My Ishmael
Daniel Quinn
Bantam Books, New York (USA), 1997.
274 pages

A new take on Ishmael, repeating most of its arguments too.

When asked what Mother Culture tells us about why we are different than turtles, clouds, worms and mushrooms (i.e., nature):

"Here's what I hear: We've got to evolve to a higher form in order to survive. I'm not exactly sure where I hear this. It's like it's something in the air."

"I understand."

"This form we're in right now is just too primitive. We're just too primitive. We have to evolve into some higher, more angelic form".

"In order to work as well as mushrooms and turtles and worms."

I laughed and said, "Yeah, that's funny. But that's the perception, I think. We don't work as well as mushrooms and turtles and worms because we're too intelligent, and we don't work as well as angels and gods because we're not intelligent enough. We're in an awkward stage. We were all right when we were less than huamn and we'll be all right when we're more than human, but we're washouts as we are right now. Humans are just no good. The form itself is no good. I think that's what Mother Culture has to say."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 34-35)

Keeping food under lock and key as the core of civilization. That is how we became to be like we are now (i.e., "flawed").

On the idea of colonizing other planets as the solution to our problems:

Ishmael shook his head. "Even that would be a stopgap measure, Julie. Let's say that six billion inhabitants represents a reasonable planetary maximum for your species (though I suspect that six billion is actually much more than a healthy maximum). You'll reach that six billion well before the end of this century. And let's say that you had instantaneous access to every habitable planet in the universe, to which you could immediately being exporting people. At present your population is doubling every thirty-five years or so, so in thirty-five years you'd fill a second planet. After seventy years four planets would be full. After a hundred and five years eight planets would be full. And so on. At this doubling rate a billion planets would be full by the year 3000 or thereabouts. I know that sounds incredible, but, trust me, the arithmetic is correct. By about 3300 a hundred billion planets would be full; this is the number you could occupy in this entire galaxy if each and every star had one habitable planet. If you continued to grow at your present rate, a second galaxy would be full in another thirty-five years. Four galaxies would be full thirty-five years afer that. By the year 4000 the planets of a million galaxies would be full. By the year 5000 the planets of a trillion galaxies would be full —in other words, every planet in the universe. All in just three thousand years and working under the improbable assumption that every single star in the universe has a habitable planet."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 60-61)

We definitely are a cancer.

On tribal laws:

"It will be hard for you to imagine such a thing, but the laws of each are completely sufficient for them. Because they've been formulated over the entire lifetime of the tribe, thousands of years, it's almost inconceivable that some situation could arise that has never been faced before. Nothing is more important for each generation than to receive the law in its entirety. By becoming Enns or Emms, the youth of each generation are imbued with the will of the tribe. The tribal laws represent what it means to be an Ell or a Kay. These are not your laws, Julie, which are largely useless, widely ignored and despised, and forever subject to change. These are laws that do what laws are supposed to do, year after year, generation after generation, age after age."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 86)

One if these key laws is give as good as you get, but don't be too predictable.

But these laws are adapted to each tribe:

"Here's where we are. When you go among tribal peoples, you'll find that they don't look into the heavens to find out how to live. They don't need an angel or a spaceman to enlighten them. They know how to live. Their laws and their customs give them a completely detailed and satisfactory guide. When I say this, I don't mean that the Akoa Pygmies of Africa think they know how all human beings should live or that the Ninivak Islanders of Alaska think they know how all human beings should live or that the Bindibu of Australia think they know how all human beings should live. Nothing of the kind. All they know is that they have a way that suits them completely. The idea that there might be some universally right way for everyone in the world to live would strike them as ludicrous."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 92-93)

Needless to say, this has little to do with the universalist approach taken by our own Western civilization, especially after the birth of Enlightenment and capitalism.

However, Ishmael (Quinn) stresses that his position should not be confused with a romantic idea of primitive tribe:

"I should warn you that people will tell you that the impression I've given you of tribal peoples is a romanticized one. These people believe that Mother Culture speaks the ubdoubted truth when she teaches that humans are innately flawed and utterly doomed to misery. They're sure that there must be all sorts of things wrong with every tribal way of life, and of course they're correct —if you mean by 'wrong' something you don't like. There are things in every one of the cultures I've mentioned that you would find distasteful or immoral or repugnant. But the fact remains that whenever anthropologists encounter tribal peoples, they encounter people who show no signs of discontent, who do not complain of being miserable or ill-treated, who are not seething with rage, who are not perpetually struggling with depression, anxiety, and alienation.

