Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Taker" Culture vs. "Leaver" Culture

I finally figured out how to articulate the essential underlying difference between the "Taker" culture and the "Leaver" culture, as defined by Daniel Quinn in his books, Ishmael and The Story of B: The overarching zeitgeist of the Taker Culture is that everything and everyone is separate and disconnected, while the overarching zeitgeist of the Leaver Culture is that everything is distinctive yet interconnected. Every aspect of these two cultures reflects their overarching zeitgeist.

Each culture reflects its overarching view on "reality" in every aspect of that culture. For example, within the Taker Culture, medicine and "healthcare" are approached by attacking singular, separate symptoms of dis-ease as apposed to respectfully taking care of the whole human being. The "patient" is viewed as an object by the "physician" and has no part in the "healing" process. The "physician" either cuts out the problem (surgery) or drugs the problem (pharmaceuticals) but does not engage the "patient" (object) to change or take responsibility for their health issue(s).

By contrast, a true Leaver Culture views everyone and everything as distinctive yet interconnected. Therefore, medicine and healthcare are seen as a cooperative effort. The patient is a human being who must participate in the healing process. All aspects of the patient's being must be considered in the healing process and time, as well as the body, is respected.

In our society (Taker Culture), we can see that the Taker Culture is, by definition, sociopathic: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Within the Taker Culture, it is OK to lie as long as you get away with it, it is OK to abuse others as long as you get away with it, it is OK to steal, cheat, and willfully cause harm to others or their property as long as you get away with it. Getting away with it usually depends on how much money you have to throw at the natural consequences of your abusive behaviors. Poor people get caught and punished, rich people get away with murder. Literally. 

Within the Leaver society, everyone understands that everything (object and action) is interconnected and, therefore, affects the whole of society. If someone acts abusively, everyone suffers. It is understood that to lie, cheat, steal, and act in any other abusive manner means that dis-ease is created within the community and, therefore, will not be tolerated. If the abuser is willing to change, the community may allow the community member to make appropriate recompense for the wrong action and continue to live in the community, humbled but still a vital member of the whole. But if the abuser is not willing to change, that person is cut off from the community for good. 

We can see how the overarching zeitgeist of each type of culture - the Taker Culture and the Leaver Culture - is reflected in every minute aspect of that society, from education to business to political structure, to laws, to religious beliefs, and on and on. 

The Taker Culture breeds dis-ease and psychopathic behaviors by its very underlying essential view. (Psychopathy: a mental disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity,failure to learn from experience, etc.)
The Leaver Culture, by contrast, brings forward a harmonious, respectful presence to the individual and the society as a whole, at ease with itself and with its members. 

Just to add, being a Leaver Culture does not, in any way, mean to be a culture of Luddites or anti-technology supporters. It just means that the undercurrent of the society is that we are all distinctive and interconnected as opposed to separate and disconnected (Taker Culture). 

If you haven't already read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael or The Story of B, I highly recommend them both, and in that order. I have yet to read more of his work but am looking forward to it. He is insightful and revolutionary in his understanding of why our "modern" culture is so very dysfunctional and dissatisfying. 


  1. Quinn's more recent book, "My Ishmael" is the third in the series and, I believe, the most in-depth of the Ishmael books, so far. If you only have time for one, read "My Ishmael." It covers the most ground.

  2. Very enlightening. Thank you for your reflections and analysis. Very logical and real at the same time. Especially in these days we life in.
    Many Thanks