daniel quinn

daniel quinn.png

intro’d to Daniel via Jeff’s (rp res) rec of beyond civilization


Part 1: Closing In on the Problem

If the world is saved, it will not be by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.

no agenda

Part 2: Closing In on the Process

Quinn finds it peculiar that the working masses in our culture have often historically been

moved to rebellion against their hierarchal oppressors but never moved to simply walking away from the system of hierarchy itself,

a nother way for art ists (aka: all of us humans)

which will lead time after time to the majority’s displeasure. He also makes use of an analogy of “pyramid-building” to represent the idea of our culture’s people *perpetuating a system which repeatedly fails them because they see no alternative: they think they must continue to “build pyramids” even when they overthrow the despots who originated such an idea and they see themselves as having no choice in the matter, as if pyramid-building is somehow inherently a part of human nature.

*perpetuating a broken feedback loop

sinclair perpetuation law

human nature

Part 3: Walking Away from the Pyramid

Part 4: Toward the New Tribalism

groups of people begin to form tribes little by little

jumpstart that.. everyday: find your people via 2 convos

Part 5: The Tribe of Crow

Quinn goes into detail about homelessness. He comments on the paradox that our culture aims to both aid the survival of the homeless, by trying to temporarily house and feed them, but also to thwart their survival, by outlawing and demonizing many of their typical survival-based activities. They perform many of these activities merely in order to continue to live while remaining outside a system that is clearly failing them: creating makeshift shelters in parks, dumpster diving for food, etc. Quinn proposes that city officials should help the homeless by listening to their wants rather than trying to end homelessness altogether by ignoring and hindering their survival tactics in a foolish effort to somehow frustrate them back into the work force. He also provides a few quotations from homeless people who explain their pleasant sense of cohesion and of departure from social obligations in their current condition.

homeless ness

rob greenfield et al

Part 6: The New Tribal Revolution

According to Quinn, a tribe primarily brings together individuals working or “making a living” together democratically; a commune primarily brings together individuals living together but often with a shared set of ideals and with each individual practicing their own personal way of making a living (i.e. working)

Part 7: Beyond Civilization

Quinn refers to many events that show distress among the modern-day youth of our culture, including school shootings and rises in teenager suicides.

suffocating ..from the day

He believes this points to signs that young people feel they have no place in our deranging society and that our culture provides no strong sense of belonging or of hope toward improvement. Essentially, Quinn argues, our culture must provide an alternate story to the self-destructive one it is currently playing out. He says that this alternate story is also to him the most beautiful one ever told: “There is no one right way for people to live.”

let’s facil that.. as the day..

New Tribal Revolution

Quinn points to indigenous peoples and tribal societies as such examples, and advocates a social revolution—the New Tribal Revolution—to reform society using principles taken from the operation of such cultures.

holmgren indigenous law

He argues that organizing tribally can start well before any kind of total immersion “back into the wild” and that a new tribal community does not have to look like the old tribal stereotype of “cavemen,” since returning immediately to foraging in the natural community is not a viable or even possible solution for the billions of people on Earth today.

wild ness

He consistently phrases the revolution not as a movement to “go back” to some earlier style of living (though he certainly credits the achievements of particular earlier styles of living), but rather, a movement to “go forward” into something new.

eagle and condor ness

An important expression of this movement is the trend towards modern eco-villages. Ecoregional Democracy and peace movement advocates are also often new tribalists as well, as the groups share common ideals.

