              >
              > Does that sound really horribly fatalistic?
              >
              > I am frankly dismayed by the popularity of this book
              > among smart, eco-conscious, free-thinking types - the
              > type of people I have historically counted on to pull
              > some new save-the-world rabbit out of their collective
              > hats. I see now that no rabbit will be forthcoming,
              > not if this book's philosophy is in any way
              > representative.
              >
              > This book is a spreading meme. I'm sorry I caught it;
              > sorry because not only did the book cause me a day of
              > anger which I could have done without, but also sorry
              > to know that it has come so far and infected so many
              > people. It is not a good meme. It only looks like one.
              > And I am startled that so many people I thought knew
              > better can't tell the difference.
              >
              > What worries me most about Ishmael is that I have seen
              > no other serious criticism of it from people whose
              > viewpoints I trust. I haven't looked to see what the
              > people in the OTHER camp think of it - the people who
              > revel in their Takerdom, the people who exploit
              > because they genuinely DO feel it is their divine
              > right.
              >
              > The way I feel, in short, is: If I can't expect the
              > people with consciences and brains to see through this
              > fluff, then I certainly can't expect anyone else to.
              >
              > Therefore I officially abandon hope.
              >
              > Fortunately, because I am a Taker, I can reluctantly
              > abandon hope for the world - not from pessimism, but
              > from sheer weight of evidence - and then say "oh,
              > well" and blithely go about my life. I can lock bad
              > ideas away and ignore them if I am incapable of fixing
              > them. I have never seriously considered abandoning
              > industrialized society - I try to change it in little
              > ways, but I have never opted out of the game, nor have
              > I wanted to. This, too, makes me a Taker.
              >
              > I fear that some of the intelligentsia who read this
              > book flatter themselves they are secretly Leavers in
              > disguise. Memo to these deluded people: There is no
              > such thing as a Leaver in disguise. If you believe
              > that, you are a bigger liar than Ishmael ever was.
              >
              > Which is saying something.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > MSN: janosbirozero@...
              >
              > Site Pessoal:
              >
              > www.antizero.cjb.net
              >
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            • Janos Biro
              I am very happy that someone saw that. I agree. Quinn himself only told me that a lot of teachers are using his book, so it can t be that wrong. It s not
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 12, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                I am very happy that someone saw that. I agree. Quinn
                himself only told me that a lot of teachers are using
                his book, so it can't be that wrong. It's not wrong,
                it's just not as good as it could be, and we should
                try and write better books, inspired by him. I think
                he would like that.

                Janos

                --- Jim Linder <jimbo435@...> escreveu:


                ---------------------------------
                I think the author makes two basic (and easy to make)
                mistakes.

                1) He assumes that any competitor to humans must be
                equal. The wolf needs range to hunt, humans
                need land to grow crops. We could therefore be in
                competition for the same land. (Or more
                accurately, humans need a safe place to recreate)
                Obviously, we can bring enough force to bear,
                that we can wipe out the wolf, the deer, the buffalo,
                or even the spotted owl, but if they require
                some of the same things we do, we are in competition.

                2) Because Ishmael talks about how we came to be this
                way, and some of the laws that Takers break,
                the author assumes, Quinn is advocating that we stop
                doing these things. Or, that the "right" way
                to live is to stop doing these things. I didn't get
                this at all from Ishmael. Instead, I clung
                to the whole no-one-right-way idea. "The problem is
                not that we live the culture of maximum harm,
                but that almost all of us live the culture of maximum
                harm" (or something like that)

                But after all that, I too tend to think that Quinn is
                disingenuous. (and yeah, I did look it up)

                I also think that Quinn has sought to somewhat change
                the message of Ishmael with his later books.
                He talks a lot more about population I think in these
                later books, and seeks to clarify why he
                refuses to propose how we need to change. (Although
                he did get pushed into it somewhat in BC)

                Jim

                --- Janos Biro <janosbiro@...> wrote:

                > I found this review of the book, and the autor is
                not
                > happy. I wonder if any one can make any sense of
                this,
                > and maybe respond the autor:
                >
                > http://www.inu.org/bieyi/cruises/ishmael.htm
                >
                > Don't Call Me, Ishmael
                > 27 june 01
                >
                >
                > I am not denying, you understand, that Ishmael by
                > Daniel Quinn is a compelling book. I know it's
                > compelling, because I opened it for the first time
                at
                > two a.m. one night, intending only to read a few
                pages
                > to help me sleep. Around two-thirty I started taking
                > notes. Around three-thirty I started thinking I
                really
                > should quit. It took me until about four to wind
                down
                > enough to try to sleep, and even then I didn't sleep
                > very well for what was left of the night.
                >
                > There are a number of people who have spoken of
                > Ishmael in terms I would never hear them use for any
                > other book. People of my acquaintance - sane,
                sensible
                > people who are not given to this sort of inflated,
                > touchy-feely rhetoric - have spoken of it as a
                > life-changing, mind-altering experience. We'll let
                the
                > cover quote of the latest edition (from Jim Britell
                of
                > the Whole Earth Review) be the character note for
                all
                > the various praises: "From now on I will divide the
                > books I have read into two categories - the ones I
                > read before Ishmael and those read after."
                >
                > Readers familiar with my own innate cynicism, and my
                > tendency to pull in an opposite direction, with an
                > equivalent force, to wherever I am being led, will
                > probably assume that hearing all this buildup made
                me
                > predisposed to dislike Ishmael before I ever opened
                > it. This is not a bad assumption in most
                > circumstances, but in fact for once the opposite was
                > true. I believed the recommendations, because many
                of
                > them came from voices I trusted. I WANTED to read
                > Ishmael and have a life-changing, mind-altering
                > experience.
                >
                > Instead, what I got was an enormous lie, all the
                more
                > aggravating for being a very skillfully told one. A
                > beautiful work of artifice, compelling and yet
                > simultaneously hollow inside. I was only angry, I
                > think - and I was livid about the book for
                twenty-four
                > hours afterward - because I was so disappointed.
                >
                > Ishmael is a Socratic dialogue between a man and a
                > telepathic gorilla. This implausible-sounding device
                > comes off without a hitch and is not one of the
                > problems I have with the book, so please accept it.
                > The reason Quinn has chosen a gorilla as a
                spokesbeing
                > for the side of Truth and Beauty is because no human
                > would be able to perform the task. Because, at its
                > heart, the book is about What Mankind Is Doing
                Wrong.
                >
                > Oh, the book is very careful to avoid casting it
                that
                > way. Ishmael (the gorilla) uses the terms Takers and
                > Leavers to try to avoid any bias, and the book makes
                > it clear that there ARE some groups of humans in the
                > Leavers category (read: good guys). But this
                defense,
                > like so much about the book, is disingenuous.
                >
                > (Look up "disingenuous" before proceeding, please.
                It
                > means that one is pretending to be an ingenue, that
                > one is affecting a naivete that one does not truly
                > have. One can only accept some of Ishmael's defenses
                > and ideas by being unaware of certain harsh truths.
                > Quinn - and thereby Ishmael - MUST be aware of these
                > harsh truths, because if the book has convinced me
                of
                > anything, it is that neither Quinn nor his
                protagonist
                > are stupid. Ergo, something is wrong with this
                > picture.)
                >
                > The fundamental principle of Ishmael is that the
                > Takers - i.e. industrialized man, and particularly
                > white man - are destroying the world in a way that
                no
                > other life on earth threatens to do, and it is
                > happening because the Takers are ignoring a
                > fundamental law of the world - as immutable as a law
                > of physics - that all other life on earth
                > unconsciously or consciously obeys. That law can be
                > summarized as "Compete, but do not make war." But
                > you'll need to take it broadly. I'll come to that in
                a
                > moment.
                >
                > The main problem with the book is therefore a
                > two-pronged difficulty with this premise: One, that
                it
                > makes certain assumptions about Taker behavior that
                > are not true, and two, that it simplifies or alters
                > the facts about how Takers got where they are to
                suit
                > itself.
                >
                > Most of this is not going to be worthwhile to read
                > unless you have read Ishmael or plan to.
                > Unfortunately, because of the communities this book
                > has propagated most heavily among, there's a
                > better-than-average chance that you've read it or
                plan
                > to. I'll come to that at the end. I will also
                discuss
                > where the hopeful outcome of Ishmael goes wrong and
                > why.
                >
                > But before covering any of that, a comment or two
                > about a separate lie, taking place on an entirely
                > different level.
                >
                >
                > A Non-Prophet Organization
                >
                > Ishmael disdains the Takers' dependence on prophets.
                > He says that Takers use prophets to try to tell them
                > how they should live, whereas Leavers don't need
                such
                > things because they instinctively KNOW how to live -
                > by following the planet's unspoken laws.
                >
                > Aside from the fact that this is a fairy-tale
                > simplification, and the fact that some of us Takers
                > who can't STAND prophets and avoid them compulsively
                > are a wee tad offended by this generalization ...
                the
                > book itself is a work of prophecy. Quinn, via his
                > spokesbeing Ishmael, is trying to tell us a better
                way
                > to live. This is exactly the thing Ishmael blasts.
                >
                > This book is a myth which claims to dispel
                mythology.
                > It is a utopian novel which talks a dystopian game.
                > Oh, yes, it's utopian. It holds out the promise of
                the
                > Leaver utopia, says, "look, this is a better world
                and
                > here is the pie-in-the-sky way to achieve it," which
                > is what utopian novels all do, only with differing
                pie
                > ratios. No one is seriously proposing we can have
                > Shangri-La (on the high pie end), but the limited
                > utopias of Walden Two have always struck me as
                > eminently achievable (on the low end).
                >
                > Alas, Ishmael's utopia - though the characters
                clearly
                > believe in its achievability - is only possible
                > through dramatic changes in human behavior,
                > unattainable ones. Yes, I say unattainable. Some of
                > that is, admittedly, my cynicism about human nature,
                > apathy, and greed ... but some of it is because we
                > CAN'T: The reasons we got that way are not things we
                > can control and change.
                >
                > And so we come to Ishmael's biggest lies.
                >
                >
                > Lions and Gazelles, Chickens and Eggs
                >
                > In its way Ishmael is even more cynical about human
                > nature than I am. It assumes - fundamentally - that
                > Takers got the way they are because they wanted to
                be
                > that way.
                >
                > In order to accept that assumption, one must accept
                a
                > number of other generalizations about Takers which
                > frankly rile me. One must assume that all Takers are
                > conspicuous consumers (I try not to be); that all
                > Takers believe that humanity is the be-all-end-all
                of
                > evolution of life on this planet (I've never
                believed
                > that for a second, although I do often wonder if
                we're
                > going to wipe out the place before Whatever's Next
                has
                > a chance to get here); and most importantly, that
                > Takers dominate the earth just because they can,
                which
                > is an outright lie. Takers dominate the earth
                because
                > they are forced to. They are forced to by population
                > pressure.
                >
                > This develops into a chicken-and-egg problem which I
                > believe Ishmael works the wrong way. Ishmael