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 93)

One should nevertheless consider whether perhaps this is in part due to the fact that they are rarely so exposed to the outside world as we are. In this sense, perhaps instant communication has done little to make us happier, and much to bring about a constant sense of competition. As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

But Ishmael goes a step further. He does not deny that these tribes also suffer from social troubles of their own. They are not angels. What makes them different is just the way they deal with it.

"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 marriage in the eyes of the children. Again, the objective is not to punish but to make right, to promote healing, so that as far as possible, everything can return to normal. The same would be true of assault. To the tribal mind, it's futile to say to people, 'You must never fight.' What is not futile is to know exactly what must be done for th 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."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 105)

The reason, of course, is that our laws (yes, even in our contemporary secular countries) are imbued in the spirit of the old monotheistic tradition, according to which there is one (and only one!) truth that all of humanity must obey.

"For hundreds of thousands of years, people as smart as you had a way of life that worked well for them. The descendants of these people can today still be found here and there, and wherever they're found in an untouched statem they give every evidence of being perfectly content with their way of life. They're not at war with each other, generation against generation or class against class. They're not plagued by anguish, anxiety, depression, self-hatred, crime, madness, alcoholism, and drug addiction. They don't complain of oppression and injustice. They don't describe their lives as meaningless and empty. They're not seething with hatred and rage. They don't look into the sky, yearning for contact with gods and angels and prophets and alien spacemen and spirits of the dead. And they don't wish someone would come along and tell them how to live. This is because they already know how to live, as ten thousand years ago humans everywhere knew how to live. But knowing how to live was something the people of your culture had to destroy in order to make themselves the rulers of the world.

"They were sure they'd be able to replace what they destroyed with something just as good, and they've been at it ever since, trying one thing after another, giving the people anything they can think of that might fill the void. Archaeology and history tell a tale five thousand years long of one Taker society after another groping for something to placate and inspire, something to amuse and distract, something to make people forget a misery that for some strange reason simply will not go away. Festivals, revels, pageants, temple solemnities, pomp and circumstance, bread and circuses, the ever-present hope of attaining power, riches, and luxury, games, dramas, contests, sports, wars, crusades, political intrigue, knightly quests, world exploration, honors, titles, alcohol, drugs, gambling, prostitution, opera, theater, the arts, government, politics, careers, political advantage, mountain climbing, radio, television, movies, show business, video games, computers, the information superhighway, money, pornography, the conquest of space —something here for everyone, surely, something to make life seem worth living, something to fill the vacancy, something to inspire and console. And of course it did fill the vacancy for many of you. But only a fraction of you could hope to attain the good things that were available at any one time, as today only a small percentage of you can hope to live like people who must (surely must!) have a life worth living —billionaires and movie stars and sports heroes and supermodels. Always the vast majority of you have been relative have-nots. Is this expression familiar to you?"

"Have-nots? Yes."

"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 just in order to be hungry, naked, and homeless? Were they going to ask their rulers? Their slave masters? Their bosses? Certainly not.

"About twenty-five hundred years ago, four distinct explanatory theories began to evolve. Probably the oldest theory was this, that the worls is the work of two eternally warring gods, one a god of goodness and light, the other a god of evil and darkness. Certainly this made sense of a world that seemed to be forever divided between those who live in the light and those who live in the 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, and when humans came into it, they might be befriended, used, destroyed, ravished, or ignored, entirely at the gods' whim; this, of course, was the theory embraced by classical Greece and Rome. Another theory had it 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, living back there in Mesopotamia a few thousand years ago, had disobeyed God, fallen from grace, and been driven from paradise to live forevermore by the sweat of his brow, miserable, alienated from God, and prone to sin. Christianity built on this Hebraic base, providing a messiah who taught that in the Kingdom of God the first will be last and the last first —meaning that the haves and the have-nots will change places. During Christ's lifetime and in the decades following, most thought the Kingdom of God would be an earthly kingdom ruled by God directly. When this failed to materialize, however, it came to be understood that the Kingdom of God was heaven, accessible only after death. Islam too built on the Hebraic base, rejecting Jesus as a messiah but affirming that good works will be rewarded in the afterlife.

"But, as you well know, these theories have never entirely satisfied you, especially in recent centuries, and perhaps even more especially in recent decades, when the vast emptiness at the center of your lives swallows down an endless outpouring of religions, spiritual fads, gurus, prophets, cults, therapies, and mystical healings —without ever being satisfied."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 111-113)

Touché! Can anyone think of a better way to describe our contemporary malaise?

