Freedom Digital Library


Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline


Leavers & Takers*

The "appropriate state of mind" for making use of a "tribal lifeboat" in which to escape collapsing civilization is the mentality of the culture Daniel Quinn calls the Leavers. The "state of mind" which condemns its possessors to "go down with the ship" is that of the culture of the Takers. The difference between Leavers and Takers is simple yet profound: the Takers are those who have elected to take the Law of Life into their own hands. The Leavers have chosen instead to leave the Law of Life in the hands of the gods.

The Law of Life has evolved over the entire course of the presence of life on planet Earth. It is the aggregate pattern of what works for all living species, as proven by the metaconscious process of natural selection in the crucible of time. Species that do not pattern their lives in consistency with the Law of Life do not remain for long in residence on the planet. The Law of Life is a mill that grinds slowly, yet exceedingly fine. An example of how it works is illustrated by the human Taker culture, which have taken the Law of Life into their own hands, and are now, after 10,000 years, at the final stage of their extinction. When their approach to life has entirely run its course, only Leaver cultures will remain ...if anyone remains.

In Ishmael1 there is an illuminating discussion of the myth of the Fall of Man as told in Genesis, which Ishmael suggests was originally a Leaver myth explaining how the Takers got that way, and was adopted uncomprehendingly into Taker mythology. It was the Takers, according to this interpretation of the myth, who first partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and thereby acquired – or believed they had acquired – the knowledge of the gods, which is the knowledge of who should live and who should die, the knowledge of good and evil.

For the Takers, it is "good" that the Takers should live, along with their crops and animals; and "evil" that all non-Takers (i.e. Leavers unwilling to become Takers themselves), and all competitors for the Takers' food, should live. Therefore, the ultimate Taker agenda is that Leavers, and all Taker competitors, sooner or later must die. Thus from the Leavers' perspective, the Takers had "eaten the food of the gods," and become (or at least acted) like gods themselves, taking upon themselves the knowledge of the gods, the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of who should live and who should die.

The Leavers, in contrast, are the peoples who have elected to leave the Law of Life in the hands of the gods, and who themselves live in the hands of the gods. The Leavers know that the gods alone know how to keep an equitable balance in the world among those who should live, and those who should die; for everything that lives, lives because something else dies to sustain its life. Thus on one day, the gods decide that the rabbit shall live, and the fox shall go hungry. Another day, the gods decide that the rabbit shall die, and the fox shall dine well that day. The Leavers are the many, many peoples who for the past three million years have lived as all other beings on Earth have lived, in the hands of the gods.

The Takers are the single culture which for the past ten thousand years have chosen instead to take the administration of their own lives, the administration of the Earth, and the administration of the entire Universe, if possible, out of the hands of the gods, and decide for themselves what is good and what is evil, what shall live, and what shall die.

The Takers invented civilization, which is today in the final stage of collapse because the Takers have long since forgotten the Law of Life, and no longer know how to live. The Taker way of life is a made-up way of life, an entirely fabricated Taker invention, in substitution for the Law of Life which they have discarded, and taken upon themselves to "rewrite." Taker "law" (so called) is a jerry-rigged hodge-podge, frantically cobbled together, year after year, millennium after millennium, in a vain and futile attempt to replace the only real Law there ever was: the Law of Life. If the Takers persist in taking the Law of Life into their own hands, they shall assuredly "go down with the ship," and if anyone survives the collapse of civilization, it will be the Leavers, and beings who, like the Leavers, live in the hands of the gods, and in harmony with the Law of Life.

The Takers believe that ten thousand years is a "long time" to have remained alive, and to have prospered as they seem to have done. Yet ten thousand years is practically no time at all. In the span of Life on planet Earth, the three million years of genus Homo is short. We're young here, just starting out in Life. The Takers believe that their persistence and unparalleled growth during their "little moment" validates the infallibility of their choices; yet their explosive growth is only the symptom of a pathological aberration, soon to be culled out of the inventory of Life. The Takers have no cultural memory of a time before their own, or of a way of life different from theirs. They have utterly forgotten the millions of years of rich and diverse human history that preceeded their culture. They believe that their culture is the only human culture of any importance or significance, not only to themselves, but to the entire Universe, and to the very gods. In summary, the Takers believe that


* Source: Leavers and Takers.

1. Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, A Bantam / Turner Book, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland, 1992.

2. After Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure, Three Rivers Press, New York, 1999. See The Tribe for suggested "Leaver-oriented" alternatives to some of these beliefs. See also The Tribal Ideal.

Civilization and Beyond copyright 2004, 2005 by J. Harmon Grahn. Copying and redistribution, in whole or in part, are permitted in any medium provided this notice is included.


Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline