Are you tempted to bet against humankind? What’s in it for you?

This came to me by email:

I read your book last night. I got the impression that you believe you can liberate the bulk of the population by helping them to free their minds. I think you are doing electoral politics, and trying to get people to check “none of the above”. I don’t think that will work. Only perhaps 1% of the population want freedom; these people are called “freethinkers”. The rest want a kind master. If a master isn’t already present they will invent a master in the form of god, government, or gaia. Early American history had perhaps the largest percentage of freethinkers in history, who had concentrated themselves by emigration. Still, are you recognize, it very quickly went bad.

If freedom is going to happen, I think it will be because someone invents new ways for the permanent 1% minority of freethinkers to keep the permanent supermajority 99% of statists at bay.

This is a fairly common sentiment. The writer is clearly a serious libertarian, but people from every walk of life have this view of their fellow men. There is a hint of the Fallacy of Special Pleading in the claim, in this case maligning the norm with the exception: “I have what it takes to live a free life, but no one else does.”

My reply:

So, in summary, your plan is to bet against humanity?

I think you’re wrong. I think everyone wants to live the life I live, they just don’t know how. We won’t know for a while which one of us right — and we can only run the test because I wrote Man Alive!

Meanwhile: Will you love your self more tomorrow and enduringly by betting against humankind?

I think I’m the only game in town, and you have nothing whatever to lose by betting with me instead. If I’m right, you win big, and if you’re right, you lose nothing you have not already lost. I’m a free roll of the dice, but I’m also your best shot at making a difference in the world. Are you going to pass on that?

I’m glad you read the book, in any case. If you find that it stays with you — if it keeps calling itself back to your mind — you might give it a second look.

Here’s the truth of my own life: In the idiot social taxonomy promoted by the so-called “Pick-Up Artists” (discussed in Chapter 10 of the book), I would qualify as a Lone Wolf. I am naturally dominant but solitary to a fault. Obviously, those kinds of behavioral pre-dispositions don’t matter to thoughtful people. We have minds and therefore we can overcome anything. But it would be beyond easy for me to do nothing at all with respect to other people, to bet against them by default by ignoring them entirely.

My choice instead was to explore the ideas I take up in the book — to understand the gorgeous world I saw, a world few other people seemed to see, and to figure out how to share that vision with anyone who would risk taking a glimpse.

I believe that there is nothing special about me. I am different from most people because I have made different choices, but what we are as things is the same one thing. I am what you are and you are what I am, and there is nothing I can think about that you cannot also contemplate, if you learn to think the way I do.

Yesterday I celebrated my outsized hubris at FaceBook, and my belief is that everyone wants to feel that way — wants to thrive and to rejoice and to triumph as the rewards of a life well lived. If that’s so, I want to do everything I can to show anyone who wants that Splendor how to find it.

And if it’s not so? Press on regardless. There is nothing for me in despair. To the contrary, this little syllogism — 1 > 0 > –1 — demonstrates beyond all doubt that any sort of dour or doubtful or despairing opinion of the imaginary idea of “people in general” is an undivided negative for my own future self-adoration.

There’s more: I am much more likely to prove myself right about other people by believing that they want the same things that I want. Not only does that belief keep me motivated, but the work I am thereby motivated to do will be much more likely to persuade people to my way of thinking. We do well by doing good, and doing well for me is doing this work in the best way I can. In the end, virtue is its own reward, so the work I do will be the best I can do, either way. But it does not hurt me — to the contrary, it helps me a great deal — that I am so certain that I am right about my brothermen.

If you truly want to live in the world say you want to live in, stop volunteering to live anywhere else. If you want the best payoff possible from other people — stop betting against them.

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  • James Pruitt

    I have to say, there are times (more than I would care) that I would agree with your emailer. I have a look around at the people I work with, observe and listen to their conversations and attitudes about things. It is easy to think that I am alone in not wanting a master. However, absent the moment and free to think without the background noise it seems that “the 99%” don’t want a master…I think they just don’t realize they have one.
    Ask them directly about masters and slaves and they’ll fight you tooth and nail…speak them about “there ought to be a law” or “someone (government, your neighbor, etc…) should help….” and they are not so quick to make the connections.
    I guess the question then becomes, for me, is it a choice? Ignorance? Or are there personality types that just, naturally, seek to enslave and/or be enslaved?
    I know the type of world I want to live in. I also know that it may be a losing battle…at least in my lifetime. Nonetheless, if I can continue to do my best to live by my choices and my values then, frankly, what the rest do won’t matter.

    Love your work! Haven’t set down to read your book in it’s entirety, but I am following the excerpts and do retweet (@jamesdeantx) to share with the small part of the universe I am in contact with. This will be something I read and reread!

    • James: Keep on Tweetin’ if you would. This really is about changing the world — reframing the game on our terms, and we can do it — one mind at a time. Feel free to Retweet @gswann and @terilussier. Teri Lussier is a queen on #tlot, so anything she upstreams gets seen by a lot of people. Kent McManigal put the Living/Dying image up on Pinterest with amazing results. I’m grateful for anything you can do.