“For Such a Time as This” – Issue #31 of the Inner Game of Startups


I talk about the world, the company, my personal battle with health issues, and my resolve to never give up or give in.

Read it here.

Wisdom in Plenty vs Wisdom in Crisis


When times are good, there are a lot of people to learn from.

When times are dire, there's almost no wisdom to be found.

It seems when the world is humming along and freedom and prosperity are abundant, there are many experienced hands in many fields with a lot of interesting and useful advice and input.

When the shit hits the fan, prosperity ceases, and freedom and strangled, nearly everyone ceases to bring wisdom or insight to the table. People who seemed smart and creative in prosperity become dull and reactive in a pinch. People who seemed free and courageous become groveling quick.

And some of the people that seemed the least insightful and the most crazy in the good times appear among the remnant of insightful and courageous in crisis.

What’s the Worst Thing?


I don't think it's death.

Death sucks, and the drive for life is good. But inability to make peace with the utter inevitability of death can lead a person to things worse than death.

I've written on this theme before (here most recently) as it's cropped up in my life with increased frequency. Panic and denial over death can lead humans to do ugly, shameful things. The goal of a human life ought not to be death denial (though pursuits of life extension are awesome) but dignity from start to finish, including a dignified death.

Dignified death has more to do with the frame of mind of the dying than physical circumstances. There's a reason the peaceful martyr moves us (and sometimes causes a massive social movement). Seeing someone approach death without fear, but with courage, resolve, peace, and dignity reflects the highest human spirit and inspires those of us still living.

The fight for life is noble. Until it's not. We've seen enough epochs of history and fictional portrayals to know the depths of depravity humans can reach when they fall into a zero-sum trap and maniacally compete with their fellow humans for any last gasp of life. We've seen what a fever of fear can do to a mob beyond reason.

Each of us has an individual duty to live well. And living well includes dying well. We can't control the external circumstances of our deaths, but we can control our mentality and example as we face it.

The Overton Window is Broken


The Overton Window is a simple framework for understanding what is politically possible at any given moment and how the range of options can shift through time.

I used to work at the think tank where the concept originated, from the late Joseph Overton who was the VP there just before I started. I found it useful and valuable, and built much of my understanding of social change and the direction of my life and career around it. (Here's a talk I gave explaining this process.) It had amazing explanatory power.

Now, it's broken.

I don't mean the window has shifted. I mean the entire framework of a continuum of political possibility from total freedom to total tyranny that shifts, shrinks, or expands is broken. It doesn't explain the current world or where it might go.

I had no idea this was even possible, but it seems to me to be the case. Anything and nothing are politically possible at the same time. There is no boundary, no framework, no popular principles to shift. There is case by case chaos, openness to everything and nothing.

It happened fast. Within a few weeks, legible political paradigms disappeared.

It is possible the window has just shifted in the extreme, allowing for total tyranny. Or expanded to include a broad range that ends in total tyranny. But it feels less legible than that. It feels like there is no window at all. I suspect that in this chaos, anything is within the realm of possibility.

A good way to judge what's in the window is to ask, "Could a political figure talk about this idea without losing election". It doesn't have to be a passable policy, just one that you're allowed to talk about. For example, for most of my life, any politician who even talked about the idea of slavery as something worth considering would lose election. Or someone who talked about ending all public schools would lose election. The window didn't extend that far towards tyranny in the first instance, or freedom in the second.

But right now, it feels like almost anyone could mention almost any idea and I'm not sure it would be too far from whatever is now normal to eliminate them from political discourse. I wouldn't be surprised to see calls to make the income tax 100%. Or calls to eliminate it altogether. There are already states that have moved to totalitarianism, with 24/7 house arrest and tanks in the streets. Maybe some will cease government operations altogether.

I have no idea. No framework. No clear picture of a window or its shifting or direction.

The Overton Window of a few weeks ago seems to have exploded. There's no legible direction. I have no idea what comes next.

De-Platforming


Many digital platforms have become active in removing articles, posts, links, and accounts that they think are offensive and incorrect.

This is a good thing. It is the solution to censorship, it is not censorship.

Censorship involves force. Shut up about this or you will be stopped with threat of physical violence. It is an evil committed by a state backed with police.

Free association, free exchange, and free speech are different. If I invite you to my house I can ask you to leave if you don't abide my house rules. If I own a product or service I can choose to sell to whom I wish, and stop selling to any customer at any time for any reason. If I do not have this right, then property rights don't exist in practice, and with no property rights there are no individual rights, and therefore no rights at all and we are all slaves to the diktats of bureaucrats and/or the mob.

Companies who offer free access to platforms they own and maintain are free to remove anyone at any time for any reason. No matter how dumb the reason may be - how ignorant, fear based, dangerous, or cowardly - I will never do anything but support their right to do it.