A realistic vision of human nature that, at the same time, cannot truly be considered pessimistic:

"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. And after ten thousand years of trying to improve people —without a trace of success— they wouldn't dream of turning their attention elsewhere."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 118)

As an aside, an interesting reflection on the discovery of America:

"It's well known that the Vikings visited the New World five hundred years before Columbus did. But the Vikings' contemporaries weren't electrified by their discovery, because it was irrelevant to them. You could have proclaimed it from every hosetop, and people would have been puzzled to know why you even bothered. But when Columbus made his discovery five hundred years later, his contemporaries were electrified. The discovery of a new continent was now very relevant indeed. Until now, Julie, I've been like Leif Eriksson tromping around alone on a vast, marvelous continent that absolutely no one cares about and no one wants to hear about. This continent has been open and available for study by your philosophers, your educators, your economists, your political scientists for more than a century, but not one of them has given it more than a bored look. Its existence inspires in them nothing but yawns. But I sense that things are beginning to change. Your appearance here in this room is a sign of that change —and as you recall, I nearly missed it myself. I sense that more and more of you are becoming alarmed about your headlong plunge toward catastrophe. I sense that more and more of you are casting about new ideas."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 123-124)

On how we force young people to join adult society and some musings about the school system:

"When the youngsters of your culture graduate from school (unless their families continue to take care of them), they must immediately find someone to give them money to buy the things they need in order to survive. In other words, they have to find jobs. You should be able to explain why this is so."

I nodded. "Because food is under lock and key."

"Precisely. I want you to see the connection between these two things. Because they have no survival value on their own, they must get jobs. This isn't something that's optional for them, unless they're independently wealthy. It's either get a job or go hungry."

"Yeah, I see that."

"I'm sure you realize that adults in your society are forever saying that your schools are doing a terrible job. They're the most advanced in the history of the world, but they're still doing a terrible job. How do your schools fall short of what people expect of them, Julie?"

"God, I don't know. This isn't something that interests me very much. I just tune out when people start talking about stuff like that."

"Come on, Julie. You don't have to listen very hard to know this."

I groaned. "Test scores are lousy. The schools don't prepare people for jobs. The schools don't prepare people to have a good life. I suppose some people would say that schools should give us some survival value. We should be able to be successful when we graduate."

"That's what your schools are there for, isn't it? They're there to prepare children to have a successful life in your society."

"That's right."

Ishmael nodded. "This is what Mother Culture teaches, Julie. It's truly one of her most elegant deceptions. Because of course this isn't at all what your schools are there for."

"What are they there for, then?"

"It took me several years to work it out. At that stage I wasn't used to uncovering these deceptions. This was my first attempt, and I was a little slow at it. The schools are there, Julie, to regulate the flow of young competitors into the job market."

"Wow," I said. "I see that."

"A hundred and fifty years ago, when the United States ws still a largely agrarian society, there was no reason to keep young people off the job market past the age of eight or ten, and it was not uncommon for children to leave school at that age. Only a small minority went on to college to study for the professions. With increasing urbanization and industrialization, however, this began to change. By the end of the nineteenth century, eight years of schooling were becoming the rule rather than the exception. As urbanization and industrialization continued to accelerate through the 1920s and 1930s, twelve years of schooling became the rule. After World War Two, dropping out of school before the end of twelve years began to be strongly discouraged, and it was put about that an additional four years of college should no longer be considered something only for the elite. Everyone should go to college, at least for a coupe of years. Yes?"

I was waving my hand in the air. "I have a question. It seems to me like urbanization and industrialization would have the opposite effect. Instead of keeping young people off the job market, the system would have been trying to put them on the job market."

Ishmael nodded. "Yes, on the surface that sounds plausible. But imagine what would happen here today if your educators suddenly decided that a high-school education was no longer needed."

I gave that a few seconds of consideration and said, "Yeah, I see what you mean. There would suddenly be twenty million kids out there competing for jobs that don't exist. The jobless rate would go through the root."

"It would be catastrophic, Julie. You see, it's not only essential to keep these fourteen-to-eighteen-year-olds off the job market, it's also essential to keep them at home as non-wage-earning consumers."

"What does that mean?"

"This age group pulls an enormous amount of money —two hundred billion dollars a year, it's estimated— out of their parents' pockets to be spent on books, clothes, games, novelties, compact discs, and similar things that are designed specifically for them and no one else. Many enormous industries depend on teenage consumers. You must be aware of that."

"Yeah, I guess so. I just never thought of it in these terms."

"If these teenagers were suddenly expected to be wage earners and no longer at liberty to pull billions of dollars from their parents' pockets, these youth-oriented industries would vanish overnight, pitching more millions out onto the job market."