In an open letter to the Occupy protesters, Quinn described the Occupy movement as the “New Tribal Revolution”.


podcast 2016 – Pursuing A Better Path

interview by @chrismartenson [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Martenson]


10 min – (unable to answer oprah)

11 min – leavers leave rule of world in hands of gods.. takers take rules or world into more

15 min – every culture has a mother culture who’s function is to assure continuity.. to repeat wisdom of the culture.. our mother happens to be insane.. ie: man made to conquer .. led us to take world into own hand and us and world are at great risk as result

17 min – the things our culture considers inevitable.. that aren’t necessarily inevitable.. ie: that cilivization is inevitable.. humanities destiny.. to rule the world.. acquiring that rule meant becoming civilized.. because only civilized people could conquer all other people in the world.. as cain did to abel.. and of course.. *we have brought world to its finest point.. achieved things beyond imagination of ancestors


20 min – beyond civilization – one of central ideas we’re carrying is that.. there is nothing beyond civilization..so nothing else is possible..

the idea of giving up the thing that is destroying us is unthinkable..

would be reverting to a way of life that is subhuman..

people are all too ready to prefer ending it all .. to giving it up

why we have not yet ness

a nother way – let go of the things you have to cling to..

22 min – what causes people to cling to an idea:  (unable to answer)

23 min – we have a reliance on certain ideas that are uniquely our own.. don’t find among aboriginal peoples who have more trust in traditions.. things they know work.. have worked for them for 100s of years.. we have to have abstractions that we cling to.. ie: aboriginals never make laws prohibiting things that they know people are going to do.. we do opposite.. prohibit things.. we know people will do… dedicated to thought.. that have passed a law like that is progress..

fuller too much law

27 min – revolutionized industry by reading two books.. on ideas ness

29 min – memes are to cultures what genes are to bodies… ie: leap from mind to mind by means of communication.. like genes leap from body to body by reproduction.. idea as a meme.. central work..

30 min – meme – so simple .. very difficult to deal with

31 min – can’t grow infinitely on a finite planet.. now what – Chris.. i’m restling with this idea can take root when runs a fowl of so many other ideas

32 min – memes help us make sense out of the world.. so we hold onto them….i say.. whatever grows w/o limit ends by destroying itself.. like if we could transport our problems to other planets that would take care of it.. our civilization based on unlimited growth.. our fundamental of wealth depends on annual growth.. we would occupy the entire universe.. and then end.. people don’t like that.. they think what we have is so wonderful.. want to keep on doing it forever…

35 min – food at one time was not based on fossil fuel.. so it can again be not made of fossil fuel.. i don’t believe will ever reach 9-10 bn

40 min – trying to think of people who have walked away.. those people didn’t live in meme (that we do) that there is a certain way to live.. so made it possible to walk away..  we have nothing to walk to

41 min – our civilization based on having the food locked up and people having to work for it.. became hierarchical..

42 min – those who did the slavery kept the people at top living lives of luxury.. our meme.. no matter what we must go on.. we do this

43 min – dedicated to the homeless.. not just mental ill.. et al.. includes people who chose to walk away..

chris: homeless least visible

home less ness

p 95 – chris reading from beyond civilization (1999): a revolution w/o a people.. because revolution in our culture has always rep d an attack on hierarchy.. but upheaval has no role.. to overthrow hierarchy is pointless.. we just want to leave it behind.. how do we leave it behind

chris: people i talk to.. there’s this life i want to be leading.. we call it leading 2 lives.. and so we ask.. what does it take to walk into that.. people don’t find that easy.. why is it so hard

47 min – overthrowing what we have is silly.. because what do you have then is nothing.. but to walk away.. was subject of book itself… to walk away..  successes come about by people doing something different.. ie’s of people doing that

48 min – although we didn’t think of it.. we were operating as a tribe.. others that wanted to get in.. wanted to get a job.. but we said.. if you have something to offer.. ok.. but we don’t have jobs.. the journey beyond trying to compete.. w/o normal instruments of competition.. ie: money

making up money

50 min – on seeing great sea of 2nd hand hardware sitting around out there not being used.. why don’t we sell that.. can get into it w virtually no money.. one of many ie’s in beyond civilization.. if people stop thinking in typical way

52 min – tribalism – group of people working together to make a living.. that’s all.. very simple..

could be.. ie: ben and jerry – a tribe of two.. and from there went on .. ceased to be tribal.. but began only way they could .. w/o capital.. i try to awaken a diff way of looking at problems.. other than usual ones of getting a barrel full of money and then doing the normal thing

53 min – chris: normal thing.. feeding this capitalism.. seeking something deeper.. tribe is in our dna.. ie: service members.. experiencing tribal ness.. then come home .. so devoid of meaning.. suicide has become favored..

what an indictment of culture that when people come home to it they kill themselves…

hari present in society law

chris: we force ourselves into a living arrangement.. terrible for most.. amazing for those at top..

