Living a Barbarian Life: Don’t Settle for the Mediocrity of the Minimum
We, as products of western civilization, tend to hold the view of “barbarians” as uncouth, slovenly, unindustrious hillbillies. This, despite the fact that there are artifacts of the barbarian past that we still cannot explain the construction of, outside of attributing it to “space aliens.” Yet, without the specialist divisions of labor inherent to civilization, our barbarian forebears managed to not only feed and clothe their families, they managed to develop their mental faculties to a degree that allowed them to develop many of the cultural values we tend to hold dear even today (because, as I pointed out in Forging the Hero, the values we tend to hold up as the most cherished of “American values” are NOT Roman, but were originally Celto-Germanic tribal traditions that survived the Imperial period).
The fact is, those ancestors of ours were very industrious and productive…they just didn’t produce the same things, in the same industries that the urban civilizations did. That doesn’t make their contributions less valuable, unless your metric of value is how long a relic lasts, even after it is no longer useful.
I had a conversation with an acquaintance the other day, whom we will refer to as Bill, that led to some startling revelations for me, about my own world views, and the vast gulf that apparently exists between exactly how barbaric (by which I mean, “foreign,” rather than “vicious”) compared to most people in contemporary American civilization. It was ironic, because this conversation happened shortly after I had seen a meme on social media that said, “My goal is to create a life a I don’t need a vacation from.” I HAVE a life I don’t WANT a vacation from…and that is pretty damned foreign to people, apparently, So, this article is a brief discussion, based on the conversation I had with Bill, about how I’ve gone about creating that life. Best of all, it’s a life that I can continue, regardless of what happens in International Geopolitics in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Bill works, like most people, 40 hours a week, at a relatively stress free job. He’s not in a management position, and his job, while mildly physical, is not particularly strenuous. It’s not like he’s digging the Erie Canal with a spade and a wheelbarrow. He’s not logging virgin old-growth forest with a two-man crosscut saw and a fucking ax. He’s in a climate-controlled building, and isn’t expected to life more than about 50 pounds.
Despite that, he claimed—and his wife verified—that he is “so exhausted’ when he gets home, that he can only spend an hour or two with his kids before he goes to bed for the night.
If a person “has” to work forty hours a week, “for the man,” to pay their bills, I get it. We all got bills t pay, and not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. I’ve had regular day jobs in the past (although, to be honest, I’ve NEVER had a 40-hours per week job, except in high school. I’ve always worked a minimum of 50-60 hours a week, when I worked for wages). I even have a “regular” job now, although I do work for myself (I don’t make a full-time living as a writer or as a trainer, and I’m not interested in doing so in either case). The difference between Bill and I—and all of our successful ancestors throughout the past—is that I don’t stop at 1700.
I started writing this blog while I was working a 70-80 hours per week job, that had me outdoors, summer and winter, in Wyoming, doing hard physical labor. Lifted loads could go as high as 100+ pounds, even in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm. The blog of course, resulted in teaching some classes on the side, followed by THREE books, all while working a regular, “real” job at the same time. While neither the blog—which I have never monetized—the books, nor the classes have been profitable enough to provide a sole income, they have offered enough extra to allow me to take the risk to go to work for myself, doing something that I really enjoy. It certainly didn’t reduce my working hours though.
I have another acquaintance, that I know through my clan, who is in his mid-50s. His name is Bob. Bob was recently bitching to me about how he’s worked “hard” all his life, and wants to retire, because he “deserves” it, after working so hard all of his life. Here’s the catch though, Bob doesn’t have any retirement savings. Without delving into the lack of providence and good judgment THAT implies, the fact is—and I’ve known Bob since I was a kid—the dude, in point of fact, did NOT “work hard” his entire life, by any objective metric. He worked 40 hours a week, sitting on his ass, and took his two weeks of paid vacation every year. If he wasn’t at work, he was sitting on is ass, watching television and drinking cheap beer. He and his wife collected food stamps and every other source of welfare aid they could finagle out of the government as they “raised” four children.
I’m gonna tell you right now, if you consider working 40 hours a week as “working hard,” don’t look to me for sympathy at your life failures. Don’t look to your ancestors for sympathy. Don’t look to the Founding Fathers for sympathy. In that case, the only place you’ll find sympathy is in the dictionary. It’s right between “shit” and “syphilis.”
I’m not saying a dude has to go out and get a second job for wages, but if your metric of “success” in life is being able to come home, after working an eight hour shift, and sitting on your couch, eating pretzels and drinking a case of beer, you DESERVE to live in the shitty trailer you live in.