                believes
                > that the Takers suffered a population explosion
                > because they systematically eliminated their
                > "competition" - we'll get into that sticky word in a
                > moment. I believe they eliminated their
                "competition"
                > because their population exploded.
                >
                > In other words, the agrarian peoples did not
                > systematically displace and sometimes kill the
                nomadic
                > peoples, back at the dawn of man, to clear out a
                space
                > for more agriculture - their plants, their ways - so
                > that they could have more babies. No. They were
                having
                > too many babies, reproducing too successfully, and
                > therefore HAD to expand, no matter what it cost.
                >
                > This is borne out by the fact that all wars are
                caused
                > by population pressure, no matter what the surface
                > causes. Wars tend to look like they are caused by
                > economics (or religion) on the surface, but there is
                > always population lurking underneath. There are a
                few
                > things I agree with Ishmael foursquare about, and
                one
                > of them is that the systematic Taker failure to
                reduce
                > birth rate will eventually do more to kill this
                planet
                > than any other horrible thing we do, because as long
                > as we fail to do it, all the other more immediate
                > problems will not only never be eradicated, they
                will
                > get worse.
                >
                > But Ishmael blames the Takers for their expansion,
                > which to me is aiming at the right target in the
                wrong
                > place. Takers HAVE to expand. They are not lions.
                Nor
                > are they gazelles.
                >
                > Ishmael goes on a lot about lions and gazelles, his
                > canonical example of how to live by nature's laws.
                He
                > talks about how lions don't kill more than the one
                > gazelle they need for dinner, they don't go on a
                tear
                > and try to kill off all the other lions to avoid
                food
                > competition, or try to keep other lions from getting
                > to the gazelles, or kill off gazelles in other
                lions'
                > hunting ranges. All of these things are made
                spurious
                > by population - to wit, if lions bred faster and
                more
                > effectively, we might find that lion behavior is not
                > what it once was. Hunger and space demands caused by
                > too many lions would change everything. In fact, for
                a
                > lion the margins would be considerably narrower,
                > because they need more food per pound than a human
                and
                > ideally a lot more space. If lions had longer lives
                > and longer fertile period, Ishmael wouldn't be using
                > them as examples.
                >
                > (Certainly I would consider lions - or gazelles, for
                > that matter - far more amoral than humans, for good
                or
                > ill. I presume a lion acts only out of his body's
                > self-interest and nothing higher; humans generally
                act
                > this way too, but they're less honest about it. I
                > could see a pride of lions, for example, guarding
                > their hunting grounds to prevent other lions from
                > getting to "their" gazelles - if they ever got
                hungry
                > enough. [See rule #3 below.] Saying something like
                > "The gazelle and the lion are enemies only in the
                > minds of the Takers" is veriest bullshit. Just
                because
                > the gazelle knows it's safe to go near the lion
                while
                > the lion's feeding doesn't make them chums.)
                >
                > Here are three fundamental Taker violations Ishmael
                > makes his human student discover. These are key
                points
                > of the book's philosophy, and all three are flawed:
                >
                > 1. Takers exterminate their competitors. Takers HAVE
                > no competitors. That's the problem. If they had a
                > competitor then they might have a natural growth
                > limit. (Internecine squabbles between Takers, in
                both
                > Ishmael's arguments and mine, do not count. Taker
                vs.
                > Taker is a side note. We are talking about Takers
                vs.
                > the world.)
                >
                > Ishmael's student notes, correctly, that
                exterminating
                > one's competitors leads inevitably to a loss of
                > diversity. "There would simply be one species at
                each
                > level of competition: the strongest." True, and not
                > desirable, but the catch here is in the phrase
                "level
                > of competition." There IS no other species on the
                > planet capable of interacting with Takers at their
                > level of competition. That's the problem, and it's a
                > problem Ishmael completely ignores.
                >
                > 2. Takers systematically destroy their competitors'
                > food to make room for their own. Ishmael's talking
                > about the agrarians driving out the nomads, which I
                > say was due to population pressure. Since that time,
                > "competitors' food" has effectively been meaningless
                > among humans.
                >
                > 3. Takers deny their competitors access to food. See
                > above. What's a competitor? Here I honestly can't
                > figure out what Ishmael's talking about, unless he's
                > referring to the dawn of agriculture yet again. (He
                > does go on about it quite a lot - for Ishmael this
                is
                > the point where Takers started to go bad.)
                >
                > Even taking into account internecine Taker
                squabbles,
                > except during the excesses of wartime I can think of
                > no case where one Taker population systematically
                > denied a food supply to another, or through
                > scorched-earth policies made it impossible for the
                > other Taker population to cultivate its own supply
                ...
                > so Ishmael MUST be talking about the dawn of
                > agriculture again; there is no other idea that fits
                > the terms.
                >
                >
                > Jam Yesterday and Jam Tomorrow
                >
                > It's amazing how Ishmael manages to be
                simultaneously
                > over-optimistic and over-pessimistic about Taker
                > behavior. This passage from page 148, for example,
                > makes my blood boil in its assumptions about what
                > Takers feel and think. (Ishmael is describing
                Leavers,
                > but doing so by talking about negative Taker traits
                > they DON'T have.)
                >
                > "They're not seething with discontent and rebellion,
                > not incessantly wrangling over what should be
                allowed
                > and what forbidden, not forever accusing each other
                of
                > not living the right way, not living in terror of
                each
                > other, not going crazy because their lives seem
                empty
                > and pointless, not having to stupefy themselves with
                > drugs to get through the days, not inventing a new
                > religion every week to give them something to hold
                on
                > to, not forever searching for something to do or
                > something to believe that will make their lives
                worth
                > living."
                >
                > Um ... excuse me?
                >
                > I find this passage TREMENDOUSLY offensive, as a
                Taker
                > who has none of those traits, who believes it is a
                sin
                > for the most part to try to tell other people how to
                > live their lives, who is not unhappy nor
                dissatisfied
                > with life on the whole, who is not forever searching
                > for new things to give life meaning because my life
                > has never struck me as being meaningless in the
                first
                > place. I do not take drugs nor religions; I don't
                need
                > them. I'm not going crazy. And while I SUPPOSE I
                could
                > be the only one of my ilk, I doubt it. I believe
                there
                > are plenty of other Takers like me.
                >
                > (You may, at this point, propose the possibility
                that
                > I am secretly a Leaver. This is laughable. But let's
                > wait until the end to cover that.)
                >
                > But - in the biggest Pollyanna reversal of the book
                -
                > the sum and substance of the "inspirational" portion
                > of the message is: Tell all your friends. If enough
                > Takers catch on, things will change.
                >
                > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
                > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
                > without breaking into giggling fits.
                >
                > First off, as I've already explained, Takers can't
                > change their behavior that easily without overcoming
                > some very substantial obstacles in the way. Even
                > assuming we could rework our whole culture - and
