The effectiveness of our strategies for change

For me, I stopped trying to “change peoples minds” a long time ago because I realized that by changing who I am I inspire the people around me. Rather then spend time handing out copies of Ishmael (which I did at one time, and still encourage those who feel inspired to, to do so), I changed the way I lived and others caught on. Even Daniel Quinn says it’s better to give his books to people who ask for it. When I write or run my events, I put up posters and hand out flyers and send out press releases. I’m not interesting in “converting” people to my ideology. I’m interested in putting up a beacon so others who already share my feelings can connect with me and each other, and build something from there. I would never try to convince someone they “needed” to rewild. (or course, the current title of my book is “rewild or die” haha) but you get the idea. I don’t try to change minds, but I do through changing my own life as much as I can. By changing your own life, it builds curiousity in others and that leads to an open conversation with them about what you do. If they never were curious about what you do, they won’t give a shit about talking to you about it.

If I were to actually give a book to someone (which I can’t remember the last time I did that) it would be Endgames Vol I and II, without question. I agree with you Brian, that Quinns books have a sort of mental framework, but the more time passes, the more I think that framework creates blocks rather than promotes real change. (as seen in my “Daniel Quinn is Dead to Me” thread. He himself doesn’t believe that civ is inherently unsustainable, so he would never “promote” such a thing as rewilding. In fact, he always makes a point to talk down to those people who feel they need to “go back” to living in a primitive culture. Though I should say that I would never tell someone to “not hand out books” as you just never know and any information spreading like that is a good thing to me.

As far as “what actions to take” indirect vs. direct… I don’t really see them as two different things personally. Action is action. Change is change. Make whatever change you can. Make the change that your heart tells you to make.

Generally when I hear someone say, “There is no way we could take down civ on a large scale” what they really mean is, “I’m not curious about taking down civ on a large scale” or “I’m too scared to think about this on a large scale”. Both of these responses are fine. I’m too scared personally. But I’m not against the idea or that it isn’t possible. Get some Derrick Jensen in the hands of a few dis-enheartened soldiers returning from Iraq. Some people already have this training. You know? Everyone plays a different part in cultures. I don’t think it’s as “black and white” as “direct vs. indirect.” And I think that seeing it that way will only create endless debate. I recommend reading my “Rewild Frontier” chapter. (here I am, recommending my own shit! I’m such a fucking hypocrite!)

Aside from my fear lies this feeling that I don’t have that power even if I summoned the courage. Civilization, this phenomenon that has occurred in many places across the globe for thousands of years – I have the power to stop that, to bring that down? Civilization, which controls military might so vast and powerful they could destroy the whole earth with their atomic bombs – I have the power to stop that, to bring that down? Civilization, which holds millions and billions of peoples its captives, and many/most of them willingly so – I have the power to stop that?

I don’t know, really. Obviously bringing down civilization would take more than me. But do I really have the power to influence that in any major way? I’ve grown up hearing that it takes just one person or a small group of people to change the world. I feel less convinced of that. I feel more and more my own powerlessness against this thing called civilization. I feel like I’m trying to have a fist-fight with a hurricane. Can I really do anything to stop that?

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, ever since I read Endgame Vol. I & II last December, and lately I feel that there just isn’t any way I can influence some control over the situation, at least not in a way that I can say: If I do this, then civilization will weaken.

Another thing I’ve thought of in regards to this is why haven’t other generations successfully brought down civilization. If civilization has been going on for so long and was so detrimental then, why did folks 2000 years ago not bring it down? Did anyone think of such a thing? If after all that time no significant action against the whole of civilization has occurred, why now? Why me, why now? I’m not a messiah. I can’t save the world. I can only take responsibility for the things I can take responsibility for, and I don’t feel Civilization is one of them.

no answers, just questions…???

Ultimately, what I can do is minimize civilizations power to put limits on me. I can help people weaken it’s power over them too, if that’s what they want to do.