The third problem that Bill brought up, before I got sick of listening to his bitching, and told him to shut the fuck up, he didn’t recognize as a problem either. He thought he was doing “good.” I was trying to help the dude out, to figure out why he was stuck living in a shithole duplex that was falling apart around his family, despite “working hard” at his 40 hours a week job. So, I asked how much they were paying for rent. When he told me, “$500,” and I knew he clears close to $30K a year, I just about choked on my Copenhagen. I mean, I was legitimately confused. How can you bitch about being broke, when you make over $30,000 a year, and only pay a fifth of it, per year, in rent? That doesn’t add up, at all.
Well, it turns out, when you pay over $1500 a month to the local Rent-To-Own joint, in an attempt to “build up your credit,” making ends meet at the end of the month gets a lot more challenging. I bought my wife a television a few years ago. It’s the first television I’d ever owned in my life. As I recall, I paid right around $700 for it. 60” flat screen, new-in-the box. Well, as it so happens, Bill and his wife “own” the exact same model of television…they’ve paid $150 per month, every month, for the last two years, to pay it off, and they still owe money on it. Now, mathematics was never my strong suit in school, but…
My wife found a beautiful, all leather, five piece living room suite of furniture a couple years ago, on Craigslist. We paid like $400 for it. Meanwhile, Bill and his wife “bought” an upholstered, three cushion couch, at the RTO store…they pay $250 a month for it…and have been paying for it for the last eighteen months (and his wife told me, they still have to pay for another year!). When I asked why the fuck they were paying that much for so little, I got the typical lower-class response of, “Well, we’re trying to build up our credit scores!”
Aghast, and more than a little sick to my stomach at their utter stupidity, I hastened to point out three things to Bill and his wife, that I had assumed were common knowledge among everyone over the age of, I don’t know, twenty-five?
- Most Rent-To-Own places do NOT report to the credit bureaus, so even if you do make your payments every month, it doesn’t do fuck all for your credit score.
- The last time I financed anything was a pick-up, in the mid-1990s, when I was a young NCO. Seriously, I’ve never financed ANYTHING since, until my wife and I bought land (more on that later). Despite that, when we started looking at property, I got a credit report. My score was well over 700. See, as it turns out, while the Rent-To-Own places, like the Buy Here, Pay Here used car lots, do NOT report to the credit bureaus, the utility companies actually do…so, if you pay your bills on time, you end up with a good credit score, even if you’re not buying a bunch of shit on credit. Since I’m not throwing my money away on finance charges for overpriced bullshit, I can manage to pay my bills on time.
- Why exactly are you trying to “build your credit score?” Bill and his wife claimed they might want to buy property, or a house, or a car, in the future. What I can guarantee, is that, at the rate they’re going, they will never be purchasing real estate, period. They’re not going to be able to come up with the money for a down payment…
So, let’s analyze the situation Bill and his wife find themselves in, and I’ll offer some tried-and-true, apparently VERY barbaric solutions to them…
First of all, we’ve got a dude, in his early 30s, with a fuck-all easy job, working a mere 40 hours a week, who needs in excess of 13 hours of sleep every night. I get needing to sleep in occasionally…like once a month…maybe even once a week, even, but if you religiously need more than eight hours of sleep every night, in your 30s? You need a fucking doctor’s appointment, because you are ill. I—and most of the successful people I know—average between 4 and 6 hours of sleep most nights, with the occasional eight hour night, once a month or so. If I sleep ten hours, I wake up feeling like shit, because I’ve slept too much and dicked up my diurnal rhythms.
Fixing this is going to be a three-part task for Bill, or anyone in the same predicament.
- Start eating healthier. This isn’t about “eating Paleo,” although that’s a damned fine idea, cheaper than the processed “meals” and fast-food he is currently surviving on, and generally helps a lot. Every time I go off Paleo, even for a meal, I pay a heavy price for it in physical and mental sluggishness, intestinal distress, and lost productivity, sitting on the toilet, shitting my brains out.
This is about eating real food. Granted, his wife will probably have to learn how to cook. Simple enough, she knows how to read, at least at a high school level, and can presumably do basic mathematics. Look up some recipes, and get to it. It’s not like she’s got a fucking job anyway, in today’s shit economy. It will also require retraining their children to eat real food, rather than the shit they’ve grown up with. Here’s the thing though…Even buying grass-fed beef and farm-fresh, free-range, organic eggs (the latter from a neighbor until our new batch of hens start laying), we can buy a week’s worth of Paleo diet groceries for less than $150, for our family of four. If we eat out, at any place that is NOT fast-food, we’re looking at $30-40 per meal, minimum, and even fast-food is anywhere from $20-30 a meal.