"I see what you mean. If fourteen-year-olds had to support themselves, they wouldn't be spending theur money on Nike shoes, arcade games, and CDs."

"Fifty years ago, Julie, teenagers went to movies made for adults and wore clothing designed for adults. The music they listened to was not music written and performed for them, it was music written and performed for adults —by adults like Cole Porter, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman. To be in on the first big postwar clothing fad, teenage girls scavenged their fathers' white business shirts. Such a thing would never happen today."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 130-132)

Finally, the conclusion on schools:

I held up a hand. "Let me help, Ishmael. I think I've got it. Kids will learn anything they want to learn, anything they have a use for. But to make them learn things they don't have any use for, you have to send them to school. That's why we need schools. We need schools to force kids to learn things they have no use for."

"Which in fact they do not learn."

"Which in fact, when it's all over and the last bell rings, they have not learned."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 152)

On the distribution of wealth:

"Wealth generated in the tribal economy has no tendency to flow into the hands of a few," Ishmael said. "This is not at all because Leavers are nicer people than you are, but rather because they have a fundamentally different kind of wealth. There's no way to accumulate their wealth —no way to put it under lock and key— so there's no way for it to be concentrated in anyone's hands."

"I have no idea what their wealth is."

"I realize that, Julie, and I certainly intend to repair this deficiency. In fact, the easiest way to understand their economy is to start by looking at the wealth it generates. Of course when the people of your culture look at tribal peoples, they don't see wealth of any kind, they see poverty. This is understandable, since the only kind of wealth they recognize is the kind that can be locked up, and tribal peoples are not much interested in that kind.

"The foremost wealth of tribal peoples is cradle-to-grave security for each and every member. I can see that you're not exactly stunned by the magnificence of this wealth. It's certainly not impressive or thrilling, especially (forgive me for saying so) for someone your age. There are hundreds of millions of you, however, who live in stark terror of the future because they see no security in it for themselves anywhere. To be made obsolete by some new technology, to be laid off as redundant, to lose jobs or whole careers through treachery, favoritism, or bias —these are just a few of the nightmares that haunt your workers' sleep. I'm sure you've heard stories of dismissed workers returning to gun down former bosses and coworkers."

"Sure. One a week at least."

"They're not crazy, Julie. Losing their job looks like the very end of the world to them. They feel they've been dealth a mortal blow. Life is over, and nothing's left for them but revenge."

"I believe it."

"This is unthinkable in the tribal life, Julie —and not just because tribal peoples don't have jobs. As surely as any of you, each member of the tribe has a living to make. The wherewithal to live doesn't just fall out of the sky into their hands. But there is no way to deprive any member of the means to live. He or she has those means, and that's it. Of course this doesn't mean that no one ever goes hungry. But the only time anyone goes hungry is when everyone is going hungry. Again, this isn't because tribal people are more selfless and generous and caring —nothing of the sort. Do you think you can work this out?"

"You mean why no one goes hungry unless everyone is going hungry? I don't know. I can give it a shot."

"Please do."

"Okay. Well, it isn't like they have a store where they get the food. I'm not quite sure what I'm saying yet."

"Take your time."

"In the movies it happens this way. Let's say you've got explorers on an expedition to the North Pole or something. Their ship gets iced in an they can't get back on schedule. So the problem is how to survive. They've got to dole out the food very carefully and very fairly. But when they're on their last legs and ready to expire, guess what? The bad guy has a secret cache of food that he's been careful not to share with anyone."

Ishmael nodded.

"Now the reason why this doesn't happen in a tribal situation is that they don't start out with a store of food. They go along and go along, and for some reason the food gradually starts to get scarce. There's a drought or a forest fire or something. On day one, everyone's out looking for food, and it's slim pickings for everyone. The tribal chief is as hungry as everyone else. Why wouldn't he be, since there's no store that he has first pick at? Everyone's out there scoring as much food as they can, and if someone makes a good score, the best thing he can do is to share it with others, not because he's a nice guy but because the more people who are on their feet and out there hunting for food, the better off they all are —including him."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 172-174)

But the solution proposed is not simply returning to the primitive state and give up all sorts of things:

"I too say 'forget about giving up things.' You shouldn't think of yourselves as wealthy people who must give up some of your riches. You should think of yourselves as people in desperate need. Do you understand the root meaning of the word wealth, Julie?"

"I'm not sure."

"What rood word is the word warmth based on?"

"Warm, obviously."

"So take a guess. What rood word is the word wealth based on?"