This exactly!

please parden my poor poetry, but my view is this:

black asphalt
dandelion pushes
broken chunks

Part of the thing I was saying is that, on the individual "conversion" level I'd prefer that potential new "rewilding" people initially be exposed to the Daniel Quinn school of thought. I see it as a "baby step" for someone to at least acknowledge the truths presented in Ishmael. Have you read much of his works? I feel like there are misconceptions with them sometimes. They are relatively un-emotional but I think their power lies in their ability to transform thinking in the "rational" part of the brain to understand how civ came to be as it is, and why it is so harmful.

I also think there is an underestimated power in observing our culture through the eyes of a Martian Anthropologist (Like DQ talks about in Lined Paper). A thing changes depending on how you observe it.

“Anthropology, abstractly conceived as the study of man, is actually the study of men in crisis by men in crisis.” Stanley Diamond

I think this is helpful and powerful to civ people with whom the death of biodiversity doesn't resonate emotionally. I guess you could say they appeal to the readers more "selfish" insincts to make them think less selfishly.

This is a good point, Brian. I really didn’t have much of an emotional connection to wild nonhumans at the time I read Ishmael. At the time I remember thinking that we really can go extinct liked the dinosaurs did, and that God will not make any effort to save us. Now I’m thinking less selfishly though, I have more of an emotional connection.

Take care,


Don’t worry Urban Scout, I’m not wasting my time trying to “convert” everyone (unfortunate wording). I can’t even seem to effect my closest friends thinking, so why would i try that?!!! But, yeah, I do always have the feeling I want to do something,and while I’m always trying to change “who I am”, general promotion seems to be my best option right now. I’m working on being a better public speaker and getting into a position where I can make some more “noise”. But not everybody has the personality to be a “Rewild celebrity”!!! I’ll eventually make my own path, but it would be nice to find some other Delaware rewilding people or “Ish” fans. Hmmm… maybe I’ll do some web searching…

Continuing the discussion from Introductions:

Hi again Sharp Rock—

It seems to me that the ability to live homeless by choice is the beginning of an answer to the big questions of civilization (the population problem discussed in another thread, etc., etc., etc.—all of those horrendous issues that seem too huge to even contemplate). Going homeless is a powerful step in withdrawing support from civilization. And those who are actually doing it are an inspiration to the rest of us (Are there others here who have taken that step?). It has for some time been my wish to learn to live homeless—by choice, as you say. (I can see that the homeless people around here all show far more resourcefulness than anybody else, and I do admire them, but don’t know how much any of them may feel a sense of choice about it). I have taken some tiny steps in that general direction, but the prospect is still quite intimidating. I for one would appreciate anything you are willing to share about how you arrived at this ability.

Since you asked,
I started contemplating a “nomadic” lifestyle as both an exercise in freedom & as a way to pay off debts faster/not pay rent for stolen land. I spent a couple nights in the bed of my rusty, 30 year old pickup & realized I was still living like a king compared to many others around the world, so I found a camper shell for $50, packed up my necessities, & ditched my slave quarters.

Maybe that sounds like cheating to you, and, well, it is. I havent told anyone I work with, & generally try to disguise the fact.

Being homeless is tough. I reckon it takes a lot more skill & resourcefulness than living “conventionally” (tho largely because of the stigma & absurdities the “normal” world places on it). I also have the whole white-male privilege thing in my favor, so I’d highly recommend you try truck/van/car-life first if you decide to give it a go. It may not be sustainable, 100% free range living, but rewilding requires crawling before we can run.

One of the great things about not having to pay for housing is that you can work WAY less - yes, I still recommend having some kind of income - that way you can do something you love instead of doing whatever pays the bills, & still have lots of time for your own personal projects, extra money to donate, etc. I guess what I’m really saying is, I certainly haven’t developed the ability yet, but I’m working towards it.

I’ve noticed another truck-dweller at some of my “camping” grounds, & I know there are some way more resourceful people here. Some of them travel with pack animals (where y’all at!?)