57 min – on site.. ishmael dot org.. can find everything.. over 600 questions answered by me.. as well as all of my essays/speeches/courses.. i’m very lax when comes to sm.. i have a fb page.. but hardly go to it..

58 min – another book – ending the 6th extinction before it ends us.. there is a great silence.. too great an idea for them and they simply ignore it.. the 6th extinction.. in book i examine what it would take to end it


2013 – Saving the World, Moving Beyond Civilization: Part 1 of 2

interviewed by Aaron Wissner @/wissner

what does it mean to save the world: ha.. that’s a very good question.. i was going to ask you that.. what do you think it means..

1 min – a lot of people think that saving the world is saving it from destruction.. as powerful as we are.. we’re not powerful enough to destroy the world… the 5th great extinction.. the one of dinosaurs.. was caused by an enormous meteorite hitting somewhere in i believe.. yukatan.. threw tremendous amt of soil/dust into air..occluded the sun for years and wiped out 85% of all species.. but it didn’t destroy the world.. and we’re not capable of anything as dramatic as that.. so if the world is going to be destroyed.. we can’t save the world.. what we can do is..

save the world as a habitat for humans

..that we are destroying.. and that we can conceivably save.. that will mean very drastic changes happening very rapidly.. very soon

ie: 7 bn leap ..for (blank)’s sake… to a nother way

2 min – we are in the midst of the 6th extinction (his next book) ..potentially more devastating than the 5th… ie: 150 species a day becoming extinct due to the human effect on the planet.. direct destruction of species.. making room for our own crops/livestock.. animals we make deliberately extinct.. to leave us for food/space.. our human population is overwhelming for the planet.. *can’t support 7 bn of us..

well.. *thinking it can.. but not the way we are consuming today

4 min – saying to 15 bn.. i think we’ll become extinct before reach that.. every year we improve food production.. because we made more food.. so if don’t make more food.. population can’t increase

5 min – starving populations are still starving .. just more of them.. *that is a game we can not win.. we cannot win the food race.. **we must stop the food race if we want to survive

again – *we could.. so much wasted food.. so much wasted energy.. **just stop the crazy misuse of resources..

6 min – what makes you think humans will become extinct: we are undermining the biological systems that support human life.. 150 species extinct a day.. that are basis of human support.. but affect other systems.. that will disappear.. as that happens.. more and more will disappear that we depend on for livelihood.. 50 000 species a year

8 min – what is the main driver of this extinction: mainly our own competition w all species for a place on the planet.. we are thru agriculture defecating more and more land every year.. we make sure no other species get that space.. we kill them off..  climate change.. et al.. untenable for more species..

9 min – what is causing this mass extinction: we are.. we are competing for space.. killing off to support our enormous population.. last 200 yrs… 60s – 3 bn.. doubled..

11 min – we are made up of other living beings..

12 min – would you characterize this as a war between humans and the world: the world isn’t fighting back.. doesn’t matter.. we can destroy ourselves.. and planet can come back.. it doesn’t have to kill us off.. we’re killing ourselves off .. like a cancer.. began about 10 000 yrs ago.. when we’re converted all into this cancer.. we’re going to die.. there’s no way to imagine that we can go on living this way..

14 min – 15 bn people would be imaginable.. a hell..

