This chapter compares the Taker and Leaver cultures outright, from an objective point of view. It shows how the Taker culture is primarily about power with no concern for life—it is shallow, materialistic and unfulfilling. The Leaver culture, on the other hand, focuses on people, not things. It builds communities, supports quality of life, and generates wisdom, which can be passed on to the next generation. Using examples from history, we see that the Taker culture did not remove the needs, it simply replaced the gods with themselves.
It consumes all of those around it, not just those who are part of it. Again, this seems poignant in our current political and economic atmosphere. Those who were not participating in the Taker culture of sub-prime mortgages, which is said to be the source of the current financially recession, are now being affected by it since it has cause a massive shift in the American economy. Even those who have never even been a homeowner must still now pay inflated prices at the grocery store, for example. This shows how the Takers really do take control over all life, not just their own.
Chapter 12 clarifies the opposition of the Leaver and the Taker stories. The basic premise of the Taker story is that the world belongs to Man—he is free to use and manipulate this world as he sees fit in order to produce and gain. The basic premise of the Leaver story, on the other hand, is that Man belongs to the world—he is but one small part of the workings of the universe. The key to escaping the prison culture that Takers create is not to shift power or allocate funding, but to break down the mental walls and understand that the world is truly much larger than what is in your mind.
This chapter specifically addresses escapism and vices such as drinking and drugs, but also identifies television as an escape mechanism to avoid. This seems to reflect much of the current concerns with drugs and alcohol as well as health issues. Those who live completely within the mind (the Takers) will naturally ignore the need to nurture the body and the spirit. Here the teacher essentially concludes the lessons and instructs the student to now become the teacher. This movement of knowledge and wisdom is the epitome of the Leaver culture, and the student has now become the holder of the knowledge and the key to the future.