                > that's a very big assumption - what about that birth
                > rate? Gotta get that birth rate down first.
                >
                > Second, I can't believe that a character can spend
                the
                > better part of 260 pages dissing Takers and then
                turn
                > around and say, "But I'm sure if enough of you tell
                > everyone this story, you'll be able to turn it
                > around."
                >
                > Actually, to be completely honest, Ishmael hedges
                that
                > a bit. What he actually says (he is specifically
                > referring to population control here, the core
                > problem) is "If the will is there, the method will
                be
                > found." (p. 140) Both clauses of that sentence
                contain
                > cop-outs.
                >
                >
                > Let Them
                >
                > Ishmael uses the phrase "Mother Culture" to mean the
                > collective set of false assumptions the Takers live
                > by, that have led them astray. Ironically, when he
                > speaks of Mother Culture's assumptions, these tend
                to
                > be the times when I disagree with him the least; I
                > agree the assumptions are there (though I often
                > disagree about how they got there), and more often
                > than not, I agree the assumptions are bad.
                >
                > From p. 138:
                >
                > "Famine isn't unique to humans. All species are
                > subject to it everywhere in the world. When the
                > population of any species outstrips its food
                > resources, that population declines until it's once
                > again in balance with its resources. Mother Culture
                > says that humans should be exempt from that process,
                > so when she finds a population that has outstripped
                > its resources, she rushes in food from the outside,
                > thus making it a certainty that there will be even
                > more of them to starve in the next generation.
                Because
                > the population is never allowed to decline to the
                > point at which it can be supported by its own
                > resources, famine becomes a chronic feature of their
                > lives."
                >
                > "Yes. A few years ago I read a story in the paper
                > about an ecologist who made the same point at some
                > conference on hunger. Boy, did he get jumped on. He
                > was practically accused of being a murderer."
                >
                > "Yes, I can imagine. His colleagues all over the
                world
                > understood perfectly well what he was saying, but
                they
                > have the good sense not to confront Mother Culture
                > with it in the midst of her benevolence. If there
                are
                > forty thousand people in an area that can only
                support
                > thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food
                > from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand.
                > That just guarantees that the famine will continue."
                >
                > "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by
                and
                > let them starve."
                >
                > "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines
                > that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler. 'I
                > will not LET them starve. I will not LET the drought
                > come. I will not LET the river flood.' It is the
                gods
                > who LET these things, not you."
                >
                > This, for me, is the most significant passage in the
                > book, because it not only demonstrates my fullest
                > agreement with Ishmael, but also the built-in flaws
                of
                > his arguments - and thereby Quinn's.
                >
                > (Am I making a mistake in assuming that Quinn's
                agenda
                > is identical to his protagonist's? Normally,
                imputing
                > a connection between author and character is a
                > dangerous game, but here I'll take the risk. If this
                > were more like a novel, I wouldn't dare. But this
                book
                > is not a novel - even its fans admit that. It is a
                > propaganda tract, or even a prophecy, disguised as a
                > work of fiction. And why write propaganda espousing
                a
                > viewpoint if that viewpoint is not yours? Unless
                > forced to - and I presume no one was holding a gun
                to
                > Quinn's head.)
                >
                > I agree about the need to let the world inflict its
                > own wounds, about the dangers of trying to
                overcontrol
                > and overtame. But if Ishmael knows perfectly well
                > about the forces preventing more Takers from just
                > "letting them starve," then how on earth does he
                ever
                > expect us to pull ourselves out of our hole and get
                as
                > ruthless as we need to be?
                >
                > Frankly, I have days where I am not sure that trying
                > for a Taker solution is optimal for the future
                > survival of the planet. Speaking coldly - taking the
                > very long, post-human-evolution view - it might be
                > better if we were allowed to ruin the place and kill
                > ourselves in our own bile, so the planet could start
                > recovering from us that much sooner. Assuming it
                can.
                > After all, I agree with Ishmael when he says
                >
                > "If they refuse to live under the law, they simply
                > won't live." (p. 144)
                >
                > Very well - then let us die.
                >
                >
                > The Memepool Has a Hard Bottom
                >
                > Does that sound really horribly fatalistic?
                >
                > I am frankly dismayed by the popularity of this book
                > among smart, eco-conscious, free-thinking types -
                the
                > type of people I have historically counted on to
                pull
                > some new save-the-world rabbit out of their
                collective
                > hats. I see now that no rabbit will be forthcoming,
                > not if this book's philosophy is in any way
                > representative.
                >
                > This book is a spreading meme. I'm sorry I caught
                it;
                > sorry because not only did the book cause me a day
                of
                > anger which I could have done without, but also
                sorry
                > to know that it has come so far and infected so many
                > people. It is not a good meme. It only looks like
                one.
                > And I am startled that so many people I thought knew
                > better can't tell the difference.
                >
                > What worries me most about Ishmael is that I have
                seen
                > no other serious criticism of it from people whose
                > viewpoints I trust. I haven't looked to see what the
                > people in the OTHER camp think of it - the people
                who
                > revel in their Takerdom, the people who exploit
                > because they genuinely DO feel it is their divine
                > right.
                >
                > The way I feel, in short, is: If I can't expect the
                > people with consciences and brains to see through
                this
                > fluff, then I certainly can't expect anyone else to.
                >
                > Therefore I officially abandon hope.
                >
                > Fortunately, because I am a Taker, I can reluctantly
                > abandon hope for the world - not from pessimism, but
                > from sheer weight of evidence - and then say "oh,
                > well" and blithely go about my life. I can lock bad
                > ideas away and ignore them if I am incapable of
                fixing
                > them. I have never seriously considered abandoning
                > industrialized society - I try to change it in
                little
                > ways, but I have never opted out of the game, nor
                have
                > I wanted to. This, too, makes me a Taker.
                >
                > I fear that some of the intelligentsia who read this
                > book flatter themselves they are secretly Leavers in
                > disguise. Memo to these deluded people: There is no
                > such thing as a Leaver in disguise. If you believe
                > that, you are a bigger liar than Ishmael ever was.
                >
                > Which is saying something.
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > MSN: janosbirozero@...
                >
                > Site Pessoal:
                >
                > www.antizero.cjb.net
                >
                > “Para um anti-site, está mais ou menos” - Anônimo
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
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              • Ian Smith
                I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw some interesting points but ... Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said the
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 13, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw some interesting points but
                  none of them very valid. The only point I agreed with was this one:
                  > Tell all your friends. If enough Takers catch on, things will change.
                  >
                  > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
                  > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
                  > without breaking into giggling fits.