Personally, I can't think of a single case of de-platforming that I liked. Personally, I prefer platforms with a wide range of crazy, insane, offensive, and controversial takes. Personally, I think it's almost always cowardly and promotes dangerously conformist discourse. I get bummed when people get banned. But I would never turn that bummerness into cries to prohibit the practice.

The fact that platform owners are free to associate or dis-associate, and the fact that users are free to support or protest these moves, and the fact that new platforms are free to emerge anytime with any rules they want, means we have a peaceful, dynamic, evolving process of creating competing niches, mainstreams, counter-mainstreams, and on and on. And they change all the time! Most "mainstream" platforms started as niches. They grew around a niche, outgrew it and became safer and more boring, until the cool edgy users fled looking for a new one. This is happening constantly and it's beautiful.

Instead of trying to replace it with rigid government rules and force, we should be trying to replace rigid government rules and force with voluntary de and re-platforming.

I should be able to de-platform any politician or policy I want. I should be free to join and leave whatever associations I want, pay or not pay whatever fees or taxes I choose for the services I choose, and peacefully abide only by what I've voluntarily agreed to.

The beauty, flexibility, freedom, growth, dynamism, humaneness, and civility that emerges from such choice is many times better than fighting over who gets to wield the baton of absolute power at any time and finagling so that they use it to beat our enemies.

Caveat Haiku


To favor freedom

Only when convenient

Is tyrannical

Rebellion is Harder than it Looks


When you watch The Hunger Games, or Braveheart, or think about the American Revolutionaries, it's easy to see yourself as one of them. Rebellion against a tyrannical power looks inspiring and enticing.

These portrayals are all about the people - of which you are one - against the big nasty government tyrant. You see the price paid by the rebels - physical threat, torture, death - and you see the inspiration they create and the crowd of people behind them. It looks doable.

The problem with these portrayals is they aren't very realistic. They make it look too easy. A common scene is a crowd of frightened, oppressed people, all of whom hate the tyrants equally but stand still only for fear of physical retribution, until a brave soul defies them. Even if no one says it, the rebel knows they all stand with her in spirit.

In the real world tyranny looks different and rebels rarely get praised.

The thing most often preventing resistance to tyranny isn't the guns of the tyrants, it's the people's love of tyranny. Rebels rarely inspire in real-time. Instead, their oppressed fellows hate them. They call them names. They accuse them of being selfish, ignorant, crazy, dangerous. They heap more shame and derision on the person who stands against the tyranny that oppresses them all than they do on the tyrants.

To defy tyranny does not make one popular among the oppressed, because the oppressed are part of the tyranny.

Our idea of sacrifice for a good cause doesn't go deep enough. It's not that you must have the courage to die for what you believe in. It's that you must have the courage to have your reputation murdered. You have to be willing to not only face physical threats from the state, but to be seen as evil by the majority of people. You will not only suffer for a cause, you will be utterly misunderstood and vilified by the very people you represent. They will view your cause as stupid and your suffering as just.

Why don't people stand up to tyranny more often? There's so many more oppressed than tyrants, and the oppressed have so much more power. Except that most of them view resistance to evil as evil.

If you stand for freedom don't expect to be saluted and thanked by your fellow man. Don't expect to start a movement. It rarely happens. You're more likely to lose your reputation at the hands of the masses than your life at the hands of the tyrants.

As I've written elsewhere, death is not the ultimate sacrifice.

IGOS Issue #30: What’s Going on in the World?!


The latest edition of the Inner Game of Startups Newsletter.

Available to all subscribers here.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

Featured on -

Looking for something?


Blog Archives

Archives

“For Such a Time as This” – Issue #31 of the Inner Game of Startups


I talk about the world, the company, my personal battle with health issues, and my resolve to never give up or give in.

Read it here.

Wisdom in Plenty vs Wisdom in Crisis


When times are good, there are a lot of people to learn from.

When times are dire, there's almost no wisdom to be found.

It seems when the world is humming along and freedom and prosperity are abundant, there are many experienced hands in many fields with a lot of interesting and useful advice and input.

When the shit hits the fan, prosperity ceases, and freedom and strangled, nearly everyone ceases to bring wisdom or insight to the table. People who seemed smart and creative in prosperity become dull and reactive in a pinch. People who seemed free and courageous become groveling quick.

And some of the people that seemed the least insightful and the most crazy in the good times appear among the remnant of insightful and courageous in crisis.

What’s the Worst Thing?


I don't think it's death.

Death sucks, and the drive for life is good. But inability to make peace with the utter inevitability of death can lead a person to things worse than death.

I've written on this theme before (here most recently) as it's cropped up in my life with increased frequency. Panic and denial over death can lead humans to do ugly, shameful things. The goal of a human life ought not to be death denial (though pursuits of life extension are awesome) but dignity from start to finish, including a dignified death.