? i don’t know.. 15 bn living as we do now.. yes.. but i think we can live whatever size.. if we live differently..

if we maintain our food.. instead of growing more.. we’ll stay at 7bn


16 min – how to *stop population growth: people’s mind has to be changed.. can’t be done by command .. has to be done by **consensus

*don’t think pop growth is our problem.. let’s go deeper

**whoa.. thinking command is same as consensus..

17 min – they are our enemies.. not the world.. the food producers have invested interest in increasing food production

whoa.. so not fitting (meaning not fitting) with thurman interconnectedness law – not about enemies.. they are us..

19 min – now .. after 10 000 yrs of agriculture.. down to doubling every 30-40 yrs.. we are creating circumstances that we can’t survive.. i think people could understand that.. and if so.. widely.. possible to make changes.. have to want it.. right now they resist it

the waste is what’s killing us

21 min – people asking.. mass change can only occur with violence.. you are saying.. mass change must happen.. what violence will make it occur.. my response.. can you think of a mass change that did occur with violence… no ..ie: renaissance.. sweeping change in way people thought.. no violence..

22 min – scientific revolution based on a new idea.. observation/experimentation.. not just what makes sense but what actually happens.. it changed the world..

graeber model law (what actually happens) and graeber min\max law (how it can happen)

a nother way – next experiment – involving all of us

industrial revolution (which we may not approve of) occurred w/o any violence.. no govt/founcations had to sponsor it..  happened because it made sense

diff defn of violence than graeber..? and wasn’t it in a sense sponsored..? did it make sense the work force ness of it..? i’m thinking.. not to a human soul..? i don’t know…

23 min – people found out they could make things.. and get rich.. good.. it worked.. a mass change.. but it didn’t come because anybody got up and burned down buildings

yeah.. so diff defn of violence – ie: consensus as violence

there must be another renaissance .. a mass change the way people see the world.. and humans place in the world.. and that can happen

true that

24 min – can’t say anymore than aristotle could have said.. what people would be thinking in the renaissance.. 100 yrs from now.. i could say what they won’t be thinking.. they won’t be thinking earth is a piece of human property to be used as we see fit… and the earth is not infinitely destructible.. we can’t do anything (destructive) to it and it will be ok.. it won’t.. they will know we are members of a community.. not the leaders/tyrants of a community.. we depend for our lives on the rest of the living community.. i can say.. people will be thinking that in 100 yrs.. if there are people still here..

25 min – what should one do if want to prevent distinction: thing blocking it from most part.. great mass of people think we can go on this way..assume indefinitely.. so have to change the minds of the people around us..

graeber model law

26 min – just like you.. what i’ve done is do what i can do (write) to reach out and change people’s minds.. i feel very fortunate that i’ve reached mn’s of minds.. and i urge them all to do the same.. any way they can

27 min – ie: musicians.. and number of song writers.. have been moved to create songs aimed at a new vision..

simply no end to what can be done.. people want me to direct it and i can’t.. i want 10 mn people to think about it.. not just me to think about it..

it’s gotta be all of us.. 7 bn plus.. thinking/doing/being about it.. everyday.. as the day.. [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]

and today.. we can facil that all of us ness.. ie: hosting-life-bits via self-talk as data

29 min – tribal idea.. same salary..

all his ie’s seem centered on sales.. ie: carpet.. school..

32 min – everyone has a sphere of influence – certainly teachers do


what important knowledge should they know: our destruction of the planet is an important factor of 6th extinction.. so when working to eliminate environ destruction.. trying to stem tide of 6th ext.. i would encourage them to think of it that way.. *everyone has to do the best they can.. they can’t all do the same thing.. can’t do things they don’t believe in.. central part of our future is **preparing humanity for a new renaissance..

*so let’s disengage from teacher ness.. and set us all free..

**thinking that is one of our mistaken assumptions – no train

36 min – if aboriginal peoples around the world could be given a guided tour of our civilization they would not see us as rich people they would see us as poor people because we lack a fundamental thing that aboriginal/tribal people have everywhere.. which is cradle to grave security.. they know that so long as there is a tribe.. they’re going to be taken care of .. and they’re going to be part of a process of supporting and taking care of each other.. and no one ‘s alone.. whole tribe: brings up with children.. helps with sick.. goes hungry if no food.. that’s an ideal thing.. not that it’s unthinkable.. they way people have lived for mn’s of years.. the tribal social org was one we evolved with .. and it worked.. evolution doesn’t produce perfection.. it produces what works.. and the tribal org works for humans..