                  Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said the same thing. Talking is
                  a start, but not enough. This subset of the Ishmael group talks about talking about
                  things, when the only productive discourse would be talking about what to actually do.

                  The rest of the arguments hit near a mark, but I am not sure they are hitting the right
                  mark. None of them appear on target. I will talk with the author of the review later and
                  see if we can get he real issues.

                  Competition is a valid issue, but neither Quinn nor the reviewer uncovered the real issue
                  or pattern. I will try my hand at summarizing later, but i will say that war is conducted
                  when apparently unsustainable situations occur. That is not really a population issue,
                  but did happen in the Easter Islands when there was not enough trees. No drastic change
                  in human population precipitated this, it was the result of using trees unsustainably for
                  a long period of time. Also, war was not instant but slowly built up toward, the
                  distributed xenophobic memes and divided into 2 groups, where there was originally only
                  one group. (attached ear lobe and detached) This war lasted decades but was not a
                  campaign of genocide.

                  The same overgeneralizations about war extend to competition in general.

                  Ian Smith
                  PS Sustainable Civilation Research Institute is being created, and we are preparing
                  material for public consumption. The final answer is not at hand, but we are close to
                  identifying what "Sustainable" really implies. It appears to be unique so far, physics
                  member posted preliminary math...




                  ____________________________________________________
                  Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page
                  http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
                • Kirk Knighton
                  Everybody keeps referring to the author of this article as he . In fact the author is a she . (I looked at her website and her other articles - interesting
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 1, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Everybody keeps referring to the author of this article as "he". In
                    fact the author is a "she". (I looked at her website and her other
                    articles - interesting person!)
                    I'm a big fan of Ishmael et al, and I found this article very
                    worthwhile. First critique I've ever read of Quinn's work. I think
                    she makes a lot of valid points - and after all, the proof is in the
                    pudding: it's been more than ten years since Ishmael was published,
                    and the world has only changed for the worse. Whatever "beyond
                    civilization" will look like, the getting there will not be pretty.
                    The collapse of this huge global industrial megamachine will be
                    UGLY, and the survivors (if any) will not go around the wreckage
                    gently, with a copy of Ishamel tucked under their arm. More likely
                    it will be a weapon of some sort, and the entire scene will look
                    like that Mel Gibson movie...what was it called? (No, not The
                    Passion of Christ!)
                    No matter how much we love Ishmael, no matter how much "sense" Quinn
                    has made in his writings, we just cannot ignore the ugly reality of
                    Bushco and Onward Christian Soldiers carrying on as never before. I
                    hate it, I hate Bush, and I hate all the lies and ugliness of the
                    Republicans and their corporate masters and their Christian lackies.
                    But Ishmael hasn't stopped it, hasn't slowed it down at all. We
                    gotta be real here, and that means no sticking our heads in the
                    sand. We have to fight the fuckers any way we can, and then hope for
                    the best. But I'm not optimistic, not anymore. Sorry!




                    <daraknor1@y...> wrote:
                    > I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw some
                    interesting points but
                    > none of them very valid. The only point I agreed with was this one:
                    > > Tell all your friends. If enough Takers catch on, things will
                    change.
                    > >
                    > > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
                    > > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
                    > > without breaking into giggling fits.
                    >
                    > Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said the
                    same thing. Talking is
                    > a start, but not enough. This subset of the Ishmael group talks
                    about talking about
                    > things, when the only productive discourse would be talking about
                    what to actually do.
                    >
                    > The rest of the arguments hit near a mark, but I am not sure they
                    are hitting the right
                    > mark. None of them appear on target. I will talk with the author
                    of the review later and
                    > see if we can get he real issues.
                    >
                    > Competition is a valid issue, but neither Quinn nor the reviewer
                    uncovered the real issue
                    > or pattern. I will try my hand at summarizing later, but i will
                    say that war is conducted
                    > when apparently unsustainable situations occur. That is not really
                    a population issue,
                    > but did happen in the Easter Islands when there was not enough
                    trees. No drastic change
                    > in human population precipitated this, it was the result of using
                    trees unsustainably for
                    > a long period of time. Also, war was not instant but slowly built
                    up toward, the
                    > distributed xenophobic memes and divided into 2 groups, where
                    there was originally only
                    > one group. (attached ear lobe and detached) This war lasted
                    decades but was not a
                    > campaign of genocide.
                    >
                    > The same overgeneralizations about war extend to competition in
                    general.
                    >
                    > Ian Smith
                    > PS Sustainable Civilation Research Institute is being created, and
                    we are preparing
                    > material for public consumption. The final answer is not at hand,
                    but we are close to
                    > identifying what "Sustainable" really implies. It appears to be
                    unique so far, physics
                    > member posted preliminary math...
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ____________________________________________________
                    > Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page
                    > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
                  • wclary5424@aol.com
                    IMHO, the central flaw in Quinn s argument has always been his postulation of some essential difference between Leavers and Takers. Contra Quinn, I think
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 2, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      IMHO, the central flaw in Quinn's argument has always been his postulation of some essential difference between "Leavers" and "Takers."   Contra Quinn, I think the evidence from anthropology and archaecology suggests that most of the "Leaver" societies would have been "Taker" societies given the technology and the opportunity.   The relatively short-order destruction of megafauna in both Australia and the Western Hemisphere after humans entered those areas even points to the possibility that even human cultures at the hunter-gatherer level can be "Taker" cultures.
                       