Full disclosure: I’m not particularly skilled at being homeless, & winter pushed me into a friend’s place back in December, tho I plan to try again when Spring comes (it takes LOTS of insulation to comfortably sleep in a drafty metal box at temps under 20F).

1 Like

Thank you so much for relating some of your personal experience with taking the challenge. Reading your post, I immediately felt energized to move ahead with my own changes sooner than I had formerly intended.

I never even thought that you had gone all the way into purest “homelessness”—it seemed impossible to juggle that along with being a student and fulltime wage slave, as you say. Nevertheless you took a big step away from the daily maintenance of civilization that we all perform by way of our addiction to it, and that is inspiring.

Yesterday I found the place where I will try making my “camp” starting a couple of days from now. Not going to give any details until I have actually done it, but will post if and when I have something solid to offer.

There is not effective dismantling of civilization that is called for, and I don’t see that working. What I see most effective, and most desirable, is the move of people on their motivation for it and their preparation out from civilization to where they would live in sustainable ways independently and apart from civilization. Communities of small groups of people in this pursuit work best for that. Land for it which will have it possible will be needed and should be found. Each should be serious for living in what can be found to be most sustainable, and people in a group for a community would need to be really compatible together. Through human existence such small community groups were possible, and worked, so this is what people can come to. This would be the most effective way, for a needed transition soonest, and only more doing so then will decrease civilization sooner.

In recent years I have also become skeptical of dismantling civ as a tactic (ie. trying to take it down). While I get that the longer it continues as is, the more damage is done to the planet, if it goes down too quick there would potentially be even worse consequences, such as all the world’s active nuclear reactors melting down all at once (if the global power grid went down suddenly), or rampant warfare as people start starving all over the place.

However, I also want to be realistic about the likelihood of enough people voluntarily stepping away from civ to actually take it down. Unfortunately the system has created such effective hurdles against doing that - from the system of private property and paying taxes, to zoning laws and building codes - that I just don’t see people stepping away on a large scale. At least not as long as civ exists as it is.

With that said though, I wholeheartedly support such attempts to do so, and I’d love to be part of making it easier for people. The biggest obstacle for most is coming up with the $ to buy land, so if we could connect the people who own land and who want to live in community with all the people who want to rewild who don’t have access to land, beautiful things could ensue. I actually bought a website url to be a place where people can do this kind of networking, but setting it up requires more technical know-how than I currently have. :stuck_out_tongue:

I see that with one person who affords it buying land with which a rewilding community comes together where sustainable simple living can come to be practiced, such person then takes position as leader, being the owner. It should be thought more desirable to have more of an egalitarian arrangement without one person as leader, with community consensus through meeting together with discussion. So it would be better for as many who would, really to depart from civilization effectively, to invest what they can, even when some can invest more, bearing more for those who can just invest less, for the sake of a community where all are bearing for each other, the way communities have worked. Through human existence, people in communities always lived for their community, it was never thought of to leave one’s community. But to come to such, that is that involving, all who would join each other really need to be in communication for it, before even having some land they acquire, and actually meet each other, that there could be effective planning and secure comfort for such in who they have in community for it. We really need to find people we are compatible with for such simple primitive community.

Maybe information about such website can be shared, that a joint effort among some will make that site and its purpose effective.


I am replying here because what I want to say fits better in this topic.

Though your approach differs from mine, I appreciate your consistency in recognizing the urgency of the problem of civilization in the world, and also your recognition that, as humans coming from a civilized background, our first responsibility is to radically change our own physical way of life.

I see from your posts that you have made a number of attempts at gathering together a community of humans committed to the simpler way of life. I wish you all the best in those efforts, though I personally have found that when I am around other humans for too long, even those of good will, I get sucked right back into my own civilized mind which I am trying so hard to outgrow (Even on this forum so many misunderstandings occur because in using a language of the civilization we are necessarily boxing our fluid thoughts into chunky abstractions).