38 min – i write in beyond civilization..to get the things that make our lives better by looking at some of the things that we’ve lost in our civilization.. ie: sense of security..

39 min – future is not doing without.. it’s doing with

40 min – w/in statutes of our cultural mythology is that there is one right way for people to live.. ie: go to school age 5.. next 12 years.. go to work get a job.. get a house 2 cars.. get another job to make more money…then retire and go fishing.. anything other than this si bad.. turn away from this and you’re losing the right way to live.. and that’s the prison.. people imprisoned by own belief that this is their only way..

46 min – on captives: culture says.. got to stay here and do what parents did.. outside is poverty/death.. we teach children.. how to conform.. what their expectations are going to be.. going to have to plan on going to school getting good grades go to good college get good job make money get married buy house raise kids get more money..

48 min – ie: the farm.. have their own business.. cookbooks they sell that gives them the cash they need.. they have a way of living outside the prison

? outside prison but have to get money..

59 min – resource based econ used mns’ of yrs ago – whatever you can reach you can use for benefit of self/others.. as opposed to money based econ – based on competition.. many answers are already there .. just have to look back and see what worked.. not sure how you get bn’s adopting resource based econ.. but it would be great..

let’s try this: a nother way


2010 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhUz9guvrno] haven’t watched yet



wikipedia small

Daniel Quinn (born October 11, 1935) is an American writer (primarily, novelist and fabulist), cultural critic, and former publisher of educational texts, best known for his novel Ishmael, which won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award in 1991 and was published the following year. Quinn’s ideas are popularly associated with environmentalism, though he criticizes this term, claiming that it portrays the environment as somehow separate from human life and thus creates a false dichotomy. Quinn specifically identifies his philosophy as new tribalism.


Daniel Quinn writes primarily about the cultural bias, mythology, and world-view driving modern civilization and the destruction of the natural world.[9] Quinn exposes that some of civilization’s most unchallenged myths, or “memes,” include: that the Earth was made especially for humans, who are destined to conquer and rule it; that humans are innately flawed;[7][10] that humans are separate from and superior to nature (which Quinn has called “the most dangerous idea in existence”);[11]and that all humans must be made to live according to some one right way.

Quinn commonly discusses ecology and human population dynamics in-depth. He claims that the total population of humans, like all living things, grows and shrinks according to an ecological law—an increase in food availability for any population yields an accompanying increase in the population’s overall size[12]—despite the fact that popular cultural thinking regards civilized humans as separate from and above any such law.[7]

Quinn argues that the global system’s dependence on agriculture requires ever-more expansion, in turn generating ever-more population growth[13] (an escalating vicious cycle he identifies as the “food race“) making modern civilization, by definition, unsustainable.[13] He commonly analyzes and defends the effectiveness of traditional indigenous tribal societies—regarded by recent anthropological research as fairly egalitarian, ecologically well-adapted, and socially secure—as models to develop a new diversity of workable human social structures for the future.

Beginning with the Neolithic Revolution, Quinn argues that human overpopulation has been driven by an imperialistic way of life that denigrates nature, relies entirely upon expansionist farming (which Quinn calls “totalitarian agriculture”), and grows in proportion to the rest of the living world’s decline in biomass. In Quinn’s view, civilization today has largely become a merged, single massive global economy and culture.

Quinn warns about food and population dangers in a way often compared to Thomas Robert Malthus, though Quinn’s warning is markedly different. Unlike Malthus, who warned that rising human population would outpace the food generated to feed it, Quinn considers this assessment backwards, instead warning that excess population is the result of excess food. According to Quinn, the success of totalitarian agriculture is causing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity, and, even more directly, overshoot towards an eventual population crash, of which the civilized mainstream shows very little anticipation or interest.