                      However, that said, there is some evidence to suggest that it is possible for societies that have survived or come close to ecological collapse can sometimes evolve institutions and mythology that allow them to become "post-Taker" societies; that is to say, these societies may develop cultural influences that tend to promote steady-state economics and a rough egalitarianism.   The $64,000 question is whether it's possible to learn from those cultures without undergoing the collapse.   Additionally, the institutions in question tend to be religious in nature, and those post-Taker cultures which are sedentary (such as the Pueblo people of the Southwestern US and those remnants of the Tairona culture in South America) tend to be very strict theocracies.  So another question is how successful a model would such societies be for a culture like ours, which is very, very different.  Finally, while these societies were successful over the short-term (hundreds of years), the jury is still out as to the long-term (thousands of years)  success of such "post-Taker" societies.  The Pueblo culture has barely survived its contact with modern technological civilization, and it is only because their homeland is essentially inaccessable to modern transportation that the "post-Taker" Tairona villages continue to exist.  So, is a "post-Taker" society compatible with any level of modern technology?  The jury's still out there, too. 
                       
                      Quinn's most important contribution to these questions is his ability to get at least some modern people to take a look at them.  He is less important in terms of coming up with a "solution". 
                       
                      BC
                       
                       
                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Kirk Knighton <windinhisfins@...>
                      To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 03:26:59 -0000
                      Subject: [ishmael_discussion] Re: Words against Ishmael

                      Everybody keeps referring to the author of this article as "he". In 
                      fact the author is a "she". (I looked at her website and her other 
                      articles - interesting person!)
                      I'm a big fan of Ishmael et al, and I found this article very 
                      worthwhile. First critique I've ever read of Quinn's work. I think 
                      she makes a lot of valid points - and after all, the proof is in the 
                      pudding: it's been more than ten years since Ishmael was published, 
                      and the world has only changed for the worse. Whatever "beyond 
                      civilization" will look like, the getting there will not be pretty. 
                      The collapse of this huge global industrial megamachine will be 
                      UGLY, and the survivors (if any) will not go around the wreckage 
                      gently, with a copy of Ishamel tucked under their arm. More likely 
                      it will be a weapon of some sort, and the entire scene will look 
                      like that Mel Gibson movie...what was it called? (No, not The 
                      Passion of Christ!)
                      No matter how much we love Ishmael, no matter how much "sense" Quinn 
                      has made in his writings, we just cannot ignore the ugly reality of 
                      Bushco and Onward Christian Soldiers carrying on as never before. I 
                      hate it, I hate Bush, and I hate all the lies and ugliness of the 
                      Republicans and their corporate masters and their Christian lackies. 
                      But Ishmael hasn't stopped it, hasn't slowed it down at all. We 
                      gotta be real here, and that means no sticking our heads in the 
                      sand. We have to fight the fuckers any way we can, and then hope for 
                      the best. But I'm not optimistic, not anymore. Sorry!
                      
                      
                      
                      
                      <daraknor1@y...> wrote:
                      
                      > I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw some
                      interesting points but
                      > none of them very valid. The only point I agreed with was this one: > > Tell all your friends. If enough Takers catch on, things will
                      change.
                      > > > > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high > > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it > > without breaking into giggling fits. > > Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said the
                      same thing. Talking is
                      > a start, but not enough. This subset of the Ishmael group talks
                      about talking about
                      > things, when the only productive discourse would be talking about
                      what to actually do.
                      > > The rest of the arguments hit near a mark, but I am not sure they
                      are hitting the right
                      > mark. None of them appear on target. I will talk with the author
                      of the review later and
                      > see if we can get he real issues. > > Competition is a valid issue, but neither Quinn nor the reviewer
                      uncovered the real issue
                      > or pattern. I will try my hand at summarizing later, but i will
                      say that war is conducted
                      > when apparently unsustainable situations occur. That is not really
                      a population issue,
                      > but did happen in the Easter Islands when there was not enough
                      trees. No drastic change
                      > in human population precipitated this, it was the result of using
                      trees unsustainably for
                      > a long period of time. Also, war was not instant but slowly built
                      up toward, the
                      > distributed xenophobic memes and divided into 2 groups, where
                      there was originally only
                      > one group. (attached ear lobe and detached) This war lasted
                      decades but was not a
                      > campaign of genocide. > > The same overgeneralizations about war extend to competition in
                      general.
                      > > Ian Smith > PS Sustainable Civilation Research Institute is being created, and
                      we are preparing
                      > material for public consumption. The final answer is not at hand,
                      but we are close to
                      > identifying what "Sustainable" really implies. It appears to be
                      unique so far, physics
                      > member posted preliminary math... > > > > > ____________________________________________________ > Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
                      ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> <FONT COLOR="#000099"><font face=arial size=-1><a href="</FONT><A HREF="http://us.ard.yahoo.com/SIG=12h153mdq/M=362329.6886307.7839373.3022212/D=groups/S=1705441202:TM/Y=YAHOO/EXP=1122960498/A=2894324/R=0/SIG=11hia266k/*http://www.youthnoise.com/page.php?page_id=1998"><B>Click Here!</B></A><FONT COLOR="#000099">">1.2 million kids a year are victims of human trafficking. Stop slavery</a>.</font></FONT> --------------------------------------------------------------------~-> Visit the Martian Anthropologist website: http://www.TownOfAutumn.com Anthropology consists of the study of humankind. A Martian Anthropologist is a somewhat hypothetical individual who represents an outside observer of the human condition (or Planet Earth). Yahoo! Groups Links <*> To visit your group on the web, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ishmael_discussion/ <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: ishmael_discussion-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    • bnixon74
                      Kirk, I appreciate your rage against The System(tm), and I share it. But one thing that I see common amongst my more liberal Quinnites, is a tendency to turn
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 2, 2005
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Kirk, I appreciate your rage against The System(tm), and I share it.
                        But one thing that I see common amongst my more liberal Quinnites, is
                        a tendency to turn that into an attack against all things Republican
                        and/or George W. Bush. GWB is a bonehead. No doubt. But we can't
                        run around pretending that it's the Republicans that are the problem.

