Re: Extropianis (Protestants in Disguise?)

Arjen Kamphuis (
Fri, 12 Sep 1997 16:09:48 +0200

Paul Hughes wrote:
>Having for now stayed out of the Extro-Nazi's/Extro-Saint's thread,
>I can no longer hold my tongue. Since when did Extropianism become so
>downright puritanical? Holly's post, although lacking a few salient
>points, drew out all sorts of self-righteous puritanical types. I had
>no idea how much value and *virtue* people on this list have put on
>*hard* work. It would seem that many of you were raised in a
>Protestant strong 'work ethic' household.

Methinks most Extropians are relativly young, healty, white, highly
educated/skilled (self-taught or otherwise), well-payed people that work
40-80 hrs a week (more when they are driving trucks ;-). And they hold a
firm belief that it is their effort and dicipline that gave them the
recources that they have at their disposal.
You won't find many members that lost their job/income/health-insurance at
28 because of some crippling disease or are unable to do high-intensety
work because of a mild form of schizophrenia.

"Those who do not work, shall not eat. Those who cannot work... well, as
long as they are not rotting on my doorstep it's really not my problem now
is it?"

>I would have thought, being
>extropians you would have the wisdom to see the value and
>*limitations* of hard work have. Lighten up. Have Fun!

Hear! hear! (applauding, stamping on the floor ;-)
Bring on the drinks ;-)

> I stand behind Holly, when I say that hard work sucks! I can think
>of alot of better things to do than working all the time. Yes, I work
>hard to, but only to get wealthy enough so I don't have to work like a
>dog anymore. I would much rather spend my time transforming my self,
>creating art and having fun.

Right. I do not work hard, I have never worked hard in my life except once,
a few months in a Bosnian refugee camp (by far the worst-paying - $0 - and
most satisfying job I ever had).
In spite of this I've been able to do stuff that most people only talk
about (travel to six continents before my 25th, spend 2-3 months a year
mountaineering all over the world... and so on).

The *reason* I've been able to live this way is that I've been lucky to be
born with some well-working brainfuctions and in a family that encouraged
me to develop them. I firmly believe those two factors are of bigger
influence than anything I've done. I believe I got were I am mainly by
chance, because of my genes and the way I was raised by my parents. It's
nothing to be proud of.

Many other people did not receive a 140-IQ-brain and a talent for abstract
thought, so on average they end up on the low end of the scale.
Because of this I don't have a problem with re-allocation some of my
resources to help them out. Also, if I get sick and can't work anymore
others will do the same for me.

>If that is not your goal, I suggest you
>re-examine your beliefs and reconsider even calling yourself an
>'extropian'. Extropianism is about combatting *all* limits to our
>happiness and freedom. 'Hard Work' is just one of those limits I plan
>on obliterating! And so should you. If you don't, then I would
>serious consider you go back to your protestant church and beg

Maybe we could invest a little of our precious think-time in developing
ideas of what can be done now - with our current technology - for the 75%
of the world population that has barely left the dark ages (if you don't
believe this go visit countries like Tanzania or Pakistan - and avoid the
tourist tracks).
In light of their exploding populations it will be in our best interest to
help them develop themselves. I we show we don't care, they won't either
wich will leaves us with a growing potential for more pointless wars.
Of course if we really don't care: why not kill them now and be done with it?
China is using a lot of (as yet) irreplacable coal thet I am certain we
could find some use for.

The western world is consuming about 80% of the global natural resources
while comprising only about 20% of the world population. Pretty soon
developing country's are going to want some of those resources. Are we
going to share or are we going to war to get what we want?
I think the differences in reaction-time between the Gulf-war and the war
in former Yugoslavia gives a hint - an oil well under Sarajevo would have
saved thousands of lives.

For most humans the world is a really shitty place, let's do something
about it. We can afford to.

As an afterthought, here's a text that I found a valuable lesson about
hardwork & trying harder: (you can also find it at


"I'm sitting in a quiet room at the Millcroft Inn, a peaceful little place
hidden back among the pine trees about an hour out of Toronto. It's just
past noon, late July, and I'm listening to the desperate sounds of a life
or death struggle going on a few feet away.

There's a small fly burning out the last of its short life's energies in a
futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane. The whining
wings tell the poignant story of the fly's strategy - try harder.

But it's not working.

The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival. Ironically, the struggle
is part of the trap. It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to
succeed at breaking through the glass. Nevertheless, this little insect
has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and

This fly is doomed. It will die there on the windowsill. Accross the
room ten steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this
small creature could reach the outside world it seeks. With only a
fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this
self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility is there. It would be so

Why doesn't this fly try another approach, something dramatically
different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular
route, and determined effort, offer the most promise for success? What
logic is there in continuing, until death, to seek a breakthrough with
'more of the same?'

No doubt this approach makes sense to the fly. Regrettably it's an idea
that will kill.

'Trying harder' isn't necessarily the solution to achieving more. It may
not offer any real promise for giving what you want out of life.
Sometimes, in fact, it's a big part of the problem.

If you stake your hopes for a breakthrough on trying harder than ever, you
may kill your chances of success.

Self-discipline and persistence are true virtues. Over a lifetime they
can make a powerful contribution to success and achievement. They are
fundamental to the development of your talents. It's extremely important
to apply yourself diligently, and sometimes, staying power is what
delivers a big win.

But ordinarily, you will find that trying harder produces only incremental
gains, not quantum leaps. Also, keep in mind that sometimes trying harder
(even a lot harder) offers little more than a straight path to burnout.
Attempting to succeed through 'more of the same,' being resolute and
relying on committed effort, can blind you to better pathways.

If you want to make a quantum leap, quit thinking about trying harder.
More effort isn't the answer. Get ruthless about trying something
different? Abandon the status quo. Change your behaviour. Look for a
paradoxical move. Ricochet? If you're trying to climb over the wall,
open a door and walk through. If you're pushing against the river, try
going with the flow. Use finesse instead of effort. The tendency when
you stall out or begin to level off in your performance is to go back to
the basics and 'do what you do best.' But doing what you do best could be
the worst thing you could do.

Quantum leaps come when you seek the elegant solution. So look for an
approach characterized by simplicity, precision, effeciency and neatness.
Call for a fresh perspective, a deft move, a path of less resistance.

- Bhagwati Prasad

Arjen Kamphuis | Success: | To laugh often and much, to win the respect of
intelligent people and the affection of children,
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and
endure the betrayal of false friends, to
appreciate beauty, to find the best in
others, to leave the world a bit better whether
by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed
social condition, to know even one life has
breathed easier because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.