Dignified death has more to do with the frame of mind of the dying than physical circumstances. There's a reason the peaceful martyr moves us (and sometimes causes a massive social movement). Seeing someone approach death without fear, but with courage, resolve, peace, and dignity reflects the highest human spirit and inspires those of us still living.

The fight for life is noble. Until it's not. We've seen enough epochs of history and fictional portrayals to know the depths of depravity humans can reach when they fall into a zero-sum trap and maniacally compete with their fellow humans for any last gasp of life. We've seen what a fever of fear can do to a mob beyond reason.

Each of us has an individual duty to live well. And living well includes dying well. We can't control the external circumstances of our deaths, but we can control our mentality and example as we face it.

The Overton Window is Broken


The Overton Window is a simple framework for understanding what is politically possible at any given moment and how the range of options can shift through time.

I used to work at the think tank where the concept originated, from the late Joseph Overton who was the VP there just before I started. I found it useful and valuable, and built much of my understanding of social change and the direction of my life and career around it. (Here's a talk I gave explaining this process.) It had amazing explanatory power.

Now, it's broken.

I don't mean the window has shifted. I mean the entire framework of a continuum of political possibility from total freedom to total tyranny that shifts, shrinks, or expands is broken. It doesn't explain the current world or where it might go.

I had no idea this was even possible, but it seems to me to be the case. Anything and nothing are politically possible at the same time. There is no boundary, no framework, no popular principles to shift. There is case by case chaos, openness to everything and nothing.

It happened fast. Within a few weeks, legible political paradigms disappeared.

It is possible the window has just shifted in the extreme, allowing for total tyranny. Or expanded to include a broad range that ends in total tyranny. But it feels less legible than that. It feels like there is no window at all. I suspect that in this chaos, anything is within the realm of possibility.

A good way to judge what's in the window is to ask, "Could a political figure talk about this idea without losing election". It doesn't have to be a passable policy, just one that you're allowed to talk about. For example, for most of my life, any politician who even talked about the idea of slavery as something worth considering would lose election. Or someone who talked about ending all public schools would lose election. The window didn't extend that far towards tyranny in the first instance, or freedom in the second.

But right now, it feels like almost anyone could mention almost any idea and I'm not sure it would be too far from whatever is now normal to eliminate them from political discourse. I wouldn't be surprised to see calls to make the income tax 100%. Or calls to eliminate it altogether. There are already states that have moved to totalitarianism, with 24/7 house arrest and tanks in the streets. Maybe some will cease government operations altogether.

I have no idea. No framework. No clear picture of a window or its shifting or direction.

The Overton Window of a few weeks ago seems to have exploded. There's no legible direction. I have no idea what comes next.

De-Platforming


Many digital platforms have become active in removing articles, posts, links, and accounts that they think are offensive and incorrect.

This is a good thing. It is the solution to censorship, it is not censorship.

Censorship involves force. Shut up about this or you will be stopped with threat of physical violence. It is an evil committed by a state backed with police.

Free association, free exchange, and free speech are different. If I invite you to my house I can ask you to leave if you don't abide my house rules. If I own a product or service I can choose to sell to whom I wish, and stop selling to any customer at any time for any reason. If I do not have this right, then property rights don't exist in practice, and with no property rights there are no individual rights, and therefore no rights at all and we are all slaves to the diktats of bureaucrats and/or the mob.

Companies who offer free access to platforms they own and maintain are free to remove anyone at any time for any reason. No matter how dumb the reason may be - how ignorant, fear based, dangerous, or cowardly - I will never do anything but support their right to do it.

Personally, I can't think of a single case of de-platforming that I liked. Personally, I prefer platforms with a wide range of crazy, insane, offensive, and controversial takes. Personally, I think it's almost always cowardly and promotes dangerously conformist discourse. I get bummed when people get banned. But I would never turn that bummerness into cries to prohibit the practice.

The fact that platform owners are free to associate or dis-associate, and the fact that users are free to support or protest these moves, and the fact that new platforms are free to emerge anytime with any rules they want, means we have a peaceful, dynamic, evolving process of creating competing niches, mainstreams, counter-mainstreams, and on and on. And they change all the time! Most "mainstream" platforms started as niches. They grew around a niche, outgrew it and became safer and more boring, until the cool edgy users fled looking for a new one. This is happening constantly and it's beautiful.

Instead of trying to replace it with rigid government rules and force, we should be trying to replace rigid government rules and force with voluntary de and re-platforming.

I should be able to de-platform any politician or policy I want. I should be free to join and leave whatever associations I want, pay or not pay whatever fees or taxes I choose for the services I choose, and peacefully abide only by what I've voluntarily agreed to.

The beauty, flexibility, freedom, growth, dynamism, humaneness, and civility that emerges from such choice is many times better than fighting over who gets to wield the baton of absolute power at any time and finagling so that they use it to beat our enemies.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

Featured on -

Occasional Email Updates

[mc4wp_form id="3197"]

Looking for something?


Blog Archives

Archives