                        The Democrats are the problem. The Republicans are the problem. The
                        Libertarians are the problem. Politicians in general are the problem.
                        The Constitution is the problem. Free government cheese is the
                        problem. The War on Terror is the problem. The War on Poverty is the
                        problem. The War on Free Government Cheese is the problem.

                        The existence of the Nation-State as an entity that supercedes your
                        individual liberty is the problem - and EVERYONE in Washington is
                        happy enough to keep you under their bootheel.

                        A wise man once said "Don't hate the playah, hate the game." In our
                        case, it's ok to hate the players and the game - but you should be
                        consistent and hate all the players.


                        --- In ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Kirk Knighton"
                        <windinhisfins@e...> wrote:
                        > Everybody keeps referring to the author of this article as "he". In
                        > fact the author is a "she". (I looked at her website and her other
                        > articles - interesting person!)
                        > I'm a big fan of Ishmael et al, and I found this article very
                        > worthwhile. First critique I've ever read of Quinn's work. I think
                        > she makes a lot of valid points - and after all, the proof is in the
                        > pudding: it's been more than ten years since Ishmael was published,
                        > and the world has only changed for the worse. Whatever "beyond
                        > civilization" will look like, the getting there will not be pretty.
                        > The collapse of this huge global industrial megamachine will be
                        > UGLY, and the survivors (if any) will not go around the wreckage
                        > gently, with a copy of Ishamel tucked under their arm. More likely
                        > it will be a weapon of some sort, and the entire scene will look
                        > like that Mel Gibson movie...what was it called? (No, not The
                        > Passion of Christ!)
                        > No matter how much we love Ishmael, no matter how much "sense" Quinn
                        > has made in his writings, we just cannot ignore the ugly reality of
                        > Bushco and Onward Christian Soldiers carrying on as never before. I
                        > hate it, I hate Bush, and I hate all the lies and ugliness of the
                        > Republicans and their corporate masters and their Christian lackies.
                        > But Ishmael hasn't stopped it, hasn't slowed it down at all. We
                        > gotta be real here, and that means no sticking our heads in the
                        > sand. We have to fight the fuckers any way we can, and then hope for
                        > the best. But I'm not optimistic, not anymore. Sorry!
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > <daraknor1@y...> wrote:
                        > > I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw some
                        > interesting points but
                        > > none of them very valid. The only point I agreed with was this one:
                        > > > Tell all your friends. If enough Takers catch on, things will
                        > change.
                        > > >
                        > > > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
                        > > > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
                        > > > without breaking into giggling fits.
                        > >
                        > > Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said the
                        > same thing. Talking is
                        > > a start, but not enough. This subset of the Ishmael group talks
                        > about talking about
                        > > things, when the only productive discourse would be talking about
                        > what to actually do.
                        > >
                        > > The rest of the arguments hit near a mark, but I am not sure they
                        > are hitting the right
                        > > mark. None of them appear on target. I will talk with the author
                        > of the review later and
                        > > see if we can get he real issues.
                        > >
                        > > Competition is a valid issue, but neither Quinn nor the reviewer
                        > uncovered the real issue
                        > > or pattern. I will try my hand at summarizing later, but i will
                        > say that war is conducted
                        > > when apparently unsustainable situations occur. That is not really
                        > a population issue,
                        > > but did happen in the Easter Islands when there was not enough
                        > trees. No drastic change
                        > > in human population precipitated this, it was the result of using
                        > trees unsustainably for
                        > > a long period of time. Also, war was not instant but slowly built
                        > up toward, the
                        > > distributed xenophobic memes and divided into 2 groups, where
                        > there was originally only
                        > > one group. (attached ear lobe and detached) This war lasted
                        > decades but was not a
                        > > campaign of genocide.
                        > >
                        > > The same overgeneralizations about war extend to competition in
                        > general.
                        > >
                        > > Ian Smith
                        > > PS Sustainable Civilation Research Institute is being created, and
                        > we are preparing
                        > > material for public consumption. The final answer is not at hand,
                        > but we are close to
                        > > identifying what "Sustainable" really implies. It appears to be
                        > unique so far, physics
                        > > member posted preliminary math...
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > ____________________________________________________
                        > > Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page
                        > > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
                      • Kirk Knighton
                        ... bnixon: you are right. Bush makes Clinton look like FDR, but I well recall how disillusioned I felt after Clinton took office. After 12 years of
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 2, 2005
                        • 0 Attachment
                          --- In ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "bnixon74"

                          bnixon: you are right. Bush makes Clinton look like FDR, but I well
                          recall how disillusioned I felt after Clinton took office. After 12
                          years of Reagan-Bush it seemed a miracle to have a "Democrat" in
                          office. (And wasn't '92 the year Ishmael was published?) Something
                          in the water in Washington DC perhaps? I so agree with DQ's
                          assertion that "the story" being enacted in our system/culture is to
                          blame. But we are all so caught up in the system...even my neighbor
                          who doesn't own a car and bicycles EVERYWHERE. The food he buys at
                          the co-op is delivered by trucks, etc. And when the oil runs out
                          he's as fucked as any of us. I'm old enough to remember both the
                          1973 and 1979 gas crises: people went ape-shit then; I can't imagine
                          the effect the next shortage will have. Nobody seems rational or
                          reasonable then.

