Fight the Man by Building Self-Reliance

Fight the Man by Building Self-Reliance

I recently read an blog post essay by David of misappropriately titled: “How to Make Trillions of Dollars.” The title isn’t encouraging us to make trillions of dollars, rather, it’s describing the massive consumer driven economy that encourages unhappiness so that we get stuck in a perpetual cycle of consumerism and how self-reliance is the only way to fight it. It’s well worth the read. It’s one of the best articles that I’ve read in a long time.

I’ll show my favorite parts:

After the second world war, a few privileged Americans developed a brilliant formula for building an unimaginably huge economy:

[Our economy] demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns […] We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption.

~American retail analyst Victor Lebow (hat tip to reader Anna for this)

Ah yes, the seeds of consumerism are placed. We see this behavior everywhere. Fictional character Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club said it best:

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.

David writes…

Using the television as their primary tool, very-high-level marketers have managed to create a nation of people who typically:

  • work almost all the time
  • absorb several hours of advertising every night, in their own homes
  • are tired and unhealthy and vaguely dissatisfied with their lives
  • respond to boredom, dissatisfaction, or anxiety only by buying and consuming things
  • have disposable income but can’t find a more fulfilling line of work without losing their health insurance
  • create health problems for themselves, which can be treated with drugs they can “ask their doctor about”
  • own far more items than they use, and believe they don’t have enough
  • are easily distracted from the unhealthy state of their lives and their culture by breaking news and celebrity gossip
  • perpetually convince themselves it is not the right time to make major lifestyle changes
  • happily buy stuff that breaks within a year, and which nobody knows how to fix
  • have learned, through the media’s culture of blame-mongering, that the key to solving public and private issues is to find the right people to hate


You are being encouraged, from virtually every angle, to become or remain unhealthy and unfulfilled, because then you will buy more. Not to make you paranoid, but that’s the primary purpose of the glowing rectangle in your living room — to encourage poor (but not quite failing) health, general complacency, and an unconscious reflex for parting with money.

I’m not even telling you to throw your TV out the window. But that’s definitely a move with a very high ROI, if the thought interests you.

People watching TV; the epitome of a way that a person can waste time. I’ve come to despise TV. The sound of it being on represents lost opportunities.*

David writes…

So don’t hate The Man, it will only weaken and distract you from what you might accomplish if you don’t follow his cues. Hate has a terrifically poor ROI, at least as far as quality of life goes. If you’ve got some rage you feel needs “investing”, take up a racquet sport. Direct your rage away from any people and animals, and when your tantrum is over, turn your energy towards the cultivation of your life skills.

I’m not referring to situationally-specific life skills like changing tires, folding button-up shirts, or opening public washroom doors without touching the handle, though they are certainly useful.

Here I’m talking about the real fundamentals of being an empowered, self-directed human being.

Creativity. Curiosity. Resilience to distraction. Patience with others.

And to make these all possible: self-reliance — an unswerving willingness to take responsibility for your life, regardless of who had a hand in making it the way it is.

Cultivate these qualities in yourself and others, and when this way of life becomes more normal than getting one’s lifestyle cues from discount-store flyers and CNN, the surefire trillionaire strategy won’t work anymore. For anyone.

Self-reliance. I believe this is one of the fundamental tenets of entrepreneurship that motivates us to do what we do. SELF-RELIANCE.

David writes…

This is not us against them, it’s us for us.

We aren’t fighting a battle. We are doing this for ourselves. Go read the essay now.

*I should note that although I hate TV, I do enjoy sports and movies. I’ll save that rationale for another post.

You might also enjoy:

  1. Commitment vs Involvement
  2. We Have a Duty
  3. So You Want to Become Rich?

Let’s have a conversation: @jprichardson


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