"Of course. In its root sense, wealth isn't a synonym for money, it's a synonym for wellness. In terms of products, you are of course fabulously wealthy, but in terms of human wealth, you are pathetically poor. In terms of human wealth, you're the wretched of the earth. And this is why you shouldn't focus on giving up things. How can you expect the wretched of the earth to give up anything? That's impossible. On the contratry, you must concentrate on getting things —but not more toasters, Julie. Not more radios. Not more television sets. Not more telephones. Not more CD players. Not more playthings. You must concentrate on getting the things you desperately need as human beings. At the moment you've given up on all those things, you've decided they can't be had. But my task, Julie, is to show you that this isn't the case. You don't have to give up on the things you desperately need as human beings. They're within your reach —if you know where to look for them. If you know how to look for them. And this is what you came to me to learn."

"But how do we do that, Ishmael?"

"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 —and to expect better only in next 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. Your leaders aren't withholding it. They don't have it to give it to you. This is how you must differ from revolutionaries in the past, who simply wanted different people to be running things. You can't solve your problem by putting someone new in charge."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 172-174)

His solution, though, is to be "inventive".

"You must have a revolution if you're going to survive, Julie. If you go on the way you're presently going, it's hard to imagine your living through another century. But you can't have a negative revolution. Any revolution that thinks of 'going back' to some 'good old days' of imagined simplicity when men tipped their hats, women stayed home and cooked, and no one got divorced or questioned authority is founded on dreams. Any revolution that depends on people voluntarily giving up things they want for things they don't want is mere utopianism and will fail. You must have a positive revolution, a revolution that brings people more of what they really want, not less od what they don't really want. They don't really want sixteen-bit electronic games, but if that's the best they can get, they'll take it. You won't get far in your revolution by asking them to give up their sixteen-bit electronic games. If you want them to lose interest in toys, then you must give them something even better than toys.

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, p. 205)

But what will this revolution look like?

"Here are some things we can expect of the New Tribal Revolution, based on the experience of the Industrial Revolution. We can call it the Seven-Point Plan. "One: The revolution won't take place all at once. It's not going to be any sort of coup d'état like the French or Russian revolutions.

"Two: It will be achieved incrementally, by people working off each other's ideas. This is the great driving innovation of the Industrial Revolution.

"Three: It will be led by no one. Like the Industrial Revolution, it will need no shepherd, no organizer, no spearhead, no pacesetter, no mastermind at the top; it will be too much for anyone to lead.

"Four: It will not be the initiative of any political, governmental, or religious body —again, like the Industrial Revolution. Some will doubtless want to claim to be its supporters and protectors; there are always leaders ready to step forward once others have shown the way.

"Five: It has no targeted end point. Why should it have an end point?

"Six: It will proceed according to no plan. How on earth could there be a plan?

"Seven: It will reward those who further the revolution with the coin of the revolution. In the Industrial Revolution, those who contributed much in the way of product wealth received much in the way of product wealth; in the New Tribal Revolution, those who contribute much in the way of support will receive much in the way of support.

"Now here's a question for you. What do you think will happen to the Takers in this revolution, Julie?"

"What do you mean 'happen'?"

"I want you to begin thinking like a revolutinary now. Don't make me do all the work. The first thing people will want to do is outlaw the Taker way. Isn't that right?"

I stared at him blankly. "I don't know."

"Think, Julie."

"How can they outlaw the Taker way?"

"I suppose the same way they outlaw anything."

"But I mean... if there's no one right way for people to live, how can you outlaw the Taker way? Or any way?"

"That's better. If there's no one right way for people to live, then of course you can't outlaw the Taker way. The Taker way is going to continue, and the people who follow it are going to be the people who really like having to work to eat. They really like keeping the food locked up so they can't get at it."

"The Takers are going to lose a lot of people in this case, because the rest of us are going to want the food to be out there free for the taking."

"Then that's what'll happen, Julie. You don't have to outlaw the Taker life to make it disappear. You just have to open the prison door, and people will start pouring out. But there'll always be some who prefer the Taker way, who really thrive on that lifestyle. Maybe they can all get together on the island of Manhattan. You can declare it a national park and send your kids there to study the inhabitants on field trips."

(Daniel Quinn: My Ishmael, pp. 207-209)

Aside from the incogruency of having the "Leaver" kids visiting the "national park" to see how the "Takers" live (Why would they bother? And, wouldn't the "Takers" do the same, too?), there is a deeper issue to consider here: What makes Quinn believe that the leaders of the "Takers" will allow people to just drop out and live as they please?

Entertainment Factor: 6/10
Artistic Factor: 4/10
Intellectual Factor: 6/10