What I am doing now is adjusting my own physical life to fit into the real world, still here beneath the civilization. After I have progressed more in this I hope to get together with other humans who are working for change. I currently am vegan, not because I value the lives of plants less than animals (in fact I am appreciating the plants more every day) but because I am foraging all my food in the simplest, most direct way possible, and have found that this is doable with what the trees and other plants here provide, while the skills of a carnivore seem far beyond me at this point.

I just love that you never give up. Me neither. I turn to this forum to stay encouraged about humans and I appreciate all of you here.

Thank you very much, I would be happy to be in communication with you still.


Sure. In what way?

There are personal messages through this, I am aware. I don’t usually come here often, but about once a week. I am on Facebook but not much more than here, if you are there messaging is possible with that. I am on MeWe much more, and messaging is not a separate thing like it is with Facebook apps, if you use MeWe it is possible with that. In any case I would necessarily give you the name I have in either of those and the way to be in contact. There is otherwise email possible for it. You can let me know through a personal message here. I hardly have any who can agree this much and is willing to dialogue that we might hear more from each other. I seek to answer others in regard to sustainability in living, an appropriate subject in this forum, with not seeking to hijack any discussion.

I am new to the group, but not to activism; In the past I was an animal rights activist. Now, mostly arm chair. I’m no longer against meat-eating, but I abhor factory farming, vivisection, and generally taking the autonomy away from what should be the wild life of an animal or sea life. Anyway, change, regardless of movement, must work all the avenues. Protests are conversation starters and can possibly get the media to report the issue. One must always keep in mind how we operate as a species. We want a long and healthy life. We want security. We want to avoid pain and suffering. We mostly want to be accepted. I personally could care less about fitting in with civilization, but I can enjoy conversation with my tribe. Keeping these things in mind, one can move forward toward an uncivilized planet by waking people up with protest and education, but also showing them the way so that they can keep the motives of the human in mind. Of course, there will always be the lazy slobs that need remote controls and televisions.

Are protests so effective? I don’t mean to say they are never effective at all, we have some change from protests. But most of what we have came about from advances and changes among individuals in how they live, with more wanting that way then. I think this way is more effective, for leaving and being independent of civilization groups of individuals can together give example to many more of how it works. Discussing doing that without getting there would not be so effective. So I see coming to the goals of the pursuit, to me involving being independent of civilization with real sustainability in living that way, with any others involved together in that, is needed, even though with transition to that needed. I do see it good to choose not using animals, and so I don’t.

Hello, Well I am in agreement with you regarding protest effectiveness; If we look at little Greta Thunberg we see she has created quite the protest worldwide for climate change, but the power structures are not making the necessary changes. We have in the president’s state of the union mention planting trillion trees and I would hazard to guess that those protesters could be voters, so yes they are doing something but not enough.

I am dedicating this year to learning as much as I can about deep ecology and seeing just how many changes I can make toward cutting my harm to the natural world. This spring will be two years since I gave you car to my brother; I will still use it if I need to go to the doctor or pet sit for him, but otherwise it has worked. I bought a recumbent trike with storage to get my groceries or to forage. I walk and I take the bus sometimes as well. It’s been years since I have had a television and I am oblivious to who is famous these days. I had six lamps and now I’m down to one. I sold really nice furniture in the hopes that it would prevent someone buying new and I no longer needed. My electric supply is as of the first of the year renewable, so I tried using a hot plate to cook, but didn’t work to well and damaged bottom of pot. I live in a apartment that came with the usual giant family of four refrigerator. I am in two minds about what to do. Keep using it because it is already here or buy one of the new usb powered mini cooler fridge that has a handle and I can bring with me and probably can be charged on a solar panel, but then I think that then I am just buying stuff, so for now I have not decided. I am happy to have found this group and I look forward to learning from the members. We have as evolved to eat cooked food and the nature around me is not anywhere near sufficient for adequate foraging, so I feel trapped in civilization because I am dependent on it. Thank you for your thoughts.