- Start doing some PT. I’m not talking about some sort of hard core, John Mosby, The Reluctant Partisan PT regimen. I’m not talking about Forging The Hero stuff here. I’m talking about being fit enough that you don’t need to sleep thirteen-motherfucking-hours a night! Most of the people I know who are even remotely physically fit find six hours of sleep a night ideal, and only push it to eight hours a night if they are in the midst of a particularly grueling training cycle, and need it for post-workout recovery. How much more could you accomplish in your life with an extra SEVEN hours per day? Dude is wasting that much, being so unfit that he needs 13 hours of sleep every night…
Even if he just walked to the park with his kids, and played on the monkey bars and slides with them, he’d get physical benefit from it (and for the record, Bill is not overweight, let alone obese. He’s just unhealthy unfit.)
- Practice a little self-discipline. Initially, coming off a too-long sleep cycle is going to be a pain-in-the-ass. It’s really easy to roll over and slap the snooze button a dozen times, or to just turn the alarm clock off. It’s too easy to decide, “Oh, I feel a little, tired. I’m gonna go to bed early tonight.” Don’t succumb. Live up to the gifts of the past and practice a smidgen of your ancestral self-discipline. If you go even a week, forcing yourself to only sleep 6-8 hours a week, while eating healthier, and doing a little bit to get yourself fitter, you’re going to find it easy after that. Just do it.
Second, we’ve got a dude who thinks 40 hours a week, at a stress-free job, is “working hard.” Fixing his health and fitness will go a long way towards remedying that. Then, he’s got to decide what to do with that extra time he’s created in his day. Civilized people, of course, according to modern civilized values, would choose to watch television, surf the Internet, or go drink beer in the yard with their buddies.
The barbarian answer is different: create something of value for your family and tribe! Maybe Bill could find a second, part-time job. Better, he could find something he either enjoys—or even hates, but is good at—and create a side business. It might not pay much, especially initially, but even a little bit is better than nothing—which is exactly how much you make, sitting on your ass, watching television, while drinking beer.
Don’t settle for the mediocrity of the minimum. Raise your own stature within your tribal community. Working forty hours a week should be seen as a minimum. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to go find a second job though. Anything that creates VALUE for your family counts. Remember? “Who does more is worth more!” If you put in four hours a day, after work, in the backyard with your kids, planting and tending a garden and some backyard livestock like rabbits, how much value would you add, through additional savings on your grocery bill?
Or, create your own side business! Look at your skill sets, vocationally or avocationally. How can you leverage those into some additional income? Bill likes doing mechanic work. He loves tinkering around in engines (I don’t get it. I hate that shit, but whatever…). I suggested to Bill, “Call the RTO store, and tell them to come take this shit back. Take the $250 you spend on your couch payment, and go to Goodwill, and buy a fucking used couch. Hell, the one you’re buying is used anyway, now. Take the television payment, and if it is really important that the kids get to watch cartoons, go buy a little television and a DVD player, and let them watch that. Take the money you’ve been spending on that overpriced shit, and set it aside into savings. In a month or two, go buy a piece of shit, beater car. Clean it up, tune it up, fix any broken shit, and then resell it.” Even if the profit is only a couple hundred bucks, you’ve created new value! Better, since he could be doing it in the backyard or garage, he could be spending time with his kids, and teaching them a valuable skill at the same time! Is he going to make a living off of it? Probably not. He is going to get to spend quality time with his kids though, and create value. Doing so will require not sleeping thirteen goddamned hours a night though!
Maybe you don’t have any hobbies or skills though. Maybe you went to college, got a useless degree in some stupid shit like “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups,” and you’ve spend your entire “adulthood” in your parents’ basement, watching television and playing video games. Now though, you recognize that you need to do something, and you’d like to not live in your parents’ house anymore, because it is cramping your dating life (I’d offer that unemployment and a total lack of conversational skill about anything other than television and video games is more to blame…).
Think of something that you’d like to try, or something that might be useful later in your life. Your degree is in “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups?” Great! Start weaving fucking baskets, and see if you can create a market for them. Yuppies are all kinds of into handicrafts and shit, right? You want to move out of your parents’ house, but cannot imagine being able to afford a house on your convenience store clerk wages? Great, do what a friend of mine did, with zero previous experience…go spend a couple hundred bucks at local pawn shops and thrift stores, and pick up some used tools. Go to the lumber store and buy some lumber. Go watch a metric fuckton of YouTube videos, and get to it. Sure, trial-and-error is a hard way to learn, but it is possible.
I know a dude who had zero woodworking experience, and is now in the finishing stages of building a timber-framed house, from the ground up…including a native stone foundation! He worked in the evenings and his days off, simply because he wanted to, and was willing to do the work, to give his family a nice home that he knew he couldn’t afford to have someone else build for him. I know a couple of different dudes who have built log houses that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to have built, by themselves, with no previous professional carpentry experience. They were just willing to do the work, and they didn’t believe that the day ends at 1700.
