Daniel Quinn became known in the US as the author of "Ishmael", a philosophical novel that won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship in 1991 that tries to deconstruct the popular notion that humans are somehow the end product of biological evolution. That book and its sequels granted him the anarcho-primitivist label, something which he disagrees with. Quinn prefers to see his work as a reivindication of a new tribalism.
"Beyond Civilization" is a non-fiction follow-up to "Ishmael", to some extent, since Quinn further illustrates and explains the same ideas that he already brought up in his famous trilogy. Written in the form of short one-page explorations, "Beyond Civilization" explains why, in the author's view, human civilization as we know it has reached a dead-end and it might behoove us to explore new forms of social organization, such as the type of new tribalism that Quinn defends.
We can certainly see now why some people consider Quinn's philosophy a version of Anarchism, in spite of his own protests. It is imbued in an anti-hierarchical spirit that calls for egalitarianism and the removal of all formal hierarchies, which is precisely what Anarchism traditionally stood for. However, Quinn is intelligent enough to realize that civilization would have not survived if only those on top had an interest to keep it alive. There must be something more to it than that, obviously. That something else is a shared vision. So, the only possible alternative to civilization is a different, alternative vision. Quinn proposes a new form of tribalism. However, the use of the word "tribe" should not make us jump to conclusions. He does not defend a return to the jungle. He prefers to see a "tribe" in a more flexible way, as people who form a small community with a shared interest in the survival of the whole (which is not to say that they all necessarily share the same ideas and philosophies, as in the old communes).
Whether one agrees with Quinn or not, "Beyond Civilization" is an interesting book that should make us think and reconsider certain truisms that have traditionally been accepted without further questions....Continua