April 23, 2008

The quick path to greatness is always a fraud

Anyone who has been around the nation-founding subculture long, or read much about it, knows that it is full of scams, hopeless visions, and impracticality.  One of the great chroniclers of this is Scamdog, whose website (while not updated much in the past 5 years) has fascinating historical information on projects like Laissez-Faire City.  Here’s an excellent page on Why Scams Work:

Ever wonder why so many smart people get scammed? It’s not a lack of intelligence that leads people into scams, it is a desire to get more than they’ve earned.

Many of us have a sense that we were born for greatness. But most of us, by circumstances and the general difficulty of life, are held down all our lives, and never reach our greatness. If we see a few people who don’t seem to be held down (usually a public relations scam), we either envy them or seek to emulate them. At some point, we get so frustrated, and want greatness so badly, that we’ll take almost any path to it.

The quick path to greatness is always a fraud. It doesn’t matter whether you are seeking financial greatness, religious greatness, or some other form of greatness; the path that appeals to you when you are frustrated and disappointed with life is not a good one.

I am not trying to say that your basic sense that you were born for greatness is wrong-I don’t think it is. But you cannot expect that greatness to come to you easily. Remember, the world is screwed-up! That makes your job of reaching greatness much harder. It means that you’ll never reach it by living the usual philosophically-sedate life.

If you get frustrated (with which I can sympathize), do not go for the quick fix. Those are the avenues where the scam artists gather and wait for their prey. They appeal to that sense of wanting greatness, and tell you what you want to hear. Frustrated badly enough, any of us will make bad decisions and go for a quick fix.

So what is the answer? Intelligent and persistent effort.

While we here at the Seasteading Institute are delighted to have gotten this organization formed and funded, we have no illusions that the path to success is quick.  We’re making important but early steps along a long road, with much persistent (and hopefully intelligent) effort ahead.  Be wary of anyone who promises otherwise.