                          <bnixon74@c...> wrote:
                          > Kirk, I appreciate your rage against The System(tm), and I share
                          it.
                          > But one thing that I see common amongst my more liberal Quinnites,
                          is
                          > a tendency to turn that into an attack against all things
                          Republican
                          > and/or George W. Bush. GWB is a bonehead. No doubt. But we can't
                          > run around pretending that it's the Republicans that are the
                          problem.
                          >
                          > The Democrats are the problem. The Republicans are the problem.
                          The
                          > Libertarians are the problem. Politicians in general are the
                          problem.
                          > The Constitution is the problem. Free government cheese is the
                          > problem. The War on Terror is the problem. The War on Poverty is
                          the
                          > problem. The War on Free Government Cheese is the problem.
                          >
                          > The existence of the Nation-State as an entity that supercedes your
                          > individual liberty is the problem - and EVERYONE in Washington is
                          > happy enough to keep you under their bootheel.
                          >
                          > A wise man once said "Don't hate the playah, hate the game." In
                          our
                          > case, it's ok to hate the players and the game - but you should be
                          > consistent and hate all the players.
                          >
                          >
                          > --- In ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Kirk Knighton"
                          > <windinhisfins@e...> wrote:
                          > > Everybody keeps referring to the author of this article as "he".
                          In
                          > > fact the author is a "she". (I looked at her website and her
                          other
                          > > articles - interesting person!)
                          > > I'm a big fan of Ishmael et al, and I found this article very
                          > > worthwhile. First critique I've ever read of Quinn's work. I
                          think
                          > > she makes a lot of valid points - and after all, the proof is in
                          the
                          > > pudding: it's been more than ten years since Ishmael was
                          published,
                          > > and the world has only changed for the worse. Whatever "beyond
                          > > civilization" will look like, the getting there will not be
                          pretty.
                          > > The collapse of this huge global industrial megamachine will be
                          > > UGLY, and the survivors (if any) will not go around the wreckage
                          > > gently, with a copy of Ishamel tucked under their arm. More
                          likely
                          > > it will be a weapon of some sort, and the entire scene will look
                          > > like that Mel Gibson movie...what was it called? (No, not The
                          > > Passion of Christ!)
                          > > No matter how much we love Ishmael, no matter how much "sense"
                          Quinn
                          > > has made in his writings, we just cannot ignore the ugly reality
                          of
                          > > Bushco and Onward Christian Soldiers carrying on as never
                          before. I
                          > > hate it, I hate Bush, and I hate all the lies and ugliness of
                          the
                          > > Republicans and their corporate masters and their Christian
                          lackies.
                          > > But Ishmael hasn't stopped it, hasn't slowed it down at all. We
                          > > gotta be real here, and that means no sticking our heads in the
                          > > sand. We have to fight the fuckers any way we can, and then hope
                          for
                          > > the best. But I'm not optimistic, not anymore. Sorry!
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > <daraknor1@y...> wrote:
                          > > > I will break my silence briefly. I read this review and saw
                          some
                          > > interesting points but
                          > > > none of them very valid. The only point I agreed with was this
                          one:
                          > > > > Tell all your friends. If enough Takers catch on, things
                          will
                          > > change.
                          > > > >
                          > > > > This, ladies and gentlemen, is such mile-high
                          > > > > pie-in-the-sky that I am amazed Quinn could write it
                          > > > > without breaking into giggling fits.
                          > > >
                          > > > Overall a bit more diatribe than I have used, but I have said
                          the
                          > > same thing. Talking is
                          > > > a start, but not enough. This subset of the Ishmael group
                          talks
                          > > about talking about
                          > > > things, when the only productive discourse would be talking
                          about
                          > > what to actually do.
                          > > >
                          > > > The rest of the arguments hit near a mark, but I am not sure
                          they
                          > > are hitting the right
                          > > > mark. None of them appear on target. I will talk with the
                          author
                          > > of the review later and
                          > > > see if we can get he real issues.
                          > > >
                          > > > Competition is a valid issue, but neither Quinn nor the
                          reviewer
                          > > uncovered the real issue
                          > > > or pattern. I will try my hand at summarizing later, but i
                          will
                          > > say that war is conducted
                          > > > when apparently unsustainable situations occur. That is not
                          really
                          > > a population issue,
                          > > > but did happen in the Easter Islands when there was not enough
                          > > trees. No drastic change
                          > > > in human population precipitated this, it was the result of
                          using
                          > > trees unsustainably for
                          > > > a long period of time. Also, war was not instant but slowly
                          built
                          > > up toward, the
                          > > > distributed xenophobic memes and divided into 2 groups, where
                          > > there was originally only
                          > > > one group. (attached ear lobe and detached) This war lasted
                          > > decades but was not a
                          > > > campaign of genocide.
                          > > >
                          > > > The same overgeneralizations about war extend to competition
                          in
                          > > general.
                          > > >
                          > > > Ian Smith
                          > > > PS Sustainable Civilation Research Institute is being created,
                          and
                          > > we are preparing
                          > > > material for public consumption. The final answer is not at
                          hand,
                          > > but we are close to
                          > > > identifying what "Sustainable" really implies. It appears to
                          be
                          > > unique so far, physics
                          > > > member posted preliminary math...
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > ____________________________________________________
                          > > > Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page
                          > > > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
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