Quinn’s conclusions on population also suggest the controversial notion that sustained food aid to starving nations is merely delaying and dramatically worsening massive starvation crises, rather than resolving such crises, as is commonly assumed. Quinn claims that reconnecting people to the food made available through their local habitats is a proven way to avoid famines and accompanying starvation. Some have interpreted this to mean that Quinn is resolving to let starving people in impoverished nations continue starving, which he has repeatedly refuted.

Quinn self-admittedly presents a lack of simplistic or universal solutions, though he strongly encourages a worldwide paradigm shift away from self-destructive memes and towards the values and organizational structures of tribalism, but not in the old style of ethnic tribalism so much as new groupings of individuals as equals trying to make a living communally, while still subject to evolution by natural selection; he has sometimes referred to this gradual shift as the “New Tribal Revolution.” Quinn has noted that his admiration for the sustainable lifestyles of indigenous tribes is not intended to encourage a massive “return” to hunting and gathering so much as his acknowledging an enormous history of relative ecological harmony between humans and the rest of the environment (from which humans are never separate), attributable to the tribe as an effective model for human societies (just as the pack works for wolves, the hive for bees, etc.).

Although Quinn himself regards the following associations as coincidental, his philosophy is sometimes considered related to deep ecology, dark green environmentalism, or anarcho-primitivism.

Quinn has been influential in developing a vocabulary for his philosophy; he has coined or popularized a variety of terms, including the following:

  • Takers and Leavers — “Takers” refers to members of the dominant globalized civilization and its culture, while “Leavers” refers to members of the countless other non-civilized cultures existing both in the past and currently[25][9][26]
  • Mother Culture – a personification of any culture’s inherently biased influences that are not perceived as biased by its members
  • Food Race – the phenomenon of ongoing human overpopulation and its accompanying global catastrophes, in which the giving of more food to starving, growing populations paradoxically yields only still greater population growth and starvation
  • Law of limited competition – a biological law that “defines the limits of competition in the community of life,” according to which “you may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them… access to food in general,” meaning across-the-board; species that violate this law end up extinct
  • Law of Life – the universal collection of all evolutionarily stable strategies
  • Totalitarian Agriculture – today’s dominant form of agriculture that “subordinates all other life-forms to the relentless, single-minded production of human food,” unsustainable because it generates enormous food supplies that in turn generate ever-greater human population booms
  • The Great Forgetting – widespread historical ignorance regarding “the fact that we [humans] are a biological species in a community of biological species and are not exempt or exemptible from the forces that shape all life on this planet; this also includes our forgetting of the fact that most of human history has been based on an ecologically sound way of life (largely hunting and gathering)”
  • Boiling frog – “a metaphor for so many circumstances in life when people are unwilling or unable to react effectively to crises that occur very gradually or imperceptibly,” used especially by Quinn to refer to creeping normality in terms of escalating environmental degradation
  • New Tribal Revolution – a hypothetical, sociocultural period of global change that Quinn supports, in which civilization would gradually begin to transform into a collection of more sustainable, tribal societies


Ishmael directly inspired the 1998 Pearl Jam album Yield (and particularly the song “Do the Evolution”), the name of the band Animals as Leaders, the ideology behind the 1999 drama film Instinct, and the 2007 documentary film What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire. *Quinn’s writings have also influenced the filmmaker Tom Shadyac (who featured Quinn in the documentary I Am), as well as the entrepreneur Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. (the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet), who began transforming Interface with more “green” initiatives. Actor Morgan Freeman’s interest in the Ishmael trilogy inspired his involvement with nature documentaries, such as Island of Lemurs: Madagascar and Born to Be Wild, both of which he narrated, while adopting from Quinn the phrase “the tyranny of agriculture.” Punk rock band Rise Against includes Ishmael on their album The Sufferer & the Witness’ reading list.

*tom shadyac