It’s not just about saving money—although you might learn to make a lot of stuff you would otherwise buy, and you’re not spending that money on stupid shit like crappy “food,” and finance charges for televisions—but you might actually be able to turn it into a profitable side business that creates added value for your family and clan. My buddy the new timber-framer has already started about building small timber-framed outbuildings and guest cabins for sale…and there’s apparently a market for them, no less. Bill, that inspired this post, could be selling a car or two a month, even at a small profit, in the shit-hole economy we are in, by selling below what a dealership has to sell at to make overhead.
Third, we’ve got a dude—or a couple, actually—who has bought into the consumer materialism of contemporary civilization, and believes they have to have all this “stuff,” so they won’t be embarrassed when people come over to visit. That requires more effort than the other two, but it’s really all mental effort.
Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle! It’s environmentally friendly, no less! The crass, mercantile materialism of contemporary civilizations makes it really easy to partake of instant gratification, and all you have to do is pay far more than the products are worth! That’s something our forebears didn’t have, most of the time, and I would argue, they were far, far better off because of it. If you want a television, so you can watch The Voice? Fine. I think it’s retarded, but my wife likes to watch that show, so whatever floats your boat—Hell, I’ll even admit that I like music enough that occasionally one of the performers will make me look up from my book, when they perform well on a song I like. Don’t finance a fucking television though. Set money aside and wait until you can pay cash for it, buy a cheaper, used television, or—best of all—do without. It’s nothing but a productivity waste (in our house, I’ve found we basically have to establish rules that forbid turning it on during daylight hours, or keep everyone outside doing things, or we get sucked into it. If it hadn’t made my wife happy to be able to watch movies, I’d regret ever having bought one.)
Our truck has over 400,000 miles on. We still drive it across the country for teaching classes. Unlike Bill, I don’t like mechanic work. I actually detest it. I do it though, because we can’t afford to buy a newer vehicle, and I’ll be damned if I will finance one.
One of the big complaints I see a lot, in the whining over the state of the world, in preparedness circles, is bitching about evil bankers. Here’s the thing though…if you’re bitching about evil bankers, and you are currently paying interest payments on (almost) anything you’ve financed, you’re full of shit.
The “(almost)” is legit. I see a lot of people bitch about “owner financed properties,” but those complaints originate with the banks and realtors, because they are losing out. If you believe in “evil bankers,” but you’re opposed to “owner financed” real estate, you’re full of shit…or dumber than a box of shit. You might pay a little bit more in interest rates—or not, if you do your homework, and haggle well—and if you miss a payment, there might be less wiggle room for forgiveness than with the banks, but you’re paying that interest to a person, rather than a bank, and you have a lot more room to haggle on price than you do with a real estate agent looking for a bigger commission, or a bank representative with a board of directors to answer to.
I understand financing real estate. It’s the only thing I’m even willing to consider financing, and we did. We also got a ridiculously low interest rate, despite owner-financing, negotiated a sale price well below market value, pay a little extra every month, so we will be paid off in 2/3 the length of the note (further reducing our interest costs….), and always make our payment at least a week earlier than the due date. As a result, the seller has put in writing a change to the contract that gives us more leeway, in case we are ever late on our payments. It’s very barbaric—again, as in foreign—to modern civilization, but that is called “being responsible,” and it’s something our barbarian ancestors were intimately familiar with.
Seriously, quit your bitching and whining. Are the politicians, bankers, and the rest of the oligarchic class working contrary to your interests? Of course they are. So fucking what? They’ve always been doing so. Even George Washington, the patron fucking saint of America and the constitution, sent the Army to fight the agrarian yeoman of Jeffersonian Democracy during the Whiskey Rebellion. You can remain a “civilized” peasant, and bitch and whine about how unfair it is, or you can say, “fuck it!” step outside the boundaries that contemporary civilization is trying to restrain you within, and go full-on barbarian, to create your own definition of success—by being your own man—or woman—and doing what you need to do to create the life you want.
Anyone who has taken my advice to read Glubb, and Toynbee, and Spengler, should have at least begun to brush away the cobwebs of cultural myopia, and recognized, this election really doesn’t mean a damned thing. The empire IS in its death throes. Remaining a peasant, hoping the aristocracy will wake up and do the “right” thing, as you define it, is one potential path. Saying “fuck it,” following Jack Donovan’s advice, and “learning to love the battle ax,” and creating your own innangarth of shared values, customs, and traditions, with like-minded people, by forging the life YOU want, is another.
Only one of them allows you and your people to survive the death of the empire though.