My Ishmael (Bantam, 1997)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Posted by St. Drogo at 2:03 PM  

13 comments:

P. 63 - "What does the story accomplish? ... It demolishes the lie that ten thousand years ago everyone gave up foraging and settled down to become farmers. It demolishes the lie that this was an event that everyone had been waiting for from the beginning of time. It demolishes the lie that, because this way has become the dominant way, it must prove it's the way people are 'meant' to live."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 107 - "What was vitally important for all these peoples was to have ways of dealing with humans as they are. They didn't think of humans as flawed beings, but this doesn't mean that they thought of them as angels. They knew very well that humans are capable of being troublesome, disruptive, selfish, mean, cruel, greedy, violent and so on. Humans are nothing if not passionate and inconsistent, and it doesn't take a giant intellect to figure this out. A system that works for tens of thousands of years is not going to be a system that only works for people who are invariably agreeable, helpful, selfless, generous, kind and gentle. A system that works for tens of thousands of years is going to be a system that works for people who are always *capable* of being troublesome, disruptive, selfish, greedy, cruel and violent."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 108 - "Among tribal peoples, you don't find laws that *forbid* disruptive behavior. To the tribal mind, this would be supremely inane. Instead, you find laws that serve to minimize the damage of disruptive behavior. For example, no tribal people would ever frame a law forbidding adultery. Instead, what you find are laws that set forth what must happen when adultery occurs. The law prescribes steps that minimize the damage done by this act of infidelity, which has injured not only the spouse but the community itself by cheapening marraige in the eyes of the children ... The same would be true of assault ... it's futile to say to people 'You must never fight' ... What is not futile is to know exactly what must be done for the best when there's been a fight, so that everyone sustains the least damage possible. I want you to see how very different this is from the effect of your own laws, which, instead of reducing damage, actually magnify and multiply damage all across the social landscape, destroying families, ruining lives, and leaving victims to heal their own wounds."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 114 - "When they did at last begin to record the human past, this is the picture that began to emerge: The human race was born just a few thousand years ago in the vicinity of the Fertile Crescent. It was born dependent on crops, and planted them as instinctively as bees build hives. It also had an instinct for civilization. So, as soon as it was born, the human race began planting crops and building civilization. There was, of course, utterly no memory left of humanity's tribal past, extending back hundreds of thousands of years. This had disappeared without a trace"

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 116 - "The tribal life wasn't an arrangement of haves and have-nots. Why would people put up with such an arrangement unless they were forced to? And until you put food under lock and key, there was no way to force people to put up with it. But the Taker life has always been an arrangement of haves and have-nots. The have-nots have always been the majority, and how were they supposed to discover the source of their misery? Who were they going to ask to explain why the world is ordered as it is, in a way that favors a handful, leaving the vast majority toiling ... Were they going to ask their bosses? Certainly not."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 116 - "About twenty-five hundred years ago, four distinct explanatory theories began to evolve. Probably the oldest theory was that the world is the work of two eternally warring gods, one god of goodness and light, the other god of evil and darkness ... this theory was embodied in Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and other religions. Another theory had it that the world was the work of a community of gods who, absorbed in their own affairs, ran it to suit themselves ... this, of course, was the theory embraced by classical Greece and Rome. Another theory is that suffering is intrinsic to life, that it's the inevitable fate of those who live, and that peace can only be attained by those who relinquish desire of every kind. This was the theory given to the world by Gautama Buddha. Another theory had it that the very first man, Adam ... had disobeyed God, fallen from grace, and had been driven from paradise to forevermore live by the sweat of his brow ... Christianity built on this Hebraic base, providing a messiah that taught that in the Kingdom of God the first will be the last and the last first - meaning that the haves and have-nots will change places."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 119 - "What's confusing you is that you imagine I've shown you what the answers are, when in fact I've shown you only where to look for answers. You think I'm saying, 'Adopt the Hulla lifestyle', when in fact I'm saying, 'Understand why the Hulla lifestyle worked - and continues to work as well as ever where it still exists'. As Takers, you've been struggling for ten thousand years to invent a lifestyle that works, and have failed utterly so far."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 121 - "This was the tremendous strength of the tribal way, that its success didn't depend on people being better. It worked for people the way they are - unimproved, unenlightened, troublesome, disruptive, selfish, mean, cruel, greedy and violent. And that triumph the Takers have never come close to matching. In fact, they never even made the attempt. Instead, they counted on being able to improve people, as if they were badly designed products. They counted on being able to punish them into being better, on being able to inspire them into being better, on being able to educate them into being better."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

P. 144 - "Once again, the essential point to note is that, for all your complaining, your schools are doing just what you actually want them to do, which is to produce workers who have no choice but to enter your economic system, presorted into various grades. High-school graduates are generally destined for blue-collar jobs. They may be as intelligent and talented as college graduates, but they haven't demonstrated this by surviving a further four years of studies - studies that, for the most part, are no more useful in life than the studies of the previous twelve. Nonetheless, a college degree wins admittance to white-collar jobs that are generally off-limits to high-school graduates."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

P. 160 - "Utopian is right, Julie. Every one of your systems is a utopian system. Democracy would be heaven - if people would just be better than people have ever been. Of course, Soviet communism was supposed to have been heaven too - if people had just been better than people have ever been. And of course your schools would work perfectly under the same conditions."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

P. 163 - "In tribal societies, it's taken for granted that children will want to work alongside their elders. The work circle is also the social circle. I'm not talking about sweatshops. There are no such things in tribal societies. Children aren't expected to behave like assembly-line workers, punching in and punching out. How else are they to learn to do things if they're not allowed to *do* them?"

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

P. 190 - "A great many of you consciously or unconsciously think of evolution as a process of inexorable improvement. You imagine that humans began as a completely miserable lot but under the influence of evolution very gradually got better and better ... until one day they became *you*, complete with frost-free refrigerators ... Because of this, giving up *anything* would necessarily represent a step backwards in human development. So Mother Culture formulates the problem this way: 'Saving the world means giving up things, and giving up things means reverting to misery. Therefore ... forget about giving up things. Or saving the world, for that matter ... you shouldn't think of yourselves as wealthy people who must give up your riches. You must think of yourselves as people in desperate need."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

P. 191 - "You've got to be more demanding for yourselves, Julie - not less. This is where I part company with your religionists, who tend to encourage you to be brave and long-suffering and to expect little from life ... You need to demand for yourselves the wealth that aboriginal people all over the world are willing to die to defend. You need to demand for yourselves the wealth that humans had from the beginning, that they took for granted for hundreds of thousands of years. You need to demand for yourselves the wealth you threw away in order to make yourselves the rulers of the world. But you can't demand this from your leaders. They don't have to give it to you. This is how you must differ from revolutionaries of the past, who simply wanted different people to be running things. You can't solve your problems by putting someone new in charge."

St. Drogo said...
August 22, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

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